Wednesday, 27 February 2013

McTeague by Frank Norris

There are many crude elements in McTeague by Frank Norris (1870 -1902) published in 1899. It is roughhewn but the evident native wit and talent is there together with a symbolic boldness and lurid naturalism. A new energy was arising which followed a gaudy trail blazed by Zola. Gissing and Moore also reflect that force in their willingness to write about the lives of those who may be cast into poverty in a trice. Norris had studied painting in Paris for 2 years from the age of 17 to 19, and there of course Zola was an influence. Some of the finest passages in McTeague are descriptive. Like Moore who also spent time at the Academy Jullian, a few years earlier, he had the painterly eye. His street scenes of San Francisco are vividly realised and composed with lots of 'up from’, 'across’, 'across the back yard through a gate’ . Everything is placed.

The day was very hot, and the silence of high noon lay close and thick between the steep slopes of the cañóns like an invisible, muffling fluid. At intervals the drone of an insect bored the air and trailed slowly to silence again. Everywhere were pungent, aromatic smells. The vast, moveless heat seemed to distil countless odors from the brush—odors of warm sap, of pine needles, and of tar-weed, and above all the medicinal odor of witch hazel. As far as one could look, uncounted multitudes of trees and manzanita bushes were quietly and motionlessly growing, growing, growing. A tremendous, immeasurable Life pushed steadily heavenward without a sound, without a motion. At turns of the road, on the higher points, cañóns disclosed themselves far away, gigantic grooves in the landscape, deep blue in the distance, opening one into another, ocean-deep, silent, huge, and suggestive of colossal primeval forces held in reserve. At their bottoms they were solid, massiv
e; on their crests they broke delicately into fine serrated edges where the pines and redwoods outlined their million of tops against the high white horizon. Here and there the mountains lifted themselves out of the narrow river beds in groups like giant lions rearing their heads after drinking. The entire region was untamed. In some places east of the Mississippi nature is cosey, intimate, small, and homelike, like a good-natured housewife. In Placer County, California, she is a vast, unconquered brute of the Pliocene epoch, savage, sullen, and magnificently indifferent to man.

Speaking of San Francisco reminds me that two characters in the novel give vent to that ultimate accolade , ‘outa sight’ which had to my ear a prochronistic sound assuming that it went with ‘flowers in your hair’, ‘lids’ and ‘far out’.

"You ought t'have seen, y'ought t'have seen. I tell you, it was outa sight. It was; it was, for a fact."

Although Norris was quite progressive politically for his time some of his attitudes reflected prejudices which were current and believed to have a scientific basis. Frequently we are told that McTeague’s jaw was a salient feature which implies latent criminality and is a feature of the Lombroso system of criminology. Zerkow Polish Jew rag and bone man is obsessed with the tale of a fabulous dining service of gold that the Colombian maid of all work Maria relates as an event of her childhood. Again and again he asks her to tell him the story until he finally comes to believe that she has it with her still. He marries her in order that he might get his hands on it. When they have a child it dies:

It had not even a name; a strange, hybrid little being, come and gone within a fortnight's time, yet combining in its puny little body the blood of the Hebrew, the Pole, and the Spaniard.

Inferior breed clearly. It’s not the case that Zerkow’s ‘racial predisposition’ is unique, several characters in the novel barring McTeague himself are obsessed with money and gold. His wife saves every cent she can and when she wins $5000 in a lottery it becomes the sacred capital that must not be touched even when the rainy day comes. Rather than give Mac a quarter for trolley fare she makes him walk in the rain. McTeague the poor simple Neanderthal merely wants a giant lacquered gold tooth to hang outside his 'Dental Parlors’ to serve as a shingle.

He is a dentist in a era when oversight of the profession was slack and a handy man could carry out the trade without college training. No first name is given for McTeague stressing the generic perhaps lumpen Irish miner of the 19th.century. His father was an alcoholic miner and he himself is susceptible to becoming whiskey crazed:

McTeague remembered his mother, too, who, with the help of the Chinaman, cooked for forty miners. She was an overworked drudge, fiery and energetic for all that, filled with the one idea of having her son rise in life and enter a profession. The chance had come at last when the father died, corroded with alcohol, collapsing in a few hours. Two or three years later a travelling dentist visited the mine and put up his tent near the bunk-house. He was more or less of a charlatan, but he fired Mrs. McTeague's ambition, and young McTeague went away with him to learn his profession. He had learnt it after a fashion, mostly by watching the charlatan operate. He had read many of the necessary books, but he was too hopelessly stupid to get much benefit from them.

