Montague, Charles Edward - From the essay 'The Last Question of All’ in A Writer's Notes on His Trade
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
C. E. MONTAGUE. From the essay 'The Last Question of All’ in A Writer's Notes on His Trade (1930; Pelican edn.,1949),
If we cannot say why we capitulate thus [i:e. to "certain simple groupings of a few ordinary words" in poetry], we may at least try to fix and describe the sensations that visit us while the charm is at work.
For one thing, we are deeply excited. We are shaken or lifted out of our ordinary state of consciousness. Many of our faculties are, for the moment, enhanced. We feel keener perceptions coming into action within us. 'We are given the use of more than our normal stock of penetrative sympathy: we feel that we can enter into people's feelings and understand the quality of their lives better than ever before.
Another effect of the drug is that, while it is acting strongly, the whole adventure of mankind upon the earth gains, in our sight, a new momentousness, precariousness and beauty. The new and higher scale of power in ourselves seems to be challenged by an equal increase in the size of the objects on which it is exercised. Living becomes a grander affair than we had ever thought.
A third effect on the mind is a powerful sense-authentic or illusory of being in the presence of extraordinary possibilities. You feel as if new doors of understanding and delight were beginning to open around you. Some sort of mysterious liberation or empowerment seems to be approaching. You are assured, in an unaccountable way, that wonderful enlightenments, still unreceived, are on their way to you, like new stars that are nearing the point in space at which they will come within range of our sight.