Glossary investigation: Disequilibrated

Unbalanced: Disequilibrated

1891 Jean-Marie Guyau Education and heredity. A study in sociology

      Obviously, then, there is no possible remedy for this common disease called neurasthenia, to which all criminals, poets, visionaries, the insane, hysterical women – in fact, all whose mental equilibrium is disturbed – are subject; races simultaneously descend the scale of life and morality, and there is no ascent. The disequilibrated are for ever lost to humanity; if they do propagate their kind for a longer or shorter period, it is all the worse for them.
initial quote from dictionary in bold above



      Whose humanity is lost?

Notes: It seems an investigation of unbalance returns repeatedly to “hysterical women”. The quote above is from the preface of a book.

Skim reading shows Guyau was discussing the powers attributed by some to heredity, only to challenge and dismiss them. The actual focus of the book is on the role and types of education and Guyau’s vision of reforming education with proper attention to moral, physical and intellectual development – lifelong education. Long hours of studying to pass an exam and then forget all is rejected. Skipping to the chapter dedicated to education for women, it’s not clear to me if Guyau disagrees with the logical outcome of prevailing principles that “… the disequilibration produced in the woman by intellectual work will therefore necessarily be greater than in the case of the man” (p. 260). He does appear to agree with the assumption of a girl or woman’s primary role as future mother. Given the precise direction of her future is uncertain, given vagaries of husband and family, “it should be clearly understood that we have not to teach her everything, but to fit her to learn everything, by giving her a taste for study and an interest in every subject” (p.270). Skipping ahead we find: “Inspire children, and especially young girls, with a taste for reading, study, works of art, and elevated amusements; this taste will be worth far more than all knowledge, strictly so called, artificially implanted in them; instead of a mind furnished with lifeless knowledge, you will have a mind at once living, moving, and progressive” (p. 274).

A 1891 NY Times review of the book I found annoying and confusing in tone.

A side note – the treatment of Guyau’s mother in various wikipedia references. The Guyau entry highlights the influence of “his stepfather, the noted French philosopher Alfred Fouillée”, while the mother, Augustine Tuillerie, gets a brief mention as author of a book and a link that doesn’t work. Her book gets an entry. There is also a french language entry for Augustine under her pseudonym G.Bruno. I’d like to know more.

Balancing the mobile was particularly challenging as the upright spikes flipped at the slightest change. Also challenging was photography for this entry. The composite photo is static.

Individual photos give some idea of the shapes made.

More glossary entries
Structure based on lists

  • Glossary as a list of words connected with unbalance
  • Oxford English Dictionary used as source of quotations, not definitions
  • Making, motion, and photo documentation in response to quote
  • Text response in a list
  • Process notes

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