I’ve argued in recent issues that Occult Connectedness is the oldest idea, the most important idea, the idea of ideas, the idea that allows us to understand Shakespeare’s plays, and Quantum Physics, and the origin of life, and the evolution of life, and primitive man’s worldview, etc. This idea is not only pregnant with intellectual significance, it can also be considered the most important ethical/religious idea, since it could foster the notion that all human beings are fundamentally one, that separateness is only an illusion, that compassion and sacrifice are natural and appropriate. Occult connectedness is such an important idea that Western philosophers could be evaluated according to whether they had any understanding of this idea. How did I come to this idea? What was my first step on this journey?
When I was 19 or 20, I noticed that if I were attracted to a girl, she could sense it, apart from any verbal communication, apart from any visible signs. Conversely, if a girl were attracted to me, I could sense it. One might call this Cafeteria Telepathy. This is a universal human experience, or at least a common experience. Our own everyday experience is a window into the deepest truths. Even the largest telescope, or the most powerful super-collider, can’t teach us as much about the universe as our own everyday experience.
I read far more at 20 than I read now. As I read the Western classics, I found passages that echoed my own experience. For example, I found a maxim in La Rochefoucauld: “There is no disguise which can hide love for long where it exists, or fake it where it does not” (Il n’y a point de déguisement qui puisse longtemps cacher l’amour où il est, ni le feindre où il n’est pas).
I think philosophy is more about persuasion than proof, but if one wants proof of Occult Connectedness, perhaps the most convincing proof is your own experience. If you think that experience can mislead, if you want “laboratory proof” of Occult Connectedness, you can find it in Quantum Physics and in the various experiments that have been made with occult phenomena.
So proof is abundant, proof is everywhere, but since the occult is mind-boggling and mysterious, people are uncomfortable with it, and close their minds to it. When I was about 23, I was interested in the occult, and I asked three Harvard professors what they thought about it. All three said the same thing: not interested.1
I found a passage in Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that showed Joyce’s interest in this subject. The protagonist is lying in bed, thinking of his girlfriend:
|Might it be, in the mysterious ways of spiritual life, that her soul at those same moments had been conscious of his homage? It might be. A glow of desire kindled again his soul.... Conscious of his desire she was waking from odorous sleep.|
D. H. Lawrence took this a step further, and asked his girlfriend if she was thinking of him when he was thinking of her. His girlfriend wrote, “[Lawrence] asked me once if I was acutely aware of him sometimes, and added: ‘Because at times I am most acutely aware of you, and I wondered if you were aware of me at the same time. It might be telepathy, you know.’”
As love can be communicated without words, so too hatred can be communicated, any strong feeling can be communicated. Dostoyevsky had a strong interest in telepathy, doubtless because of his own experience of it. One of Dostoyevsky’s characters says,
|I did not speak of it directly.... I spoke almost without words. And I am an old hand at speaking without words. I have spent all my life speaking without words. I have lived through whole tragedies without uttering a word.|
Once I became aware of telepathy, I became interested in more and more aspects of the occult. Those who are hostile to the occult are faced with a dilemma: If a person accepts telepathy, won’t he become receptive to other aspects of the occult? And if a person wants to deny telepathy, how can he deny something that people experience every day, something for which there’s abundant experimental evidence?
If you accept the reality of telepathy, and become receptive to other aspects of the occult, you’ll find that the idea of Occult Connectedness has countless applications, it’s the key to understanding the universe in general — everything from particles to plays to civilizations. And it starts with paying attention to your own experience, it starts in the cafeteria.
Nietzsche foresaw that our time would discover “the idea of ideas,” he foresaw what he called a Great Noontide. But he didn’t foresee the nature of the idea that we would discover. Perhaps the thinkers who best understood Occult Connectedness, and its significance in human thought, were Schopenhauer and Poe.
Schopenhauer emphasized the importance of will, and said that will is the essence of the universe; Schopenhauer argued that will is in matter as well as living things. Since will can’t be seen or counted or touched, one might call it metaphysical or occult.
Poe often blurred the distinction between living and non-living. In his “Fall of the House of Usher,” he depicts a rapport between a house and a person.
