The Practical And Mechanical Imagination

The study of the practical imagination is not without difficulties.

First of all, it has not hitherto attracted psychologists, so that we

enter the field at random, and wander unguided in an unexplored region.

But the principal obstacle is in the lack of determination of this form

of imagination, and in the absence of boundary lines. Where does it

begin, and where does it end? Penetrating all our life even in its least

details, it is likely to lead us astray through the diversity, often

insignificant, of its manifestations. To convince ourselves of this

fact, let us take a man regarded as least imaginative:--subtract the

moments when his consciousness is busied with perceptions, memories,

emotions, logical thought and action--all the rest of his mental life

must be put down to the credit of the imagination. Even thus limited,

this function is not a negligible quantity:--it includes the plans and

constructions for the future, and all the dreams of escaping from the

present; and there is no man but makes such. This had to be mentioned

on account of its very triteness, because it is often forgotten, and

consequently the field of the creative imagination is unduly restricted,

being limited little by little to exceptional cases.

It must, however, be recognized that these small facts teach us little.

Consequently, following our adopted procedure, dwelling longest on the

clearer and more evident cases in which the work of creating appears

distinctly, we shall rapidly pass over the lower forms of the practical

imagination, in order to dwell on the higher form--technical or

mechanical imagination.


If we take an ordinary imaginative person,--understanding by this

expression, one whom his nature singles out for no special invention--we

see that he excels in the small inventions, adapted for a moment, for a

detail, for the petty needs constantly arising in human life. It is a

fruitful, ingenious, industrious mind, one that knows how to "take hold

of things." The active, enterprising American, capable of passing from

one occupation to another according to circumstances, opportunity, or

imagined profits, furnishes a good example.

If we descend from this form of sane imagination toward the morbid

forms, we meet first the unstable--knights of industry, hunters of

adventure, inventors frequently of questionable means, people hungry for

change, always imagining what they haven't, trying in turn all

professions, becoming workmen, soldiers, sailors, merchants, etc., not

from expediency, but from natural instability.

Further down are found the acknowledged "freaks" at the brink of

insanity, who are but the extreme form of the unstable, and who, after

having wasted haphazard much useless imagination, end in an insane

asylum or worse still.

Let us consider these three groups together. Let us eliminate the

intellectual and moral qualities characteristic of each group, which

establish notable differences between them, and let us consider only

their inventive capacity as applied to practical life. One character

common to all is mobility--the tendency to change. It is a matter of

current observation that men of lively imagination are changeable.

Common opinion, which is also the opinion of moralists and of most

psychologists, attributes this mobility, this instability, to the

imagination. This, in my opinion, is just upside down. It is not

because they have an active imagination that they are changeable, but it

is because they are changeable that their imagination is active. We

thus return to the motor basis of all creative work. Each new or

merely modified disposition becomes a center of attraction and pull.

Doubtless the inner push is a necessary condition, but it is not

sufficient. If there were not within them a sufficient number of

concrete, abstract, or semi-abstract representations, susceptible of

various combinations, nothing would happen; but the origin of invention

and of its frequent or constant changes of direction lies in the

emotional and motor constitution, not in the quantity or quality of

representations. I shall not dwell longer on a subject already

treated, but it was proper to show, in passing, that common opinion

starts from an erroneous conception of the primary conditions of

invention--whether great or small, speculative or practical.

In the immense empire of the practical imagination, superstitious

beliefs form a goodly province.

What is superstition? By what positive signs do we recognize it? An

exact definition and a sure criterion are impossible. It is a flitting

notion that depends on the times, places, and nature of minds. Has it

not often been said that the religion of one is superstition to another,

and vice versa? This, too, is only a single instance from among many

others; for the common opinion that restricts superstition within the

bounds of religious faith is an incomplete view. There are peculiar

beliefs, foreign to every dogma and every religious feeling, from which

the most radical freethinker is not exempt; for example, the

superstitions of gamblers. Indeed, at the bottom of all such beliefs, we

always find the vague, semi-conscious notion of a mysterious

power--destiny, fate, chance.

Without taking the trouble to set arbitrary limits, let us take the

facts as they are, without possible question, i.e., imaginary

creations, subjective fancies, having reality only for those admitting

them. Even a summary collection of past and present superstitions would

fill a library. Aside from those having a frankly religious mark, others

almost as numerous surround civil life, birth, marriage, death,

appearance and healing of diseases, dies fasti atque nefasti,

propitious or fateful words, auguries drawn from the meeting or acts of

certain animals. The list would be endless.

