Mousai, Madmen, and Prophets


[quoting John Berryman, who is quoting Kierkegaard, who is quoting Hamann] "There are two voices, and the first voice says, "Write! ... For the dead ... ."






Tyranny of Meaning



Soft-Spoken God



Ainigmatical Dictation



Personal Deity



Digna Vox



Morbid Offspring


p. 58 saints-as-social-victims

"Psychiatry’s many critics, flourishing in the wake of a series of books –

Thomas Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness,

Ronald Laing’s The Divided Self,

Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization,

Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

gloated over ... a decisive victory for the madman-as-social-victim school of thought."

pp. 62-3, 70-2 sainthood is not a sign of mental illness

p. 62

"in the pages of the British journal The Psychologist ... Ivan Leudar, a psychologist at the University of Manchester" : "The subject of the debate was the question "Is hearing voices a sign of mental illness?" ... argued ... Leudar in the negative. ...

p. 63

Leudar ... wrote. "The term ‘hallucination’ tinges ... with a logically intrinsic pathology where there may be none.""

p. 70

"Louis Franc,ois Le’lut (1804-1877) ... published In Search of Analogies ... . ...

p. 71

Throughout history, men and women of genius – he named Socrates, Muh[.]ammad, Joan of Arc, ... and Ignatius Loyola – had proudly claimed to her voices and see visions. ... Le’lut ... did not want hallucinations conceived of as a singularly medical phenomenon :


[quoted from Le’lut] ... there exist more or less continual, chronic hallucinations ... which are nevertheless compatible with an ... whole state of reason, and which allow the individual ... to bring his conduct and management of his interests all the soundness of judgement which is desirable".

p. 72

"Alexandre Brierre de Boismont (1798-1881)" : "In his 1845 book On Hallucinations, Brierre ... embraced the historical relativism ... displayed in In Search of Analogies".

p. 64 origin of the medical model of hearing spirit-voices

Teresa of A`vila, authoress of The Interior Castle (1577), "had been on the brink of persecution because of her flamboyant raptures ..., so she proposed that voices and visions could be caused by mental illness ... . ...

[quoted from :- T. R. Sarbin & J. B. Juhasz : "The Historical Background of the Concept of Hallucination". J OF THE HISTORY OF THE BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCES 5(1967):339-58.] By declaring those ... who were visionaries enferma (sick) Teresa could prevent the Inquisition from acting against them."

pp. 75-6, 78 beginnings of the Hearing-Voices Movement

p. 75

Marius Romme, professor at the University of Limburg in Holland, "arranged to appear with [Patsy] Hage on a popular Dutch talk show on which they invited people who heard voices to contact them. ... He identified twenty men and women who were able to speak articulately about ... their voices and asked them to serve as speakers at a convention for voice-hearers. The ... meeting ... was held in October 1987 in a labor union hall in Utrecht ... . ...

p. 76

A self-help organization, Foundation Resonance, grew out of the conference and quickly began to gain notice elsewhere ... in Denmark, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, and England. Before long, a ... "Hearing Voices Movement" had formed, motivated by ... Romme and ... Sandra Escher."

p. 78

"a British self-help organization that was formed in 1988 on the model of the original Dutch organization" : "The Hearing Voices Network, based in Manchester, ... has dozens of affiliated groups throughout the United Kingdom, and each summer it holds its annual gathering ... in downtown Manchester."

pp. 76-7 early literature of the Hearing-Voices Movement

p. 76

"Romme and Escher ... In 1993 ... published Accepting Voices ... . ...

p. 77

In 1994, the psychologists Max Birchwood, of the University of Birmingham, and Paul Chadwick, ... in Southhampton, published a landmark study ... . ... The psychologist Anthony Morrison, of the University of Manchester, similarly found that negative beliefs about voices ... are ... linked to the cultural dominance of the pathological interpretation of voice-hearing."

Marius Romme & Sandra Escher (edd.) : Accepting Voices . London : Mind Publ, 1993.

Max Birchwood & Paul Chadwick : "The Omnipotence of Voices". BRITISH J OF PSYCHIATRY 164(1994):190-201.

