Wisdom of Two: The Spiritual and Literary Collaboration of George and W.B. Yeats

By Margaret Mills Harper | Go to book overview

Second Interlude
Automatic Performance: Technology and Occultism

Was he [the communicator] constrained by a drama which was
part of conditions that made communication possible, was that
drama itself part of the communication?

(AV B 13)

I suspect that there may be an element of drama essential to
communication & that this may not be more than dramatic
machinery.

WBY, sleep notebook, 18 February 1921 (YVPiii. 85)

Early evening. A sparely furnished sitting-room, rather dimly lit. Fresh flowers on a table scent the air faintly, adding their fragrance to a lingering heavier smell: incense is regularly burned here. A woman enters from the dining-room, from which clinks from cutlery and crockery announce that dinner is being cleared away. She retrieves a small notebook from a stack in a cabinet, retrieves a pen and ink from a box in the same cabinet, and sits down at a table in the centre of the room. Her husband, a middle-aged man with flowing grey hair, follows her. He sits in a chair opposite hers. They pass a few last remarks as she fills the pen and positions the paper in front of her. At her signal, they fall silent and sit quietly, as if waiting for something. Then, slowly, as if taking part in a ritual, she lifts the pen, puts it to the paper, and begins to write.

Fade-out and flash forward: a figure sits in a cluttered room at a nondescript desk, fingers over a computer keyboard. She stares out of the window and wonders what she might learn about the Yeatses' automatic script and related materials if she thought of them not necessarily as texts, but as performance. The papers do record any

-151-

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Wisdom of Two: The Spiritual and Literary Collaboration of George and W.B. Yeats
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Contents xiii
  • List of Illustrations xiv
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction: 'She Finds the Words' 1
  • 1 - 'A Philosophy…Created from Search': Preliminary Issues 28
  • First Interlude - Double Visions: Two Manuscripts and Two Books 72
  • 2 - Nemo the Interpreter 94
  • Second Interlude - Automatic Performance: Technology and Occultism 151
  • 3 - 'To Give You New Images': Published Results 183
  • 4 - Demon the Medium 238
  • 5 - All the Others: Dramatis Personae 294
  • Conclusion: 'This Other Aquinas' 337
  • Bibliography 344
  • Index 365
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