All that can be attempted here is a determination of the principal

condition of that state of mind, the psychology of which is in the last

analysis very simple. We shall thus answer in an indirect and incomplete

manner the question of criterion.

First, since we hold that the origin of all imaginative creation is a

need, a desire, a tendency, where then is the origin of that

inexhaustible fount of fancies? In the instinct for individual

preservation, orientated in the direction of the future. Man seeks to

divine future events, and by various means to act on the order of things

to modify it for his own advantage or to appease his evil fate.

As for the mental mechanism that, set in motion by this desire, produces

the vain images of the superstitious, it implies:

(1) A deep idea of causality, reduced to a post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

Herodotus says of the Egyptian priests: "They have discovered more

prodigies and presages than any other people, because, when some

extraordinary thing appears, they note it as well as all the events

following it, so that if a similar prodigy appears anew, they expect to

see the same events reproduced." It is the hypothesis of an indissoluble

association between two or more events, assumed without verification,

without criticism. This manner of thinking depends on the weakness of

the logical faculties or on the excessive influence of the feelings.

(2) The abuse of reasoning by analogy. This great artisan of the

imagination is satisfied with likenesses so vague and agreements so

strange, that it dares everything. Resemblance is no longer a quality of

things imposed on the mind, but an hypothesis of the mind imposed on

things. Astrology groups into "constellations" stars that are billions

of miles apart, believes that it discovers there an animal shape, human

or any other, and deduces therefrom alleged "influences." This star is

reddish (Mars), sign of blood; this other is of a pure, brilliant

silvery light (Venus) or livid (Saturn), and acts in a different way. We

know what clever structures of conjectures and prognoses have been built

on these foundations. Need we mention the Middle Age practice of charms,

which even in our day still has adherents among cultured people? The

physicians of the time of Charles II, says Lang, gave their patients

"mummy powder" (pulverized mummies) because the mummies, having lasted a

long time, must prolong life. Gold in solution has been esteemed

as a medicine--gold, being a perfect substance, should produce perfect

health. In order to get rid of a disease nothing is more frequent among

primitive men than to picture the sick person on wood or on the ground,

and to strike the injured part with an arrow or knife, in order to

annihilate the sickening principle.

(3) Finally, there is the magic influence ascribed to certain words. It

is the triumph of the theory of nomina numina; we need not return to

it. But the working of the mind on words, erecting them into entities,

conferring life and power on them--in a word, the activity that creates

myths and is the final basis of all constructive imagination--appears

also here.


Up to this point we have considered the practical imagination only in

its somewhat petty aspect in small inventions or as semi-morbid in

superstitious fancies. We now come to its higher form, mechanical


This subject has not been studied by psychologists. Not that they have

misunderstood its role, which is, after all, very evident; but they

limit themselves to speak of it cursorily, without emphasizing it.

In order to appreciate its importance, I see no other way than to put

ourselves face to face with the works that it has produced, to question

the history of discovery and useful arts, to profit by the disclosures

of inventors and their biographers.

Of a work of this kind, which would be very long because the materials

are scattered, we can give here only a rough sketch, merely to take

therefrom what is of interest for psychology and what teaches us in

regard to the characters peculiar to this type of imagination.

The erroneous view that opposes imagination to the useful, and claims

that they are mutually exclusive, is so widespread and so persistent,

that we shall seem to many to be expressing a paradox when we say that

if we could strike the balance of the imagination that man has spent and

made permanent in esthetic life on the one hand, and in technical and

mechanical invention on the other, the balance would be in favor of the

latter. This assertion, however, will not seem paradoxical to those who

have considered the question. Why, then, the view above mentioned? Why

are people inclined to believe that our present subject, if not entirely

foreign to the imagination, is only an impoverished form of it? I

account for it by the following reasons:

Esthetic imagination, when fully complete, is simply fixed, i.e.,

remains a fictitious matter recognized as such. It has a frankly

subjective, personal character, arbitrary in its choice of means. A work

of art--a poem, a novel, a drama, an opera, a picture, a statue--might

have been otherwise than it is. It is possible to modify the general

plan, to add or reduce an episode, to change an ending. The novelist who

in the course of his work changes his characters; the dramatic author

who, in deference to public sentiment, substitutes a happy denouement

in place of a catastrophe, furnish naive testimony of this freedom of

imagination. Moreover, artistic creation, expressing itself in words,

sounds, lines, forms, colors, is cast in a mould that allows it only a

feeble "material" reality.

