Concepts Of Trauma Testimony English Literature Essay
The push of this survey is to believe together the constructs of injury, testimony which ensures the conveyance of the traumatic events ingrained inaccessibility to consciousness, the blood relation construct of storytelling, and evil, in its commonplace instantiation ( as proposed, among others, by Hannah Arendt[ 1 ]and Alessandro Ferrara[ 2 ]) in relation to a choice of Hagiographas by Edgar Allan Poe.
My undertaking sets out to uncover the ways in which Edgar Allan Poe ‘s Hagiographas operate as testimonies to the world of injury with, nevertheless, some cautions attached: the narratives will non be read as coded autobiography.
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This amounts to a comprehensive design for seting Poe ‘s literary testimonies to trauma on a psychoanalytic terms. Cathy Caruth considers both depth psychology and literature events of address: their testimony will be understood in both instances, as a manner of truth ‘s realization beyond what is available as statement, beyond what is available, that is, as a truth transparent to itself and wholly known, given, in progress, prior to the really procedure of its vocalization. The testimony will thereby be understood, in other words, non as a manner of statement of, but as a manner of entree to, that truth. In literature every bit good as in depth psychology, the informant might be the 1 who witnesses, but besides the 1 who begets the truth, through the procedure of the testimony.
The outgrowth of the narrative which is being read is, hence, the procedure and the topographic point wherein the awareness, the “ knowing ” of the event is given birth to, with the reader, a party to the creative activity of cognition de novo.
Naming upon depth psychology, I intend to pull on the work of Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott to better understand Edgar Poe ‘s narrations of apprehension.
The pick of writer and methodological analysis likewise comes from a long-standing Inquisition, get downing from undergraduate old ages, into the possibilities of construing and most particularly understanding and having Edgar Allan Poe ‘s much debated Hagiographas. My latest effort at interpreting the semantics of Poean fiction, which used the theoretical frame proposed by Jacques Lacan, seemed limited and deficient for grounds which can non be discussed at big in the present work. My belief is that this newest raid into Poe ‘s ( largely ) narrations of injury will resuscitate modern-day involvement in a work which no longer seems merely archaeologically important, but really existent and harmonic with issues raised in this post-Holocaust epoch.
In Shoshana Felman ‘s words, “ possibly no [ author ] has been so extremely acclaimed and, at the same clip, so violently disclaimed as Edgar Allan Poe. ” ( Felman The Case of Poe 300 ) One of the most controversial figures on the American literary scene, possibly the most throroughly misunderstood of all American authors, “ prankster, fabulist, Gothic hyperrealist, ” ( Streeby 255 ) no other writer/ poet in the history of unfavorable judgment has engendered so much dissension and so many critical contradictions.
Deemed by some the idols Gothicist,[ 3 ]Poe would name his narratives “ phantasy-pieces, ” a term he derived from Hoffman ‘s Fantasiestucke and it will be Felman ‘s contention that the “ critical dissension is itself diagnostic of a poetic consequence, ” ( Felman 301 ) and that the critical contradictions to which Poe ‘s authorship has given rise are themselves indirectly important of the nature of his authorship.
Columbia Literary History of the United States places him in a different class of Southern authors, in a chapter entitled, suggestively, “ Poe and the Writers of the Old South ” : “ throughout his calling, he fought for an honest, independent unfavorable judgment and sought to make a literary magazine free of regional prejudice. ” ( Columbia Literary History 269 )
In marked contrast to the thoughts of William Gilmore Sims and the other authors whose chief subject was the South, Poe ‘s construct of letters is virtually barren of regionalist sentiment. Merely one time in about one 1000 reviews, articles, columns, and critical notices written over a fifteen-year period does Poe allow the issue of Southernness get the better of a strictly literary judgement ; and the brief flash of Southern pique is uncovering – in its really singularity – of Poe ‘s construct of the profession of letters. ( CLH 269 )
The Columbia History of American Poetry reinforces Poe ‘s deficiency of regional commitments by doing mention to his fictional idiosyncracies:
In all his experimentation in fiction, Poe manipulates conventions even as he parodies the literary expression of the twenty-four hours. Furthermore, he resists the coercive cultural political relations of nineteenth-century America. As practical critic, Poe exposed cheapjack work and literary larceny ; as practising journalist, he stood against literary coteries that promoted inferior regional authorship, particularly those centred on ( but non confined to ) Northern periodicals. Poe defended non the cause of Southern letters but the American pursuit for literary independency. Yet, at the same clip that he attacked slavish imitation of European theoretical accounts, he opposed the surpluss of literary patriotism. ( TCHOAP 186 )
Among major authors of the American Renaissance, Edgar Allan Poe is the most appealing to psychoanalysts every bit good as literary critics of the psychoanalytic persuasion. Lacan ‘s first aggregation of published essays, the Ecrits, opens with a chapter entitled “ The Seminar on The Purloined Letter. ” This alleged “ Seminar ” , which is in fact the written history of a year-long class, is devoted to the geographic expedition of a short literary text, one of Edgar Allan Poe ‘s Tales of Imagination.
Shoshana Felman said: “ I will try to analyse both the difference that Lacan has made in the psychoanalytical attack to reading and the manner in which the lesson Lacan derived from Poe is a lesson in depth psychology ” .
Poe ‘s life narrative has been one of the chief grounds why he so entreaties to the psychoanalysts, who have, by and big, construed Poe ‘s authorship as a merchandise of his morbidity ( see Joseph Wood Krutch who tried to measure Poe ‘s Hagiographas entirely as manifestations of psychic struggle without respect to their aesthetic character ) or tries to turn to the inquiry of Poe ‘s power over his readers, reasoning that the pathological inclinations to which Poe ‘s text gives look are an overdone version of thrusts and inherent aptitudes universally human, but which “ normal ” people have merely repressed more successfully in their childhood ( see Marie Bonaparte, in The Life and Works of E. A. Poe: A Psychoanalytic Interpretation ) .
My ain place on the issue of whether Edgar Allan Poe ‘s ain embattled life, fraught with personal play and injury, suffered an direct transportation into his fiction and storytelling manner is that, while partial contemplations of the life could be recognizable in Poe ‘s pick of subjects, for illustration, a conceiving of his fiction as a symptom of his dysfunctional psychic life is far-fetched.
Consequently, my working hypothesis for the ensuing analyses will stand in dissension with the speculations of the aforesaid psychoanalytical critics and will rest on and be informed by the premise that violent emotions are a foundation rock of psychic construction and have a really of import bearing on creativeness. The premises are based on the decisions reached by Joyce McDougall in a reasonably recent essay ( “ Violence and Creativity ” , 1999 ) .
The thesis therefore thinks together the constructs of injury, testimony, storytelling and ( commonplace ) immorality in relation to a choice of Hagiographas by Edgar Allan Poe, an project doubled by the giving ups of a farther grade to the methodological grid, viz. relational depth psychology.
