Pale Blue Auto-Mobile
You need no ticket to make a place for yourself here where humor, black and otherwise, comes to you from the stage where the human comedy itself is being played, its performance trumping the things dark and tragic and found in the world of literature.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Poe Finds Another Source Of Creativity

How very commonly we hear it remarked that such and such
thoughts are beyond the compass of words! I do not believe that
any thought, properly so called, is out of the reach of
language. I fancy, rather, that where difficulty in expression
is experienced, there is, in the intellect which experiences it,
a want either of deliberateness or of method. For my own part, I
have never had a thought which I could not set down in words,
with even more distinctness than that with which I conceived
it:–as I have before observed, the thought is logicalised by the
effort at (written) expression.

There is, however, a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy,
which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it
absolutely impossible to adapt language. I use the word fancies
at random, and merely because I must use some word; but the idea
commonly attached to the term is not even remotely applicable to
the shadows of shadows in question. They seem to me rather
psychal than intellectual. They arise in the soul (alas, how
rarely!) only at its epochs of most intense tranquillity–when
the bodily and mental health are in perfection–and at those mere
points of time where the confines of the waking world blend with
those of the world of dreams. I am aware of these "fancies" only
when I am upon the very brink of sleep, with the consciousness
that I am so. I have satisfied myself that this condition exists
but for an inappreciable point of time–yet it is crowded with
these "shadows of shadows"; and for absolute thought there is
demanded time's endurance.

These "fancies" have in them a pleasurable ecstasy, as far
beyond the most pleasurable of the world of wakefulness, or of
dreams, as the Heaven of the Northman theology is beyond its
Hell. I regard the visions, even as they arise, with an awe
which, in some measure moderates or tranquillises the ecstasy–I
so regard them, through a conviction (which seems a portion of
the ecstasy itself) that this ecstasy, in itself, is of a
character supernal to the Human Nature–is a glimpse of the
spirit's outer world; and I arrive at this conclusion–if this
term is at all applicable to instantaneous intuition–by a
perception that the delight experienced has, as its element, but
the absoluteness of novelty. I say the absoluteness- for in the
fancies–let me now term them psychal impressions–there is really
nothing even approximate in character to impressions ordinarily
received. It is as if the five senses were supplanted by five
myriad others alien to mortality.

Now, so entire is my faith in the power of words, that at times
I have believed it possible to embody even the evanescence of
fancies such as I have attempted to describe. In experiments
with this end in view, I have proceeded so far as, first, to
control (when the bodily and mental health are good), the
existence of the condition:- that is to say, I can now (unless
when ill), be sure that the condition will supervene, if I so
wish it, at the point of time already described: of its
supervention until lately I could never be certain even under
the most favorable circumstances. I mean to say, merely, that
now I can be sure, when all circumstances are favorable, of the
supervention of the condition, and feel even the capacity of
inducing or compelling it:–the favorable circumstances, however,
are not the less rare–else had I compelled already the Heaven
into the Earth.

I have proceeded so far, secondly, as to prevent the lapse from
the Point of which I speak–the point of blending between
wakefulness and sleep–as to prevent at will, I say, the lapse
from this border–ground into the dominion of sleep. Not that I
can continue the condition–not that I can render the point more
than a point–but that I can startle myself from the point into
wakefulness; and thus transfer the point itself into the realm
of Memory–convey its impressions, or more properly their
recollections, to a situation where (although still for a very
brief period) I can survey them with the eye of analysis.

For these reasons–that is to say, because I have been enabled to
accomplish thus much–I do not altogether despair of embodying in
words at least enough of the fancies in question to convey to
certain classes of intellect, a shadowy conception of their

In saying this I am not to be understood as supposing that the
fancies or psychal impressions to which I allude are confined to
my individual self–are not, in a word, common to all mankind–for
on this point it is quite impossible that I should form an
opinion–but nothing can be more certain than that even a partial
record of the impressions would startle the universal intellect
of mankind, by the supremeness of the novelty of the material
employed, and of its consequent suggestions. In a word–should I
ever write a paper on this topic, the world will be compelled to
acknowledge that, at last, I have done an original thing.

Graham's Magazine, March, 1846