SPSeniorSeminar2.9.09 - Mysticism and Eros Bernini's...

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Mysticism and Eros Bernini’s sculpture of St. Teresa of Avila in Ecstasy
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William James’ Four Qualities of Mystical Experiences Ineffability Noetic Quality Transience Passivity
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Ineffability An experience can be described as ineffable when words are unable to express its essence and/or complexity. It has two shades of meaning. Something which is ineffable may exceed the capability of language to describe it (“oh, wow!” moments) Something which is ineffable may also be a spiritual secret which is demeaned by sharing it wantonly with others (why we disapprove of those who “kiss-and-tell”). Ineffability, or claims thereof, may be an elaborate subterfuge, or a highly coded, esoteric use of words. Paradox and apparent contradiction are literary techniques employed to achieve ineffability even in the midst of volubility.
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Consider the two meanings of ineffability in this excerpt from the African Methodist-Episcopal preacher Jarena Lee (ca. 1810, writing this account in 1847): “a new rush of the same ecstasy came upon me, and caused me to feel as if I were in an ocean of light and bliss. During this time I stood perfectly still, the tears rolling in a flood from my eyes. So great was the joy, that it is past description. There is no
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This note was uploaded on 09/08/2010 for the course ASIA 70B at San Jose State University .

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SPSeniorSeminar2.9.09 - Mysticism and Eros Bernini's...

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