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“Years later, to the philosopher Hippolyte Taine, Flaubert gave his most precise account of grand mal aura. ‘First there is an intermediate anguish, a vague malaise, a painful sensation of waiting, as before poetic inspiration, when one feels that something is going to come (a state comparable only to that of the fornicator feeling his sperm well up before discharge. Do I make myself clear?). Then suddenly, like a thunderclap, the invasion or rather, the instantaneous eruption of memory, for in my case the hallucination is, strictly speaking, nothing but that. It is an illness of memory, of slackening of what holds it in. One feels images escaping like torrents of blood. One feels everything in one’s head is bursting all at once like a thousand pieces of a fireworks display, and one does not have time to look at the internal images furiously rushing past. In certain circumstances, it begins with a single image that grows larger, develops, and in the end covers objective reality, like, for example, an errant spark becoming a conflagration. In the latter case, one can turn one’s mind to other thoughts, and this gets confused with what we call black butterflies, that is little fattened discs that some people see floating in the air …

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