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mankind. Its meaning is filled with more force and directness. We find also another most important fact:-action furnishes the most adequate means for the study of character. It is the most unconscious of languages and the most spontaneous, and belongs to the whole body; hence it reveals motives, conditions and attitudes of being at which other modes of expression merely hint. The smile is the least mechanical, the least artificial, the least objective of all languages unless we except the modulations of the voice, which may also be subjective.
So subjective is pantomimic expression that it seems completely united to feeling. It can hardly be studied and certainly it cannot be developed apart from the experience that causes it.
Accordingly, the true and normal smile must be realized in the study of joy, in the observation of love and sympathy, or as the agent of the positive emotions.
Its great force as a language is shown by its power to contradict words.
With a frown, say to a little child, “Come here, you little angel ”; then with a smile and with the consequent involuntary softening of the tone, say, “Come here, you little rascal. Here the sign contradicts the symbol, and the child, as well as everyone else will take the sign before the symbol.
Demosthenes, according to tradition, when asked what was the most important element in speaking, replied, “Action "; when asked what was the second most important element, he answered, “ Action," and when asked the third, he still answered, Action.” Action has been so
misunderstood that many have been astounded at this statement and have denied that Demosthenes ever made it, or, if he did, they think that he meant something different from pantomimic expression. A very prominent man once said in my presence that by action ” Demosthenes meant living and doing things. After many years of studying expression, I believe that Demosthenes meant exactly what he said. He restricted the statement in order to emphasize what others, possibly even in that day, misunderstood, or at least the importance of which they failed to appreciate.
Certainly action is not appreciated in our day. It is the most direct of all languages,--the most simple. It reveals itself through the whole body; it appeals to the eye most quickly of all our senses. It is not local like a pronounced word. It expresses the deepest conditions of man's being. Without action, such voice modulations as tone-color and texture are impossible.
Pantomime precedes speech. It shows the receiving of impressions. Words express the giving of an idea or concept; action shows the beginning of the impression; words are only a label giving its name or direction.
Of course by action is not meant gesture, or some signal of distress ” by the hands or arms.
True action is as simple as the smile, something as vitally connected with our beings as the simple expansion of the body or movement on the feet, or any action directly caused by experience.
Pantomime determines even the conditions of all modulations of the voice. Without action, tonecolor would be impossible, hence, vocal expression cannot be separated from pantomimic expression. The man who sneers at action as something found
only among savages, fails to comprehend one of the deepest characteristics of human nature.
Action expresses the character of the speaker. Real earnestness and conviction are not shown by the loudness of the tone, or the number of words, but by this most conditional of all languages.
Though vocal expression is regarded by many as directly and vitally connected with words, yet the tones of the voice are really more vitally united to action than they are to words. It is the diffusion of feeling throughout the body that not only produces action and modulations of the tones, but colors the voice.
Most voice modulations are dependent on action. When one tries to depend merely upon words, or the modulations of the tone, speech becomes mechanical and artificial.
Inflection reveals the attitude of the mind and discharges a more intellectual function. Hence, it is more
closely connected with words than is tonecolor.
Inflection, however, is a gesture of the voice as a significant movement of the hand is an inflection of the body.
It is difficult or impossible to make a good bodily gesture with the wrong vocal inflectioneven these are vitally connected. But the qualities of the voice are entirely dependent, not upon the gesture but upon the diffusion of emotion into the texture of the body, upon the expressive attitude of all parts of the body directly related and co-ordinated with the sympathetic retention of the breath. Such facts show us that a man's three languages are necessary to one another. No one of them can be repressed or discarded with impunity. Yet, they are as opposite to each other as
a man's two hands. To some, the two hands are exactly alike, and they are more alike possibly than any other two objects in the world; yet at every point they are directly opposite. Nothing as ugly as two right hands on the same body has ever been produced, and it is the direct opposition in their similarity that enables them to come together in unity. In a way, each of these three languages, while simple and expressive of the same thing, reveals a different phase of impression, a different aspect of human life and experience, and because of this very difference, they become mutually necessary and can be co-ordinated for the same ends.
Because each language says something no one of the others can possibly say, their unity is made possible and necessary.
Pantomime is the outflow of the awakening of thought. It manifests the inception of the thought, not the finished realization. It reveals the initiation, the stimulation, the life of the man himself.
In teaching, whenever I have been in serious doubt of a pupil's needs, I have always studied his pantomime. That is a language that never lies; a language that is most unconscious and therefore most vitally expressive.
Because the smile is not a symbol, because it is not an objective thing, because it cannot be separated from the man and printed like a word,-it is often overlooked.
This very separation of words from the process of thinking may make a word the emptiest of all things. A word, a phrase, needs to be interpreted by the living voice. The smile, the sign must be restored to the symbol, or the symbol will be meaningless.