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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 2 (June 1, 1929.)

Will Power and Steam Power and Other Phenomena

page 16

Will Power and Steam Power and Other Phenomena

Will and Won't.

Will-Power is great, but steam power is greater.

If you doubt this assertion, meticulous reader, gird up your Bulldog braces, plant your Bostocks firmly on terra permanenta—or the permanent way—and stand immutably, inscrutably, and imperturbably between the rails, taking care when doing so to project your psycho-cylindrical jelly-beans outwards and onwards impinging on the oscillatory onrush of the nearest approaching train. Grasp a volume on “Mind Over Machinery” between the first finger and the thumb of the right hand, and concentrate all the fifty-seven varieties of your psychological hardware upon the charging victim. Raise the left hand in a gesture of contempt, like that of a traffic inspector rampant, or of Wilhelm Hohenzollern, senr., reviewing a battalion of Dutch cheeses at Doorn; then await developments. There are sure to be developments. Either you stop the train, or you subject your wife to a severe attack of galloping widowhood. If you succeed in halting the engine it is because the enginedriver is an understanding man who probably served his apprenticeship to a donkey-engine. But in the double event of your psychological outfit developing an air-choke in the uptake and the engine-driver mistaking you for a magnetic disturbance, mind and matter henceforth will be of equal indifference to you, for your destination will be a place where mind doesn't matter and matter is out of mind.

No, sir, the hypnotic retina may be effective for restraining the homo-voracious complex of a zither or of a man-eating antimacasser; but can it, for instance, restore the departed youth to a senile breakfast egg, bring back that schoolgirl complexion, or induce respiration in a wind-broken vacuum cleaner? The “Noes” have it, I fancy.

Mind and Mountains.

Certainly faith has its advantages. For instance, it assisted a certain ancient contractor named Mohammed to effect a compromise with the biggest shifting job extant, with no other tools than his personality; but attempts at mountain moving as a pastime have their drawbacks, and are not recommended for beginners, in the best treatises on psychological sports and pastimes. Even if one did succeed in enticing a mountain into one's back yard by imitating the cry of the eidelweiss, or the gymnastics of a Swiss cheese, what would one (or two for that matter) do with it, unless one proposed to raise yodels and alpenstocks on a commercial scale?

Will Power that Wilted.

As a deterrent to over-ambitious exponents of psychic put-and-take, who might be tempted to page 17 interfere with the face of nature, let us consider an instance of will-power that wilted. Of course, enlightened reader, you recollect perfectly the Canute case; no, it was not in the papers at the time, because in those days the editor who stepped too forcibly on the power of the press was liable to lose his head-lines and become nothing more than a printer's error.

“a Traffic Inspector Rampant.”

“a Traffic Inspector Rampant.”

Nevertheless, details of the business have trickled down the pages of history. You remember how King Canute was asked to permanently lower the Plimsol mark on his native foreshore merely with a look of despotism and his personal influence. As you are aware, his action arose out of a wager with the minister of marine with whom the king happened to be drinking stoups of stout, mugs of mead, dippers of dillwater, or something equally damp. It was suggested that nothing of an acqueous nature was beyond the king's powers of control. Then came his famous declaration of indiscretion, which subsequently lost him his seat on the harbour board, and made him so unpopular with the navy. In fact it is on record (or vice versa, as the case may be) that the navy waited upon him in person and threatened to pull out the plug and scuttle the fleet if the king endeavoured again to restrict the cruising radius of the senior service—but we anticipate.

Tidal Waves and Brain-Waves.

Of course you recall how the king endeavoured to wriggle out of the bet by asserting that he was suffering from a slight attack of water on the brain following over-concentration on tides, and said he feared that the raising of his mind so constantly to a sea plane might derogatively affect foreign relations with his neighbours, the Finns. However, popular opinion being in favour of calling his majesty's bluff, he proceeded in his state homobile to the nearest marine sunspot, and—after commanding the lifesavers to stand by in case his tidal brain-wave should develop stringhalt or a vacuum in the symposium—he proceeded to think of all the anti-wet arguments he had ever read in the American press, and to project his most ultramarine thought bacilli at the selvedge of the North Sea. You know what happened, learned reader—how the North Sea cut him dead on the marine parade, and advanced steadily until the king contracted water on the knee and only escaped losing his crown and anchor in Davy Jones' locker by the timely intervention of the life guards, who reeled him in and wrung him out.

Psychology and Lie-chology.

“There is nothing new under the sun,” is a slogan adopted by used-car salesmen, and it is probably the most truthful truth they have ever been guilty of uttering. Mind manipulation certainly is no new thing. The serpent practised it with marked success on Eve, and people have been giving other people pieces of
“The vanished youth of a senile breakfast egg.”

“The vanished youth of a senile breakfast egg.”

their mind ever since. But mind control in its more modern and virulent form is known as Psychology. There are numerous brands of psychology not registered under the Pure Foods Act. For instance, there is business psychology, child psychology, plumbing psychology, boxing psychology, and a million others, all labelled “new thought,” which nevertheless are merely old thoughts disguised in horn-rims.
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Business psychology teaches the use of the £ s. d. ray for disclosing the weak spots in your adversary's psycho-financial complex, and enables you to duck under his guard and upset his credit balance with an underhand jab to his chamber of commerce.