The mechanical imagination is objective--it must be embodied, take on a

form that gives it a place side by side with products of nature. It is

arbitrary neither in its choice nor in its means; it is not a free

creature having its end in itself. In order to succeed, it is subjected

to rigorous physical conditions, to a determinism. It is at this cost

that it becomes a reality, and as we instinctively establish an

antithesis between the imaginary and the real, it seems that mechanical

invention is outside the realm of the imagination. Moreover, it requires

the constant intervention of calculation, of reasoning, and lastly, of a

manual operation of supreme importance. We may say without exaggerating

that the success of many mechanical creations depends on the skillful

manipulation of materials. But this last moment, because it is decisive,

should not make us forget its antecedents, especially the initial

moment, which is, for psychology, similar to all other instances of

invention, when the idea arises, tending to become objective.

Otherwise, the differences here pointed out between the two forms of

imagination--esthetic and mechanical--are but relative. The former is

not independent of technical apprenticeship, often of long duration (e.g.,

in music, sculpture, painting). As for the latter, we should not

exaggerate its determinism. Often the same end can be reached by

different inventions--by means differently imagined, through different

mental constructions; and it follows that, after all allowances are

made, these differently realized imaginations are equally useful.

The difference between the two types is found in the nature of the need

or desire stimulating the invention, and secondly in the nature of the

materials employed. Others have confounded two distinct things--liberty

of imagination, which belongs rather to esthetic creation, and quality

and power of imagination, which may be identical in both cases.

I have questioned certain inventors very skillful in mechanics,

addressing myself to those, preferably, whom I knew to be strangers to

any preconceived psychological theory. Their replies agree, and prove

that the birth and development of mechanical invention are very

strictly like those found in other forms of constructive imagination. As

an example, I cite the following statement of an engineer, which I

render literally:

"The so-called creative imagination surely proceeds in very different

ways, according to temperament, aptitudes, and, in the same individual,

following the mental disposition, the milieu.

"We may, however, as far as regards mechanical inventions, distinguish

four sufficiently clear phases--the germ, incubation, flowering, and


"By germ I mean the first idea coming to the mind to furnish a solution

for a problem that the whole of one's observations, studies, and

researches has put before one, or that, put by another, has struck one.

"Then comes incubation, often very long and painful, or, again, even

unconscious. Instinctively as well as voluntarily one brings to the

solution of the problem all the materials that the eyes and ears can


"When this latent work is sufficiently complete, the idea suddenly

bursts forth, it may be at the end of a voluntary tension of mind, or on

the occasion of a chance remark, tearing the veil that hides the

surmised image.

"But this image always appears simple and clear. In order to get the

ideal solution into practice, there is required a struggle against

matter, and the bringing to an issue is the most thankless part of the

inventor's work.

"In order to give consistence and body to the idea caught sight of

enthusiastically in an aureole, one must have patience, a perseverance

through all trials. One must view on all sides the mechanical agencies

that should serve to set the image together, until the latter has

attained the simplicity that alone makes invention viable. In this work

of bringing to a head, the same spirit of invention and imagination must

be constantly drawn upon for the solution of all the details, and it is

against this arduous requirement that the great majority of inventors

rebel again and again.

"This is then, I believe, how one may in a general way understand the

genesis of an invention. It follows from this that here, as almost

everywhere, the imagination acts through association of ideas.

"Thanks to a profound acquaintance with known mechanical methods, the

inventor succeeds, through association of ideas, in getting novel

combinations producing new effects, towards the realization of which his

mind has in advance been bent."

But for a slightly explored subject, the foregoing remarks are not

enough. It is necessary to determine more precisely the general and

special characters of this form of imagination.

