- You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. [Psalm 23:5.]
Exuberance is a sense of overflowing joy. A cup can only be filled to its brim but when we have the sense that life is so abundant that our joy seems to overflow constantly, that is exuberance. It is usually accompanied by a sense of exquisite gratefulness, as expressed by many people who have described their spiritual rebirth. This sense of exuberance can give us strength to reach out to others.
Glory is heaven. For Humanists, this is not a dream of an afterlife but an approach to life here and now. It is an ideal but with a proper attitude, we can also see it as our reality. We could say that our job is not to anticipate a kingdom to come but to participate in life and see it as the kingdom. As with each and all of these ideas that are associated with traditional religions, the saving grace is in the interpretation and the steadfast adherence to reality, while simultaneously embracing the metaphor as a way of seeing the world and approaching life; in other words, Humanist spirituality is a function of approach and attitude.
Technical and Analytical Readings
Kay Redfield Jamison, Exuberance: The Passion for Life (Knopf, 2006).
Book narratives and essays:
- Jonathan Blunk, James Wright: A Life In Poetry (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017): “A biography of the ecstatic, troubled poet James Wright.”
- Zadie Smith, Feel Free: Essays (Penguin Press, 2018): “From Justin Bieber to Martin Buber, Zadie Smith’s Essays Showcase Her Exuberance and Range”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
The Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sang homages to Allah with a joyful, passionate commitment that is unmatched among his peers in this or perhaps any other musical genre.
- His concert in Paris (1985), available on five CDs, is perhaps his finest.
- Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai
- Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai
- Live at Dorchester Hotel, London (1993)
- Live at Washington University (1993)
- Live at Digbeth Civic Hall, Birmingham (1983)
- Live at Bradford University (1985)
- Live in Holland (1993)
- Live at Small Heath Park, Birmingham (1985)
- Live at Wolverhampton
- Live in Central Park, New York
- Yaadan Vichre concert
- Qawwali collection
- Original recordings
Qawwali is music of ecstasy. Now comes Orchestra Qawwali Project, a group steeped in Qawwali tradition that employs Western instruments. The group includes the talented young singer Abi Sampa, who obviously is steeped in Qawwali tradition. “Their music moved seamlessly from spiritual focus through incantatory power to flights of love.” After all, ecstasy is unbounded.
“The southwest of Madagascar is a land of fishermen, mining prospectors and cattle ranchers—not exactly a homogenous region in terms of lifestyle or ethnicity. But one thing that unites all the people of this region is the giddy, electric guitar-driven boogie music known as tsapiky . . . First created in the late 1970s, tsapiky has become the required music at large family ceremonies (circumcisions, weddings, and especially, funerals), where music and partying goes nonstop for three days or more.” “Giddy guitar playing, galloping dance rhythms, exuberant cries and a generally joyous atmosphere — nothing about tsapiky music would tell you that it's mostly played at traditional ceremonies, especially funerals.” Excellent tsapiky artists include:
- Electric Vocuhila, including their albums “Kiteky” (2022), “Palaces” (2020), and “Kombino Splinto” (2017);
- Feon’ala, as on this compilation;
- Berikely & Zama, including their album “Ela Ela” (2022); and
- Rasoa Kininike, including their albums “Tsara Tso-drano” (2006) and “Zanako” (2006).
- Raga Mishra Pahadi (Misra Pahadi) is a popular raga based on fok music (performances by Ajoy Chakrabarty, Kaushiki Chakrabarty and Chaurasia [dhun]).
- Alexander Scriabin, Symphony No. 4, “The Poem of Ecstasy” (Le Poème de l'Extase) (Le Divin Poème), Op. 54 (1908) (approx. 20 minutes): “The connection between mysticism and the erotic was central for Scriabin, especially in his most popular work, The Poem of Ecstasy, which he originally planned to call Poème Orgiaque (Orgiastic Poem). Scriabin’s score contains many unconventional expression markings, including 'very perfumed,' 'with a feeling of growing intoxication,' and 'with a sensual pleasure becoming more and more ecstatic.'” “Music was the highest art form and poetry was the highest literary form for Scriabin. His Poem of Ecstasy brings these two disciplines together with his own ‘Poem of Ecstasy’ inspiring his music of the same title. But behind this lofty goal was a somewhat less lofty subject: sex.” A program note for Scriabin’s music, in 1909, stated: “When the Spirit has attained the supreme culmination of its activity and has been torn away from the embraces of teleology and relativity, when it has exhausted completely its substance and its liberated active energy, the Time of Ecstasy shall then arrive.” Performances are available through the links for the title of the work, above.
- Debashish Bhattacharya, “Madeira: If Music Could Intoxicate”
- Hal Galper Quintet, “Live at the Berlin Philharmonic 1977”
- Tal National, “Zoy Zoy”
- Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials, “Rattleshake”: “They’re led by Ed Williams, a ‘real deal’ singer and songwriter and a wildly exuberant slide guitarist showman who plays on his knees, on his back or running through an audience.” [Downbeat magazine, September 2021, p. 34.]
- Mind Over Mirrors, “Bellowing Sun” “looks to capture the ecstatic sensations that continued musical repetition can summon.” [Robert Ham, Downbeat magazine, June 2018 issue, p. 72.]
- Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, William Parker & Bobby Kapp, “Ineffable Joy”
- Sonny Sharrock, “Black Woman” (1969), “. . . an album of ecstatic music . . .”
- Brad Mehldau, “Jacob’s Ladder”: Mehldau’s vision here is an ascent into ecstasy through renunciation of ego.
- Pedro Lima, “Recordar é viver: Antologia Vol. 1” and “Maguidala” (1985)
- Sotvorishi, “Vault of Heaven” (2022) (102’)
Exhilaration is the Breeze
That lifts us from the Ground
And leaves us in another place
Whose statement is not found -
Returns us not, but after time
We soberly descend
A little newer for the term
Upon Enchanted Ground -
[Emily Dickinson, “Exhilaration Is the Breeze”]
Ecstatic bird songs pound
the hollow vastness of the sky
with metallic clinkings—
beating color up into it
at a far edge,—beating it, beating it
with rising, triumphant ardor,—
stirring it into warmth,
quickening in it a spreading change,—
bursting wildly against it as
dividing the horizon, a heavy sun
lifts himself—is lifted—
bit by bit above the edge
of things,—runs free at last
out into the open—!lumbering
glorified in full release upward—
[William Carlos Williams, “Dawn”]
- Sara Teasdale, “I Am Not Yours”
- Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, “Top of the morning, you’re already smashed”
- Henry Vaughan, “The Morning Watch”
- Baba Bullah Shah, “He who is stricken by love”
- Walt Whitman, “One Hour to Madness and Joy”
- Anne Brontë, “Lines Composed In a Wood on a Windy Day”
- Emily Dickinson, “Exultation Is the Going”
- Emily Dickinson, “Wild Nights – Wild Nights!”
- George Marion McClellan, “A September Night”
Books on poetry and poets:
- Derek Walcott (selected by Glyn Maxwell), The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014): “One inescapable conclusion from reading hundreds of pages of Walcott at once is the feeling that this is the lifework of an ecstatic.”
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Paul Simon, Late in the Evening
- Rachel Urquhart, The Visionist: A Novel (Little, Brown & Company, 2014): “The true virtue of the story is the meditative consideration of the value of hardship and the transformative nature of ecstasy.”