Anthony P. Morrison, Sarah Northard, Samantha E. Bowe, & Adrian Wells : "Interpretations of Voices in Patients ...". BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH AND THERAPY 42(2004):1315-23.

pp. 97-8 female mystics

p. 97

"To Hildegard of Bingen, a twefth-century German mystic, the voice of God spoke words that were "... like a trembling flame, or like a cloud stirred by the clean air."" [Selected Writings. London, 2001. p. xx]


"in sixteenth-century Spain, Teresa of A`vila ... described ... supernatural words ... . Teresa wrote :

p. 98

[quoted from : The Life of Saint Teresa of A`vila by Herself. p. 174] The words are perfectly formed ... . Yet ... however hard one resists it is impossible to shut them out."

pp. 116-8 inspiration of Hesiodos

p. 116

"Hesiod was a shepherd, and he writes that the Muses came and spoke to him as he was tending his flock on Mount Helicon. ...

p. 117

[quoted from :- Hesiod. Transl. by Richmond Lattimore. Ann Arbor : U of MI Pr, 1991. p. 124] ... these mistresses of words ...

breathed a voice into me,

and the power to sing the story of things

of the future, and things past."

p. 118

"classicist E. R. Dodds’s 1951 landmark study The Greeks and the Irrational ... noted that the poet’s experience took place on a remote mountaintop.


The phenomenon of hearing voices and seeing things in solitary and extreme settings, Dodds observed, is known even in modern times."

{It is commonplace in Amerindian and other "vision-quaests".}

pp. 123-4 divine inspiration of William Blake

p. 123

"Blake frequently claimed that his art came to him from external, divine sources. About his epic poem Milton, he wrote to one of his patrons : "I have written this poem from immediate Dictation ... without Premeditation & even against my Will. ... ." [CP&PWB, pp. 728-29] ...

To another patron Blake wrote that he preferred the countryside ... because there the "voices of Celestial inhabitants are more distinctly heard and their forms more distinctly seen."" [CP&PWB, p. 710]

p. 124

"Blake ... "... is a strange man ... . He ... sees spirits."" [B, p. 338]

CP&PWB = David V. Erdman (ed.) : The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. NY : Anchor, 1988.

B = Peter Ackroyd : Blake. NY : Ballantine Bks, 1995.

pp. 142-3, 153, 155 hagios Sokrates

p. 142

" "Saint Socrates, pray for us!" Desiderius Erasmus is said to have cried."

{"Sancte Socrates, ora pro nobis" "Saint Socrates, pray for us." All are familiar with Erasmus' appreciation of the ancient Athenian sage in his well-known colloquy The Godly Feast (see Erasmus, "Convivium religiosum," in Opera omnia Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami I-3, ed. L.-E. Halkin et al. [Amsterdam, 1972] 231-66, at 254:710)" ("RSA", p. 120)}


According to Ploutarkhos ("On Sokrates’s Personal Deity"), "the pigs were covered in mud and ... filthy" where

{cf. at Gadaris, of "very naughty water" according to Strabon (lib. 16), the ~2000 swine in Euangelion kata Markos 5:13}

p. 143

Sokrates "heeded the instructions of a divine voice, and one what was so protective as to save him from nothing so lofty as a herd of filthy swine."

p. 153

Sokrates "said (and they were his last words) : ".. we ought to offer a cock to Asclepius. ..." (LDS, p. 183)

{This mention of Asklepios may have been intended as a sarcastic reproof about his having been condemned on account of his "daimonion", for the term /daimon/ would prae-eminently apply to Agatho- and to Kako-daimon, who were snake-deities -- much as a snake is the emblem of Asklepios.}

p. 155

[quoted from CS, pp. 43-4] "Those who rely on bird-calls ... are, I suppose, receiving guidance from voices. ... But whereas others state that it is birds ... which forewarn them, ... I think that ... I am being ... more devout than those who ascribe the power of the gods to birds."

{The "birds" mentioned herein may be alluded to in the chicken to be immolated to Asklepios : that the chicken could be devoured by Asklepios (of the snake-emblem) would vindicate the superiority claimed by Sokrates for his daimonion-voice.}

"RSA" = Christopher Celenza : "Review of :- Michael J. B. Allen : Synoptic Art: Marsilio Ficino on the History of Platonic Interpretation. Florence: Olschki, 1998. In :- Esoterism, Religion, and Nature. ESOTERISM BK SERIES, Vol. 2. North American Academic Press (an imprint of New Cultures Press), 2010.

Strabon – footnote in Geneva Bible of 1599

LDS = Platon (transl, by Hugh Tredennick) : The Last Days of Socrates.