1. General Characters

I term general characters those that the mechanical imagination

possesses in common with the best known, least questioned forms of the

constructive imagination. In order to be convinced that, so far as

concerns these characters it does not differ from the rest, let us take,

for the sake of comparison, esthetic imagination, since it is agreed,

rightly or wrongly, that this is the model par excellence. We shall

see that the essential psychological conditions coincide in the two


The mechanical imagination thus has like the other its ideal, i.e., a

perfection conceived and put forward as capable, little by little, of

being realized. The idea is at first hidden; it is, to use our

correspondent's phrase, "the germ," the principle of unity, center of

attraction, that suggests, excites, and groups appropriate associations

of images, in which it is enwrapped and organized into a structure, an

ensemble of means converging toward a common end. It thus presupposes

a dissociation of experience. The inventor undoes, decomposes, breaks up

in thought, or makes of experience a tool, an instrument, a machine, an

agency for building anew with the debris.

The practical imagination is no more foreign to inspiration than the

esthetic imagination. The history of useful inventions is full of men

who suffered privations, persecution, ruin; who fought to the bitter end

against relatives and friends--drawn by the need of creating, fascinated

not by the hope of future gain but by the idea of an imposed mission, of

a destiny they had to fulfill. What more have poets and artists done?

The fixed and irresistible idea has led more than one to a foreseen

death, as in the discovery of explosives, the first attempts at

lightning conductors, aeronautics, and many others. Thus, from a true

intuition, primitive civilizations have put on a level great poets and

great inventors, erected into divinities or demi-gods historical or

legendary personages in whom the genius of discovery is

personified:--among the Hindoos, Vicavakarma; among the Greeks,

Hephaestos, Prometheus, Triptolemus, Daedalus and Icarus. The Chinese,

despite their dry imagination, have done the same; and we find the same

condition in Egypt, Assyria, and everywhere. Moreover, the practical and

mechanical arts have passed through a first period of no-change, during

which the artisan, subjected to fixed rules and an undisputed tradition,

considers himself an instrument of divine revelation. Little by

little he has emerged from that theological age, to enter the humanistic

age, when, being fully conscious of being the author of his work, he

labors freely, changes and modifies according to his own inspiration.

Mechanical and industrial imagination, like esthetic imagination, has

its preparatory period, its zenith and decline: the periods of the

precursors, of the great inventors, and of mere perfectors. At first a

venture is made, effort is wasted with small result,--the man has come

too early or lacks clear vision; then a great imaginative mind arises,

blossoms; after him the work passes into the hands of dii minores,

pupils or imitators, who add, abridge, modify: such is the order. The

many-times written history of the application of steam, from the time of

the eolipile of Hero of Alexandria to the heroic period of Newcomen and

Watt, and the improvements made since their time, is one proof of the

statement. Another example:--the machine for measuring duration is at

first a simple clepsydra; then there are added marks indicating the

subdivisions of time, then a water gauge causes a hand to move around a

dial, then two hands for the hours and minutes; then comes a great

moment--by the use of weights the clepsydra becomes a clock, at first

massive and cumbersome, later lightened, becoming capable, with

Tycho-Brahe, of marking seconds; and then another moment--Huyghens

invents the spiral spring to replace the weights, and the clock,

simplified and lightened, becomes the watch.

2. Special Characters

The special characteristics of the mechanical imagination being the

marks belonging to this type, we shall study them at greater length.

(I) There is first of all, at least in great inventors, an inborn

quality,--that is, a natural disposition,--that does not originate in

experience and owes the latter only its development. This quality is a

bent in a practical, useful direction; a tendency to act, not in the

realm of dreams or human feeling, not on individuals or social groups,

not toward the attainment of theoretical knowledge of nature, but to

become master over natural forces, to transform them and adapt them

toward an end.

Every mechanical invention arises from a need: from the strict necessity

for individual preservation in the case of primitive man who wages war

against the powers of nature; from the desire for well-being and the

necessity for luxury in growing civilization; from the need of creating

little engines, imitating instruments and machines, in the child. In a

word, every particular invention, great or small, arises from a

particular need; for, we repeat again, there is no creative instinct in

general. A man distinguished for various inventions along practical

lines, writes: "As far as my memory allows, I can state that in my case

conception always results from a material or mental need. It

springs up suddenly. Thus, in 1887, a speech of Bismarck made me so

angry that I immediately thought of arming my country with a repeating

rifle. I had already made various applications to the ministry of war,

when I learned that the Lebel system had just been adopted. My

patriotism was fully satisfied, but I still have the design of the gun

that I invented." This communication mentions two or three other

inventions that arose under analogous circumstances, but have had a

chance of being adopted.

