Valery, Paul - On deriving inspiration
Type of Spiritual Experience
Ambroise-Paul-Toussaint-Jules Valéry (30 October 1871 – 20 July 1945) was a French poet, essayist, and philosopher. In addition to his poetry and fiction (drama and dialogues), his interests included aphorisms on art, history, letters, music, and current events
A description of the experience
An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field – Jacques Hadamard
We have the following most suggestive statement made at the French Philosophical Society by our great poet Paul Valery.[Bulletin Soc. Philosophie vol 28 1928]
In this process, there are two stages.
There is that one where the man whose business is writing, experiences a kind of flash – for this intellectual life, anything but passive, is really made of fragments; it is in a way composed of elements very brief, yet felt to be very rich in possibilities, which do not illuminate the whole mind, which indicate to the mind, rather that there are forms completely new which it is sure to be able to possess after a certain amount of work. Sometimes I have observed this moment when a sensation arrives at the mind; it is a gleam of light, not so much illumination as dazzling. This arrival calls attention, points, rather than illuminates and in fine, is itself an enigma which carries with it the assurance that it can be postponed. You say,
‘I see and then tomorrow I shall see more’
There is an activity, a special sensitisation; soon you will go into the dark room and the picture will be seen to emerge.
I do not affirm that this is well described, for it is extremely hard to describe.