The Ecstatic

Issue #49, Fall 2011

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience,” Emily Dickinson wrote. Not a shocking sentiment, coming from a hermetic poet. However, in this modern age, the notion of leaving the soul ajar seems nearly impossible. Yet, as you’ll find in this issue, the human desire for ecstasy, of all sorts, is hardwired into our brains. For some, like Kelly Link, transcendence is found in the fantastic. It is classical music that delivers the hero in the excerpt from Nikolai Grozni’s novel Wunderkind, whereas poet Kevin Young locates the soul in the heart of soul music. Kung fu is the path for a chosen few in Oliver Broudy’s profile of a master and his students. Elissa Schappell discovered the ecstatic when she began having temporal lobe seizures. And while François Villon is delirious over dancing and women, modern poets like Meghan O'Rourke, Matthew Zapruder, and Alex Dimitrov tackle on wine, sex, and religion. So open the Ecstatic issue, open your mind, and remain open.

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Nikolai Grozni

WUNDERKIND • Russian midgets are the tallest and Russian watches are the fastest, went the joke, and my watch lived up to its reputation.

Jamie Quatro

CAUGHT UP • The vision started coming when I was nine.

Peter Rock

A FRAGMENTARY EXCERPT FROM The Raccoon and the Letter When I was out by myself in the mountains, I liked to think he was somewhere in the trees.

Cesar Aira

EXCERPT FROM Varamo Ahead of Varamo, at the end of the street, the cafe shone like a carbuncle.

Kelly Link

THE SUMMER PEOPLE • Fran had the flu, except it was more like the flu had Fran. She'd lain out of school for three days in a row.

Matthew Zapruder

POEM FOR WINE

Meghan O'Rourke

SEX, AGAIN
CHURCHYARD
FAITH

Ben Okri

MIGRATIONS
MORE FISHES THAN STARS

Matthew Rohrer

SO WHAT IF BUDDHA KNEW

Dorothea Lasky

WHY IT IS A BLACK LIFE
I LIKE WEIRD-ASS HIPPIES

Francois Villon (translated by David Georgi)

THE FEET ONLY DANCE
THE BALLAD OF FAT MARGOT

Alex Dimitrov

IN THE MUSEUM OF OLD LOVERS
AT CLOSE RANGE

Ben Okri

Poetry is never far from this Booker Prize-winning novelist's mind. He talked with Anderson Tepper about his Nigerian upbringing, his reception abroad, and the way literature puts wings on our backs.

Cesar Aira

This prolific Argentine writer has inspired a cult following. In a conversation with Scott Esposito, he explains his famous 'continuum' process of writing, his sense of literary freedom, and the delectable charms of Ren & Stimpy.

Oliver Broudy

THE MASTER AND MIKE DIMEGLIO • Everybody was kung fu fighting. Or were they?

Kevin Young

MOANIN' • Sould is not a color but a culture; not so much innate as it is an ethos.

Matt Kish

AN EXCERPT FROM Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page The visual artist shows us how obsession ends in ecstasy.

Emma Straub

TEENAGE DREAM • Move over Justin Bieber, there's still a New Kid on the Block.

Elissa Schappell

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN • The agony and the ecstasy of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Peter Bebergal

TOO MUCH TO DREAM • One can find all manner of strange things in Boston Common, including, perhaps, the doors of perception.

Stacy Carlson

ON CHRISTINE RITTER'S A Woman in the Polar Night Two women stand in awe of the Arctic.

Josh Kendall

ON CHARLES MACLEAN'S The Watcher What lies skulking in the dark halls of paranoia?

Heather Hartley

ON HENRY MILLER'S Quiet Days in Clichy A libidinous emcee details his concupiscence through a prophylactic alter ego.

Katie Wudel

ON SYLVERE LOTTRINGER'S David Wojnarowicz: A Definitive History of Five or Six Years on the Lower East Side Ecstatic rage animates an artist with something to say.

M. Allen Cunningham

ON PAUL ZWEIG'S Departures A man wanders the streets of Paris in search of the luminous, heartbreaking, life-affirming, delectable reach.

Leah Koenig

THE FOUR WORLDS • Tree exultation, essoteric ritual, and vegan-friendly snacks-these are the things that get Jewish environmentalists excited.

Billy Collins

A WORD ABOUT TRANSITIONS