Twenty years ago, religious people had to hide their inclinations. Otherwise they would have been mercilessly mocked at, because atheism enjoyed, then, a great popularity. It was the time of endless hopes over positivism, over the omnipotence of the scientific postulates, Darwin, Haeckel, Moleschott were the gods of the day. The mystic and the religious spirits were outmoded, considered as rusty anachronisms in a century of light and clarity. Things have changed now, oscillating up to the opposite pole. A whole discussion, with fervent adepts, over the mystic soul started in our country as well. Take into consideration the whole history of modern culture: according to the class struggle you will notice the same, almost regular, rhythm between intelligence and mysticism. Unstable phases in which thought has not stabilized itself, when it is still seeking itself, it is still sounding itself; troubled phases of dubious fecundity, in which a new soul is taking shape from thousands of anonymous, unconscious contributions. Then everyone feels around themselves vague, indefinite, confused aspirations towards something yet unknown. Man feels the need to change all that has been at any cost, even if change brings them something worse.And then, there are phases in which the search has found its object; thought shaped itself in precise, well-formed waves. A class has triumphed. Intelligence speculates, thus, on clear issues. Once the new programme is found, rationalism takes over its role of interpreter, of commentator. It helps to make propaganda for the new ideal, spreads it, infuses it everywhere. Ch. Péguy made the distinction between two aspects of history: the periods and the ages. The former are calm, classical, established. The latter are heroic, troubled, thrilled by a strange restlessness, in search of new horizons. Dividing history in "organic ages" and "critical ages", Saint-Simon had in mind the same criterion.Understood in this way, mysticism would mean just the prevalence of feeling. Any enthusiast, any impassioned person, any generous person even, might, then, be considered a mystic. It is enough to be sentimental, to be open-hearted, impressionable, in order to enter in the above-mentioned category. But presented this way, mysticism acquires too large a sphere of applicability. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was thinking perfectly clearly and strictly rationally, was, still, what is called an emotional man. A lucid thinker, Michelet became enthusiastic, due to a deep sympathy for everything human, towards all the historical material that he saw. A consumed humanist and a logical mind par excellence, Jaures had, still, accents of lyricism, tinged with his powerful meridional temperament, every time he rose against injustice. Obviously, all of them were not mystics. The truth is that this state of mind must be understood in a different way. In any case, it must have a narrower meaning. To consider it as such, that is, only form the point of view of generosity, means to pay attention only to the ethical aspect. An enthusiast is not a mystic. The latter is characterized especially by a certain peculiarity of his way of knowing things.Saint Theresa, St. Bonaventura, Saint Jean de la Croix (who became fashionable due to Jean Baruzzi) differ especially in their intellectual experience. Mysticism is a problem of knowledge, namely, knowledge through the unconscious functions. Inspiration, revelation, suggestion are, for these delirious people, contact instruments with the external world. Modern research in mental pathology (the most conclusive in this respect is Pierre Janet's) proves the close alliance between a certain nervous malfunction (Jacques Rivière, the former director of the magazine Nouvelle Revue Française, did not convert before the torments and the illness he acquired during the time he was a prisoner in Germany), which brings over a diminishing of consciousness, on the one hand, and an assertion of the unconscious forces and of the inclinations of a religious type, on the other. We showed on a previous occasion, in a series of research, starting from an evolutionist point of view, that the unconscious is a return inside the soul, due to the tiredness of the nervous centers, of some ancestral, primitive states, long ago left behind by the psychological evolution. To know, but not through the new acquisitions, but through the old means, left behind in history precisely because they were imperfect (if the necessity for consciousness had not come forth, consciousness would not have appeared), is not a reason for joy. I cannot see any reason for praise in the reappearance, not even in the furtherance, of the mystic consciousness. If today I put on an old winter coat, thinned at the elbows, taken from a forgotten trunk, it is because I do not have another. But nobody would rather wear it instead of a superb fur, bought a few days ago. Why would we abandon the means of clear consciousness, especially since not even the best logical mind is free from the ones of the unconscious in its moments of weakness?But it can be said that nothing exists without its purpose, even the most indirect one. On the path of evolution from what is simple to what is complex, a series of forms are left aside for more perfected ones. This does not mean that the new acquisitions are not flawed due to some inconveniences and that, on the other hand, the instruments that became old-fashioned did not still have some advantages. Man's perfection is achieved with the loss of many qualities, which they have to give up. Primitives and animals are superior to us through the acuity of their senses and through the reliability of their instincts, through the presentiments of their unconscious. Preserving some old spiritual forms, giving them a reasonable place, without cultivating them to the detriment of the current psychological and modern states (the only ones capable of making us adapt perfectly to the present), can be useful most of the time. Especially