Publication details [#10811]

Tseng, Ming-Yu. 2002. Expressing the ineffable: Toward a poetics of mystical writing. Social Semiotics 12 (1) : 63–82. 20 pp.


This article attempts to formulate a paradigm for textual features that are embodied in mystical writing. By using T. S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets' (1944) as an example, this paper demonstrates that five distinctive textual strategies are operative in mystical writing: (1) negation as a heuristic means of spiritual ascent, (2) an iconic correlation between parallelism and paradox, (3) the matrix of a journey, (4) the generic sentence as a highlighted voice, and (5) metaphor of depersonalization. It will be argued that the five textual strategies contribute to forming a poetics of mystical writing. The argument also exemplifies an alternative to the religio-philosophical and traditional literary interpretations of 'Four Quartets', as this poetic work embodies a condensed, crystallized poetics of mystical writing. (LLBA 2003, vol. 37, n. 2)