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Yeats, Georgie - A Vision - On masks



Type of Spiritual Experience


W B Yeats wrote this, but it was Georgie's vision from her bodied 'instructors'.

A description of the experience

W B Yeats – A Vision

When I wish for some general idea which [explains the symbolism of the mask] I go to the Commedia dell ' Arte or improvised drama of Italy.  The stage manager... offers his actor a scenario, the Body of Fate, and a Mask or role as unlike as possible to his natural ego or will and leaves him to improvise through his Creative Mind the dialogue and details of the plot.  He must discover or reveal a being which only exists with extreme effort, when his muscles are, as it were, all taut and all his energies active.  But this is antithetical man.

For primary man I go to the Commedia dell' Arte in its decline.  The will is weak and cannot create a role, and so, if it transform itself, does so after an accepted pattern, some traditional clown or pantaloon.  It has no object but to move the crowd..... In the primary phase man must cease …. from self expression and substitute a motive of service for that of self expression.  Instead of the created mask he has an imitative mask and when he recognises this, his mask may become the historical norm or an image of mankind.

Personality, no matter how habitual, is a constantly renewed choice, varying from an individual charm in the more antithetical phases, to a hard objective dramatisation; but when the primary phases begin man is moulded more and more from without.

The primary is thus that which serves, the antithetical is that which creates.

The source of the experience

Yeats, Georgie

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Automatic writing