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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I'm mulling over some further thoughts regarding the way the three categories in my NUMtheory relate to the idea of the sublime-- which I regard as essentially homologous to the sci-fi fan's "sense of wonder." More as a resource than anything, here are a couple of Hawthorne's quotes regarding the literary genre he called " the romance:"

""I have sometimes produced a singular and not unpleasing effect, so far as my own mind was concerned, by imagining a train of incidents in which the spirit and mechanism of the fairyland should be combined with the characters and manners of familiar life." -- Opening lines of short story THE THREEFOLD DESTINY.

"If the imaginative faculty refused to act at such an hour, it might well be deemed a hopeless case. Moonlight, in a familiar room, falling so white upon the carpet, and showcasing all its figures so distinctly, -- making every object so minute visible, yet so unlike a morning or noontide visibility, -- is a medium the most suitable for a romance-writer to get acquainted with his illusive guests. There is the little domestic scenery of the well-known apartment; the chairs with each its separate individuality; the centre-table, sustaining a work-basket, a volume or two, and an extinguished lamp; the sofa; the picture on the wall,--all these details, so completely seen, are so spiritualized by the unusual light, that they seem to lose their actual substance, and become things of the intellect. Nothing is too small or too trifling to undergo this change, and acquire dignity thereby. A child's shoe; the doll, seated in her little wicker carriage; the hobby-horse,-- whatever, in a word, has been used or played with, during the day, is now invested with a quality of strangeness and remoteness, though still almost as vividly present as by daylight. Thus, therefore, the floor of our familiar room has become a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairy-land, where the Actual and Imaginary may meet, and each imbue itself with the nature of the other. Ghosts might enter here, without affrighting us. It would be too much in keeping with the scene to excite surprise, were we to look about us and discover a form beloved, but gone hence, now sitting quietly in a streak of this magic moonshine, with an aspect that would make us doubt whether it had returned from afar, or had never once stirred from our fireside."-- THE CUSTOM-HOUSE.

I'll be saying more about "this quality of strangeness and remoteness" in relation to my take on the nature of "the uncanny," especially in comparison with Lewis's statement, "With the Uncanny one has reached the fringes of the Numinous," which I quoted in this essay.

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