In the time of Schopenhauer and Poe, experiments in the occult fell under the heading of Mesmerism, also known as Animal Magnetism. Schopenhauer said,
|Considered [from] the philosophical point of view, animal magnetism is the most pregnant of all discoveries that have ever been made, although for the time being it propounds rather than solves riddles. It is really practical metaphysics. [A] time will come when philosophy, animal magnetism, and natural science... will shed so bright a light on one another that truths will be discovered at which we could not otherwise hope to arrive.|
Poe shared Schopenhauer’s view that mesmerism (animal magnetism) opened up important new fields. In a story called “Ragged Mountains,” Poe says, “the soul of the man of today is upon the verge of some stupendous psychal discoveries.” Mesmerism opens up the study of the unconscious, and the study of the occult, and thus can lead to “stupendous discoveries.”2 If you’re interested in philosophy, this is an exciting time to be alive, this is what Nietzsche called The Great Noontide.
Confucius said, “It is man that makes truth great, not truth that makes man great.” This is a good motto for the humanist. Self-cultivation, wholeness, the Good Life, are more important than the acquisition of knowledge.
As Confucius said, “It is man that makes truth great,” so too we could say, “It is man that makes beauty great.” The pursuit of beauty should not eclipse self-cultivation. As Berenson said, “Poetry, music, ritual, the visual arts, the theater, must work singly and together to create the most comprehensive art of all, a humanized society, and its masterpiece, the free man.” Man is primary, truth and beauty secondary.
Steven W. May, a scholar of Elizabethan literature, wrote, “Among the most popular verses in the English language is the Elizabethan lyric beginning ‘My mind to me a kingdom is.’ It has been almost continuously in print since 1588... and since 1850 it has been attributed without question to Sir Edward Dyer.”3 Here’s a portion of the poem:
My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to feed a loving eye;
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why? my mind doth serve for all.
I see how plenty surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those which are aloft
Mishap doth threaten most of all:
They get with toil, they keep with fear:
Such cares my mind could never bear.
Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice;
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring....
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend;
I loathe not life, nor dread my end....
My wealth is health and perfect ease,
My conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please,
Nor by deceit to breed offence:
Thus do I live; thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!
You can find the complete poem at Bartleby.com, which attributes it without question to Dyer.
Steven W. May wrote an essay on the authorship of this poem. May argues that, while the poem is attributed to Dyer, it’s more likely by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (I regard Oxford as the real author of the works attributed to Shakespeare, while May is a Stratfordian).
May discusses the textual history of the poem. He mentions a manuscript at Harvard “where the poem is entitled ‘fyrst written by the L. Ver.’ This must refer to Edward de Vere.” May says that the Harvard manuscript is “the earliest datable text” of the poem, and he dates it to between June 5 and June 14, 1581. Oxford would have been 31 in 1581. But the Harvard manuscript is apparently based on an earlier version that circulated at court. So if Oxford wrote the poem, he may have written it when he was in his 20s.
So the Harvard manuscript is from 1581, and points to the Earl of Oxford as the author of “My mind to me a kingdom is.” A manuscript from 1585, known as the Rawlinson manuscript, ascribes the poem to Dyer.
|But despite the unanimous acceptance [May writes] for more than a century of Dyer’s responsibility for the poem, the Rawlinson manuscript’s testimony does not warrant such unquestioning confidence. Its text of ‘My mind to me,’ with at least seven errors in forty-eight lines, scarcely argues for immediate descent from the author’s original.... However courtly its origins, the Rawlinson manuscript’s corrupt state of ‘My mind to me’ plus the uncertainty of its [other] attributions to Dyer, compel serious consideration of... the possibility that Oxford wrote this poem.|
In addition to this textual evidence, May adduces other evidence that points to Oxford as the author. He mentions “an otherwise unrelated group of three poems,” and he argues that these poems strengthen the case for Oxford.
If we regard Oxford as “Shakespeare,” there are additional reasons to view Oxford as the author of “My mind to me a kingdom is.” Shakespeare’s sonnets are preoccupied with kingship, perhaps because Oxford’s son had a claim to the throne, perhaps because Oxford himself had a claim to the throne. We find the same preoccupation with kingship in “My mind to me a kingdom is.”
