Franz Albert Bischoff: Laguna Seascape
Physical science has helpfully informed us that not only are bodies scattered so few and far between through the universe--the most meagre bits being lost in a thin indiscriminate gruel-like stuff one might liken to a nineteenth-century workhouse child's dinner--as to amount to mere brief accidents of matter struggling unsuccessfully to exist more than a moment or two within the dense, necessary, prevailing and ever-increasing immaterium; but even the most apparently gross, tangible or corporeal of these same accidental bodies, should all its matter be crowded by force down into a perfect solidity, might be contained in a small, hard chunk no larger than an ice cube. In much the same sense, when one ponders the subject but a little, it might well appear that if all the truly productive employment of a lifetime were suddenly compressed, for the sake of experiment, into the time the mind actually took to devise it, then the maximum period required to contain it all would perhaps be days, more likely hours, even seconds or fractions of seconds.
The mind has been largely idle then; yet no one has ever been able to stop it from thinking, even for a little while. And of course this is dangerous. If one doesn't regulate one's thoughts they can easily be yanked by the ear and tugged off in practically any direction; particularly if there's any wishing involved. Maybe it's with this in mind that some thoughtless judges have thought it a crime to think, and declared it so. The nature of the thinking animal however being as it is, it will think anyway, and no matter what punishment be contrived for it in consequence. Vide the French Revolution, and the head of Charlotte Corday, which as those present remarked, retained a thoughtful expression even as it lay before the public, disconnected from its body.
Everybody understands that the business of everyday life calls for very little actual brainwork. So poorly matched are our physical to our mental capacities that one may quite easily come up in mere seconds with full-blown conceptions that may then take years or even longer to carry into action. Fresh thinking is very seldom needed. We're limited in prospect by the narrow routines of our bodies, our surroundings, our lives. We go along in a kind of continuous holding pattern. Changes are rare. Nothing's ever truly new. Yet though all this time one never actually needed to think, in fact one was never not thinking. The truth is that for a good part of our lives the only thing we can do is think. Our hands and feet may venture on as they will without our conscious consent, with the mind standing by a mere spectator unable to affect the execution it knows to be coming, if not already underway.