McTaigue is a giant brute of a man that can pull teeth by gripping them between his finger and thumb. He and all about him and their environment is very well realised. It is an very good book, very readable. I don’t do plot points, just read it. His influence was far reaching down I would say even to John Steinbeck.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Shankara, Creation and the First Antinomy

Some elements of Shankara’s arguments are clearly of a pre-scientific nature. In discussing the topic of Brahman’s creation without materials he replies to the objection that to make something material requires source material, potters require clay and the tools of their trade, rod, wheel, string and so on. He asserts that this is not a universal rule for in the case of milk turning into curd (yogurt):

That fault does not arise, since on the analogy of milk it can be reasonably maintained that this can happen on account of the peculiar nature of the thing itself. As in the world milk or water gets transformed into curds or ice by itself without depending on any extraneous accessory, so it can be here ((creation)) as well.

In other words it is out of a pure potentiality that milk can become curds and the external aids such as starter, heat etc "only perfects the capacity of milk".

He takes this argument even further in claiming analogies in nature for creation out of nothing.

The spider also creates its threads by itself, the crane conceives without mating by hearing merely the roar of the clouds; and the lotus stalk moves from one lake to another without waiting for any vehicle. Similarly, Brahman, conscious though It is, may well create the universe by Itself without looking for external means.

To the continued objections of the opponent he simply answers that these examples of creation without external accoutrements are merely illustrations and :
Therefore what is implied (by the aphorist/author of the sutras) is that there cannot be any such invariable rule that the power of everybody must conform to that somebody we are familiar with.

Therefore to coin a phrase, in the final analysis, illustrations have no persuasive power and do not establish anything because definitive knowledge that is valid and reliable comes from the vedas. This is the sabda pramana, one of the 6 means of valid knowledge as accepted in Advaitic vedanta. The fact that Shankara is wrong about things that every schoolboy knows is not relevant to this. He holds therefore to the non overlapping magisterium view. Likewise if the Vedas were to state that fire does not burn nor water wet we should not accept that to be the case.

Preserving that cordon sanitaire is more difficult for the subject of Darwinian evolution. According to Vedanta cosmology creation is beginingless. Not only that but there seems to be the belief that things have always been the same as they are now and the same species have always existed.

In a reply to an opponent’s position that freshly minted creation would be without variety due to their being no karma to create that variety, Shankara replies:

Vedantin: That is no defect, since the transmigratory state has no beginning. This defect would have arisen if transmigration had a beginning. But if that state has no beginning, this is nothing contradictory for the fruits of work and the variety in creation to act as cause and effect of each other on the analogy of the seed and the sprout.

Kant deals with this conundrum in his Antinomy of Pure Reason first Antinomy being:
Thesis: The world has a beginning in time, and is also limited in regard to space
Antithesis: The world has no beginning and no limits in space, but is, in relation both to time and space, infinite.

‘That all depends on what you mean by infinity’. Yes, with that sage nod I must leave Kant for another time.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

I want to thank

I saw Lincoln recently. D.D. Lewis for an Oscar definitely but the rest of it to this viewer (on a small screen) detached as I am from the piety of the target audience, was dull and I thought tendentious. A movie that attempts to create an interpretation out of scattered hints must be exceeding its brief and is bound to distract from real and accepted achievements. Did Lincoln really hold up peace talks in order to push through the amendment? Was there ever a chance that slavery would be on the books after the Civil War? To me that seems surrealpolitik but I could be completely wrong as I often am.

Django Unchained was rubbish way below Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. Enough genuflecting Tarantino, enough hommage already!

