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Chapter VII - Desire and Will in Fable

Chapter VII

Desire and Will in Fable



I herewith reproduce “The Fable of the Mentative Couple,” a bit of writing in the lighter vein perpetrated by myself about a year ago. My excuse for writing this tale, and for reproducing it now, is that it carries with it a decided moral, and teaches an important truth. It brings out the distinction existing between the Motive and the Emotive phases of the mind, and beneath its flippancy is concealed some good, sound psychological truth.

I ask that you read it, in connection with what I have just told you regarding the offices of the will, desire, imagination, etc. It will show you, in figurative style, the operation of the two poles of the Desire‐Will. And it will show you how the emotive pole or phase, if left unguarded by the protective faculties, will be led into all sorts of trouble. It will also show you how the protective faculty may be disarmed and overcome by a diversion of its attention from its task. There are several important psychological facts brought out in this little fable, and a number of important “morals” to be deduced therefrom. I trust that you will seek for the truth and principles underlying the trifling words of the fable. Just as important truths may be conveyed in the fairy tales of the child, so may just as important facts be taught by the fairy tale fable of the Mentative Couple intended for the “grown‐ups.” Each of us, man or woman, has a Mentative Castle, in which dwells a Mentative Couple—Volos and Emotione. And Volos often strays away, leaving Emotione unprotected. And the fascinating stranger often puts in an appearance. And Emotione often is beguiled by his wiles. And Volos often is fooled by having his attention and interest distracted by clever schemes, leaving Emotione unprotected again.

So, while recognizing the value of Emotione, learn to keep Volos at home at the gate of the castle, and do not allow him to be “side‐tracked.” Heed the advice of the wise man of the fable.

There is an important lesson for you in this fable if you will take the trouble to find it.

The Fable of the Mentative Couple. Once upon a time there lived in the land of Mentalvania, in a wonderful building called The Mentative Castle, a man and a woman, called “The Mentative Couple.” They were happy though married. They lived in harmony, because they were useful to one another, and neither was complete without the presence of the other—and neither did his nor her best work, unless the other was present and assisting.

Well, now, the man was called “Volos” (which is the same as the English name “Will”), and the woman was called “Emotione,” which in the language of that country meant something like a combination of emotion, desire and imagination.

Now, the chronicle informs us that these two people had natures entirely different from each other, as has been said. We are told that Volos was of a stern, inflexible, strong, positive nature; apt to stick to a thing once begun; full of the “will‐to‐live” and “vitality”; full of determination and spirit with a strong dash of the “let‐me‐alone” and “get out of my way” in his make‐up; with a taste for meeting difficulties and overcoming obstacles; with a goodly habit of reaching out and taking hold of what Emotione wanted and needed; and a powerful lot of self‐respect and self‐reliance in him. He was apt to be firm although his firmness was not the stubbornness of the mule. His general keynote was strength. He was a good warrior and defender of his castle. But Emotione was of an entirely different type, temperament, and character. She was most impressionable, imaginative, emotional, credulous, fanciful, full of desire, curious, sympathetic and easily persuaded. While Volos was all willing and thinking, Emotione was all feeling. Volos was a strong character, but lacked certain qualities that make for success—but these qualities Emotione possessed, and she supplied the deficiency in Volos. Volos had to “figure out” everything, while Emotione had intuition, and jumped at a conclusion in a way remarkable to Volos, who couldn’t understand the process at all. When he would ask Emotione for an explanation, she would say, lightly, “Oh, just because!” which answer would often provoke profane and irreverent discourse on the part of Volos. But, nevertheless, he learned to respect these “becauses” of Emotione, and found that they helped him in his business. Emotione would dream out things, and see things a long way ahead, and then Volos would proceed to put these plans into operation. Volos couldn’t see very far ahead of his nose, while Emotione could see miles beyond, and years ahead. And besides this faculty of Mental imagery that came in so useful in Volos’ business, Emotione also possessed a burning and ardent desire for things, which she managed to communicate to Volos, thereby causing him to get out and do things that otherwise he would never have dreamed of doing. Emotione was like fire, and Volos like water. The water would hold the fire in check, but at the same time the Fire would heat up the Water and the result would be the Steam of Action. And, so, you see these two—this Mentative Couple—formed a fine co‐partnership, and prospered mightily.

But, alas! the tempter entered Eden—and the attractive stranger meandered in the direction of the Mentative Castle, and when he reached there trouble occurred. And this is what happened: One day Volos was absent from the castle, being engaged in some arduous enterprise. And consequently the castle was unguarded. Volos had provided against this by instructing Emotione that she was to keep the castle gate closed tight, when he was away from home, and never to gaze without in his absence, for there was some mysterious danger lurking without when he was away. Emotione had faithfully followed the directions of her liege lord, although her womanly curiosity was piqued thereat. Many the time she had heard strange knockings at the castle gate, but she heeded them not, and even refrained from looking out of the little peep‐hole in the gate—though this last was much against her inclination, for she could see no harm in “just looking.”