because the unconscious can complete reason sometimes, giving it precious help. Only that even this preference for the mysticism of the unconscious is symptomatic. It does not appear by chance. It presupposes that certain conditions have been met. Some are social, that appear in the surrounding environment, some are psychological, and they presuppose a certain psychological structure. Nobody denies the fact that today, after the baptism of war, we have not parted, not forever (for according to the same rhythm the old values reappear, slightly changed), not even temporarily, with the beliefs of the past. The pace of history took on the appearance of another rhythm. In our days everybody searches for a new orientation and the eminent are searching for solutions that, after being found, will be shared with others. There are, without a doubt, numerous reasons for mysticism. We realize that something murky looms very close to us, that around us a sort of chaos tends to take shape and that its attempts are yet useless. The atmosphere suggests a huddle of elements. And so as not to despair, we raise this state to the rank of value and we theorize contemporary disorientation, calling it mysticism. The snobs, the weak, the people who are easy to influence, hurry to admit the new state of sensitivity as the only one legitimate, the only one final. The dominant class, for purposes of exploitation, prefers to support mysticism rather than consciousness or a critical spirit.As contagion is powerful, even the powerful, lucid spirits become intimidated and give in. This is, among others, the case of Jacques Cocteau, a classic writer, clear in reasoning to the last argument, who converted to Catholicism – the profundity of this remains to be seen – through a famous letter to the adept enthusiast, the reactionary J. Maritain. We should not wonder if the last reserves of rationalism, Paul Valéry, A. Gide, Lévy-Bruhl, become mystics themselves.There is something else still. When the world war broke out, rationalism was at its peak (except for a few minority philosophical schools). It had penetrated deeply into the cultural masses.The horrors of the great cataclysm are linked to its evocation. We grudge it. We always associate it with the mentality that presided and prepared the war. We tell ourselves, simply, that if people of rationalist mentality were the ones who wanted the war, mysticism – its opposite – cannot but bring the opposite effects. A similar association was made in connection to republic. Many people associated it with the postwar misery, regretting the empire or regality apparently linked to prosperity and quietness.And then, there is the law of rhythm – indispensable today, it seems. When a state of affairs lasts too long, the need for change appears and reaction takes shape. The old things are brought into fashion again. What is ancient becomes new by a simple decree of collective sensibility, saturated by a certain abuse. The excesses of rationalism in the Western countries, with an old tradition of intelligentsia, brought over – just like tyrannies that provoke revolution – the denial of the intellect and the celebration of the obscure powers of the soul.To this social conditioning a psychological one is added, a question of temperament. If we look closely, the opposition between mysticism and intelligence is but the duel between the critical spirit and the creative spirit. The fertility of the unconscious, when it is full of vital impetus, never knows precisely where it is going. It manifests itself as an explosion: in all directions. A Tolstoy, a Nietzsche, a Carlyle, a Dostoyevsky and a Balzac do not fully realize the significance of their work. Like all the expressions of life, it is confused. A torrent which overflows goes over the exact riverbed on which its path is traced. It brings with it silt of all sorts, trees, but, especially, pieces torn from its own banks. E. Renan was right to say: "Il n'y a que l'obscurité qui est féconde." This is true for all the great creative temperaments. But in revolutionary ages, when one finds their way, mysticism – that is, valuing the unconscious and affective forces – is generalized even with the uncreative, by simple imitation. Critical spirit, on the contrary, must be more rationalistic. It explains and expresses what is, it does not guess what will be. Can you imagine Sainte-Beuve, Faguet, Brandes as mystics? Rationalism is more powerful during and after the great ages of construction, unless it does not inspire itself such enthusiasm that it becomes an object of mysticism, as it was the case of the French revolution.Nevertheless, if mysticism expresses the preparation stage which precedes creation, it does not directly determine it. Spiritual production, like any other, presupposes two stages: one of inspiration, of prophecy, and another one of organization. The latter is the more important. Without a certain form, without an expression, creation is not even perceivable; it drowns in the ocean of attempts which failed in the stage of projects. A spiritual contribution has no right to citizenship in the history of culture until it becomes conscious. A great part of this intelligence must enter into any creation. A. Gide and P. Valery are right in this respect. Bergson could not try to deal a serious blow to the sovereignty of intelligence unless he used intelligence. His arguments in favor of mysticism are of a rationalist nature.Mysticism is the period of incubation of the creative act. It serves as a spiritual thermometer. As soon as such a state of mind spreads in a society, it is a sign that a revolution will take place. But that is all. In order to make it happen, reason must intervene.It alone can see an attempt to its end; it alone gives form, expression, reality.When, today, mysticism is fashionable in Europe, this thing must not be disdained. The fact that this fashion exists is symptomatic. It means something, anyway. Otherwise it would not have appeared. Fashions are not absurd altogether. They are