Psychoanalytically-specific instruments are applied to core elements of the trauma studies-specific nomenclature, ensuing in an enhanced apprehension of such constructs.
By agencies of an illustration, the nucleus component in the preparation and construction of the trauma event, the Nachtraglichkeit, is defined by trauma surveies theorists as hold in response, deferred reaction, yet such glossing seems deficient for a right fathoming of the ruinous inner world that it presupposes. Kleinian depth psychology will compare the phenomenon with a actual inhabiting of life by decease, which well improves the perceptual experience of the dimensions of trauma events.
Another construct, mostly squabbled over by bookmans themselves, is the commonplace instantiation of immorality. While the very conditions of being of commonplace immoralities are sometimes questioned by bookmans sociologists, relational depth psychology accurately explains and implicitly legitimates such an happening of immorality, by recognizing in its construction the seriality of splitting.
The pick in methodological analysis, viz. the employing of the tools put away by relational depth psychology rests to a great extent on the fact that relational psychoanalytic theoretical accounts best contextualise the person within a universe in the wake of a traumatic episode, which is more frequently than non the instance of Poe ‘s characters.
Having maintained that the traumatic status is the key to understanding Poe ‘s pieces of literature, my following inquiry has been: what is the best manner to understand the procedure which makes impossible the successful knowing of the event. It is at this point that I have contended that psychoanalytic theories, as laid down by Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott are most disposed, because they offer an in-depth analysis of the traumatised mind.
Consequently, I have put Kleinian theory to work on a choice of literary texts by Edgar Allan Poe in a relationship that will uncover itself to be reciprocally lighting. Through a reading of Poe within the Kleinian kineticss, it will be possible to detect the elusive operations of phantasied aggression in his creative activity.
Klein is concerned with the projection of dealingss to internal objects onto an external universe, with how the latter can be known through the colored filter of illusion. A reading of Poe in the visible radiation of Klein may enable an anchoring of the togss out of which the poetic concept is woven in traumatic narrations.
I so propose to analyze the extent to which Poe ‘s discourse of injury inhabits the possible infinite between reader and author, by fall backing to a theoretical model put away by Donald Winnicott. I will propose that the relationship between the author and the reader is indirect and is mediated by the text, which must suit a limited shared world and shared semblance.
Donald Winnicott ‘s constructs of transitional phenomena, possible infinite, true/ false ego, keeping environment and his positions on creativeness have been as many conceptual grounds why they were deemed to joint good with Poe ‘s Hagiographas.
Winnicott ‘s theoretical account of the tolerance for paradox and mirroring offers a new position on Poe ‘s pieces of literature and on the fact that equivocal mention in fiction does non ensue in its being perceived as meaningless. By being referential to a universe to which it does non mention, fiction sets up the really status which, harmonizing to Winnicott, founds the outgrowth of the ego. Fiction therefore may let readers, in a self-contradictory manner ( by their “ non-interfering presence ” ) , to see the indefinable as holding a voice.
The thesis is divided into five chapters, all undertaking analyses of a choice of Poean Hagiographas, runing from verse forms and Gothic narratives to detective narratives and even essays on the intent of art.
The first chapter is informed by the recent developments in the sphere of injury surveies, puting in the limelight the self-contradictory construction of the indirectness in psychic injury, which belies the construct that best addresses the issue of the kineticss of injury: Nachtraglichkeit.
As I will reason, in relation to some of Poe ‘s pieces, “ the traumatised carry an impossible history within them, they become themselves the symptom of a history that they can non wholly possess ” ( Caruth Trauma and Experience 4 ) .
The decision reached in the first chapter is that dividedness, fragmentariness, hybridity, ultimate nonbeing, all come to stand for, textually, an instantiation of the ultimate injury for Edgar Allan Poe, the injury of nonsense.
How is the act of composing tied up with the act of bearing informant? Is the act of reading literary texts itself inherently related to the act of confronting horror? Such inquiries will determine the proceedings of the 2nd chapter.
The permeant feeling of decease and the noticeable deadly imagination, frequently make fulling Poe ‘s fiction to the point of bulge, will be interpreted as much more than a pure literary technique. They will be shown to bear informant to the minute of the topic ‘s unforeseen heterotaxy in the deathly and incomprehensible kingdom after his/ her already complete hereafter, in an effort at, and demand for, overruling the event of psychic decease and injury.
Poe ‘s work can therefore be seen as file awaying the “ deep memory ” or the topic ‘s traumatic experience.
The problematics of injury and testimony are perforce in a closely-knit relation with the issue of evil, hence my digression through the problematics of immorality will concentrate on recent propoundings on the topic, viz. the strand of immorality that made possible the concentration cantonments in Auschwitz.
Edgar Allan Poe ‘s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, analysed in this 2nd chapter, will be considered as chiefly an event of address, and its testimony will be understood as a manner of truth ‘s realisation beyond what is available as statement
What will emerge from the remarks on Pym, from the explication of some of the decease scenes, from the gratuitousness of the force, and the unconcern of Pym ‘s study, is non the horror, but a sense of the familiarity of decease, the “ platitude of immorality ” that Poe opposes to the “ magnificence of immorality ” , looking in front to Auschwitz and the Gulag.
In the 3rd chapter, after holding explored the kineticss of injury testimonies and the problematics of commonplace immorality in assorted samples of Edgar Allan Poe ‘s discourse of injury, I will try to measure the extent to which the unassimilable experiences are redeemed in the narrative, and with what effects for the readership.
It will be my contention that such literary testimonies as evinced by Edgar Allan Poe ‘s pieces bear informant to the fact that the truth behind traumatic episodes can merely be alluded to, by faithful descriptions of it. It is Poe ‘s ain artistic rule to release truth, while taking at it indirectly, and favour the manner of its transmissibility – narrative, or, in Arendt ‘s words, storytelling – hence imputing the undertaking of meaning-making to aestheticism.
The 4th chapter approaches the objects of Poe ‘s creative activity from the position of the Kleinian seeking to orientate himself/ herself in relation to a universe of objects invested with illusion, and prosecuting in the battle to negociate his/ her relationship from them. I seek to uncover the aggression in Poe ‘s literary undertaking: that of making objects that appear to ask for an invasion in which the reader is rendered complicitous.
My treatment of Poe ‘s characters ‘ traumatic brushs will try to highlight the battle to divide from and spot that which is other. Their escapades in bloodcurdling, anomic environments constitute a series of brushs with phenomena that could be said to show projected, expelled parts of the ego, which threaten the storyteller and deeply interrupt his sense of world. Through seeking to compose and transform these estranging brushs into linguistic communication, Poe ‘s characters in The Tales could be read as fictional representations of projective designation through an undulating sequence of narrative sequences. In prosecuting the Kleinian reading of Poe, I will seek to light the procedures involved in composing injury and suggest the possible location of reparation in the text.