But, to return to our tale. This particular day when Volos was absent from home, her curiosity was too much for Emotione when she heard the strange knockings at the gate. And, breaking her rule, she ventured to peep without. Looking down she saw a most attractive stranger, with a fascinating smile on his lips. He looked almost as strong as Volos, but he seemed to have a dash of the woman in him, besides. He had the strength, but also the charm that Emotione recognized as being a part of her own nature. “Ah” sighed Emotione, “here is a man who can understand me.” The fascinating stranger smiled sweetly, and looking her in the eyes, masterfully asked to be admitted. “No, no,” replied Emotione, “I cannot let you in, for Volos told me not to.” “Ah, fair lady,” said the Stranger softly. “Volos means all right, but he is rather old‐fogyish, and behind the times. He does not ‘understand,’ as do you and I. Pray, let me in.” And, like Mother Eve, Emotione took the bait.

Well, to make a long story short, when Volos came home he found that Emotione had subscribed to a set of “Villeveaux Modern Art,” a beautiful work published by the De Luxe Bros. of Fifth Avenue, to be issued in 824 weekly parts, at the nominal price of $5 a part—739 parts of which were already out, and would be delivered shortly. She had also given a number of side orders for manifold wares, which had dazzled her untrained and unguarded fancy. Volos cried aloud to the gods of his land—but it was too late, the contracts had been signed. But this was but the beginning. Volos did not understand just what was the matter, and contented himself with scolding Emotione, whereat she wept bitterly. But the poison went on with its deadly work. And when Volos again was absent from home, the habit reasserted itself, and when the fascinating stranger again called at the castle, he was admitted. And when Volos returned, he found the castle furnished from dungeon to watch‐tower with costly rugs, and furniture, and various other articles, bought from “Morganstern’s Popular Installment House,” at $1,000 down and $100 per week. He also found that the castle had been lightning‐rodded from ground to turret, on each wing, tower, and annex; and that sundry promissory notes, containing a law‐proof, judgment‐confessed clause, had been given in exchange therefor. And then Volos swore by the Beard of Mars, the war‐god, that he would have no more of this—he would remain at home thereafter. And he did.

But the subtle stranger was onto the game, in all of its details. And this is how he played it on Volos, even though the latter remained at home.

A few days after Volos had determined to remain at home, there came a band of mountebanks, singing, dancing, and performing juggling tricks. Volos sat on the great stone beside the open castle gate, and his attention was attracted by the sounds and sights. Faster the dancers whirled—louder beat the drums—sweeter grew the singing—more bewildering grew the feats of jugglery—until poor Volos forgot all about the open castle gate, so rapt was he at the strange sights, sounds, dances, and feats of jugglery. Then one of the mountebank gang (who was really the attractive stranger disguised in motley array) slipped, unseen, past Volos, and in a moment was engaged in eager conversation with the impressionable Emotione. Volos watched the crowd until it moved away, and then entering the castle, and closing the gate behind him, was confronted by Emotione, in tears, for she dreaded the coming storm. “Alack a‐day, woe is me,” she cried, “I am again in trouble, O, Volos, my liege lord! I have just ordered from the fascinating stranger, who slipped past you at the gate, a baby‐grand, self‐playing, automatic, liquid‐air‐valved, radium carburetter, piano‐playing, Organette, upon which I may play for you all classes of music, ranging from Vogner’s Gotterdammerung to the popular “Merry Widow Waltz” with feeling, depth of expression, and soulful understanding, according to the words of the fascinating stranger who took my order.”

“Gadzooks!” ejaculated Volos, “Fain would I cry aloud the name of that production of Vogner’s just mentioned by thee. And by my halidom, e’en shalt thou soon be performing the waltz just mentioned by thy false red lips! Zounds! Of a truth I have been stung again by that fascinating stranger. I must gaze no more upon these fleeting scenes of merriment and amazement, lest I be again decorated with the asses’ ears. Aha! Volos is himself again, and the next time the fascinating stranger appears upon the scene, he shall be smitten hip and thigh with my trusty battle‐axe, and my snickersee shall pierce his foul carcass!”

But, alas! even once more was poor Volos deceived and trifled with—once more poor Emotione fascinated by the stranger. And it came about in this way.

On the day of his last undoing, Volos sat on the open step, in front of the narrowly opened castle door. “No man shall pass me now,” cried he. But fate willed otherwise. For as he sat there, there approached many people who took seat upon the steps before the gate, and engaged Volos in long heated, and wearisome discourses regarding the outlook for the crops; the presidential campaign; the Japanese question; race‐suicide; the new theology; how old was Ann; the problem of the final outcome of the collision between the irresistible force and the immovable body; the canals on Mars; what Roosevelt will do with his big stick when his term expires; and many other weighty, interesting, and fascinating topics of general interest. Most agreeable were these visitors, and most considerate of Volos’ feelings were they. And although they seemed to differ from him at the beginning of each argument, still they courteously allowed him to convince them inch by inch, until they finally acknowledged that he was invincible in argument, and invulnerable in logic. “’Tis passing strange,” quoth Volos, “but nevertheless ’tis true—that I always find myself on the right side of every question. And the wonder grows when they all admit it in the end. Verily, am I developing into a wise guy!” And, pondering thus, he fell sweetly asleep from the rigor of the disputes; the flattering attentions shown him; the joy of the victory; and the exceeding amount of attention and interest he had expended, for human nature has its limitations, even in the case of one so strong as Volos. And while he slumbered, the fascinating stranger (who was really the leader of the argumentative visiting committee), crept into the house and unloaded upon Emotione a choice collection of gilt‐edged mining stock (pure gilt, all the way through in fact); a bunch of flying‐machine bonds, and a 5,000 monkey‐power, vestibuled drawing‐room, observation‐car Automobile called the “Yellow Peril.” And when Volos discovered what had happened he wept aloud, crying bitterly, “Odds‐bones; s’death—of a cert am I the Baron E. Z. Mark.” And thereupon he sent for the wise man who dwelt in the next barony.

