Thursday, July 27, 2006

NogaNote:

. “There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a Plunge. To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at thought, is to be inevitably lost; for reflection but urges us to forbear, and therefore it is, I say, that we cannot. If there be no friendly arm to check us, or if we fail in a sudden effort to prostrate ourselves backward from the abyss, we plunge, and are destroyed."


From: The Imp of the Perverse, by E.A. Poe




Poe’s mind seems to be much disturbed, full of demons and pitch-dark fears. And yet, his writing never reaches to invoke in me the emotions he wants to convey. There is a certain shift in the way he chooses to express these primary forces from the affective to the scientific. A critic described him as a mechanic of chemical emotions. I've never encountered such a way of describing an author before. And it might be more suggestive of the critic's own imps that he sees Poe as he does. Still, the fact that Poe is so "mechanical", yet fully cognizant of the "chemical" elements that construct our soul, does present a challenge to meet him on his own terms. He seems to understand analytically the workings of the human mind, yet he is always strangely detached from what he describes. Poe is quite adept at figuring out the mechanics of our human interactions in a scary and mean world, yet somehow his tales of horrors have that detached tone of the laboratory report. It is a remarkable combination.This finally could explain more clearly what Harond Bloom means when he says that greatness of an author or a work is to be found in his or its "strangeness, a mode of originality that either cannot be assimilated, or that so assimilates us that we cease to see it as strange". How do we know, discern, we are in the presence of such poetic transcendence? When strangeness is added to beauty, when we find ourselves hovering between the human and the divine, teetering on the brink between ultimate knowledge and the drive for life.

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