In the last chapter, I use the theory of Donald Winnicott and the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe to analyze how a work of fiction provides a transitional country between authors and readers.
In his narratives, Poe provides his readership with a framed possible infinite. This suggests one characteristic of trauma narrations as a psychological genre: it can show the failure of psychic schemes ( or defences ) while beef uping its readership ‘s abilities to pull off those schemes. Poe ‘s narratives occupy our ain possible infinite ( thereby make fulling it ) with manifestations of its ain misdemeanor, closing, or emptiness.
My undertaking, so, is a literary-critical and psychoanalytical attack to the event of injury. The intent of my analysis of sampled texts authored by Edgar Allan Poe is to research the deductions of the association between injury, ( commonplace ) immorality and ( literary ) testimonies, involved by the revelation of the injury mechanics in Poe ‘s literary work.
Partial Cognizance and Delayed Inscription in
Edgar Allan Poe ‘s Discourse of Trauma. Caruth, Lifton and
the Representations of Dread
“ Whereof one can non talk… ”
( Ludwig Wittgenstein,
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus )
In the first chapter, my analysis of Edgar Allan Poe ‘s work will be tailored on the recent developments in the sphere of trauma surveies and will rest thoroughly on the theoretical amplifications of psychic injury propounded by Cathy Caruth, Robert Jay Lifton and Dori Laub.
First off, there is an firm consensus among theoreticians of injury and its psychic accessories, that the hurtful impact on the human head is a effect non so much of a bodily hurt, ( though the originary significance of injury itself, deducing from the Greek injury originally referred to an hurt inflicted on a organic structure ) , but of a mental suspension. Caruth bases her apprehension of injury on Freud ‘s suggestions in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, therefore saying consequently that “ the lesion of the head – the breach in the head ‘s experience of clip, ego, and the universe – is non, like the lesion of the organic structure, a simple and healable event that is experienced excessively shortly, excessively out of the blue, to be to the full known ” ( Unclaimed Experience 2 )
This Freudian-informed psychoanalytic theory of injury is itemised in by and big similar, yet more systematic footings, by Bainbridge and Radstone, as presupposing two minutes: the first refers to the minute of injury itself, while the 2nd involves “ the memory, or instead the perceptual experience of the event. ” ( Culture and the Unconscious 109 ) In other words, the “ unpleasurable event… has non been given psychic significance in any manner, [ because ] the exterior has gone indoors without mediation. ” ( Unclaimed Experience 59 )
In their seminal work History beyond Trauma, Davoine and Gaudilliere study this failure of the human head to absorb the event as it happens as a deficiency of lettering ( a term which I will hearken back to throughout my analysis of Edgar Allan Poe ‘s work ) , while oppugning the really witting presence of the topic at the site of the “ calamity ” : “ The calamity has already happened but could non be inscribed in the yesteryear as yesteryear, since in this regard the topic of address was non at that place. Wholly cut off, the truth was unable to be transmitted. The information remained a dead missive, outside the field of address. ” ( History Beyond Trauma 28 ) It is exactly this crisis of truth, the ontology and epistemology of truth as it emerges from the traumatic experience that is felt to present the greatest challenge to trauma surveies and is at the Centre of trauma disquisition and it is this crisis that will determine the principal of my textual analyses subsequently on in the chapter.
But since the complexness of any textual analysis can merely be premised on and vouchsafed, at the same clip, by a to the full fledged geographic expedition of the instruments it employs, I will brood for a piece longer on the construct of injury and the paradoxes that it is attended with. The most conspicuous paradox, lying at the very bosom of the traumatic experience is, in Caruth ‘s words: “ that in injury the greatest confrontation with world may besides happen as an absolute numbing to it, that immediateness, paradoxically plenty, may take the signifier of belatedness. ” ( Trauma and Experience 7 ) This belatedness is the really underpinning of the traumatic nature of the first minute of injury, which “ can merely be ascribed to it after the fact. This is the rule of Nachtraglichkeit or deferred action ” . ( Bainbridge and Radstone 109 )
Similarly, Henry Kristal, naming on the work of Cohen and Kinston posits the impact of an event in which “ no hint of a enrollment of any sort is left in the mind, alternatively, a nothingness, a hole is found ” ( qtd. in Trauma and Experience Caruth 7 ) , while Dori Laub has suggested that psychic injury “ precludes its enrollment ” ; it is “ a record that has yet to be made ” ( Laub, 1991 ) . ( qtd. in Trauma and Experience Caruth 7 ) . At this point in the theoretical outlining of the traumatic event, one inquiry can non be averted: what are the conditions of possibility of the arrested clip that passes before the injury can be inscribed/ registered? We find a satisfactory declaration of this temporal lie in Freud ‘s ain history and apprehension of the phenomenon:
The breach in the head – the witting consciousness of the menace to life – is non caused by a pure measure of stimulation, but by “ fear, ” the deficiency of readiness to take in a stimulation that comes excessively rapidly. It is non merely, that is, the actual threatening of bodily life, but the fact that the menace is recognised as such by the head one minute excessively tardily. The daze of the head ‘s relation to the menace of decease is therefore non the direct experience of the menace, but exactly the missing of this experience, the fact that, non being experienced in clip, it has non yet been to the full known. ( qtd. in Unclaimed Experience 61 )
This blankness, latency, or “ infinite of the unconsciousness ” – the latter denomination is nil short of a self-certifying myth in Caruth ‘s theoretical speculation on injury – which is “ paradoxically what exactly preserves the event in its literality ” is therefore by no agencies to be equated with mere forgetting: “ The experience of injury, the fact of latency, would therefore look to dwell, non in the forgetting of a world that can hence ne’er be to the full known, but in an built-in latency within the experience itself. The power of the injury is [ that ] merely in and through its built-in forgetting is [ it ] foremost experienced at all. ( Trauma and Experience 7 )
The entailed self-contradictory construction of the indirectness in psychic injury belies the construct which best addresses the issue of the prodigious kineticss of injury, and which was mentioned earlier on: Nachtraglichkeit. The job of both cognizing and of stand foring the event that it poses will outdo be tackled in the 4th chapter of the thesis, when the wielding of the insightful instruments put forth by object relational depth psychology by and large, and by Melanie Klein specifically, will add unsuspected deepness to this Freudian term.
