The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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SUBJECTIVE MEMORY.
51
are then in a state of intense and harmonious activity. This condition may be perfectly normal, though it is rarely seen in its perfection. Probably the most striking examples which history affords were Napoleon Bonaparte and Shakspeare. The intelligent student of the history of their lives and work will not fail to recall a thousand incidents which illustrate the truth of this proposition. True genius is undoubtedly the result of the synchronous action of the two minds, neither unduly predominating or usurping the powers and functions of the other. When the subjective is allowed to dominate, the resultant acts of the individual are denominated "the eccentricities of genius." When the subjective usurps complete control, the individual goes insane.
There are certain classes of persons whose intellectual labors are characterized by subjective activity in a very marked degree. Poets and artists are the most conspicuous examples. So marked is the peculiarity of the poetic mind in this respect that it has become almost proverbial. Lord Macaulay, in his Essay on Milton, uses language which shows that he clearly recognized the subjective element in all true poetry. He says :
" Perhaps no man can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind, if anything whjch gives so much pleasure ought to be called unsoundness. By poetry we mean not, of course, all writing in verse, nor even all good writing in verse. Our definition excludes many metrical compositions which on other grounds deserve the highest praise. By poetry we mean the art of employing words in such a manner as to produce an illusion on the imagination; the art of doing by means of words what the painter does by means of colors. Thus the greatest of poets has described it, in lines universally admired for the vigor and felicity of their diction, and still more valuable on account of the just notion which they convey of the art in which he excelled.
'"As imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing \ A local habitation and a name.'