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A Pluralistic Mystic
by [?]

A PLURALISTIC MYSTIC[1]

Not for the ignoble vulgar do I write this article, but only for those dialectic-mystic souls who have an irresistible taste, acquired or native, for higher flights of metaphysics. I have always held the opinion that one of the first duties of a good reader is to summon other readers to the enjoyment of any unknown author of rare quality whom he may discover in his explorations. Now for years my own taste, literary as well as philosophic, has been exquisitely titillated by a writer the name of whom I think must be unknown to the readers of this article; so I no longer continue silent about the merits of Benjamin Paul Blood.

Mr. Blood inhabits a city otherwise, I imagine, quite unvisited by the Muses, the town called Amsterdam, situated on the New York Central Railroad. What his regular or bread-winning occupation may be I know not, but it can’t have made him super-wealthy. He is an author only when the fit strikes him, and for short spurts at a time; shy, moreover, to the point of publishing his compositions only as private tracts, or in letters to such far-from-reverberant organs of publicity as the Gazette or the Recorder of his native Amsterdam, or the Utica Herald or the Albany Times. Odd places for such subtile efforts to appear in, but creditable to American editors in these degenerate days! Once, indeed, the lamented W. T. Harris of the old “Journal of Speculative Philosophy” got wind of these epistles, and the result was a revision of some of them for that review (Philosophic Reveries, 1889). Also a couple of poems were reprinted from their leaflets by the editor of Scribner’s Magazine (“The Lion of the Nile,” 1888, and| “Nemesis,” 1899). But apart from these three dashes before the footlights, Mr. Blood has kept behind the curtain all his days.[2]

The author’s maiden adventure was the Anoesthetic Revelation, a pamphlet printed privately at Amsterdam in 1874. I forget how it fell into my hands, but it fascinated me so “weirdly” that I am conscious of its having been one of the stepping-stones of my thinking ever since. It gives the essence of Blood’s philosophy, and shows most of the features of his talent–albeit one finds in it little humor and no verse. It is full of verbal felicity, felicity sometimes of precision, sometimes of metaphoric reach; it begins with dialectic reasoning, of an extremely Fichtean and Hegelian type, but it ends in a trumpet-blast of oracular mysticism, straight from the insight wrought by anaesthetics–of all things in the world–and unlike anything one ever heard before. The practically unanimous tradition of “regular” mysticism has been unquestionably monistic; and inasmuch as it is the characteristic of mystics to speak, not as the scribes, but as men who have “been there” and seen with their own eyes, I think that this sovereign manner must have made some other pluralistic-minded students hesitate, as I confess that it has often given pause to me. One cannot criticise the vision of a mystic–one can but pass it by, or else accept it as having some amount of evidential weight. I felt unable to do either with a good conscience until I met with Mr. Blood. His mysticism, which may, if one likes, be understood as monistic in this earlier utterance, develops in the later ones a sort of “left-wing” voice of defiance, and breaks into what to my ear has a radically pluralistic sound. I confess that the existence of this novel brand of mysticism has made my cowering mood depart. I feel now as if my own pluralism were not without the kind of support which mystical corroboration may confer. Morrison can no longer claim to be the only beneficiary of whatever right mysticism may possess to lend prestige.