The construction of traumatic experiences, which testifies to an “ brush with decease ” ( Unclaimed Experience Caruth: 7 ) begs the inquiry of what it means to convey “ a crisis that is marked, non by simple cognition, but by the ways it at the same time defies and demands our informant. ” ( Unclaimed Experience 2 ) . A probationary reply to this inquiry and to another one, co-extensive with it, viz. the manner of this transmittal, the narrative of the intolerable nature of the event, will be hammered out, in extenso, in the 2nd and 3rd chapter of the thesis. As I will reason, in relation to some of Poe ‘s pieces, and repeating Caruth ‘s words, “ the traumatised carry an impossible history within them, they become themselves the symptom of a history that they can non wholly possess ” ( Trauma and Experience 4 ) , which emphasises a commendable “ curious strength ” , harmonizing to Harold Bloom, “ to state what could non be said, or to at least effort to state it, therefore declining to be soundless in the face of the unsayable. ” ( qtd. in Trauma and Experience Caruth 9 )
This impossible expression is addressed in peculiar by one theoretician of the psychic injury, the clinician Dori Laub, who dealt extensively with victims of the Holocaust and who becomes aware that it chiefly derives from a constitutional impossibleness of knowing, wholly, a “ prostration of witnessing ” , in his ain diction. Hence the riddle: “ How does one listen to what is impossible? ” And the reply is brooding of a most surprising determination: in order for the psychic injury to hold a history, its belatedness notwithstanding, for it to be acknowledged and perceived as such, for it to “ take topographic point ” , person has to be able “ to listen to the impossible, before the possibility of get the hanging it with cognition. ” ( qtd. in Trauma and Experience Caruth 11 ) And therein lies its danger, excessively, “ the danger, as some have put it, of the injury ‘s “ contagious disease, ” of the traumatisation of the 1s who listen ” ( Terr, 1988 qtd. in Trauma and Experience 11 ) . But it is besides its possibility for transmittal. I will abstain from farther elaborating upon the conditions of testimony and the transmissibility of injury at this point, since its pertinence to literary instantiations of injury, as the textual analyses of Poe ‘s work will uncover themselves to be, requires extra theoretical grades. A elaborate treatment of these facets will hence, as announced, be relegated to the following two chapters of the thesis.
So far, the mechanics of injuries have revealed a certain incomprehensibility, a opposition to significance, at the bosom of the traumatic event, due by and big to the fact that the decease brush is cardinal to such a psychological experience. Robert Jay Lifton footings it “ numbing ” , “ the experience of a reduced or absent feeling either during or after injury, ” a “ affair of experiencing what should hold been but was non experienced ” ( “ An Interview with Robert Jay Lifton ” in Trauma and Experience Caruth 142 ) , but he distinguishes it from repression, which ousts an thought, by agencies of burying, from consciousness.
Rather, blunting writes off the typical psychical tracts taken by unsought events on their manner to the kingdom of the deleted and alternatively leaves the head “ severed from its ain psychic signifiers, [ because ] there ‘s an damage in the symbolization procedure itself. ” ( An Interview with Robert Jay Lifton 142 ) The impossibleness of successfully absorbing the traumatic event, on history of the hampering by blunting is what makes the confrontation with decease in injury to interrupt radically with any sort of cognition or experience, for that affair: “ In injury one moves frontward into a state of affairs that one has small capacity to conceive of ; and that ‘s why it shatters whatever one had that was prospective or experiential in the yesteryear, whatever prospective solaces one brought to that experience. And being shattered, one struggles to set together the pieces, so to talk, of the mind, and to equilibrate that demand to restructure oneself with the capacity to take in the experience. ” ( An Interview with Robert Jay Lifton 147 ) And that ‘s what injury is all about.
Consequently, since willed entree is denied and the actual enrollment of the event escapes full consciousness as it occurs, injury does non merely function as a record of the event, but it registers the force of an experience that is non and can non be yet to the full owned or cognised. Pierre Janet adumbrated, every bit early as 1889, the difference between “ narrative memory ” , which is defined as the automatic integrating of new information into consciousness and what he calls “ traumatic memory ” , evinced by a topic who proves unable to do the necessary narrative “ that we call memory ” ( Janet, qtd. in Recapturing the Past Caruth 159 ) sing the event.
This differentiation shores up Lifton ‘s recent penetrations into the traumatic event. Expectable experiences are assimilated without much attending being paid to inside informations, whereas scaring events may non easy suit into bing cognitive strategies, that could hold been used as referential landmarks, therefore defying integrating: “ Under utmost conditions, bing intending strategies may be wholly unable to suit terrorization experiences, which causes the memory of these experiences to be stored otherwise and non available for retrieval. ” ( “ Recapturing the Past ” in Trauma and Experience Caruth 159 )
The inaccessibility for retrieval, translatable by the impossibleness of the topic to organize its experience on a lingual degree and therefore to maestro or successfully order it to an extent, by sealing off the mechanisms of “ cognizing ” the event, of awareness by the topic, leaves the traumatised quarry to a “ dumb panic ” ( van der Kolk, 1987 qtd. in Repression and Dissociation Caruth 172 ) . As Piaget pointed out: “ It is exactly because there is no immediate adjustment that there is uncomplete dissociation of the interior activity from the external universe. As the external universe is entirely represented by images, it is assimilated without opposition ( i.e. , unattached to other memories ) to the unconscious self-importance. ” They therefore can non be easy translated into symbolic linguistic communication necessary for lingual retrieval. ( “ Repression and Dissociation ” in Trauma and Experience Caruth 172 )
Such a lingual dislocation happening at the mental site of trauma whenever decease or decease equivalents ( as will be listed and detailed upon in connexion to Poe – like ultimate nonsense, to give merely one illustration ) are confronted, has doublefold effects: it creates a 2nd ego within the ego of the traumatised, as Robert Jay Lifton ‘s theory of the traumatised ego proposes, and it relegates the undertaking of registering and understanding what really took topographic point to the listener/ reader, as Kevin Newmark alleges in a survey of traumatic poesy. ( Traumatic Poetry Newmark in Trauma and Experience Caruth )
Lifton departs, in his conceiving of the 2nd ego, from the nucleus dogma of the injury theory sing the deficiency of enrollment, of lettering – “ numbing ” , in his ain words – at the minute of the happening per Se, when the ego “ capitulates wholly to the uniquely riotous impact of it. ” ( Judgment, History, Memory Lee-Nichols 317 ) The construct of the 2nd ego seems therefore to hold been a antecedently chartless way that awaited revelation: “ [ … ] to the extent that one is in anything there ‘s a self-involvement. But in utmost engagements, as in utmost injury, one ‘s sense of ego is radically altered. And there is a traumatised ego that is created. Of class, it ‘s non a wholly new ego, it ‘s what one brought into the injury as affected significantly and distressingly, confusedly, but in a really primary manner, by that injury. ” ( “ An Interview with Robert Jay Lifton ” in Trauma and Experience Caruth 147 ) He bases his penetration on the testimony of people who underwent utmost injury, as is the instance of Auschwitz subsisters, who pointed to this signifier of duplicating by stating that they were different individuals in Auschwitz. It entails that a recovery from injury can merely happen after this doubling has ceased to be and the traumatised ego has been reintegrated. I will set the limelight back on this reintegration by fall backing to the explanatory means of relational depth psychology, throughout the 4th chapter of the thesis.