Boxing psychology is similar in some respects, but when practising the latter phase of the noble art, you look into the depths of your opponent's eyes and read there the message of his soul, which is usually an advance note as to where he intends to deliver the next wallop. It is a mistake, however, to gaze too closely or too long into the windows of his soul, for he may decide that the time is ripe to deliver his message by hand, and knock you for ten, twenty, thirty, forty—or even fifty seconds, into the land of shadow-sparring.

Child psychology is a finer and gentler art than either of those aforementioned. Its mastery enables you to determine instinctively what it is that causes the infant Samuel to hiccough like a shunting engine with steam pressure on the dome, and to convolute in the region of his Plunket system. Advanced pupils can even quieten the discordant vibrations in the infant Samuel's screech box or hooter, without resorting to the old-fashioned method of stunning him with a slipper, or leaving him with the neighbours, on the pretext of a sudden death in the family or something even flimsier.

Plumbing psychology, it seems, has not advanced appreciably during the last decade or two, but I believe that, by forming a psychic circle of one's most muscular relatives, armed with red-hot soldering irons and flame-throwing blow-lamps, it is possible to influence the pipeological impulses of members of the profession in such a manner that their subconscious metallurgy is prompted to action—slowly at first, but gaining impetus during the fourth and fifth weeks of their efforts to instal a new washer in the bathroom tap.

And now, having exhausted all unreliable sources of information concerning psychological highcockalorum, I am constrained to practise the psychology of silence.

“will power that wilted.”

“will power that wilted.”

Going to the Dogs.

As a reaction to aesthetic speculation, let us take the bit in our teeth and go to the dogs.

Undoubtedly the dog is a wonderful skinful of warring emotions and canine dogmatism. He is an animal of parts—not spare parts, as some road-hogs appear to imagine, but rather bare parts. For instance, he can register friendly relations in the region of the hind quarters, and, simultaneously, issue a note of warning from head quarters. In other words, he is a bit of a “wag” and something of a “bite” at the same time. He perspires through his tongue, which is a blessing that has not been vouchsafed to man, whose vocal efforts appear never to exhaust him to this—or any other—extent. This fact constitutes one of the many mistakes made by Nature when drawing up the plans and specifications for the modelling of man. Although the dog has not yet been handicapped by a “psychology” he has other troubles, the chief of which is an unappeasable vacuum in the vicinity of his meat-works. Have you ever watched him making burning love to the butcher? The affection in his eye is more than human; it is a love beyond understanding. It comes straight from his soul—via his epiglottis.

Hounded by Hunger.

Until, in the days before the war, I sojourned for a few months in a whare overlooking the native pa at Ohinemutu, Rotorua, I had never realised the full significance of the term “race suicide.” As a warning against indiscriminate mixing of racial characterstics, the dogs of Ohinemutu were without parallel. They reminded me of the nocturnal illusions engendered by the consumption of a muscle-bound crayfish and an especially vivacious piece of antique Stilton. Their pedigrees must have been as tortuous as Chinese politics, and they were all so closely connected by marriage that they were almost afraid to bite one another for fear of biting themselves.

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There were dogs wearing a blood-hound's head at one end, a greyhound body in the centre and the merest suggestion of a rudder aft. There were dogs that were mere canine enigmas, dogs that only thought they were dogs, and dogs utterly incapable of proving their “bona fidos.” There were dogs that loped like a rheumatic llama, dogs that bounded like a football, dogs that appeared to be guided solely by their olfactory prescience, dogs that howled, dogs that growled, and dogs that seemed rapt in thought. All the colours in the spectrum were represented in this herd of hounds. Some were the hue of sunburned liver, some were fish-belly white, some flaunted more colour variations than a country football club, and others were so involved that it was necessary to wear smoked glasses to see them at all. In the chilly watches of the night they would advance in close formation on my dust-bin, little realising, poor misguided wretches, that it belonged to a Scotsman, and there they would engage in bloody warfare over nothing more substantial than the vertebrae of a defunct trout. The call of duty demanded that I should be up and doing before the gibbous moon had set and the sun had said “good morning.” At this time of the day the vicinity was usually as devoid of life as a meeting of the clans when a collection is about to be taken. The pa provided a short cut to my place of daily endeavour, and for some time I used it. But one morning I stumbled over a tin. Immediately, the air was rent with horrid noise. With the baying and barking of a thousand hunger-maddened hyenas, dark forms dashed through holes in fences and from beneath a score of whares. For a moment I experienced all the sensations of a piece of doomed dog's meat, and the next I took unto myself the wings of an Avro, and the horsepower of Mercury. Youth and fear are a great combination to develop speed. I had either to outstrip the pack or to be stripped. The fact that I have been spared to write my memoirs proves that I gained my objective, but it was a close call—so close that I could feel the hot breath of the leaders scorching my calves. That, I might add, is not the closest I have been to going to the dogs—but enough.

“Look int his eyes and read there the message of his soul”

“Look int his eyes and read there the message of his soul”

Speaking of speed reminds me that I started to write about steam power and trains. Allow me to mention, therefore, that last Sunday I conducted the twins round the block in the “week-end special” and that the night before I witnessed the weekly spectacle of Uncle Henry Fitzgaily, in a rotary condition, coming home by rail.

“the Week-end Special” and “Coming Home By Rail.”

“the Week-end Special” and “Coming Home By Rail.”