expressions of opinions, clues for social diagnoses. When mysticism wreaks havoc in our journalism, it means nothing more than that the writers touched by this disease are too weak not to become a mere subsidiary of what is going on in France and Germany. They are the finely tuned barometer that announces the clouds gathered some place else. Because the conditions indicated above for the appearance of mysticism are not by any means met here. There has never been here an excess of mysticism so that the mystical reaction might appear. We are in an age of clarification, of self-interpretation. We must weigh our forces and identify our temperament. Our soul is not yet settled. We need a definition of the Romanian phenomenon. A. Gide said that when it comes to showing a delimitation, a frontier that separates a soul from another, drawing is needed, which separates and differentiates, and not music, the attribute of mysticism, which melts and mixes. We must trace, for now, the border, on the small or large ground that we have. The original contribution will come afterwards. Romanian creation is a phenomenon of the future. In order for creation to exist (which necessarily means originality), individuality is needed. But which is our individuality? We should understand ourselves first. But for this we need intelligence, logics, intellectuality. We especially need criticism and more criticism. This is the more urgent Romanian need. Sloppy delirium, fakir's ecstasy, theosophy and magic, grafted on savagery, you can see very well what they can produce. Since the problem of creation is still far from us, let's set for ourselves, with more common-sense, more modest goals, because they are also more fecund. They are tailored for us. Because Prince Kayserling founded in Darmstadt a school of wisdom based on theosophical principles, or because Cocteau converted himself to Catholicism, some intellectual from Bucharest is scared to death that he remain behind and, lest he should be at a disadvantage, he learns Hebrew and enrolls right away at the Faculty of Theology, and dedicates his poems, if he writes any, to Jesus, sings at the left lectern on Sundays, spends his evenings in the company of fifty-year old spinsters, pressing his fingers on a moving table, tortures his syntax so as to make it obscure and scary, swears on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventura, compared to whom Descartes is a mere simpleton, is very preoccupied with the policy of the Holy Synod regarding Sunday rest, etc., etc. All these trifles are simply disgusting and laughable whichever way you choose to see them. We would understand all of these if mysticism manifested itself in some great creative spirits. But our mystics are the most arid critics. As there is an impulse of vigorous creation only in few of the supporters of mysticism here, these grimaces are but suburban manifestations.Mysticism and mediocrity do not go together. For this state of mind one needs wealth of spirit and vitality. The dried intellect of a paper scribbler is utterly ludicrous when it claims to be a medium in trance. As Caragiale said: "buzz off, please." Our Romanian fellow is kind, ironic, a keen observer, and like all southerners, extremely lucid. Pray, where does all this delirious temperament come from?Mysticism is in fashion this year. It is obvious. From the point of view of chicness, these gentlemen are impeccable. But they should stop claiming they are intellectuals. The latter are tragically sincere about their states of mind and they don't make of ideas objects of toiletry. Besides the imitative servility of a culture that lives "à l'instar des autres", the secret of the latest enthusiasm for mysticism must be sought in other parts as well.Sentimental obscurity and anarchy is not only the most wonderful "trompe l'oeil", dust thrown in the eyes of the naïve, but offer a mask under which reality becomes uncontrollable. It is the most comfortable of all poses. On the intellectual level, talent and intelligence are compared, are measured. Everyone has a rank in the general hierarchy. Shattering, with Bergson, the possibility of measurement in the sphere of the acts of the soul, the modern mystic avoids the need for an act attesting legitimacy, avoids the scrutiny of criticism, avoids being denounced. They are intangible, incomprehensible. For the mystic, all talents are equal. Thus, nobody remains under the average level of the contemporaries, at least. Who knows what a rationalist demystification might reveal.There is a place, thus, in mysticism, for all Tartuffian actions, for all charlatanisms.People who have not left behind a single book, an idea, a suggestion, a proposal have but to convert to mysticism: their reputation is saved.But the mystic publicist, who is not so unaware as one might think, with respect to certain facilities, might not be able to afford these delicious grimaces, if they didn't coincide at the same time with a certain reactionary attitude, which is well favored at the time being in our country. The alliance between religion and right-wing politics has been known for a long time. Obscurantism has always been the most agreeable instrument of autocracies. Good for the adepts of the new tendencies. Their mysticism can become utilitarian. After all, why not? What can be sweeter than to support an idea which is agreeable to the public opinion? It is, of course, only a coincidence, but even more pleasant for this reason. It is, how shall I put it, like somebody who would love madly a young lady who happens to be a millionaire as well. Is it the fault of a Romanian mystic if his ideas appeal to the official authorities? Should he abjure them? Do you think he is so shallow? On the contrary, he will develop them to the full, while the official authorities applaud. The Romanian mystic is skeptical and critical enough to understand that an idea that does not have the approval of the people in high positions is, because of this very fact, less true.

by Mihail Ralea (1896-1964)