Kevin Newmark explores the effects of the same deficiency of enrollment at the minute of the injury, and of the lingual inaccessibility that attends it, but this clip from the point of view of the listener/ reader, in an extended survey on traumatic poesy – within the same aggregation of surveies on injury edited by Cathy Caruth and published under the rubric Trauma and Experience – having poets like Baudelaire and Nerval. “ Because the injury is hidden, ” Newmark contends, “ it is accessible merely by manner of a necessary procedure of reading and reading. ” ( “ Traumatic Poetry ” in Trauma and Experience Caruth 253 ) On this juncture Newmark coins[ 4 ]the term “ textual injury ” , warning about the danger of a evildoing by injury of the confines of the text and spilling over its effects, “ reproducing ” them, in Newmark ‘s words, on the reader “ who mistakenly believes it possible to stay everlastingly sheltered from them. Traumatic poesy, to the extent that it needfully confronts the reader with these issues, besides suggests how the linguistic communication we speak in order to understand the experience of injury is besides irretrievably marked by it. ” ( Traumatic Poetry 253 )
Such a meta-contagion of the reader, who – I construe – becomes the venue of injury enrollment, of trauma lettering, while it risks proliferating incomprehension in linguistic communication, lays down, inadvertently, the ordinances of the kineticss between the traumatic text and its reader. Without finding to what extent does the traumatic transference, at the clip of the lettering in the reader, take topographic point, it nods towards the departure of traumatic residues, one time the reader is attuned “ to the linguistic communication of traumatic events through which, with trembling lips, [ traumatic events ] begin to talk. ” ( 253 )
Missed Brushs with Death
The overarching sentiment among a bulk of Poe critics, 1 that has garnered broad and evenly-distributed consensus and harmonizing to which most of Edgar Allan Poe ‘s work is a trauma-generated narration, has seldom come under menace of rebuttal. Premises predicated on the critical statement that the narratives and verse forms authored by Poe find their possible for panic in biographically-informed content were mostly shored up by unfortunate fortunes and inside informations of his life. Hermeneuts who have stopped short of labelling Edgar Allan Poe a “ traumatophile ”[ 5 ]and who evince no scruple about following the birthplace of textual horrors in the writer ‘s embattled life have, more frequently than non, found themselves steeped in slovenly, wayward and perceptibly far-fetched theories, frequently intentionally in neglect of the writer ‘s schemes of prowess or aestheticism.
My digression on injury and trauma-related surveies is meant to maneuver my statement off from the orderly compartmentalization of Poe ‘s work under the header of trauma-informed or trauma-generated narration, which abuses, in my sentiment, by unwittingly factoring in, the biographical content and therefore fallaciously deems fiction a mere epiphenomenon. While naming, tangentially, and briefly looking into some surveies expressing the aforesaid booby traps, I will seek to set up, for grounds which will be detailed all throughout the thesis, that Edgar Allan Poe ‘s work is non a purpose-made fictional discharge of personal quandary, the kind that would “ fate him to re-enact his early injury ” – as Panter and Virshup allege, in a statement that encloses the widely-held misconception delineated above ( Creativity and Madness 113 ) – but can besides be construed in footings of an sharp trauma-structured narration, a discourse non about, but of injury, professedly gratifying to Gothic conventions and pragmatically unoblivious of the monetary addition that such a fiction would incur.
In his “ Preface ” to The Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque ( 1939 ) , Poe himself argues that its contents are “ the consequences of full-blown intent and really careful amplification. ” In an effort to situate a similar purpose shared by narratives that may look to differ in footings of composing history, Poe underscores “ a certain integrity of design ” characterizing the volume, asseverating that “ these many pieces are yet one book. ” ( 129 ) In specifying the book ‘s subject, he says: “ If in many of my productions panic has been the thesis, I maintain that panic is non of Germany, but of the psyche. ” ( 129 ) He stipulates that he deduces “ this panic merely from its legitimate beginnings ” and claims to press it “ merely to its legitimate consequences ” ( 129 ) . Duncan Faherty, in a survey bearing the really name that Poe used to characterize his aggregation, A Certain Unity of Design, discusses: “ Calculating panic non as the manifestation of external horrors, Poe defines it as the disclosure of the immorality contained within. In consequence, he implies that his narratives are non the foreign “ species of pseudo-horror, ” which some critics have labelled them. ” ( Faherty 4 )
James Werner portions the sentiment that Poe designed fictional “ insides ” to hold unsettling “ effects ” upon the readers who temporarily “ inhabit ” snake pit. Imparting another one of Poe ‘s statements of artistic intent, The Philosophy of Composition, Werner comments in his book, American Flaneur: “ Always maintaining the primacy of “ consequence ” in head, Poe constructs mental and physical inside provinces replete with a haunting “ suggestiveness, ” an “ under current, nevertheless indefinite of significance, ” suggesting at what might lie beyond or within the surface “ world ” ( Philosophy of Composition 24 ) . As in many of Poe ‘s narratives, the reader can follow his/her ain stance of “ analytic withdrawal, ” disregarding such outre thoughts and events as the hallucinations of a crazed head. But the “ verisimilitude ” or realistic item Poe employs in picturing these events complicates such an easy rejection. Furthermore, the enticement of an incompletely solved enigma – the terrific and terrorizing promise of a face that ne’er to the full opens itself, or an enclosure that ne’er wholly closes – “ keeps us on the threshold, doing us desire to theorize, to oppugn our ain perceptual restrictions every bit much as the storyteller ‘s saneness. ” ( American Flaneur 133 )
In fact, what is easy dismissed as the storyteller ‘s “ lunacy ” could be exactly the key to construing the surfaces with more accurate ( and more upseting ) consequences. This is a possibility Poe raises in many narratives, but articulates most in a heartfelt way in “ Eleonora ” : “ whether lunacy is or is non the loftiest intelligence-whether much that is glorious-whether all that is profound-does non spring from disease of thought-from tempers of head exalted at the disbursal of the general mind ” ( 468 ) . Werner concludes: “ Poe stages his uncomplete readings to spread out the reader ‘s inventive skylines, to oppugn the very footing of our comfortably neat and logical accounts of the world-the really constructs of “ outer ” visual aspect and “ interior ” world. ” ( American Flaneur 133 )
I argue, accordingly, that the fictional events in the overpowering bulk of Poe ‘s work lend themselves to a construal in footings of injury. Poe both thematises and instantiates modernness, for illustration, as injury, specifically in his late verse form, “ The Bells, ” as argued in Jonathan Elmer ‘s essay The Jingleman: Injury and the Aesthetic, which I will do mention to in what follows.
