The Inquiry of Edgar Allan Poe

By Andrea Galgano

27 January, 2013
Prato, Italy



In a letter to the editor Thomas W. White of the “Southern Literary Messenger” of 30 April 1835, Edgar Allan Poe writes: «The history of all Magazines shows plainly that those which have attained celebrity were indebted for it to articles similar in nature — to Berenice — although, I grant you, far superior in style and execution. I say similar in nature. You ask me in what does this nature consist? In the ludicrous heightened into the grotesque; the fearful coloured into the horrible; the witty exaggerated into the burlesque; the singular wrought out into the strange and mystical».
It is, clearly, the passage of his work. Controversial, often not understood, but certainly seen as the crest of innovation and intelligence clear.
“Do you know why I translated Poe with so much patience – Baudelaire will write – because he looked like. The first time I opened a book I saw with fear and wonder, not only of the subjects that I had the same dream, but think of the sentences by me and written by him twenty years before”.
The exaggeration, the effect, the ignition of his deep run through the crevices of the dream and vision, where the units of effect is a vehicle for the condition fascinating and hypnotic art: «All that we see or dream/ Is but a dream within a dream». Here are found the qualities that give shape to the shape of grotesque horror. The ego, therefore, moves within a soul without respite. The origin of terror lairs in the depths of the soul and on the surface of the abyss.
As Antonio Chiocchi writes, in a beautiful article on Poe: “The immersion in the nightmares of reality is, for Poe, the only access to the mysteries of life and the human soul. He does not look for the language in which enclose the ugly, the grotesque, the bizarre, on the contrary, it beats looking for the language through which to express them freely”.
The dream state and visionary, while deliver its indefinite charm and cryptic, the other part in the scene of the literary text as a stabbing frenzy, like a puzzle that sinks its peaks.
Already his stories, like Ligeia, Morella, Eleonora – collect individually and anxiety primarily essential, a kind of cognition, for which the facts are not real but are true.
Women become guides mystical, metaphysical subject of investigation and above all ‘life in death’. Every female character in Poe expresses this power, with a power liturgical, invocative and magical.
They are creatures who act as “death, dying and moriture” (Giorgio Manganelli). In the conjugation of death, Poe expresses the consciousness of a transition into the world of chaos and ultimately the achievement and unveiling of an agnition metaphysics.
In it is revealed at the end of each literary experience, the ground of its voltage, the gate that scours its principium individuationis.
The irrational, therefore, borders on the rational, almost like a technique, especially in retail, take a drive wide, which conveys the expression of imagination and the sublime.
In it, Poe’s literary pass his experience of the event in the epiphenomenon, and in the waste and in the margins, says his «flash of higher things and eternal».
The lack of hierarchy among the objects in the scene reveals the hypnosis of an iteration visionary.
In one of his essays T.S. Eliot judges the visionary power of Poe as a primitive, immature and adolescent, suspended in the irresponsibility of the invention, the craze of the images, and the delight of margins.
But the Poe’s ego feeds, wrapping, contemplation, rhythm, order, even in the din of the nightmare darker: «Men have called me mad; but the question is not settled whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence — whether much that is glorious — whether all that is profound — does not spring from disease of thought — from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect».
«my passions always were of the mind», Edgar Allan Poe wrote in Berenice, such as the ego who is involved in the intelligence of the passions, in the story of delirium and in the track of beauty and death.
Indeed initiation metaphysics has always a double movement of paradise and unexpected, then revealed: «My youth was nothing but a dark storm, crossed here and there by sparse clouds. Thunder and rain have devastated much you have left in my garden but some flowers vermilion».
Giorgio Manganelli writes: “The horror is therefore a sign, an indication of the negative, it is folly to detect imminent and rejected, the stickiness of the nightmare replaced the cryptic clarity of the dream”.
The cold landscape stylish and spooky from his page, with rows of trees bent and majestic buildings and gloomy, is mounted perfectly in the solitary presence Gothic, forged by absence and excellent sensibility: « (…) while there will be someone who will find what to meditate on the characters that I carve here with a stylus of iron».
The delay of an irresistible attraction toward oblivion, suffering dark and muddy, like the wings of a raven, which in a stormy night looks out the window and the door of the soul of a man, awaken hidden sighs aspirations and desires betrayed, a dead woman, the existence of which is broken, a memory that is rampant in the cold, the drip of the supernatural.
The chronicle of events in Poe becomes a mythical sphere, as the creativity and imagination, as happened in Coleridge, meet and combine, rather it unfolds its harmony: « The truth is that the just distinction between the fancy and the imagination is involved in the consideration of the mystic … that spiritualizes the fanciful composition, and lifts it into the ideal ».
The word that follows the nightmare and its fascination with the play of contrasts that disrupts the soul that ultimately, arises as an effect.
It is the same word that discovers the identity of the character who lives in the multiplicity of its prospects, in the physical event and gesture. Here comes the vision, disclosing, penetrating, probing and returning the gaze analytical and imaginative in what she herself sums.
Even the metaphor of the journey of initiation and decisive in the dimension of being (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket) stop on the substance unexplored, focuses on tremor that the unknown asserts in the days of the life and death as a baptism of shadows.
In them lies the nightmare, the hook deadly traps that does not mind the deception and simulation, but through its resolving power sheds light on the scene of the abyss.
When Paul Valery approaches the prose poem Eureka the formal symmetry of the universe, it means that the structural Poe’s system, near Kepler, Newton and Laplace, feeds on stress analysis and deductive methodology, since it is able to classify and reduce relations between things. His universe is full of theological impression, even in the livid lights or sudden.
