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“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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