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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

210         Unprofessional Sermons

to be any weight at all ? There is a miracle somewhere. At
the point where two very large nothings have united to
form a very little something.


There is no such complete assimilation as assimilation of
rhythm. In fact it is in assimilation of rhythm that what we
see as assimilation consists.

When two liquid bodies come together with nearly the
same rhythms, as, say, two tumblers of water, differing but
very slightly, the two assimilate rapidly—becoming homo-
geneous throughout. So with wine and water which assimi-
late, or at any rate form a new homogeneous substance, very
rapidly. Not so with oil and water. Still, I should like to
know whether it would not be possible to have so much water
and so little oil that the water would in time absorb the oil.

I have not thought about it, but it seems as though the
maxim de minimis non curat lex—the fact that a wrong, a
contradiction in terms, a violation of all our ordinary canons
does not matter and should be brushed aside—it seems as
though this maxim went very low down in the scale of nature,
as though it were the one principle rendering combination
(integration) and, I suppose, dissolution (disintegration) also,
possible. For combination of any kind involves contra-
diction in terms ; it involves a self-stultification on the part
of one or more things, more or less complete in both of them.
For one or both cease to be, and to cease to be is to contradict
all one's fundamental axioms or terms.

And this is always going on in the mental world as much
as in the material; everything is always changing and
stultifying itself more or less completely. There is no per-
manence of identity so absolute, either in the physical world,
or in our conception of the word " identity/' that it is not
crossed with the notion of perpetual change which, pro tanto,
destroys identity. Perfect, absolute identity is like perfect,
absolute anything—as near an approach to nothing, or
nonsense, as our minds can grasp. It is, then, in the essence
of our conception of identity that nothing should maintain
a perfect identity; there is a.n element of disintegration in
the only conception of integration that we can form.

What is it, then, that makes this conflict not only possible