The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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54
THE LA IV OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.
manifestations, not being understood, are relegated to the domain of superstition.
Socrates, in his Apology to the Athenians, seems to have entertained opinions in regard to poets similar to those of Lord Macaulay. In his search for wiser men than himseli he went first to the politicians. Failing there, he went to the poets, with the following result:
" Taking up, therefore, some of their poems, which appeared to me most elaborately finished, I questioned them as to their meaning, that at the same time I might learn something from them. I am ashamed, O Athenians, to tell you the truth; however, it must be told. For, in a word, almost all who were present could have given a better account of them than those by whom they had been composed. I soon discovered this, therefore, with regard to the poets, that they do not effect their object by wisdom, but by a certain natural inspiration, and under the influence of enthusiasm, like prophets and seers; for these also say many fine things, but they understand nothing that they say."
Words could not express more clearly the recognition of the subjective element in poetic composition; and it exactly accords with Macaulay's idea regarding the poets and the poetry of the ancient days.
The subjective mind once recognized as a factor in the mental powers of the poet, it follows that its resources are all at his command. Its perfect memory, its instant command of all the acquired knowledge of the individual, however superficially attained or imperfectly remembered, objectively, is a source of stupendous power. But, like all other gifts of nature, it is liable at times to be a source of inconvenience; for it sometimes happens that in ordinary composition a person will unconsciously reproduce, verbatim, some long-forgotten expressions, perhaps a whole stanza, or even an entire poem. It may, perchance, be of his own composition; but it is just as likely to be something that he has read years before and forgotten, objectively, as soon as read. In this way many persons have subjected themselves to the charge of plagiarism, when