Silver Linings Playbook has an ‘I want to thank my analyst’ speech already written for Robert De Niro. Chris Tucker as the escapee from the Asylum was brilliant too. Rom Com high fructose corn syrup with a dash of organic vinegar.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Major Poppleton and Captain Doherty

To me local history is the most interesting of the species of legend. Sometimes evidence and reliable testimony shines through the patination of likely stories. Great events and famous personages leave their traces in the most obscure locations. I very often in my rambles pass the graveyard at Killanin where the the Martins of Ross have their family tomb. The most famous of the Martins was Humanity Dick Martin who got his nickname from Prince Albert on account of his initiation of the movement for the humane treatment of animals. He was also known as 'Hairtrigger’ Martin having engaged in over 200 duels and disposed of £10,000 the proceeds of a criminal conversation trial by firing the money to beggars out of the window of his coach as he progressed from London to Dublin. He’s not buried there but the husband of his daughter is. He was a Major Poppleton who as Captain of the Guard on St.Helena had Napoleon in his charge. They used to go out riding daily but Napoleon as a cavalry man outrode the artillery office on his ambling pad easily. They had an excellent relationship and Napoleon gave him many mementoes among them being a snuff box. Mary Kyne in the local newsletter gives the details of the legends attaching to this keepsake.
Napoleon's Snuffbox
She doesn’t mention the lock of hair which came up for auction recently:
lock of hair
and though the collecting Major is not named it can only be him.

As an honourable man and surely with a father-in-law like 'Hairtrigger’ you are likely to be punctilious, he did not accede to the instruction to spy on his captive resigning his commission instead and returning to Ross.

Rambling through the cemetery in Sligo town I often stood before the family grave of the Dohertys of Castle St. ironmongers mentioned in the 1870 list of businesses. Captain Doherty was described on the stone as ‘the brave avenger of President Lincoln’ though not actually the one who shot Booth but the officer in charge of the detachment in pursuit of the assassin. I’d assumed that he was buried there but it is just a mention as he is in fact buried in Arlington. On Irish gravestones mentions usually designate the place of internment. The 'brave avenger’ was engraved at the behest of a General Kavanagh who was part of Doherty’s detachment that surrounded the barn. The rank of General may have been a courtesy one extended to the man who paid for the work. Print the legend!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

It's alive, sort of.

I don’t often give up on novels, I tend to plough on hoping that things may improve. Barbara Kinsolver’s The Lacuna was one recently. It was fine until Frida Kahlo showed up and then it turned to mush. I liked The Poisonwood Bible so I must have a look at some of her other books. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is bogging down too, the high minded tone is unremitting and the psychology seems false. I read it years ago and it was heavy going then. Why would Victor Frankenstein after labouring for years on the reanimation of dead tissue run away just when it seems to be a success? Because there wouldn’t be the novel that we have perhaps or having established that plot line at the age of 20 she had to stick with it. She wrote another story which is included in the Norton Anthology, Transformation. To me it seems a farrago.

Today I found The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay in Charlie’s for €1. It has the famous opening line:

”Take my camel, dear”, said my aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

Hello Dame Rose, goodbye Mary Shelley.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I found myself saying Hy-Brasail

I found myself saying yes. Reading that trope of personal surprise I found myself saying Libet what have you done. Are our responses to be considered according to the rubric of a bygone age which went: I’m the sort of guy who etc.. Here was a suggestion of someone who was helpless before their fate which was an adamantine source of response that could not be altered by much. Amor fati is then a sort of self love. You are your own fate. Become who you are said philohippic Friedrich which has a kind of 'vast imprecision’. The American love for such logoi is readily discernible if you google both it and its near idiot cousin ‘become what you are’. It is sealed with the seal of Oprah.

A contrary view of the core of personality is that it is malleable. Wisdom traditions all have their own specific recipes from penny plain to tuppence coloured. How are we to choose? Go by the slogan from the Irish Tourist Board - Ireland: The road you’re on will take you there.

HY-BRASAIL--THE ISLE OF THE BLEST
by Gerald Griffin


On the ocean that hollows the rocks where ye dwell,
A shadowy land has appeared, as they tell;
Men thought it a region of sunshine and rest,
And they called it Hy-Brasail, the isle of the blest.
From year unto year on the ocean's blue rim,
The beautiful spectre showed lovely and dim;
The golden clouds curtained the deep where it lay,
And it looked like an Eden, away, far away!

A peasant who heard of the wonderful tale,
In the breeze of the Orient loosened his sail;
From Ara, the holy, he turned to the west,
For though Ara was holy, Hy-Brasail was blest.
He heard not the voices that called from the shore--
He heard not the rising wind's menacing roar;
Home, kindred, and safety, he left on that day,
And he sped to Hy-Brasail, away, far away!