In The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Poe introduces C. Auguste Dupin, detective who later inspired Arthur Conan Doyle, for his Sherlock Holmes.
On the basis of a real character Eugene Francois Vidocq, lived in Paris and that criminal and even spy became Chief of Police in Paris, Dupin fully embodies the visionary gaze of its author.
Dupin, therefore, baffles the prefect of police in Paris, thanks to its ability to reconstruct the mechanisms that led to the crimes: each clue is that a particular out of place and what he should have surprised is not the solution, but the problem itself.
The criminal investigation police officers make the mistake of applying the method of the moment, that is, to exchange “the unusual” with “abstruse.”
It is the reality, however, to be more encompassing and wide. When Dupin went to Rue Morgue to investigate a horrible and unusual murder of Madame L’Espanaye and daughter Camille, not only focuses atrociousness, which is the first piece of reality that appears, but the particular part in question, in this case unusual, for a warp intricate, that already in the scene that he sees solution. The murderess is an orangutan in Borneo, but the discovery will be a sense extra-ordinary, whose vision will determine the resolution.
Pietro Meneghelli writes: “The detective uses the mechanism of reason in order to brighten things and human affairs; heir to a tradition that dates back to the Enlightenment through rough paths up to Prometheus, wants to light up the darkness and to strengthen the rational capacities, bringing all the elements that elude rational understanding in a strictly logical dimension, bringing the irrationality in the dynamics of reason and intellect pushing beyond any limit of knowability”.
It is a world that is formed by the disorder, and that by reductio ad unum goes back to a primeval order, horrified by what, at that moment, it happens.
The clarity of Dupin is one reason that addresses the totality and disrupts the knowledge, to bring it to light. Here is the essence of detection, which consists of aligning elements messy, decipherable to collect the entirety of a visionary perspective, through the analysis and the opening logical-deductive.
Even in the story The Mystery of Marie Roget, also inspired by a true story bloody happened in New York, the ideal parallel universes cross their path with the real universe.
The dream world is transformed into symbolic language when it manifests the metaphysical delirium soul, or when, as the quote at the beginning of the work of Novalis: “You give ideal series of events which run parallel to real events. Rarely coincide. Men and circumstances generally modify the ideal sequence of events, so that is imperfect, imperfect and the consequences. “.
It’s a key mythical perception that, starting from the given reality, tends to merge with the dream, often in a maze-time or in a glossy piano death. Creativity and imagination become the instrument of a “supreme form of intelligence”. The invasion of the unconscious confirms gem of a analytical fantasy and not a transcription of a dream, as he writes in Berenice: «The realities of the world affected me as visions, and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in turn,—not the material of my every-day existence–but in very deed that existence utterly and solely in itself».
Police fails because it does depend on the solution of the criminal act only intelligence, or we might say, the “scientific” intellectual. T Dupin’s look is a trip of diversity in a criminal, torn and schizophrenic mind, however. Terror is inhabited by the soul and belongs to the soul. So the real investigation is a wedge between events, it sinks to access to external reality and to grasp the nature of others, stopping on the subject of their black gorges, halved and wandering.
Poe will write in The Tell-Tale Heart and The Man of the crowd, where the presence of the room of the protagonist is an abyss of dizzying occult and dark, evil and incommunicable. The sound of the heart is greater than the murderous plan, which is as if it were destroyed and surrendered. What undermines the murderess, not killing, but the destruction and consumption of itself. When the identity is destroyed or self-destructs there is no salvation, the soul is incomplete, distorted, prisoner.
Antonio Chiocchi marks: “The narrative snatches the horror from the realms of imagination and makes history. In this way, the horror is made observable with supreme detachment minute analysis. The power of words to evoke nightmares of the soul is also a singular power to exorcise and, gradually, making them family. (…) The power of words that delves into the nightmares of the soul is a drug of particular importance, because it allows them sounding liberating. The horror stories are, more properly, the stories of the nightmares of the soul, put into narrative form, become a context that we finally sighting, winning the secret impulse of repulsion that there “commands” to remove them. The history and narrative become so, the moving mirror of the soul, revealing the deep recesses and hidden movements. A dip into horror is a dip in the soul, to make it the foundation and the care of your life. Herein lies one of the secret springs of Poe’s stories”.
In The Pit and the Pendulum the protagonist, tortured and sentenced to death, loses consciousness after the formula of the inquisitors, everything takes on the form of the expansion of objects and faces, and as a spasm, she finds herself wrapped up in the endlessness of the night, empty and trembling.
What has become? What is living? He is blind? Or what else? After touching the cold walls, began to become aware of his prison and appears to be on the edge of a well to challenge the abyss and the moral horror of death. He’s trapped. A death trap preparatory to something much bigger, which begins with the lack of alternatives and ends up to see in her eyes, without control, or perhaps, the only way to choose how to die.
Waking up, he is linked to low wooden frame, are free his left hand and the head, with a little meat on a plate nearby, at the mercy of the rats. After seeing the top sees a strange picture of the time holding a pendulum, whose sharp blade is suspended above him, threatening and menacing.
A movement and risking that his chest is cut in half. Dipping the ties with the flesh and after the rats can gnaw the ropes, can save, but suddenly the prison walls, become hot, begin to move and become diamond-shaped to bring him into the pit, in the center of the scene. Will he still be saved to an external, will be the French of Lasalle to pull him to safety.
The madness pushes the boundaries and the extreme limit of existence. An immense eye that looks, a parallel dimension that bares and makes weak, a task that, threatening and extreme, becomes internal and terrifying, and at the same time, which an agnition that saves, in diverse and subtle ways, such as the ‘noise of the heart’.