“I remember going alone to the Roman Amphitheater in Verona, Italy one night. There were clouds without water sweeping across the Verona sky; and their ominous appearance, together with an extraordinary revelation of lightning without thunder, had driven everybody out of the Amphitheatre. And as I sat in that vast arena, my whole nature seemed suddenly transformed. Alone in that Roman circle, under those clouds from which no drop of rain fell, some thaumaturgic element in my nature rose to such a pitch that I felt, as I have only felt once or twice since, that I really was endowed with some sort of supernatural power.
Once more, in an almost empty theatre in San Francisco, I chanced to give a morning lecture on the playwright Strindberg which turned out, totally against my wish, to be the best lecture I have ever given in my whole life. There were, I think, ten to fifteen persons present; while a couple of theatrical retainers creaked about in the rear of the vast enclosure. But the mere fact that I was ‘‘up against it” stirred up within me that formidable daimon which, as I have hinted to you before, can be reached somewhere in my nature, and which when it is reached has the Devil’s own force. At these times I am aware of my skeleton going to and fro over the surface of this round earth; but, accompanying my perambulatory skeleton, I feel the presence of a spiritual power emanating from my bones and moving within me.
Absent-mindedly I looked at those ten devoted society women sitting alone in the stalls and at the immeasurable space above their heads, rising and rising tier above tier, gallery above gallery and I became aware, more vividly aware than I had ever been, that the secret of life consists in sharing the madness of God. By sharing the madness of God I mean the power of rousing a peculiar exultation in yourself as you confront the Inanimate, an exultation which is really a cosmic eroticism, however much the Prince of this World may deride it, for it means the finding of “the eternal feminine” in Matter itself.
To what end had the gods thus dedicated me? Merely to indulge in ecstasy before bewildered, puzzled, derisive audiences? I refuse to believe it! But it is curious how little this supernatural power of mine does me any good in the direction of making me rich or famous.”