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October 5, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Poe knows light

A paradox as daylight drifts into winter hiding and dark tales add shivers not temperature related.

Why if it’s “star light, star bright” is space so dark?

Poe tried to tell them. But it didn’t pay off for him. About $14 bucks is all.

Edgar Allan Poe knew they would call him mad.

elongated dark shadows of dog and person on walk. ALL rights reserved. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted

Shadows hungry as the wolf: half-breeds born of uncertain darkness and clarifying light. Real mutts©

His stories were reason enough, but that essay: “Eureka, An Essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe” did it.

All that “because Nothing was, therefore All things are”

Along with “space and duration are one”

“Spirit and matter are made of the same essence”

A few words spun about “the speed of stars, diameters of planets and distance between them, the weight of Earth, and the orbit of the new Leverrier’s planet”(Neptune).

Then there was that odd at the time thought that the universe started with a single particle, a “primordial particle” which suddenly, for some reason, blew apart and formed all the particles of the universe.

Public reaction was mixed in 1848.

  • At the time, people scoffed the essay was all a joke. Pointing at all the puns and parodies of names of experts and historical thinkers.
  • Some were offended and called it anti-religious. Poe actually called God an author and “the Universe a plot of God”. Then that bit about everyone looking for God was because originally all were small particles of God. But Poe did say “the plots of God are perfect”, so that should have made it OK, right?

Poe himself called it a poem and asked the essay be judged as a work of art. He believed in later years the essay would be understood and proved true.

Archimede shouting "I've got it" upon pondering displacement while splashing in bath. By Arlindi1999. (Commons.wikimedia.org)

Not Poe, but source of his essay title. Archimedes shouting “I’ve got it” after pondering displacement while splashing in his bath. (Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist,engineer, inventor and astronomer)(Arlindi1999.Commons.wikimedia.org)

Oddly, science fiction often does become science fact or at least science theory. 

In 1987, cosmologist Edward Robert Harrison published “Darkness at Night: A Riddle of the Universe” where he cites Poe’s ideas as being on the right track after all.

(Read more here. There’s isn’t space to go into red shifting, blue shifting, Olbers’ Paradox. Poe seemed be the first to offer a plausible explanation of why the sky is dark and a “cosmological theory that anticipated black holes and the Big Crunch theory”)

So was Poe a mad man or simply ahead of his time?

  • French author Paul Valéry (1871-1945) considered Poe’s essay “an abstract poem based on mathematical foundations” and said it should be valued for both the poetic and scientific merit.
  • Astrophysicist Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882-1944) said “Eureka is not a work of dotage or disordered mind”
  • Albert Einstein called Poe’s Eureka “a beautiful achievement of an unusually independent mind.”
  • And then there’s the modern group who feel Eureka can be used to decipher meaning from all Poe’s fiction – that all his works involve similar theories. (And if you think about it, you can see….)

And you thought he only wrote scary stories.

Sigh. $14.00 for a masterpiece with legs. Now that’s the real horror.

Don’t let it haunt you.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Looking for a haunting Poe-style story?  1. here,  2. here, or 3. here.

Odd dog shdow with elongated legs. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted

Art imitates life. Artist/sculptor Alberto Giacometti said he was “sculpting not the human figure but ‘the shadow that is cast’ ” And so he did. ©

 

18 Comments

  1. easyweimaraner / Oct 5 2016 6:24 am

    Edgar knew a lot about life, although life wasn’t always fair with him…“I have great faith in fools – self-confidence my friends will call it.” isn’t that great?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. marina kanavaki / Oct 5 2016 6:38 am

    Yep! Brilliant shots too! Giacometti would have jumped to the opportunity to re-create them! 😉

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 6 2016 6:42 pm

      I love the bright clear fall days with that angled amber light. We’ve been back to summer heat for the past couple of days, but they keep promising us cool shortly. Molly is more than ready to leap out and dance in the cool fall wind. (And he is one of my favorite artists!) Have a nice week and thanks for slipping into the shadows

      Like

  3. Kate Crimmins / Oct 5 2016 6:58 am

    My family has a collection of Poe admirers (going so far as to name a cat after him). Mostly it’s because of his scary tales that scare the bejesus out of me.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 6 2016 6:40 pm

      And you have to read those stories outside on a dark and stormy night – Snoopy insists!….you can cower under a blanket…which we did as kids on the porch. Glad you are a Poe fan. Thanks for tossing a comment into the basket

      Liked by 1 person

  4. susielindau / Oct 5 2016 6:58 am

    I didn’t know about that piece. I will have to read it!

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 6 2016 6:38 pm

      Gotta love Poe (but not those horrible Sat afternoon grade B movies of his tales HA HA). Thanks for adding a spacey comment

      Like

  5. Ally Bean / Oct 5 2016 8:11 am

    I don’t remember studying Poe at all in college. Funny now that I think on it. My point being, I didn’t know any of what you wrote about here. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 6 2016 6:37 pm

      Unless you took American lit in college (they divide it into 2 parts now? It should be to cover it well) you only probably got innoculated in high school with some exposure to Poe – “Tell Tale Heart” probably because it is so rich in thing English teachers have to teach. So many authors – and so much stuff about each. Who has the time to wander through it all? Besides techers always assumed kids saw those poorly done movies done from Poe’s stories. Today’s special effect could really make something with those stories now.
      Thanks for poking a Poe comment into this place

      Like

  6. Littlesundog / Oct 5 2016 7:35 pm

    I had a high school American Literature teacher who loved Poe… I remember LOTS of exposure to his work in that class. I didn’t appreciate it back then.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 6 2016 6:32 pm

      I think that’s why Poe is underrated – his tales are given to kids at age when they love to be spooked. The vocabulary, sentence structure. plot devices and pacing are remarkable. But then students go on thinking they know all about his times and his works. Another reason high school/colleges should be teaching combo classes of literature, history, a bit of science, music and art all mixed in humanities courses…might make learning more fun – and stick longer.
      Hope your fall is going well. Thanks for lighting up the comment baskets with your words

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Kourtney Heintz / Oct 6 2016 11:43 am

    Cool post! Poe was a creative dreamer. He saw what others couldn’t yet see. 🙂

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 6 2016 6:22 pm

      Poe was such a craftsman with words. Too many are read his tales early and never realize there’s more to him. Thanks for tossing some Poe praise into the comment basket

      Like

  8. cindy knoke / Oct 6 2016 8:09 pm

    I love poor tortured Poe. He was so brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 7 2016 8:00 am

      He was such a character – that era seems to have had so many characters. He’d certainly be an interesting one to invite to a dinner party

      Like

  9. aFrankAngle / Oct 6 2016 8:12 pm

    Excellent play off the photo and Poe’s mind. Brilliantly done.

    Like

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Oct 7 2016 8:01 am

      Pleased you thought it was picture perfect. Nice to see you all refreshed and ’round the neighborhood. Thanks for adding a Poe comment

      Liked by 1 person

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