Among the requisite qualities I mention the natural and necessary

preeminence of certain groups of sensations or images (visual, tactile,

motor) that may be decisive in determining the direction of the


(II) Mechanical invention grows by successive stratifications and

additions, as in the sciences, but more completely. It is a fine

verification of the "subsidiary law of growing complexity" previously

discussed. If we measure the distance traversed since the distant

ages when man was naked and unarmed before nature to the present time of

the reign of machinery, we are astonished at the amount of imagination

produced and expended, often uselessly lavished, and we ask ourselves

how such a work could have been misunderstood or so lightly appreciated.

It does not pertain to our subject to make even a summary table of this

long development. The reader can consult the special works which,

unfortunately, are most often fragmentary and lack a general view. So we

should feel grateful to a historian of the useful arts, L. Bourdeau,

for having attempted to separate out the philosophy of the subject, and

for having fastened it down in the following formulas:

(a) The exploitation of the powers of nature is made according to their

degree of power.

(b) The extension of working instruments has followed a logical

evolution in the direction of growing complexity and perfection.

Man, according to the observations of M. Bourdeau, has applied his

creative activity to natural forces and has set them to work according

to a regular order, viz.:

(1) Human forces, the only ones available during the "state of nature"

and the savage state. Before all else, man created weapons: the most

circumscribed primitive races have invented engines for attack and

defense--of wood, bone, stone, as they were able. Then the weapon became

a tool by special adaptation:--the battle-club serves as a lever, the

tomahawk as a hammer, the flint ax as a hatchet, etc. In this manner

there is gradually formed an arsenal of instruments. "Inferior to most

animals as regards certain work that would have to be done with the aid

of our organic resources alone, we are superior to all as soon as we set

our tools at work. If the rodents with their sharp teeth cut wood better

than we can, we do it still better with the ax, the chisel, the saw.

Some birds, with the help of a strong beak, by repeated blows,

penetrate the trunk of a tree: but the auger, the gimlet, the wimble do

the same work better and more quickly. The knife is superior to the

carnivore's teeth for tearing meat; the hoe better than the mole's paw

for digging earth, the trowel than the beaver's tail for beating and

spreading mortar. The oar permits us to rival the fish's fin; the sail,

the wing of the bird. The distaff and spindle allow our imitating the

industry of insect spinners; etc. Man thus reproduces and sums up in his

technical contrivances the scattered perfections of the animal world. He

even succeeds in surpassing them, because, in the form of tools, he uses

substances and combinations of effects that cannot figure as part of an

organism." It is scarcely likely that most of these inventions

arose from a voluntary imitation of animals: but even supposing such an

origin, there would still remain a fine place for personal creative

work. Man has produced by conscious effort what life realizes by methods

that escape us; so that the creative imagination in man is a

succedaneum of the generative powers of nature.

(2) During the pastoral stage man brought animals under subjection and

discipline. An animal is a machine, ready-made, that needs only to be

trained to obedience; but this training has required and stimulated all

sorts of inventions, from the harness with which to equip it, to the

chariots, wagons, and roads with which and on which it moves.

(3) Later, the natural motors--air and water--have furnished new

material for human ingenuity, e.g., in navigation; wind- and

water-mills, used at first to grind grain, then for a multitude of

uses--sawing, milling, lifting hammers; etc.

(4) Lastly, much later, come products of an already mature civilization,

artificial motors, explosives,--powder and all its derivatives and

substitutes--steam, which has made such great progress.

If the reader please to represent to himself well the immense number of

facts that we have just indicated in a few lines; if he please to note

that every invention, great or small, before becoming a fixed and

realized thing, was at first an imagination, a mere contrivance of the

brain, an assembly of new combinations or new relations, he will be

forced to admit that nowhere--not excepting even esthetic

production--has man imagined to such a great extent.

One of the reasons--though not the only one--that supports the contrary

opinion is, that by the very law of their growing complexity, inventions

are grafted one on another. In all the useful arts improvements have

been so slow, and so gradually wrought, that each one of them passed

unperceived, without leaving its author the credit for its discovery.

The immense majority of inventions are anonymous--some great names alone

survive. But, whether individual or collective, imagination remains

imagination. In order that the plow, at first a simple piece of wood

hardened by the fire and pushed along with the human hand, should become

what it is to-day, through a long series of modifications described in

the special works, who knows how many imaginations have labored! In the

same way, the uncertain flame of a resinous branch guiding vaguely in

the night leads us, through a long series of inventions, to gas and

electric lighting. All objects, even the most ordinary and most common

that now serve us in our everyday-life, are condensed imagination.

