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Under construction shed, New York City, March 2005

Mary Everest Boole

Surely the secret of Moral Agriculture is to hitch one's plough to the Great Pulsator and make manure of the devil (27).

There is no real solution of the sanitation problem or the food-supply problem till we devise good systems of sewage-farming and of earth-to-earth burial. I am glad to take this opportunity of stating my conviction that cremation and burying under stone are polar mistakes. Cremation may be necessary in cases of zymotic disease until we have devised something better. But I feel convinced that the scientific solution is that every carcase of man and beast shall be buried underground and a fruit-tree planted over it. The superstition against eating fruit grown on the dead bodies of one's friends is a good specimen of the kind of idolatry which keeps the world in bondage. What are fruit-trees for, if not to forge and transform cannibalistic selfishness into sacramental joy? (27-28).

We profess to be shocked at the ruffian who is prompted by the beauty of a picture to poke his stick through the canvas; but we all expect our lady guests to be stimulated by the beauty of our peach to stick teeth into it, by the decorative skill of our cook to demolish her works of art. This is the mild form, suited to our present state of civilization, of the impulse which makes a certain kind of person poke holes in pictures, scribble in valuable books in public libraries, and chip bits off beautiful statues and historic buildings. (31-32).

I have had homicidal impulse at the touch of other stimuli. When I was quite young, I used to speculate on the problem why I did not try to kill someone who worried me. It was not love of my parents that hindered me; in those moods I was incapable of fear. It was not regard for God; I considered that God made me as I was and could not reasonably be angry with anything I did. It was -- I always came back to the same conclusion -- it was that I thought that if I killed anyone the police or the hangman or someone would stop my working for algebra. Besides I felt that all stormy passions in themselves interfered between me and algebra. Hate and revengefulness,as well as love and fear, vanished, like burned paper, when they threatened to interfere between me and algebra (34).

An insect might feel the note D flat beautiful, because that is the pitch of its mate's voice, and, when the scale is played on a violin, may discriminate very keenly between D flat, the beautiful, and D natural, hideous to its instincts because sung by the bird which devours its tribe; but this is not art (41).

The tester, who detects the presence of foul gas in a tin of preserved meat by a slight tap on the cover, must have his power of auditory distinction cultivated to a high pitch, but he selects the one sound as "good" and the other as "evil"; in this there is no attempt at combination, therefore no art (41).

Man has cleared off, at least from all the main centres of civilisation, all of the larger races (lions, tigers, wolves, etc.) which show any desire to eat the flesh of human babies; but we have not even yet accompished the extinction of the parasites and microbes who devour human flesh (48).

Then "before he goes to school" tell him that the organs by means of which children are made are the most delicate and most sacred things with which we have to do; that he may ask you any questions he likes about them, and you will answer him if you can; but that till he is grown up he must not experiment with them; and had better not listen to the talk of children who know nothing of order and sequence (55).

[T]he body should be trained to seek, in dream-moods, not strong sensation of any kind but neutrality. The mind should be so trained that it tends, when its discriminating faculties are in less than full activity, not to mortify the flesh but to forget it (84).

We have said that the body should be trained to time its cravings for physical enjoyment so as to synchronise with mental moods of dis-crimination. This rule might legitimately be carried out absolutely and without reservation, and should be carried out as far as circumstances make it possible. In all moods to which the words com-pose and com-position can be applied, the body should seek ease, neutrality of sensation, the mere supplying of its needs; all sensation which is either acutely pleasurable or novel, as well as all freaks of physical curiosity and all vigorous and exciting modes of muscular exertion, should coincide with moods of active mental dis-crimination (90).

-- Mary Everest Boole, The Forging of Passion into Power (London: C.W. Daniel Company, 1910).