“ The verse form ‘s ingeniousness would look to dwell in the containment of the contingent and harshly contact. Some irritating bells, frantically pealing, or possibly merely pealing irregularly, will be submitted to a poetic signifier which will, as it were, pealing programmatic alterations – both semantic and rhythmic – on this contingent piece of the existent “ the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells. ” ” ( Elmer, 136 ) The bells Poe hears are intrusive in an ab initio blockading manner – allow us characterize them, in concurrency with Elmer ‘s statement, as an case of modernness as daze:
Hear the tolling of the bells –
What a universe of solemn thought their monophony compels!
In the silence of the dark
How we shiver with panic
At the melancholic significance of the tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their pharynxs
Is a moan.
And the people – ah, the people
They that dwell up in the spire
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled drone,
Feel a glorification in so rolled
On the human bosom a rock –
They are neither adult male nor adult female –
They are neither beastly nor human,
They are Ghouls: –
And their male monarch it is who tolls: –
And he rolls, axial rotations, axial rotations, axial rotations
A Encomium from the bells!
And his merry bosom crestless waves
With the Paean of the bells!
And he dances and he yells ;
Keeping clip, clip, clip,
In a kind of Runic rime,
To the Paean of the bells –
Of the bells: –
Keeping clip, clip, clip,
In a kind of Runic rime,
To the pounding of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells –
To the sobbing of the bells: –
Keeping clip, clip, clip,
As he knells, knells, knells,
To the peal of the bells –
Bells, bells, bells –
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells. ( 437-8 )
It is hard to cognize whether repeat is the method or the subject of this extraordinary verse form. Semantically, it is organised into four parts – traveling from the tinkling of the Ag bells to the tolling of the Fe bells – surely to Poe ‘s lugubrious compulsions. The accretive, linear nature of the verse form is besides to be remarked: the repeats get more repetitive and legion as the verse form progresses, and recycle more quickly in both smaller and larger units. It is surely the instance here, as it is besides in “ The Raven, ” that the semantic impetus of the verse form and its rhythmic energies seem at odds: for as we move toward the darkening stopping point of the funereal “ Fe bells, ” the verse form ‘s repeats become more and more agitated, even enraptured.
We have here, I would reason, repeating Elmer ‘s analysis, an case of the injury of modernness, “ in which an ab initio blockading or encroaching daze – the bells pealing – comes to feed the really work it seems to blockade. ” ( Elmer, 138 ) If injury is a utile term of analysis it is non merely by virtuousness of the formal paradoxes it brings to illume – the return to and defence against the lost brush. We might besides present a no uncertainty slippery differentiation between “ world ” and “ the existent ” , one derived from “ Lacan ‘s mystifiers on the behavior associated with injury: his cardinal illustration concerns the reading of a dream reported by Freud at the beginning of the 7th chapter of The Interpretation of Dreams: ” ( Elmer, 138 )
A male parent had been watching beside his kid ‘s sick-bed for yearss and darks on terminal. After the kid had died, he went into the following room to lie down, but left the door unfastened so that he could see from his sleeping room into the room in which his kid ‘s organic structure was laid out, with tall tapers standing unit of ammunition it. An old adult male had been engaged to maintain ticker over it, and sat beside the organic structure murmuring supplications. After a few hours ‘ slumber that male parent had a dream that his kid was standing beside his bed, caught him by the arm and whispered to him reprovingly: ‘Father, do n’t you see I ‘m firing? ‘ He woke up, noticed a bright blaze of visible radiation from the following room, hurried into it and found that the old watcher had dropped off to kip and the wrappers and one of the weaponries of his darling kid ‘s dead organic structure had been burned by a lit taper that had fallen on them. ( qtd. in Elmer 138 )
Freud argues, Elmer contends, that the male parent dreams of his boy ‘s visual aspect so as to maintain from waking up, to maintain the boy alive for a few more minutes, as it were. Lacan thinks, on the contrary, that the male parent wakes up in order to be released from the injury at the bosom of the dream. The important differentiation for our intents is the position of the outside encroachment, what Lacan calls the “ accident, the noise, the little component of world ” ( 60 ) : the firing taper, the fume, all that is transpirating in the following room as the Father slumbers and dreams. This small piece of encroaching world in fact resonates with, re-evokes or re-lights, the most painful “ world in suspension ” inside the Father ‘s unconscious – viz. , the aggregation of feelings, motivations and ignorances environing the boy ‘s decease, that other, earlier “ firing up ” of the boy for which the Father will ever experience guilty because he could ne’er hold anticipated, no affair how much he tried, its contingency: the boy ‘s decease, in its overpowering traumatic nature, ever arrives out of clip, will ever hold been a “ lost brush. ”
Lacan ‘s reading of the dream suggests that injury involves a sort of temporal resonance between the existent and world: between an exterior that is ever missed, that remains everlastingly latent, “ in suspension, expecting attending, en souffrance, ” and the world which is the object of our representations. The male parent wakes up in order to interrupt out of the agonizing resonance set up between the existent of the injury of his boy ‘s decease and the world of what is go oning in the following room which, as Lacan comments, can merely be experienced by the male parent as a great alleviation: here at least is something against which one can take stairss ( 59 ) !
Lacan ‘s reading of the dream suggests, so, “ another dimension of the theoretical account of injury: viz. , the fact that the repeats involved, the compulsive return to the missed brush, can be understood as affecting a species of resonance between world – the present encroachment, the locatable eventuality – and the existent, a temporally syncopated world that lies outside the range of witting representation but non of unconscious memory and desire. ” ( Elmer, 139 )
In her essay on American literary history “ Playing in the Dark, ” discussed in Elmer ‘s essay, Toni Morrison claims that “ [ n ] o early American author is more of import to the construct of American Africanism than Poe ” ( 32 ) . “ She makes this claim holding merely invoked the eccentric decision to Poe ‘s merely fresh, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, in which the white characters ‘ terrorizing descent to the South Pole takes them through parts of darkness, and a narrow flight from the ferocious black barbarians on the Island of Tsalal. ” ( Elmer, 139 )
Here, at the terminal of their journey, their exclusive Tsalalian prisoner, Nu-Nu, dies merely as “ we rushed into the embracings of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself unfastened to have us. But there arose in our tract a shrouded human figure, really far larger than any inhabitant among work forces. And the chromaticity of the tegument was of the perfect whiteness of the snow. ” Morrison takes this minute as “ paradigmatic for a general relation in American literature between the white imaginativeness and the “ dark and staying presence ” of Africans ; this is why she can state Poe is cardinal to the construct and statement she is developing. ” ( Elmer, 139 )
The “ shrouded human figure ” is the premier illustration for Morrison of the “ figurations of impenetrable whiteness that surface in American literature whenever an Africanist presence is engaged. ” Such figures “ clamour… for an attending that would give the significance that lies in their placement, their repeat, and their strong suggestion of palsy and incoherency ; of deadlock and non-sequitur ” ( 33 ) .
