The Mystic Unmasked: A Philosophical Analysis of Allen Ginsberg’s Poetry
In his poem “The Mystic Unmasked,” Allen Ginsberg accuses the speaker of a traditional Buddhist poem of being a false mystic. The mystic, says Ginsberg, is actually a materialist and a realist. He does not believe in the illusory nature of the world or escape from it for that matter. But what does it mean to say that the mystic is unmasked? Does this imply that there is an “unmasked” form of mysticism that Allen believes to be more authentic? And if so, what exactly is this hidden version of mysticism that we need to discover? This essay seeks to answer these questions by analyzing the famous poem and exploring its implications for our understanding of mysticism.
The Argument in “The Mystic Unmasked”
The poem begins with the mystic declaring his usual stance of denying the reality of the material world. In this view, all that we perceive is illusory. This is true even of language, which the mystic regards as a mere collection of arbitrary signs that have no relation to the things they represent. In fact, the mystic finds it difficult to see how any human being could even be able to talk about the external world, given that he believes all our senses are illusory too. Ginsberg then accuses the mystic of being a materialist and a realist, i.e. someone who does believe in the reality of the external world and who has language that adequately describes it. The mystic, says Ginsberg, “won’t look at the sun / with his own eyes / though he’s seen it all his life.” The poet also accuses him of being afflicted by the “disease of language,” which prevents him from seeing things directly and authentically.
What is the Difference between a Realist and a Mystic?
A mystic is someone who believes that reality is not as it appears to us with our five senses. Instead, it is something that is beyond our comprehension and is better experienced than described. A mystic believes that we can only have a partial and inadequate knowledge of the world due to the fact that our senses are illusory. Mystics often encourage us to escape from the world and see it as a mere illusion. They do not believe in language as an adequate tool for describing reality and often regard it as a mere convention that gets in the way of our direct experience of the world. Ginsberg, however, does not believe that we should escape from the world or that language is merely a convention. He maintains that the world as we perceive it is also a valid reality and that we can use language to describe it as accurately as possible. In other words, Ginsberg wants to emphasize the fact that there is a difference between reality and the way we experience it. The latter is merely a distorted version of the former, whereas the former is what is actually real.
Why Does Allen Believe that Language is Unrealistic?
Ginsberg thinks that the mystic is unrealistic because he fails to see that language is not a mere collection of arbitrary signs. He also fails to understand that language is an invention that enables us to describe the external world as accurately as possible. In other words, language does not merely describe things but also produces knowledge about them. Ginsberg also believes that language is not arbitrary in the sense of being a mere convention. Rather, it is a necessary and objective system that is based on a set of rational rules. Ginsberg, then, believes that language is an accurate tool for describing reality. As such, he believes that the mystic is unrealistic because he does not use language in an appropriate way. Instead, the mystic “drags the word sun / into the sand, / where no word can survive.” He fails to understand that language is meant to survive in the sand of the external world.
How Does the Realist Understand Language?
The poet argues that the mystic is unrealistic because he fails to understand that language is a valid way of describing the external world. Ginsberg also believes that the mystic fails to see that language is an objective system that is based on a set of rational rules. Ginsberg believes that language has a role to play in our direct experience of the world. He believes that we can use it to accurately describe things by bringing them “out of the fog / into the light.” He then suggests that the mystic is unrealistic because he does not understand that language can be an accurate way of describing the real world. He fails to see that language is a valid system that is based on rational rules. In doing so, the mystic is guilty of “put[ting] the word back in the book / where he found it / and tak[ing] the sun / out of the sky / where it shined for all.”
Is There an Authentic Type of Mysticism?
Ginsberg believes that there is a type of mysticism that is more authentic than the one that he has criticized. This type of mysticism is neither unrealistically dismissive of language nor unrealistically reliant on it. Instead, it is something that attempts to find a middle ground between these two extremes. It is a mysticism that understands that language is an accurate way of describing the external world. It is a mysticism that recognizes the difference between our experience of the world and reality itself. In other words, it is a mysticism that urges us to look at the sun with our own eyes and see it as the sun itself rather than a mere fog.
While Ginsberg’s poem “The Mystic Unmasked” is often read as an attack on Buddhism, this is not necessarily the case. Rather, the poet’s main target is a specific type of mysticism that is more interested in denying the world than describing it accurately. Ginsberg wants to emphasize the fact that reality is not something that can be escaped from but something that can be understood and described as accurately as possible. He shows that we can use language to describe the external world and that language can be an accurate way of doing this. This is precisely the reason why we should not dismiss language as a mere convention or an arbitrary set of signs but understand it as a valid system that is based on a set of rational rules.