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Poetry and Mysticism

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The mystic's moment of illumination shares with great poetry the liberating power of the deepest levels of consciousness. In the words of William Blake, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to a man as it is, infinite." Poetry, Wilson argues, is a contradiction of the habitual prison of daily life and shows the way to transcend the ordinary wor The mystic's moment of illumination shares with great poetry the liberating power of the deepest levels of consciousness. In the words of William Blake, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to a man as it is, infinite." Poetry, Wilson argues, is a contradiction of the habitual prison of daily life and shows the way to transcend the ordinary world through an act of intense attention-and intention. The poet, like the mystic, is subject to sudden ""peak experiences"" when ""everything we look upon is blessed."" W.B. Yeats, Dostoevsky, Gautama Buddha, Kazantzakis, Van Gogh, Rupert Brooke, Arunja, Nietzsche, A.L. Rouse, Jacob Boehme, Suzuki, Edgar Allan Poe: their visionary understanding can generate an awareness in each of us of our potential to open the floodgates of inner energy that creates mystic experience. Colin Wilson first received international acclaim in 1956 for The Outsider. ""Ever since I was thirteen, I have been obsessed by the question of the nature of mystical experience,"" he writes, and from that time he has been on a quest of the mystical in poetry, religion, and psychology.


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The mystic's moment of illumination shares with great poetry the liberating power of the deepest levels of consciousness. In the words of William Blake, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to a man as it is, infinite." Poetry, Wilson argues, is a contradiction of the habitual prison of daily life and shows the way to transcend the ordinary wor The mystic's moment of illumination shares with great poetry the liberating power of the deepest levels of consciousness. In the words of William Blake, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to a man as it is, infinite." Poetry, Wilson argues, is a contradiction of the habitual prison of daily life and shows the way to transcend the ordinary world through an act of intense attention-and intention. The poet, like the mystic, is subject to sudden ""peak experiences"" when ""everything we look upon is blessed."" W.B. Yeats, Dostoevsky, Gautama Buddha, Kazantzakis, Van Gogh, Rupert Brooke, Arunja, Nietzsche, A.L. Rouse, Jacob Boehme, Suzuki, Edgar Allan Poe: their visionary understanding can generate an awareness in each of us of our potential to open the floodgates of inner energy that creates mystic experience. Colin Wilson first received international acclaim in 1956 for The Outsider. ""Ever since I was thirteen, I have been obsessed by the question of the nature of mystical experience,"" he writes, and from that time he has been on a quest of the mystical in poetry, religion, and psychology.

30 review for Poetry and Mysticism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Randy Cauthen

    "There is another reason for the crisis situation that has developed -- man's tendency to get bogged-down in triviality. Religion used to provide him with an arbitrary sense of purpose, of distant goals, to contrast with the triviality of everyday living. He has become intelligent enough to reject the paraphernalia of old religions without having achieved the sense of evolutionary purpose -- which is implicit in art and poetry -- to rescue him from the triviality. And since the immense effort of "There is another reason for the crisis situation that has developed -- man's tendency to get bogged-down in triviality. Religion used to provide him with an arbitrary sense of purpose, of distant goals, to contrast with the triviality of everyday living. He has become intelligent enough to reject the paraphernalia of old religions without having achieved the sense of evolutionary purpose -- which is implicit in art and poetry -- to rescue him from the triviality. And since the immense effort of the 19th century, art has ceased to be a vehicle of heroic idealism, and is temporarily in a doldrums where it can only reflect the triviality, and take up an attitude of disgust and rejection toward it." (Gender [sic:] understood throughout.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Smith

    This book was a deep influence on my as a teenage writer and poet. It gave words to what I was experiencing. Mystical experiences are hard to explain, especially in high school. This book made me forever a fan of Colin Wilson's work. I was thrilled to spend a weekend with him at the Open Center in New York in the early 90s. This book was a deep influence on my as a teenage writer and poet. It gave words to what I was experiencing. Mystical experiences are hard to explain, especially in high school. This book made me forever a fan of Colin Wilson's work. I was thrilled to spend a weekend with him at the Open Center in New York in the early 90s.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The sexism, arrogance and "First World" imperialism of the author's voice almost overpower his fascinating theories and beautiful insights about poetry, spirituality, humanity, and creativity. Almost, but not quite. Those are some insightful insights. I just let the other stuff slide. The sexism, arrogance and "First World" imperialism of the author's voice almost overpower his fascinating theories and beautiful insights about poetry, spirituality, humanity, and creativity. Almost, but not quite. Those are some insightful insights. I just let the other stuff slide.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ron Record

    Perhaps the most important book ever written.