Morn rose on the deep, and that shadowy isle,
O'er the faint rim of distance, reflected its smile;
Noon burned on the wave, and that shadowy shore
Seemed loveilly distant, and faint as before;
Lone evening came down on the wanderer's track,
And to Ara again he looked timidly back;
Oh! far on the verge of the ocean it lay,
Yet the isle of the blest was away, far away!

Rash dreamer, return! O, ye winds of the main,
Bear him back to his own peaceful Ara again.
Rash fool! for a vision of fanciful bliss,
To barter thy calm life of labour and peace.
The warning of reason was spoken in vain;
He never revisited Ara again!
Night fell on the deep, amidst tempest and spray,
And he died on the waters, away, far away!
 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Dr.Jekyll: I concur Dr.Frankenstein

Remember, I am not recording the vision of a madman. The sun does not more certainly shine in the heavens than that which I now affirm is true. Some miracle might have produced it, yet the stages of the discovery were distinct and probable. After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.
(Frankenstein)

I was so far in my reflections when, as I have said, a side light began to shine upon the subject from the laboratory table. I began to perceive more deeply than it has ever yet been stated, the trembling immateriality, the mistlike transience, of this seemingly so solid body in which we walk attired. Certain agents I found to have the power to shake and pluck back that fleshly vestment, even as a wind might toss the curtains of a pavilion. For two good reasons, I will not enter deeply into this scientific branch of my confession. First, because I have been made to learn that the doom and burthen of our life is bound for ever on man's shoulders, and when the attempt is made to cast it off, it but returns upon us with more unfamiliar and more awful pressure. Second, because, as my narrative will make, alas! too evident, my discoveries were incomplete. Enough then, that I not only recognised my natural body from the mere aura and effulgence of certain of the powers that made up my spirit, but managed to compound a drug by which these powers should be dethroned from their supremacy, and a second form and countenance substituted, none the less natural to me because they were the expression, and bore the stamp of lower elements in my soul.
(The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde)

In their different forms we have here the alchemists vision of the transformation of matter, in the one altered materially and spiritually and in the other the elan vital revivified and rescued from corruption in a black resurrection. Hollywood of course took the opportunity to present Hyde as a grotesque monster. It is in some respects an Aristotelian proposal of the soul as the form of the body but when the person is riven into its elements in order that the soul be altered into its shadow the body must reflect that schism.

In the book Hyde is shrunken compared to the ample frame of Jekyll and his face is different but there is no distortion of his features and all that have seen him report a sense of evil writhing beneath the surface.

"He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something down-right detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point. He's an extraordinary looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir; I can make no hand of it; I can't describe him. And it's not want of memory; for I declare I can see him this moment."

Ted Bundy in an interview on the night before his execution explaining how pornography had made him do it had a similar effect on me and I turned it off as it was late and I didn’t wish to infest my dreams with his attempt to control us right up to the end.

Robert Louis Stevenson had the smooth compression of the essayist and his book runs to a mere 78 pages a novella whose verisimilitude gains from narrators that are doctors and lawyers, sober witnesses though appalled and stricken by the encounter with Hyde. Doctor Lanyon is the only one who has seen the effects of the potion in real time and it shortens his life:
There at least he was not denied admittance; but when he came in, he was shocked at the change which had taken place in the doctor's appearance. He had his death-warrant written legibly upon his face. The rosy man had grown pale; his flesh had fallen away; he was visibly balder and older; and yet it was not so much these tokens of a swift physical decay that arrested the lawyer's notice, as a look in the eye and quality of manner that seemed to testify to some deep-seated terror of the mind. It was unlikely that the doctor should fear death; and yet that was what Utterson was tempted to suspect. "Yes," he thought; "he is a doctor, he must know his own state and that his days are counted; and the knowledge is more than he can bear." And yet when Utterson remarked on his ill-looks, it was with an air of great firmness that Lanyon declared himself a doomed man.

"I have had a shock," he said, "and I shall never recover. It is a question of weeks. Well, life has been pleasant; I liked it; yes, sir, I used to like it. I sometimes think if we knew all, we should be more glad to get away."


