Saturday, February 25, 2012

Desperate Search: Poes and Dicks and Ostriches, Oh my!


Once upon a time I wrote an entry entitled Desperate Search: Discovery. In that place I came to the following conclusions:

  • Every person could be indwelt with a (platonic, eternal, unique) form 
  • The essence of these forms are in being beyond the boundaries of language, and therefore we recollect them in trans-linguistic methods, namely art.  
  • When we get glimpses of these forms through art, we carry them deep within us, as they give us something tangible to relate our formnesses to.
And then rattled on to state the reasons these postulates excited me:

  •  It helps me to consciously remember the great value of every individual
  •  It elevates the purpose, function, and existence of art
  •  In my mind, it helps bridge the gap of how to connect with the supernatural (maybe more on this one later).
It is a one, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe who will propel us promptly, nearly two years later, to fall further down the rabbit hole, Lord willing towards more sensorily tangible seas. 


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Subject One: Edgar Allan Poe
Poe's voice in his stories tends to be as a firsthand account from our protagonist who now lives with the mysterious horror from which they have sometimes miraculously lived through, and now sulk in despair with the devastating weight of their memory.

These protagonists know something we don't. Their experience, though often horrible in nature, is so peculiar, so unnerving, and also so original, that it would seem that these protagonists can do nothing but tell their putrid tales. They live now only to tell -- this is their essential lot. They have this one thing to give, and it is such a thing, that all other things of their lives have been swallowed up by this one cataclysmic event. It owns them -- has become them. 

Take for instance the story A Descent into the Maelstrom. A fella is being led by an old man on a mountain in Lofoten, Norway. Far below them lies the sea. The old man, sitting precariously on a ledge many fathoms above the earth below, opens the story's chest by beginning, 
"You suppose me a very old man," he says, "but I am not. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves.
 In this case it was a vortex/whirlwind, of the magnitude on display at the climax of The Little Mermaid, that intoxicates our imagination. The storyteller lives mostly by blind luck, as it was his own boat that at one treacherous day was sucked into Neptune's curse. His brother and all others on the boat clearly perished, but the our man now lives as an elder, made old by a plague of knowledge. 

In another situation, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, our protagonist is a mesmerist, who, wanting to put a man under suspended hypnosis who is within moments of joining in that final dance with death, dreadfully retells the adverse affects of attempting to ward off death from the inner-man. As the last line informs us, when the client is taken out of suspension, relents unto death, we see that 
...his whole frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk—crumbled—absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome—of detestable putrescence. 
The insipid grotesqueness of the display almost stands as a sideshow to the real drama at hand. The hypnosis worked. Our character found a way, at least momentarily, to hold off death's cur. Of course, the adverse effect here is that the body was decomposing whilst the soul was not yet freed from the body, but therein again is the distraction. The gig worked: new knowledge found.

Edgar Allan Poe is repeating himself. In various ways, he is interacting, perhaps interconnecting, with the same themes, the same variables, the same constants, etc.

For kitsch sake, I can't continue without mentioning the strange occurrences revolving around Poe's death. He was found in horrid condition, deliriously bounding about the streets of Baltimore. He was admitted to a hospital, wherein he never fully regained consciousness, but kept repeating the name "Reynolds", which no one could make a connection to at the time. The cause of his death remains unknown, though the most consistent estimate is something sprouting from alcoholism. It also must be noted that the clothes he was found in were not his own. Go figure...

As curious as his death remains, it is, like the putrescence of Valdemar's body, merely a distraction. The only question we should bother ourselves with is why did Poe choose the stories he chose? Why did he repeatedly turn to the same themes?

What makes any one of us compelled to dwell on one subject over another? 


Subject Two: Werner Herzog
There's a continuing motif of the ostrich in Herzog's film My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? There's plenty of footage where there's just ostrich; nothing more, nothing less. Ostrich.

I think Herzog forces us to stare at these creatures because he finds them both comical and illogical -- in conjunction with the events of the rest of the film, we can view the murdering protagonist in the same light... and maybe also all of society.