(III) More than any other form, mechanical imagination depends strictly

on physical conditions. It cannot rest content with combining images, it

postulates material factors that impose themselves unyieldingly.

Compared to it, the scientific imagination has much more freedom in the

building of its hypotheses. In general, every great invention has been

preceded by a period of abortive attempts. History shows that the

so-called "initial moment" of a mechanical discovery, followed by its

improvements, is the moment ending a series of unsuccessful trials: we

thus skip a phase of pure imagination, of imaginative construction that

has not been able to enter into the mold of an appropriate determinism.

There must have existed innumerable inventions that we might term

mechanical romances, which, however, we cannot refer to because they

have left us no trace, not being born viable. Others are known as

curiosities because they have blazed the path. We know that Otto de

Guericke made four fruitless attempts before discovering his air-pump.

The brothers Montgolfier were possessed with the desire to make

"imitation clouds," like those they saw moving over the Alps. "In order

to imitate nature," they at first enclosed water-vapor in a light, stout

case, which fell on cooling. Then they tried hydrogen; then the

production of a gas with electrical properties; and so on. Thus, after a

succession of hypotheses and failures, they finally succeeded. From the

end of the sixteenth century there was offered the possibility of

communicating at a distance by means of electricity. "In a work

published in 1624 the Jesuit, Father Leurechon, described an imaginary

apparatus (by means of which, he said, people could converse at a

distance) for the aid of lovers who, by the connection of their

movements, would cause a needle to move about a dial on which would be

written the letters of the alphabet; and the drawing accompanying the

text is almost a picture of Breguet's telegraph." But the author

considered it impossible "in the absence of lovers having such


Mechanical inventions that fail correspond to erroneous or unverified

scientific hypotheses. They do not emerge from the stage of pure

imagination, but they are instructive to the psychologist because they

give in bare form the initial work of the constructive imagination in

the technical field.

There still remain the requirements of reasoning, of calculation, of

adaptation to the properties of matter. But, we repeat, this determinism

has several possible forms--one can reach the same goal through

different means. Besides, these determining conditions are not lacking

in any type of imagination; there is only a difference as between lesser

and greater. Every imaginative construction from the moment that it is

little more than a group of fancies, a spectral image haunting a

dreamer's brain, must take on a body, submit to external conditions on

which it depends, and which materialize it somewhat. In this respect,

architecture is an excellent example. It is classed among the fine arts;

but it is subject to so many limitations that its process of invention

strongly resembles technical and mechanical creations. Thus it has been

possible to say that "Architecture is the least personal of all the

arts." "Before being an art it is an industry in the sense that it has

nearly always a useful end that is imposed on it and rules its

manifestations. Whatever it builds--a temple, a theater, a palace--it

must before all else subordinate its work to the end assigned to it in

advance. This is not all:--it must take account of materials, climate,

soil, location, habits--of all things that may require much skill, tact,

calculation, which, however, do not interest art as such, and do not

permit architecture to manifest its purely esthetic qualities."

Thus, at bottom, there is an identity of nature between the constructive

imagination of the mechanic and that of the artist: the difference is

only in the end, the means, and the conditions. The formula, Ars homo

additus naturae, has been too often restricted to esthetics--it should

comprehend everything artificial. Esthetes, doubtless, hold that their

imagination has for them a loftier quality--a disputed question that

psychology need not discuss; for it, the essential mechanism is the same

in the two cases: a great mechanic is a poet in his own way, because he

makes instruments imitating life. "Those constructions that at other

times are the marvel of the ignorant crowd deserve the admiration of the

reflecting:--Something of the power that has organized matter seems to

have passed into combinations in which nature is imitated or surpassed.

Our machines, so varied in form and in function, are the representatives

of a new kingdom intermediate between senseless and animate forms,

having the passivity of the former and the activity of the latter, and

exploiting everything for our sake. They are counterfeits of animate

beings, capable of giving inert substances a regular functioning. Their

skeleton of iron, organs of steel, muscles of leather, soul of fire,

panting or smoking breath, rhythm of movement--sometimes even the shrill

or plaintive cries expressing effort or simulating pain:--all that

contributes to give them a fantastic likeness to life--a specter and

dream of inorganic life."

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