“ It is surely true, ” Elmer argues, “ that the decision of Pym is instead confusing: with an expired Nu-Nu in their boat, Pym and Peters seem at one time to rush up and come to a deadlock, since their haste into the “ embracings of a cataract ” is besides a haste into the blockading presence of a shrouded white figure. In the most abstract sense, so, the decision to Pym reminds us of the construction of traumatic repeat, as we have seen it in “ The Bells ” : ceaseless return to obstructor and deadlock – palsy in gesture. ” ( Elmer, 140 )
In Pym Poe clearly avails himself of Gothic conventions in order to research signifiers of repeat and injury brought on by the “ linguistic communication of fond appropriation, ” of what could be called the symbiotic hostility between belongings and affect. For Poe, this hostility leads to word pictures of the sort of psychic palsy figured at the stopping point of Pym: “ Poe is preoccupied with repeated and varied positions of debilitation, a deliberate failing that leaves merely feeling ” ( 189 ) . ( Toni Morrison, qtd. in Elmer 134 ) .
I want to return to my statement about traumatic repeat in proposing that what Poe returns to so on a regular basis is beyond either the pleasance or the world rule, beyond anything that could be owned in a subjectively consistent manner. What he returns to are plaies of affect – a “ failing that leaves merely feeling ” after the prostration of the cognitively secured models of mention. To return compulsively to such scenes of paralysed strength of feeling and cognitive dislocation suggests that the traumatic “ missed brush ” in Poe ‘s work “ is less a punctual event than a generalized status in which a psychal construction of differentiations can non adequately pull off or plan the feeling or impact delimiting that construction. Affect here would be associated with an obstruction to significance, but in the manner of an overdetermination of intending instead than its deficiency. ” ( Elmer, 141 )
As with modernness and the contingent outside, Poe ‘s obsessional return to provinces of affectional undoing, so, is undertaken as a self-contradictory seeking out of that which one must support oneself against.
Elmer qualifies the province described here as a province of “ suspension. ” It is this province which, for Poe, constitutes the traumatic status “ which both compels and undoes his aesthetic schemes of containment and defence. ” ( Elmer, 141 ) It is this status, for which the tintinnabulation of the bells becomes the “ little component of world ” seized upon as something to work on, to stand for, much as the firing taper in the following room is awakened to as an at least representable world, painful and repetitive, to be certain, but preferred to the “ existent ” traumatism that exceeds representation.
The bells, so, in the verse form are “ fables of affect, ” standing in non for a traumatic event but instead for a status that must ever be missed, because it “ suspends the normativising representations it solicits ” . ( Elmer 142 ) But such an fable of affect must needfully besides mean the aesthetic containment and decrease of such an overpowering status: it both signals something profound and sublime, and does so “ with an insisting which shadows the sublime with the drippy: affect can merely be allegorised. ” ( Elmer 142 ) If Poe is a “ technocrat of art, ” so, what he evokes via his obvious, obsessional allegorising of affect is the bad religion we sometimes express vis-a-vis the aesthetic.
In what follows I will undertake another instantiation of the fictional rendition of the mechanics of injury, along the theoretical lines glossed over at the beginning of the chapter. The analysis is dedicated to the inquiry of what a trauma narration is and how the topic of/ in injury is constituted. I begin with the premise that what we are looking for in a literary work of art is non merely its significance but the manner in which that significance is produced. In his narrative “ The Pit and the Pendulum ” , Poe uses the fictional history of the storyteller ‘s imprisonment and anguish by the Spanish Inquisition “ to research the bounds of human experience in consciousness and unconsciousness, ” as Jennifer Ballangee contends. ( Ballangee 12 )
The Gothic horror of Edgar Allan Poe ‘s short narratives emerges from a cryptic “ evil ” whose root becomes exposed whether by the conclusions of a detective-narrator or the scarey accounts of the cagey felon himself. The horrifying enigma is therefore frequently finally identified as a specific offense, its culprit marked clearly as the guilty party. Poe ‘s “ The Pit and the Pendulum, ” nevertheless, avoids this form by set uping its storyteller as the victim of an uncorroborated sentencing for an unspecified offense – a victim of the willful judgement of the Spanish Inquisition. Thus, in the narrative, the probe, no longer holding an elusive offense to prosecute, explores the nature and the bounds of the experience itself.
In the mode of Poe ‘s more typical investigator narratives, his narrative geographic expedition of this job depends upon seeable grounds presented by the storyteller to the reader. He describes foremost his really brief test by the Inquisitors, which ends in his being sentenced to decease. Following the daze of this sentence, he so relates his brush with decease in a series of anguishs inflicted upon him in the vault of his keep prison. The progressively desperate tortures flood tide with the storyteller get awaying a autumn into an abysmal cavity merely to meet a scythe-like pendulum that emerges from a work of art etched upon the walls of the keep. The pendulum swings mesmerizingly above him, its razor-sharp border dropping of all time closer to his organic structure bound beneath it. Juxtaposed with the ponderously regular dazes of each swing of the pendulum, the cavity looms following to the narrator/ captive as a sublime, unfathomable suggestion of the unknown destiny that continues to stay horrifyingly proximate yet held in suspension.
Poe ‘s storyteller, who is besides a author, survives his test, go throughing on the narrative of his decease, but analyzing the hints that are left – that is, analyzing the possibility of storytelling, or, in other words, what of experience can be communicated. Poe ‘s storyteller faints, and loses about all of consciousness ; of what remained of it, he avers, “ I will non try to specify, or even depict it. ” ( Poe, 232 ) Yet, driven by memory he does depict it – in the ghastly footings of a anguish inflicted by the Inquisition. Thus Poe ‘s victim Markss with his ain organic structure the indefinable cognition of “ memories which will non endure themselves to be revealed ” , seting in ocular footings for his witnessing audience the flooring experience of the traumatic brush with decease itself.
The scenes of anguish that follow this transition – culled from the Inquisition and the Gothic beginnings – point toward the cognition of the “ gulf beyond ” sought in the narrative, a subject with which Poe ‘s work demonstrated a steady captivation. The repeating subject of decease in Poe ‘s work seldom involves the straightforward terminal of being, but instead centres around the procedure of deceasing, a province of being proximous to decease, or, frequently, returning to life from decease or even sing some facet of decease while still alive. Most normally, this latter experience expresses itself in assorted manners of being buried alive.
