A HIGHLY STIMULATING STUDY OF LANGUAGE
The Fabric of Thought: by G. F. M. Ennis. Effingham Wilson, London. 1923.
"The Fabric of Thought" includes three essays, which are called respectively, "Abracadabra: The Riddle of the Sphinx--An Inspiration": "Bubbles: The Riddle of Life--A Study: and "Gossamer: The Riddle of the Future--A Fancy". These are highly fantastic titles, but no more so than the subject matter warrants. One is forced to read several chapters before one is convinced that the whole thing is not a great, super-developed hoax, and from then on, the utmost concentration is required to follow the writer's logic at all. The first essay consists of a most elaborate and painstaking demonstration of the theory that all modern and ancient languages have grown out of one fundamental languages and alphabet, whose very sounds not only symbolized the concrete, but "suggested the soul of thought which is beyond expression". This alphabet, Mr. Ennis holds, was "systematically and deliberately constructed to embody funds of Knowledge", so that "every letter had a hidden meaning, and words in current use today retain the meaning which the group of letters gave." And accepting the tradition which exists in Ireland, in Greece and in Egypt of an ancient alphabet of sixteen letters the author seeks to prove that the well-known nursery catch, "Ena dena, dina, do, catch a nigger by the toe, etc.," is this lost alphabet, preserved by generations of children, who repeated it almost subconsciously, perfectly oblivious to the "depth of knowledge buried in the apparently meaningless words".
This may seem, at a glance, a bootless and altogether ridiculous undertaking, but anyone who grinds his way through the mass of evidence, the wealth of philological comparison, and the intricate reasoning on which the author bases his conclusion cannot but be impressed with his earnestness and industry, if not absolutely convinced of his soundness. To discuss lightly the probability of the case is to be flippant, when one regards the mountain of material with which Mr. Ennis bulwarks his position. And when he passes from the philology of the first essay, to philosophy, economics and metaphysics in the second, and to even higher flights, analyzing fancy and education, in the third, the layman is likely to feel even more at a loss. But, in his introduction, Mr. Ennis, says that the essays "are not scientific treatises; they are outlines of ideas upon which thought and vision can play, and if they succeed in stirring the imagination they will have justified their object." Without following every step of deduction and induction, the reader must nevertheless be vastly stimulated and awakened to his own abysmal ignorance; any essay which accomplishes these results is distinctly worth-while.