But I noticed something interesting: there's almost no scholarship focusing on (or even alluding to) the question of whether, and how, mystical experience can or might be "induced."
Can a text create a spiritual/psychological experience for a reader? Could we understand what it is "structurally" about texts that do that successfully, if such texts exist, that makes the experience occur? Does it (almost certainly) require a certain kind of reading?
So could I get away with calling Melville's texts "mystical" by simply suggesting that those who don't have mystical experiences after reading them aren't reading in the "right" (in context) way?
I know this seems sketchy, but isn't this what all parables are trying to do?--to induce a transformation (or enlightenment, or salvation, or redemption) in the listener? And what's the alternative? What is the purpose of Melville's writing, if not something that grand? If he really wanted to just say, "It's dangerous to become obsessive about eliminating evil," why wouldn't he have written a short tract in prose on that topic? What makes "serious" fiction necessary?
Sealy? You around?