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Mental Radio, by Upton Sinclair, [1930], at

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These drawing tests afford a basis for psychoanalysis, and it is interesting to note some of the facts thus brought up from the childhood of my wife. For example, fires! She was raised in the "black belt," where there are nine Negroes to one white, and the former are still close to Africa. When Craig was a girl, a nurse in the family, having been discharged, set fire to the home while the adults were away, and the children asleep. Another servant, jealous of an unfaithful husband, put her two babies into a barrel full of feathers and burned them alive. Other fires occurred; so now, in her home, Craig keeps an uneasy eye out for greasy rags, or overheated stoves, or whatever else her fears suggest. When in these drawing tests there has been anything indicating fire or smoke, she has "got" it, with only one or two failures out of more than a dozen cases. Sometimes she "got" the fire or smoke without the object; sometimes she supplied fire or smoke to an object which might properly have it—a pipe, for example. The results are so curious

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that I assemble them together—a series of fire-alarms, as it were.

You recall the fact that in one of the early drawing tests—those in which, instead of giving the drawings to my wife, I sat in my study and concentrated upon them—I drew a lighted cigarette, and thought of the curls of smoke. Craig filled up her drawing with curves, and wrote: "I can't draw it, but curls of some sort." At this time the convention that "curls" stood for smoke had not been established. But now, in the series drawn by my secretary, appeared a little house with smoking chimney, and you will see that my wife got the smoke better than the house (figs. 36, 36a):

Fig. 36, Fig. 36a

This apparently established in her mind the association of curls with smoke. So when, in series six, I drew a pipe with smoke-curls, my wife first drew an ellipse, and then wrote: "Now

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it begins to spin, round and round, and is attached to a stick." She then drew (figs. 37, 37a):

Fig. 37, Fig. 37a

In series eight I drew a sky-rocket going up. My first impulse had been to draw a bursting rocket, with a shower of stars, but I realized that would be difficult, so I drew this instead (fig. 38):

Fig. 38

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My wife apparently took my first thought, rather than my drawing. Anyhow, she made half a dozen sketches of whirligigs and light (figs. 38a, 38b, 38c):

Fig. 38a, Fig. 38b, Fig. 38c

And here in series twenty-two is a burning lamp (figs. 39, 39a):

Fig. 39, Fig. 39a

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And in series thirty-four another, with comment: "flame and sparks" (figs. 40, 40a):

Fig. 40, Fig. 40a

I drew another pipe in series twenty-two, with the usual curls of smoke; and Craig wrote: "Smoke stack." I drew another in series thirty-three with the result that, five drawings in advance of the correct one, Craig drew a pipe with smoke. Of course, this may have been a coincidence; but wait till you see how often such coincidences happen! (figs. 41, 41a):

Fig. 41, Fig. 41a

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In series twenty-one I drew a chimney, and Craig drew a chimney, and added smoke. In thirty-four I drew an old-fashioned trench-mortar; and here again she supplied the smoke (figs. 42, 42a):

Fig. 42, Fig. 42a

Cannons are especially horrible things to her, as you may note again and again in her published war-sonnets:

The sharpened steel whips round, the black guns blaze,
    Waste are the harvests, mute the songs of birds.

So when, in series eleven, I drew the muzzle half of an old-style cannon, Craig's imagination got to work one drawing ahead of time. She wrote: "Fire and smoke—smoke—flame," and then drew as follows (fig. 43a):

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Fig. 43a

The next drawing was the cannon, and I give it, along with the drawing Craig made to go with it. The comment she wrote was: "Half circle —double lines—light inside—light is fire busy whirling or flaming" (figs. 44, 44a):

Fig. 44, Fig. 44a

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So much for fires, and things associated with fire. Now consider another detail about life in the Yazoo delta, brought out in the course of our psychoanalysis. In the days of Craig's childhood, poisonous snakes were an ever-present menace, and fear of them had to be taught to children, and could hardly be taught too early. There is a family story of a little tot crawling under the house and coming back to report, "I see nuffin wiv a tail to it!" In the swamps back of Craig's summer home on the Mississippi Sound I have counted a dozen copperheads and moccasins in the course of a half hour's walk. Also, her father has some childhood complex buried in his mind, which causes him to have a spell of nausea at the sight of a snake. All this, of course, strongly affected the child's early days, and now it is in her mental depths. So when I drew a hissing snake, just see the uproar I caused! She made no drawing, but wrote a little essay. I give my drawing, and her essay following (fig. 45):

Fig. 45

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"See something like kitten with tail and saucer of milk. Now it leaps into action and runs away to outdoors. Turns to fleeing animal outdoors. Great activity among outdoor creatures. Know it's some outdoor thing, not indoor object—see trees, and a frightened bird on the wing (turned sidewise). It's outdoor thing, but none of above seems to be it."

In other words, little Mary Craig Kimbrough is back on the plantation, seeing terror among birds and poultry, and not knowing what causes it! Study the drawing, and you see that I got the action of the snake, but didn't get the coils very well, so they might be a "saucer of milk" —and a sure-enough kitten's tail sticking out from it. Another childhood horror here! Craig was a fat little thing, and she slipped and plumped down on her favorite pet kitten, and exploded it.

Next: Chapter XIII