Yet when he first saw Hyde he was dressed in he clothes of his larger alter ego and though this would be in the normal way a comic sight nothing about the man encourages this response. In the account of R.L.S. each of us has contending within us the forces of good and evil and his fantasy is being able to give free rein to the dark side without feeling remorse. However when he reverts to Jeykll he feels that objective evil has been wrought and lies out there and he is complicit in it. Resolving to put Hyde back in his hide, a place of watchful evil, and leave him there, his horror at the involuntary eviction of good Jeykll is great. In a reverie after waking he sees that during the night he has been transformed into Hyde and that without the compound.


Now the hand of Henry Jekyll (as you have often remarked) was professional in shape and size: it was large, firm, white and comely. But the hand which I now saw, clearly enough, in the yellow light of a mid-London morning, lying half shut on the bedclothes, was lean, corder, knuckly, of a dusky pallor and thickly shaded with a swart growth of hair. It was the hand of Edward Hyde.,

This is taken from his statement of the history of his doubling to be read after his death. It is a gnostic history of cosmic war fought within the bounds of a single life. Go to the source.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Shankara and the Ontological Argument for the existence of God

Alexander Pruss who has made a special study of the ontological arguments for the existence of God uses a supposed extract from Brahma-Sutra-Bhasya by Shankaracarya to bolster a modal argument.
Shankara's principle
The citation runs:
If a thing outside awareness is as impossible as a barren woman’s son how can we even feel as if something is outside?  Nothing even appears to be like an impossibility.
Says Dr.Pruss in a note:
The quote is taken from an indirect source viz. Quoted in Arindam Chakrabarti, “Metaphysics in India”, in: Jaegwon Kim and Ernest Sosa (eds.), Companion to Metaphysics, Oxford / Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995, 318–323, p. 319.  I am most grateful to Mr. Saikat Guha for the attribution of this principle to Shankaracarya and for the source of this quote.

I can now reveal that the source of this quote is B.S.B. II.ii.28 and it is part of a critique of the Vijnanavadin (Subjective Idealist) school of Buddhism. Because the whole section is of great interest I refer to a scanned version which I made of the translation by Swami Gambhirananda.
vijnanavada

Hardy followers of links, a dwindling trade, will notice that Swami’s translation differs from that quoted by Pruss which Chakrabarti offers.

Sw.G. trans:
 Else why should they say, “as though external”? For ‘nobody speaks thus: “Vistumitra appears like the son of a barren woman”. Accordingly, those who accept truth to be just what it is actually perceived to be, should accept a thing as it actually reveals itself externally, and not “as ‘though appearing outside”.

It seems clear that Chakrabati is altering Shankara’s original to achieve a certain reading or to guide the original towards his own understanding, in effect making clear what in his opinion is Shankara’s purport. In my opinion this is mistaken as we can see when we look at the vijnanavadin position that is being controverted.

 Well, I do not say that I do not perceive any object, but all that I hold is ‘that I do not perceive anything  apart from the perception.

This is the common subjective idealist view; we are in direct contact only with our perceptions. Shankara simply makes the point that this is contrary to our normal manner of speaking and represents a first move in a revisionary metaphysics. That this is based on a misunderstanding of possibility and impossibility he elucidates in a subsequent note.

The Buddhist’s retort is significant:
Buddhist. Since no object can possibly exist externally, I  come to ‘the conclusion that it appears as though it is outside.

This mention of possibility which has the true ‘idealist stink’ is the opening for Shankara:

Vedantin. This conclusion is not honest, since the possibility or impossibility of the existence of a thing is determined in accordance with ‘the applicability or non-applicability of the means of knowledge to it, but the applicability or non applicability of the means of knowledge is not ascertained in a accordance with the possibility or impossibility (of the thing) What is known through any one of the means of knowledge, direct perception etc., is possible, and what cannot be through any one of these means of knowledge is impossible.  


What I understand him as saying here is that putting the notion of possibility before the applicability of the means of knowledge i.e. the pramanas, in this case perception, is to reverse the process. We come to know that a thing/state of affairs is possible by perceiving it. (Scholastic tag: What is, is possible) We do not first decide whether or not a thing is possible and from this go on to say that it perceivable. It is perhaps this insight that Chakrabati is gesturing towards in his ‘citation’.

Nothing even appears to be like an impossibility.

Pruss’s use of this gets Shankara’s realism precisely backwards:
Shankara himself apparently used his principle that impossible things do not even appear to argue the hyperidealistic claim that it does not even appear to us that there is an external world.  
The fuller citation demonstrates that this is a mistake.

