Women Writers: Excerpt from “Notes on Thought and Vision” by H.D.

 

Three states or manifestations of life:
body, mind, over-mind.

Aim of men and women of highest development is equilibrium, balance, growth of the three at once; brain without physical strength is a manifestation of weakness, a disease comparable to cancerous growth or tumor; body without reasonable amount of intellect is an empty fibrous bundle of glands as ugly and little to be desired as body of a victim of some form of elephantiasis or fatty-degeneracy; over-mind without the balance of the other two is madness and a person so developed should have as much respect as a reasonable maniac and no more.

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All reasoning, normal, sane and balanced men and women need and seek at certain times of their lives, certain definite physical relationships. Men and women of temperament, musicians, scientists, artists especially, need these relationships to develop and draw forth their talents. Not to desire and make every effort to develop along these natural physical lines, cripples and dwarfs the being. To shun, deny and belittle such experiences is to bury one’s talent carefully in a napkin.

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When a creative scientist, artist or philosopher has been for some hours or days intent on his work, his mind often takes on an almost physical character. That is, his mind becomes his real body. His over-mind becomes his brain.
When Leonardo da Vinci worked, his brain was Leonardo, the personality, Leonardo da Vinci. He saw the faces of many of his youths and babies and young women definitely with his over-mind. The Madonna of the Rocks is not a picture. It is a window. We look through a window into the world of pure over-mind.

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If I could visualise or describe that over-mind in my own case, I should say this: it seems to me that a cap is over my head, a cap of consciousness over my head, my forehead, affecting a little my eyes. Sometimes when I am in that state of consciousness, things about me appear slightly blurred as if seen under water.
Ordinary things never become quite unreal nor disproportionate. It is only an effort to readjust, to focus, seemingly a slight physical effort.

o

That over-mind seems a cap,like water, transparent, fluid yet with definite body, contained in a definite space. It is tike a closed sea-plant, jellY-fish or anemone.
Into that over-mind, thoughts pass and are visible like fish swimming under clear water.

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The swing from normal consciousness to abnormal consciousness is accompanied by grinding discomfort of mental agony.

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I should say-to continue this jelly-fish metaphor-that long feelers reached down and through the body, that these stood to the same relation to the nervous system as the over-mind to the brain or intellect.
There is, then, a set of super-feelings. These feelings extend out and about us; as the long, floating tentacles of the jelly-fish reach
out and about him. They are not of different material, extraneous, as the physical arms and less are extraneous to the gray matter of the
directing brain. The super-feelers are part of the super-mind, as the jelly-fish feelers are the jelly-fish itself, elongated in fine threads.
I first realised this state of consciousness in my head. I visualise it just as well, now, centered in the love-region of the body or placed like a foetus in the body.

The centre of consciousness is either the brain or the love-region of the body.

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Is it easier for a woman to attain this state of consciousness than for a man?

For me, it was before the birth of my child that the jelly-fish consciousness seemed to come definitely into the field or realm of the intellect or brain.

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Are these jelly-fish states of consciousness interchangeable? Should we be able to think with the womb and feel with the brain? May this consciousness be centered entirely in the brain or entirely in the womb or corresponding love-region of a man’s body?

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Vision is of two kinds-vision of the womb and vision of the brain. In vision of the brain, the region of consciousness is above and
about the head; when the centre of consciousness shifts and the jelly-fish is in the body, (I visualise it in my case lying on the left side with
the streamers or feelers floating up toward the brain) we have vision of the womb or love-vision.

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The majority of dream and of ordinary vision is vision of the womb.
The brain and the womb are both centres of consciousness, equally important.

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Most of the so-called artists of today have lost the use of their brain’ There is no way of arriving at the over-mind, except through the
intellect. To arrive at the world of over-mind vision any other way, is to be the thief that climbs into the sheep-fold.
I believe there are artists coming in the next generation, some of whom will have the secret of using their over-minds.

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Over-mind artists usually come, in a group. There were the great Italians: Verrochio, Angelo, Ghiberti, the lot that preceded and followed da Vinci, including statesmen, explorers, and men and women of curious and sensitive development.
There was the great Athenian group: the dramatists, Socrates, the craftsmen and the men and women, their followers and lovers . . . .

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notesonthoughtandvisionNotes on Thought and Vision by Imagist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) is an aphoristic meditation on how one works toward an ideal body-mind synthesis; a contemplation of the sources of imagination and the creative process; and a study of gender differences H.D. believed to be inherent in women’s and men’s consciousness. Here, too, is The Wise Sappho, a lyrical tribute to the great poet of Lesbos, for whom H.D. felt deep personal kinship.There is no great art period without great lovers.

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