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Gesture, we have seen, may be conveniently divided for study into three parts: Bearing, Gesticulation, and Facial expression.
The first of these, Bearing, you have been studying under the Feet Attitudes. It is through Bearing we express the general condition, the fundamental attitude of the mind. Gesticulation (the second division), expresses the particular thoughts, feelings, and impulses. These must always be in harmony with the general attitude. In these lines about the launching of a ship:
Then the Master, With a gesture of command Waved his hand. And at the word Loud and sudden there was heard, All around them and below, The Sound of hammers, blow on blow, Knocking away the shores and Spurs. Give the first three lines so as to convey the idea with the voice alone, that the Master made A quick gesture. A slow gesture. A dignified gesture. A languid gesture. A waving of the hand from the wrist. A gesture of triumph or exultation.
Read the last five lines so as to give the idea that tack hammers were used. Now let it be carpenters' hammerS. Now sledge hammers swung with both hands.
Do you notice that in each case the general bearing, the gesticulation, and the voice, all express the same attitude of mind?
Although in this course we cannot make a thorough study of Gesticulation, yet a glimpse of the subject is worth while; and in a few lessons you may get a start towards a true idea of the function of the hand and arm in gesture. I make no attempt here to give any philosophical analysis of gesture; but will try to describe the fundamental attitudes and actions, and point out their significance. For gesticulations have a definite meaning, and their meaning and purpose are more important than their gracefulness.
Indicate. (2a) You may point out a visible object as:
Or you may indicate a moving object.
The thing pointed out may be mental instead of physiCal, some point you wish your hearers to notice (2b).
Ah, gentlemen that was a dreadful mistake.
Or the gesture may be ideal, indicating the nobility or grandeur of the object named (2C).
I charge thee, Cromwell, fling away ambition,
If your point is the importance of this advice, (as if you said,” this one thing I want you to remember Cromwell) there will be mental pointing (2b) on the words “I charge thee.” If you point out that “even holy angels find this dangerous,” it is a gesture of the ideal, and the pointing hand will rise above the head. In such case the fore finger is straight and the others relaxed, the palm is always down.
Note 1. When refering to visible objects, or to objects im– agined as visible, the eye may accompany the hand; but when the reference is mental or ideal the eye never looks towards the hand.
Note 2. When you refer to an abstract thing, some conception of the mind, the hand generally moves somewhere between the height of the shoulder and the level of the waist; gesticulations that refer to ideal thoughts, hopes, Or feelings, are made above the shoulder; and those referring to contemptible or unworthy things are made below the waist level. But gesticulations referring to physical objects depend, of course, on the location of the object.
Note 3. In Presentation the gesticulation will naturally be open, revealing, easy, unhurried; since the speaker is trying to open and spread out the matter before his hearers. In Discrimination the texture of the hand will be firmer, and there will be more “edge” to the gesticula– tion. If the movement of the hand is not quicker than in the preceding, at least there will be more ictus, (a muscular tension, more or less slight, when the gesture culminates.) Practically all gestures culminate in an ictus, else they would fade away in a weak, indefinite fashion. The