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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...

Monday, May 21, 2018


I've just written a very brief exploration of Poe's PIT AND THE PENDULUM, but wanted to expand on the subject on my theory-blog to further explore the remarks made in OBJECTS GIVEN LUSTER PT. 2., where I said:

...I briefly touched on Rene Clair's silent film THE CRAZY RAY for purpose of contrast, saying that, unlike the Destroyed Earth, the focal presence of the Crazy Ray really was the source of "chaos on a global scale," and that in itself would argue a similitude with the persona of the monster. This also applies to other non-sentient phenomena that get out of control, whether they are objects created by man...or have come into being through geologic processes...

In my Poe-fragment I noted:

 ...whereas a setting like the House of Usher has become monstrous simply by dint of absorbing the nature of the corrupt Usher family, the prison-cell that encloses both the Pit and the Pendulum has been designed to be monstrous by its creators, the torturers of the Inquisition.

That said, I don't think of the Cell with the Pit and the Pendulum as a focal presence. Rather, the story's focal presences are the Inquisitors, the conscious architects of the cleverly designed torture-device, just as the Ushers, the unconscious architects of the titular House of Usher, are the focal presences of their story.

There are, however, other Poe stories in which a "non-sentient phenomenon" is the star of the show. The great storm of A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM, which is uncanny only in terms of the "natural science" Poe attributes to it, rates in my system as a "monster." The naturalistic sketch-story THE ISLAND OF THE FAY, however, presents a "demiheroic" physical setting upon which the unnamed narrator projects both his desires for innocent happiness and his fears of doleful death.

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