What Shankara would make of the Ontolological argument is quite clear. We cannot move from a determination of possibility to a determination of actuality.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Tapaswiji Maharaj and Shivabalayogi

When Tapaswiji Maharaj met Shivabalayogi for the first time the yogi was 15 years of age and the elder sage 182. Despite the great disparity in age they hit it off but at their first meeting the younger was deep in samadhi and not available for mundane colloquy. Tapaswiji was an adept in the use of rejuvenating herbs and the esoteric branches of ayuravedic medicine combined with kaya kalpa. At the age of 90 he had undergone this course and become a new man. Previously at the age of 55 he had taken up sanyas after an interview with the last Mughal Emperor. The stories he could tell!

When he came back on another visit Shivabalayogi was in everyday consciousness mode but due to his long period of sitting in asana his legs had become fixed like the twisting of dried cooked spaghetti and he was forced to drag himself about. Using oils and massage Tapaswiji made him limber again. He related to him that he was bound to do him service as in a previous incarnation Shivabalayogi had done him service during his tapas back in the day. ‘Now’, he said, ‘is there anything more I can do for you, to make you comfortable’.

- Well, said the youth, whom it would be recalled had undergone a great deal of hardship at the hands of louts who at one point had thrown his body into the nearby canal whilst lost to the world in samadhi. He sank to the bottom and then popped up again like a cork and back on the bank. After this they had let him alone.

- Well, there is one thing that is bothering me that is a great distraction and an impediment to my meditation. There is a window at the back there with a loose catch and when the wind is in a certain quarter it rattles. Can you get it fixed?
- Done, said Tapaswiji.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Shivabalayogi


Shivabalayogi looked bored almost to the point of fidget. He sat, his legs under him casually not in an asana with his attendants watchful of the audience. There wasn’t many of us that day at the Bannerghata Rd. Bangalore, Ashram which was out near the Banglore Dairy I think, not that the taxis and the auto-rickshaws didn’t know about him because of the crowds that flocked there every Sunday for bajans or devotional chanting. During the bajan many of the crowd would go into bhava samadhi or divine trance in which they would see visions of gods and goddesses. I visited him a few times but not on those days as I didn’t want to complicate my sadhana and in India one gets blasé about phenomena. My father used to tell the story of a man he worked with that all you had to do was mention the name of a lake or river and he would exclaim - fished it. Life isn’t long enough to fish in all the spiritual streams of India still being in the neighbourhood it seemed rude to pass.

Shivabalayogi

These collective phenomena are world wide and give great entertainment to the rationalist and the sceptical. I recall a great ebulliance of devotion and spiritual experience that centred round a statue of the Blessed Virgin at Ballinaspittle, Co.Cork, Ireland.
Ballnaspittle
Pace Yeats, The Statues‘it moved or seemed to move’.

Pythagoras planned it. Why did the people stare?
His numbers, though they moved or seemed to move
In marble or in bronze, lacked character.
But boys and girls, pale from the imagined love
Of solitary beds, knew what they were,
That passion could bring character enough,
And pressed at midnight in some public place
Live lips upon a plummet-measured face.

Reading the banal Freudian type explanation from an initiate of the Golden Dawn and the psychopomp McGregor Mathers incidentally a relation by marriage to Henri Bergson, one is disappointed. There was an opportunity here for a disquisition on participation mystique or at least the induced Great Mind of A Vision.


I believe in the practice and philosophy of what we have agreed to call magic, in what I must call the evocation of spirits, though I do not know what they are, in the power of creating magical illusions, in the visions of truth in the depths of the mind when the eyes are closed; and I believe in three doctrines, which have, as I think, been handed down from early times, and been the foundations of nearly all magical practices. These doctrines are—
(1) That the borders of our minds are ever shifting, and that many minds can flow into one another, as it were, and create or reveal a single mind, a single energy.
(2) That the borders of our memories are as shifting, and that our memories are a part of one great memory, the memory of Nature herself.
(3) That this great mind and great memory can be evoked by symbols.
I often think I would put this belief in magic from me if I could, for I have come to see or to imagine, in men and women, in houses, in handicrafts, in nearly all sights and sounds, a certain evil, a certain ugliness, that comes from the slow perishing through the centuries of a quality of mind that made this belief and its evidences common over the world.
Magic