  5. 4 out of 5

    L.J.

    http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-31...# http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-31...#

  6. 4 out of 5

    Irene Vincent

    I am reading it slowly. I really like his insights into different poet's consciousnesses. I like his insights into mysticism and the nature of man. I find it thought provoking and inspiring. I am reading it slowly. I really like his insights into different poet's consciousnesses. I like his insights into mysticism and the nature of man. I find it thought provoking and inspiring.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Max Nemtsov

    По завершении последней книжки в этом заходе отчего стало понятно, до чего вообще философия и художественное высказывание «сердитых молодых людей» устарели и провинциальны. Казалось-то это всегда, еще с университетского курса по зарубежной литературе, но тогда мнение мое было скорее интуитивным, а тут — конкретное подтверждение. Автор всеми своими ластами, правда, отпихивается от принадлежности к «течению», но ничего не поделаешь — оно его все равно уже утащило с собой. Поиски «сильной личности» По завершении последней книжки в этом заходе отчего стало понятно, до чего вообще философия и художественное высказывание «сердитых молодых людей» устарели и провинциальны. Казалось-то это всегда, еще с университетского курса по зарубежной литературе, но тогда мнение мое было скорее интуитивным, а тут — конкретное подтверждение. Автор всеми своими ластами, правда, отпихивается от принадлежности к «течению», но ничего не поделаешь — оно его все равно уже утащило с собой. Поиски «сильной личности», «нового героя» — до чего они сейчас выглядят наивными и напыщенными. Даже стремление к свободе, личностному росту и совершенству — те же битники, английским изводом которых вроде как были СМЛ, те же Берроуз или Буковски, которые уж точно ни к какому «движению» не примыкали, — насколько у них этот вектор обозначен убедительнее и художественно целостнее, не говоря про достоверность. Да, мы делаем поправку на время, но не может сделать ее на географию: Англия в середине ХХ века была далеким клочком суши на этой карте, которого ветра эпохи не коснулись. Либо тщательно обогнули. Нет в СМЛ подлинной свободы и простора — некуда им податься со своего острова. Потому-то этот очерк, написанный по заказу Ферлингетти для его издательства «Городские огни», и выглядит диковинным экспонатом в издательском портфеле. О поэзии и мистицизме в нем, на самом деле, тоже не очень много сказано.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janaka

    Part One of Wilson's Poetry & Mysticism should be considered required reading for any MFA course in creative writing (and I'm a little disappointed no one recommended it to me during mine); it carefully unpacks and de-mystifies the 'creative spark' by examining what Wilson calls the "intensity experience"--that revelatory moment when we transcend the mundane and see beyond our daily existence, across time and space. His writing on this subject is lucid and practical, without being dry. Part Two, Part One of Wilson's Poetry & Mysticism should be considered required reading for any MFA course in creative writing (and I'm a little disappointed no one recommended it to me during mine); it carefully unpacks and de-mystifies the 'creative spark' by examining what Wilson calls the "intensity experience"--that revelatory moment when we transcend the mundane and see beyond our daily existence, across time and space. His writing on this subject is lucid and practical, without being dry. Part Two, however, one could probably skip almost entirely. It's broken up into five sections, the first four each deconstructing the life and work of a poet (all fairly stead choices of white men, though his readings on Yeats and Kazantzakis were interesting if one is interested in their work)--with the fifth section being a postscript that wraps up the book (and could almost be skipped to, after finishing Part One). Wilson's cultural experience is dated at times (45+ years later), and it's in these critical chapters where that becomes most apparent. There are moments of interest throughout, but it's Part One and the postscript that are what's essential, and which I would recommend for really anyone interested in the creative process.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amjad Saleh

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul F. Dame

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  13. 4 out of 5

    James Henderson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Hirsch

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Coughlan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jo

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Molodyko

  20. 5 out of 5

    Doug Irvine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yonai

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jo Rye

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barnaby Fell

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joar

  25. 5 out of 5

    Clark Stacey

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frits

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dpg

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eduardo

  30. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

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