Sundays, not for church, were for Shakespeare.
—Adam Plunkett, “Keats and King Lear,” Poetry (11 February 2015)
(Even more interesting, Shakespeare’s work served as a medium for Keats’s [proposed*] experiments with telepathic communion:
Keats imagined an afterlife with “direct communication of spirit” like that which he felt as he wrote to George and felt he could begin to approach by their reading “a passage of Shakespeare every Sunday at ten o’clock” on either side of the Atlantic. “And we shall be as near each other as blind bodies can be in the same room.”
*I do not know if he & George followed through on this.)
Emerson is matchless for telepathic reading experiences.* Not the sense that a book, or the human being behind it, is addressing you. Not even that you, and you alone, are directly hailed by it. But the sensation of someone else reading a script that you wrote, controlled by thoughts of yours that never quite became words in your head. (“Unexpected majesty” gets at it better than “alienated majesty.”)
And it happens in such a way that a response from you is no longer required. It is preempted. All you can do is enjoy that realization. Occasionally you can document it.
On January 19th I wrote:
Perhaps the need to write comes not from the subject matter, from its importance working outside-in, but from vanity, from the inside-out.
On January 20th, I read:
The difference between talent & genius is in the direction of the current: in genius, it is from within outward; in talent, from without inward. Talent finds its models & methods & ends in society, and goes to the soul only for power to work: genius is its own end & derives its means and the style of its architecture from within & only goes abroad for audience or spectator, as we adapt our voice & our phrase to the distance & to the character of the ear we speak to.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Journal E” (1841), Selected Journals 1820-1842 (2010; my emphasis)
While my preoccupation with the theme of inside-out vs. outside-in needs further meditation, this is a start. With telepathic reading, the secrets inside ourselves are out on the paper in front of us, and those of others outside ourselves are interiorized.
*Rarely has it happened to me outside of Emerson. Once recently: watching Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament. I know Mailer’s Ancient Evenings well, but I was repeatedly unsettled by how closely Barney’s adaptation met my desire for what scene or image should come next. Barney, I learned later, based his film more on Harold Bloom’s review of the book, one of my favorite Bloom essays, than on Mailer’s novel, which is where the shared orientation of our thoughts probably starts.