CS = Xenophon (transl. by Hugh Tredennick & Robin Waterfield) : Conversations of Socrates.

p. 154 widespread Hellenic freedom for innovations in religion

"Socrates’ innovations were not all that fresh. Several prominent intellectuals before him, such as Pindar, Xenophanes, Euripides, and Heraclitus, had openly criticized traditional Greek religion, and none had been persecuted by their cities." [reference :- RS, pp. 142-3]

{The only person in this list of innovators who was (like Sokrates) Attic is Euripides, who (like Sokrates) was denounced on account of his non-conformity and who (unlike Sokrates) managed to escape execution by fleeing into exile.} {"Euripides was not the only teacher whom the Athenians persecuted, ... and he left Athens in voluntary exile." ("E&A", based on the Bios Euripidou by Saturos)} {According to Saturos, "Euripides is standing trial for impiety" ("LALE", p. 559, fn. 74).}

RS = Mark McPherran : The Religion of Socrates. PA State U Pr, University Park, 1996.

"E&A" = P. T. Stevens : "Euripides and the Athenians". J OF HELLENIC STUDIES

Vol. 76 (1956), pp. 87-94.

"LALE" = Johanna Hanin : "The Life of the Author in the Letters of "Euripides"". GREEK, ROMAN, AND BYZANTINE STUDIES 50 (2010) 537–56.

pp. 159-60, 163 daimonion of Sokrates

p. 159

"in Plato’s Apology, ... Socrates tells ... that his daimonion "always dissuades me from what I am proposing to do, and never urges me on"; that it has often checked him "in the middle of a sentence" ... . ...

p. 160

In Xenophon’s Memorabilia we learn that Socrates and others considered it to be unfailingly correct."

p. 163

"Socrates shows elsewhere that he is capable of having rational hunches without calling the experience daimonic, and ... at times the daimonion indisputably trumps his critical reason."

pp. 169, 182-3, 186, 188 Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc)

p. 169

"And the first time ... the voice came to her at noon, on ... a fast day ... . And she said that the voice was hardly ever without a light, which was always in the direction of the voice."

p. 182

"She answered that the voices were those of Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. And their heads are crowned with beautiful crowns, most richly and preciously. ... She also said that she received counsel from Saint Michael. ...

p. 183

She said that it was Saint Michael whom she saw before her eyes; and that he was not alone, but was accompanied by angels from heaven. ...

p. 186

Asked whether they smelt pleasant,

She replied : Assuredly they did so.

Asked whether in embracing them she felt ... anything ...,

She said she could not embrace them without feeling and touching them." .

{Smelling, feeling and touching would imply that what was experienced by her must have been in her dreams.}

p. 188

"She was then asked if she had heard the voices of Catherine and Margaret again. She said yes. In the margin of the record, the clerk transcribing the exchange wrote "Responsio mortifera" – the fatal reply."

pp. 198-9 hallucinating by Freud? [quoted from "GD"]

p. 198

"I remember having twice been in danger of my life ... . On both occasions ... "this was the end," ... language proceeded ...,

{I once heard a monitory divine voice warning me when an automobile was approaching me as I was crossing the city-street (in Ch., IL?) without my having noticed it.}

p. 199

in these occasions I heard the words as if someone was shouting them into my ear, and at the same time I saw them as if they were printed on a piece of paper floating in the air."

"GD" = Rosemary Dinnage : "Grand Delusion" : review of :- Zvi Lothnae : In Defense of Schreber. NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, Mar 3 1994.

pp. 193-7, 199-200, 202-6 D. P. Schreber

p. 193

"Daniel Paul Schreber, a newly appointed judge on the Supreme Appeals Court of the Kingdom of Saxony, in Dresden, ... in the summer of 1893 ...


heard strange crackling noises coming from the walls of his bedroom. ...

{Once, in Al., VA, I, along with my brother (who had already heard praeternatural sounds from his glass table) heard cracking sounds coming from a wall of his rented house.}

p. 194

Schreber ... believed that he was a "seer of spirits" ...; that


he was surrounded by ghostly replicas of human beings ... .

{I have (when a child) seen in a house a ghost which looked exactly like a living man.}


He also began to hear innumerable voices ... day and night -- ... of his mother and father, of his wife, of various "departed souls," of the Pope, of "240 Benedictine monks," ... of the sun. ...

{I have often heard praeternatural voices, usually unidentified, but sometimes of friends.}


By the spring of 1894, Schreber was ... transferred to Sonnenstein, a state asylum ... . He would spend the next eight and a half years there.

{I have been some 10 years confined to a state "insane asylum".}


His voices referred to it as the "Devil’s Castle."

{The "Devil" referred to is, of course, his psychiatrist, Guido Weber.}

p. 195

In 1896, Schreber ... started to take notes ... . ... In 1900, Schreber ... produced a lengthy manuscript ... from his notes ... . ... in December 1902, Schreber left the asylum. The following year his book was published ... .

