Is what most people call mysticism an escape from reality or a means of entry into it with greater intensity? Or maybe that should just be — my standard for mysticism is the same as for poetry: does it make life more interesting or less?
Something useful I stumbled on this morning while looking for music that might help me work: Bach’s miraculously microcosmic Inventions, which he titled “honest instruction,” were written for children to teach them how to “discover” the little ideas and starting points that unfold into a piece, and then to move, within exercises in counterpoint, from givenness to song.
An afterthought about the aesthetic of conduction: Pleasure, certain psychoanalysts have noted, is experienced with the greatest intensity in the momentary dissolution of the ego, physically through orgasm and socially and emotionally through a lower-intensity (sublime and sublimated) love-- which is to say, not in isolation from the ego, but in its giving way to something larger, which might also be smaller.
That’s not a bad place to start when it comes to what one needs to know as a writer, or even as a reader or scholar or serious seeker, though of course one comes to such things only long after the start.
Then again, one is always starting.
[originally published by Poetry and prior to the release of Cole’s eventual 2014 collection, The Invention of Influence]