But what led Herzog to look at God's creation like that? How did he get that out of ostrich?

In essence, this small question boils down to: what makes Herzog tick?

Subject Three: Philip K. Dick
I recently purchased a book entitled The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. While it is indeed a thing to behold, the book is more or less a compilation of personal manuscripts that together form something of a journal. Mr. Dick was a highly intellectual individual, but I must admit, I find that his journal entries, although again fascinating, so far, according to my comprehension, amount to little more than mere pseudo-philosophical rubbish.

The same however, cannot be said of his novels. They are implanted in the very psyche of our society for a reason ~~ they resonate with us.

The work, it would appear in this case, far surpasses the mind itself. The product is more than the sum of its parts.

Subject Four: The Strange Case of Moses' Body
Moses dies in the last chapter of the torah. There, on a mountain, God himself buries the prophet. Deuteronomy 34:6 states plainly, ...but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. Why is that important? Why did God chose to bury him? Why not leave him for the Israelites to bury? The Christian tradition tends to think that the soul leaves the body upon death, so why here do we see God take notice of the body?

It would remain just a faint mystery if that was all we heard of Moses. But that is not all. By no means!

The Book of Jude, verse 9, states that the archangel Michael "disputed" with the devil over the body of Moses. Say what?? Why the hell should the principalities care about a little ol' fleshly body? It doesn't make sense according to the generic Christian lens. What the hell? Why does a dead body matter?

Perhaps we are given a hint (or two). Amidst the transfiguration of Jesus, Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36 both Moses and Elijah are present. We are forced to ask ourselves, of all the folk in history to bring forth beside the Christ, why these two? What heavenly raffle did they win? Well, they do have one thing in common: man did not dispose of their earthly shells.

It has often been surmised that the two prophets who will lay siege to the antichrist in Revelation are in fact Elijah and Moses.

Why would God desire to make use of these two guys once again?

My humble theory, open for criticism (as I'm sure it has many flaws) is this:

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Each one of us is endowed with the reflection of the Divine. That reflection is fundamentally unique, in that no other soul shares in it. No other soul reflects the Divine in the same manner.

Perversion aka evil, is mere parody of the good. It is not a thing in and of itself. This is why Tolkien wisely had the Orcs not be a species created by Morgoth, but rather, they were a mere perversion of the Elves, made perfectly by God.

All things God created are good. We, therefore, are good -- but lay perversed by our many sins.


Each of us, can both be connected to every other man and woman and find connection with that which also is good, and more severely, with that which is also a reflection of God.

This disconnect from perfection, from the fullness of God with which we now suffer, amidst this deep groaning, our souls can spring forth with revelry and excitement amidst finding truth, finding glimpses of God, those precious instances of perfection, in the outpourings of others.

Perhaps it could be so that throughout an artist's life a general theme or mantra will always seep to the forefront. In this, am I not right, would be the essence of their 'personal reflection'. The reoccurring themes of Poe would, under this understanding, be aspects of the likeness of Poe that reflects God. That being said, this likeness of course can be, sometimes beyond repair, utterly perverted, so that even with the keenest of eyes we cannot see God's unique goodness in it.

It would also follow that this personal reflection lies often dormant and still more often as something hidden from the person themselves. This would explain how someone like Philip K. Dick could be closer to revealing his eternal form of reflection in the work of his fictional outpourings than his personal journals.

Finally, in the case of Moses and his mysterious body, my theory proposes that because Moses has a certain reflection of God and His Godness that no other soul has or ever will have, it could conceivably make sense that one particular person could be the best fit for multiple jobs.


We are all good, and we are all made in God's image, but we're not necessarily made equal.

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In conclusion:
  1. If my theory holds any weight, than we should indeed look deeper into themes from those whose voices seem to us in some ways most piercing, for in them may lie deeper truths (reflections) of the very God we worship.
  2. Ostriches.
P.S. It seemed that Moneyball, a film about the value of individuals as they matter to a larger whole, was a relevant metaphor for this conversation... but I acknowledge that the juxtaposition of image and word may seem odd.

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