instincts of the herd

Instincts of the Herd erasure

Erased from “Imperfections in the Social Habit of Man.” In: Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War by W. Trotter. London: T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., 1916. Courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

first feeling of the ordinary citizen
fear—immense, vague aching anxiety
the individual fears for future
food supply, family, trade

with fear, a heightening of intolerance of isolation
loneliness urgently unpleasant
the individual experienced desire for company
and even physical contact.
in such company aware of
confidence, courage, and moral power

isolation tended to depress confidence,
company fortified it.
the change in frigid atmosphere
of railway train, omnibus, and all such meeting-places
was most interesting

most striking of all was
the strength and vitality of rumour,
startling evidence that a stronger force than reason
was at work in formation of opinion

non-rational opinion so widespread,
such opinion spread so rapidly, established so firmly.
the successful rumours invaded all classes.
the observer found self irresistibly drawn to
acceptance of popular belief

allied with accessibility to rumour was readiness
with which suspicions of treachery and hostility
grew and flourished
about anyone of foreign appearance or origin

attempt to discuss origin and meaning of
various types of fable epidemic in opinion—
we are concerned with their
immense vitality and power of growth

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2 Comments

  1. Once again, lovely. The genre is like the obverse of those refrigerator poetry magnets, which themselves left increasing space for interpretation as individual words got lost and/or lost their power to adhere to surfaces.

    Reply
    • Thanks. I find the erasure practice much more engaging than magnetic poetry sets, which when I’ve received them as gifts have only served to take up space on the fridge, and never generated much in the way of creative expression.

      Reply

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