In an earlier issue, I discussed two Stratfordian scholars, Wilson Knight and Leslie Hotson, who noticed that Shakespeare’s sonnets were preoccupied with kingship, and couldn’t understand why.
|Although Knight may not have known who the poet was, or what his relationship to Southampton was, or why Southampton was royal, he could tell what the Sonnets were about: “The Sonnets regularly express love through metaphors from royalty and its derivatives [Knight wrote], using such phrases as my sovereign, thy glory, lord of my love, embassy of love.... The loved one is royal.... We have various clusters of king, gold, and sun.... These impressions are not just decoration.... That the poet of the Sonnets was deeply concerned with such themes is clear from the many comparisons of his love to kings and state-affairs.”|
There’s a second reason to believe that, if Oxford was Shakespeare, the case for Oxford as the author of “My mind to me” is strengthened. Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 3 contains a passage reminiscent of “My mind to me.” When two game-keepers meet the deposed king, one of them says,
“Thou talk’st as if thou wert a king.”
The king replies, “Why, so I am, in mind; and that’s enough.”
Keeper: “But, if thou be a king, where is thy crown?”
My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
Not decked with diamonds and Indian stones,
Nor to be seen: my crown is called content:
A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.4
The theme of contentment with a quiet life is a theme found in several Renaissance poems, and also in ancient works. One ancient expression of this theme is an epigram by Martial, an epigram that was translated into English by Oxford’s uncle, the Earl of Surrey. Oxford’s personal link to this poem strengthens the case for Oxford as the author of “My mind to me.”
Here are the essentials of a happy life,
my dear friend: money not worked for,
but inherited; some land not unproductive;
a hearth fire always going; lawsuits never;
the toga rarely worn; a calm mind;
a gentleman’s strong and healthy body,
circumspect candor, friends who are your equals;
relaxed dinner parties, a simple table,
nights not drunken, but free from anxieties;
a marriage bed not prudish, and yet modest;
plenty of sleep to make the dark hours short.
Wish to be what you are, and prefer nothing more.
Don’t fear your last day, or hope for it either.5
Note how Martial ends his poem with “Don’t fear your last day, or hope for it either.” We find an echo of this line in “My mind to me”:
I loathe not life, nor dread my end.
In conclusion, Steven W. May argues that Oxford was the likely author of “My mind to me.” This argument becomes stronger when Oxford is viewed as the author of the works attributed to Shakespeare. As the Oxford Theory strengthens May’s argument, so May’s argument strengthens the Oxford Theory by showing that Oxford was the likely author of a poem that is echoed in the works of Shakespeare. May’s essay doesn’t prove that Oxford was “Shakespeare,” but it constitutes one more wire in the Oxfordian cable, one more wire in a cable made up of 1,000 wires.
If “My mind to me” has been mis-attributed to Dyer, it’s analogous to the mis-attribution of Shakespeare’s works to Mr. Stratford. The attribution of this poem to Dyer shows how a literary work can be attributed to someone on slight evidence, and then the attribution can become widely accepted, even if a stronger case can be made for a different author.
|1.||If I remember correctly, the three professors were Ed Banfield, Harvey Mansfield, and Donald Fleming. I also discussed the occult with two SmithCollege professors, and their reaction was the same: not interested. back|
|2.||For more on Poe and Mesmerism, click here.
Jung also predicted that the study of the occult would lead to stupendous discoveries. “Nobody can say where man ends,” said Jung. “That is the beauty of it, you know; it’s very interesting. The unconscious of man can reach God knows where. There we are going to make discoveries.” back
|3.||“The Authorship of ‘My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is’,” Steven W. May, The Review of English Studies, Nov., 1975, pp. 385-394, jstor.org/stable/515120 back|
|4.||I learned of this connection to Henry VI Part 3 from a video by Alexander Waugh, “John Davies Knew.” Waugh’s video introduced me to “My mind to me.” back|
|5.||Here is Martial’s poem in the original Latin:
Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
And here’s a passage from Seneca’s Thyestes that influenced “My mind to me”:
It’s the upright mind that holds true sovereignty.
Thyestes was written by Seneca the Younger, who wrote tragedies and philosophical essays, was an adviser to Nero, and committed suicide in 65 AD. His father, Seneca the Elder, is known for a book on rhetoric.