Poe is perceived as developing a method of retrieving feelings perceived while kiping ( or, in other words, while non witting ) that involves him fighting for consciousness on the threshold of slumber. For, as he notes, even though he is able to reassign the visions into memory, he can still merely briefly see them in the logic of analysis. Poe ‘s note of this restriction implies that he feels the feelings remain in memory, but unaccessible to witting, analytical consideration. Therefore, it follows, he is situating a degree of experience with this experiment that falls into neither consciousness or unconsciousness. Poe distinguishes these feelings as “ psychal ” instead than rational, observing that they arise in the psyche at the threshold of slumber or consciousness.
If we were able to convey these “ psychal feelings ” – to retrieve the experience designated by merely a hint of memory – he feels that they would be supremely fresh stuff, both in themselves and in what they would accordingly propose. With this, he continues, others would admit that “ I have done an original thing ” . The originality of his art would deduce from the singularity of the disregarded thing. Accomplishing such a undertaking would enable Poe to accomplish one of his primary aesthetic ends: by entering these experiences in authorship, he might make something utterly unique.
Poe allows the surprising daze of decease itself to find his aesthetic: this is the “ wholly new thing ” he hopes to offer to his audience. The convergence of decease and uniqueness prevarications at the bosom of Poe ‘s sense of beauty. In his essay “ The Poetic Principle ” , Poe designates beauty as the object of poesy, instead than truth. Dividing the head into three parts – pure mind, gustatory sensation, and moral sense – he locates the kingdom of gustatory sensation as that which entirely determined Beauty. Therefore liberating his thought from any moral limitations, Poe can tie in beauty with an immortality devoid of religious ideals. The desire for beauty becomes a physical yearning, an “ immortal thirst ” toward which we strive, “ inspired by an enraptured prevision of glorifications beyond the grave… ”
Therefore poesy excites our psyches, enabling us to glimpse this “ supernal Loveliness ” of an immortality that extends beyond physical decease. Yet, since Poe refrains from tie ining his thought of beauty with a moral sense of immortality, the attack to beauty must be closely linked to decease, which therefore assumes the place of a gateway to what lies “ beyond ” . Correspondingly, Poe indicates intense melancholy as being most thrilling to the psyche ; it follows, so, that “ … this certain shade of unhappiness is inseparably connected with all the higher manifestations of true Beauty. ” ( Poe, 889 ) “ Melancholy is therefore the most legitimate of all the political tones ” . Having established melancholy as the ultimate poetic temper, Poe goes on to denominate decease as the most melancholic subject ; therefore, he concludes, decease may supply the most beautiful and appropriate topic for poesy.
Switching Poe ‘s theories of the beautiful in poesy to his prose, so, “ The Pit and the Pendulum ” appears as a narrative, a work of art, in which the propinquity of decease produces a originative act that is both dismaying and emancipating. In it, the human thirst for beauty merges with what Poe calls elsewhere ( in an analysis of his verse form “ The Raven ” ) the “ human thirst for self-torment ” , a perverse and melancholy desire to convey decease near.
The self-same traumatising propinquity of decease, with its delayed lettering and numbing effects can be recognised in “ The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar ” , which dabbles in the prodigious subject of hypnotism. Poe ‘s involvement in hypnotism is good known and corroborated by the several articles and presentations that he composed on the topic. As a province that seems besides on the threshold between consciousness and unconsciousness, hypnotism appears as another aspect of Poe ‘s captivation with the luminal experience of decease in life.
From deep within a hypnotic enchantment, M. Valdemar is able to talk – without the assistance of his blackened and swollen lingua, one presumes – the impossible: his ain experience of decease. If all is “ non lost ” even in decease, so a recoverable experience of decease would “ turn out ” in some manner the possibility of being after decease. In this sense, the recoverability of that experience includes both its presence in memory and its handiness to the intellect – for the cogent evidence depends upon its being quotable to others – in authorship, as Poe hopes to make – as the venue of its lettering – or in address, as M. Valdemar succeeds for a minute in making. Like in “ Pit and the Pendulum ” , so, with each consecutive autumn, and with each new anguish, the organic structure of the storyteller revisits the unconscious, which occupies for Poe in this map the place of decease ( whose propinquity is manifested by the menace of anguish ) .
Elsewhere, Benjamin ascribes this same kind of dehumanization to the crowd described in “ The Man of the Crowd ” : “ The people in his narrative behave as if they could no longer show themselves through anything but a automatic action. These departures on seem even more dehumanized because Poe negotiations merely about people. If the crowd is jammed up, it is non because it is being impeded by vehicular traffic – there is no reference of it anywhere – but because it is being blocked by other crowds. ” ( The Writer in Modern Life 30 ) In this transition, the crowd takes the topographic point of machines, incarnating the overpowering stimulation from which they must close themselves off, in a motion that is at one time dehumanizing and salvaging. As Benjamin suggests in a footer to the “ Motifs ” essay, “ [ T ] he daily sight of a lively crowd may one time hold constituted a spectacle to which 1 ‘s eyes had to accommodate foremost. ” ( On Some Motifs 21 ) The overstimulus of the technological crowd seems therefore to bring forth a stultification consequence upon those subjected to it. The overpowering experience is shut out, and what is left to see is something like a residue: “ In closing out this experience the oculus perceives an experience of a complementary nature in the signifier of its self-generated after-image, as it were ” . ( 21 ) This blunting serves the intent of defence from dazes or injury.
The new consciousness of the storyteller in “ The Pit and the Pendulum ” appears now in the visible radiation of art: even as he realises the gravitation of his quandary, his nervousnesss thrill at the sight of these glowing pictures. Furthermore, this sudden infliction of art corresponds with an consciousness of the informants, his audience. Suddenly, the narrative has become self-referential – a narrative “ in which art plays a function in the experience of decease and in which this exchange is performed before a witnessing audience. ” ( Ballengee 195 ) At this point, the images appear for the first clip in their full definition: the graphics that glows with increasing strength on the wall, the storyteller realises with horror, depicts his ain at hand decease by anguish: “ A richer shade of ruby diffused itself over the envisioned horrors of blood. I panted! I gasped for breath… ” ( Poe 253 ) Therefore, in a farther hyperbole of its ain self-referentiality, the narrative that professes the end of researching the “ gulf beyond ” through the remembrance of a series of anguishs culminates in an artistically rendered word picture of its ain docket: an illustration of decease in the thick of anguish.
Convinced of the certain decease that the cavity offers, the storyteller moves overwhelmingly toward it, as an flight from the tortures that bear down upon him. Yet, poised over the cavity, striving to see into its deepnesss, he struggles unsuccessfully to recognize its significance. After a minute, the significance of the cavity finally overwhelms him: it “ Burnss ” itself upon his ground. The force of this communicating conveys the significance of the cavity, alleviating the storyteller ( and Poe ) from fighting to specify the impossible words to depict it. The perennial failure of linguistic communication here – indic