The wise man came, and after hearing the story said: “My children, yours is a sad case, but matters may be adjusted without a visit to Sioux Falls, and without the raising of the question of alimony. The trouble is as follows: “Volos, without Emotione, has no desire or incentive to do things. He has no wants to satisfy, and therefore does nothing. He needs Emotione to supply the desire. And without her he has no feeling—he is nothing but a hard‐shell clam. Therefore he needs her to supply the feeling, for verily, and of a truth, feeling is the spice of life. And without her he has no imagination, and cannot see beyond the end of his nose—and what is life without imagination? Gadzooks, one might as well be a mummy! “And on the other hand, Emotione without Volos, is a consuming fire of desire; an unrestrained imagination; an intuitive faculty degenerated into the basest superstition, most deplorable credulity, and the idlest fancy. Volos has no desire, emotion, or imagination of his own—and Emotione has no will of her own. “Verily, cannot it be seen by all that this couple needs one another the worst way? Each, alone, is but an incomplete half. United they stand—divided they fall. In union alone is there strength for them.

“And more than this, each, without the other, falls a prey to the wiles of some fascinating stranger. We have seen how Emotione was fascinated and controlled by the stranger who gained access to the castle. But I have also seen (by my magic art) that when Volos was away from home on important business, and not having Emotione along to keep him straight, he fell a victim to the wiles of the Desire and Imagination of a fair stranger across the river, and did her bidding, and used his will to perform her tasks, instead of those desired by his own Emotione. Verily, art these people quits with one another and should now begin over again. True it is that harmony will be theirs only when they are together.

“And this is the secret of the undoing of Emotione. Without the will of Volos to protect her, direct her, and advise her, Emotione allowed her desire imagination, and emotion to run wild and unrestrained. And so she became so impressionable as to allow herself to be mastered by the will of the stranger, who took advantage of the same and gathered to himself many choice orders for things. And even when Volos sat by the door watching the players, dancers, and jugglers, his attention was so centered on what he saw, that the fascinating stranger slipped through the gate—it was even as if Volos had been absent from home. And, again, when Volos allowed himself to become engaged in weighty discourse with the visiting committee, and used up his energy and force in argument and dispute with them—and when he permitted himself to be ‘jollied’ into a false security by these United Brethren of the Blarney‐Stone— he relaxed his vigilance, and allowed himself to become tired, drowsy and sleepy, and so fell into a doze at his post, and the stranger again entered and took Emotione’s orders for goods.

“And this then is the Remedy (as my successor, Lawson of Boston, will say in the centuries to follow)—this is the Remedy. Each person of this Mentative Couple must stick close to the other. Volos must have no ‘important business’ across the river, which will allow Emotione to be without a protector and adviser. And Emotione must stick close to Volos, and satisfy her curiosity, imagination, emotion and desire, by setting him to work out things for her—to do things dreamed of by her—to get her things she desires—to express the things felt by her. This is the secret of success, dear Mentative Couple—mutual work by desire and will, working in unison and harmony—each faithful to the other—each guarding the other from the fascinating strangers that beset each when separated. Now, then children, stick close to each other!”

And saying this, the Wise Man vanished from sight.

And the moral of this fable of the Mentative Couple is this: That the mind of every man and woman is a Mentative Castle, wherein dwells a Volos and an Emotione. And what happened to the couple in the fable, may happen, and does happen, to many in everyday life. The will, straying from home, and paying attention to other attractions leaves the castle unguarded, and the fascinating stranger enters. And, again, the will has its attention distracted by passing objects of interest, and forgets the castle door. And again, the will allows itself to be fatigued, tired, and jollied by useless argument, and talk, and cogitation, at the instigation of the designing fascinating stranger, and the latter slips past the gate. And in each case, inside the gate is Emotione unprotected and innocent, true to her own nature, credulous, imaginative, fanciful, desireful, and emotional—is it any wonder that she “orders goods” that are not wanted by the family? And the remedy of the wise man as given to the Mentative Couple may be, and should be, applied by every man and woman in his or her Mental Castle. And this then is the moral of the fable.

And thus endeth the fable of the Mentative Couple, who dwell in the Mentative Castle, in Mentalvania, in the days of old when brave knights held their sway and fair ladies had their way.

The End of the Fable of the Mentative Couple.


Page last modified on Monday 21 of January, 2013 03:38:48 MST

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