Mystical Atheism

Mystical Atheism November 10, 2017

Virginia Woolf, atheist though she was, couldn’t avoid religious language when she spoke about her writing. Writing began from “a revelation of some order; it is a token of some real thing behind appearances; and I make it real by putting it into words.” It was her “shock-receiving capacity is what makes me a writer.”

She expanded: “It is the rapture I get when in writing I seem to be discovering what belongs to what; making a scene come right; making a character come together. From this I reach what I might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we – I mean all human beings – are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself. And I see this when I have a shock” (quoted by Donna Lazenby, A Mystical Philosophy, 21).

A mystic aesthetic, the world as artwork without artist, pattern without patterner.

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