{While confined those years of mine to the state "insane asylum", I wrote occult literary compositions.}

p. 196

In German, the title was Denkenwu:rdigkeiten ... – The Great Thoughts ... ."

p. 197

[Quoted from MMNI, p. 46] "it really must be rather pleasant to be a woman succumbing to intercourse."

{In the context of Schreber’s scorpions (vide p. 205 infra), it may be pertinent that while mating a female scorpion (unless stung) "will attempt to kill the male." ("UE" & "FRS")} {With lobsters, however, mating "is actually rather romantic" ("DLML").}

p. 199

"Schreber’s book ... concludes with discussions of sundry topics of ... metaphysical interest to Schreber --

p. 200

"the soul’s state of Blessedness," ... "soul-language." ...

Nevertheless, ... we learn that the event that marked the beginning ... – the crackling sounds that he heard coming from the walls of his bedroom ... – grew into speech ... months later, after the ... orgasmic night ... . ... By the time Schreber had begun ... six years into his incarceration, his voices had come


to sound like "sand trickling from an hour glass.""

{This is inaudible : perhaps we meant that they spoke of the "sands of time" and the like.}

p. 202

He wrote (MMNI, p. pp. 120-1, n. 61) : "in the case of a human being like myself who has entered in contact with the rays and whose head is in consequence so to speak illuminated by

{To be divinely illuminated by a ray of light from heaven is a feature of S.ufi mystics (and of Joseph Smith).}

p. 203

rays, ... I receive light and sound sensations which are projected directly on to my inner ... by the rays ... . I see such events even with my eyes closed and where sound is concerned would hear them".


"Schreber hears Ariman {Persian /Ahriman/}, one half of his idea of God {the other half being, of course, the Persian /Ohrmazd/}, resound "in a mighty bass as if directly in front of my bedroom windows." [MMNI, p. 131] He hears the sun talking in a "low whisper." At other times ... Schreber ... writes,


"I hear outer voices particularly spoken by birds, which come to me from outside, from the birds’ throats." [MMNI, p. 200]

[p. 228, n. 11:18 : "Virginia Woolf heard the birds outside her bedroom window speaking Greek."]

{I have often heard spirit’s speech uttered at the same instant as when a bird was chirping, so that the spirit’s speech would sound as if mingled with the bird’s chirping.}


... Schreber also has experiences halfway between sense and thought. The sound of bees buzzing and trains rattling mix with voices in his head {not actually in the head, but from spirits whose location is indeterminate} and "seem" to speak aloud."

{These are further comminglings of sound which result from spirits’ choosing to utter their praeternatural speech at the same instant that the natural sound is issuing. They are not actually "halfway between sense and thought".}

p. 204

"Schreber chose ... to consider his voices as having extrinsic value, as carriers of an insight regarding the true nature of God."

p. 205

[quoted from MMNI, p. 96] "Therefore ‘scorpions’ were repeatedly put into my head".

{"Normally, being attacked by scorpions in one’s head is" possible only in a dream ("FRJM").} {cf. the invasion by scorpion-folk in Apokalupsis of Ioannnes 9:10.} {Naturalistically, scorpions’ congeners the lobsters may be found in brain-coral ("FRJM").}

p. 206

D. P. Schreber "From time to time stands totally still in one spot and stares at the sun and

{This SuryaTrataka I have on a few occasions accomplished. It is performed by the grace of, perhaps, the sun-spirits, who may blacken the sun’s appearance for the gazer’s sake.}


grimaces in the most bizarre way."

{GRIMacing is for GRI`Mnir’s gremlins.}

MMNI = Daniel Paul Schreber (transl. by Ida MacAlpine & Richard A. Hunter) : Memoirs of My Nervous Illness. New York Review Bks, 2000.

"UE" =

"FRS" =

"DLML" =

"FRJM" =

"LBC" = POETRY, Vol. 117, No. 2 (Nov., 1970), pp. 81-83 reprinted in Osprey Suicides (1973).

p. 207 D. P. Schreber as praecursor of later writers

"Schreber’s rejoinder echoes the logic of other religious-minded dissenters to the rise of medical psychiatry, such as ... physician Brierre de Boismont ... .

Schreber’s arguments even presage those made by his exact contemporary William James. In The Varieties of Religious Experience, ... James sought to shift the basis of interpretation of voices and visions ... to personal value."

Daniel B. Smith : Muses, Madmen, and Prophets. Penguin Pr, NY, 2007.