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Edgar Allan Poe
Poe Psychological Analysis
Death Theories
Writing Style
Poe's Influence on Lit
Selected Texts
Poe Psychological Analysis
Photo Gallery
Additional Commentaries

Edgar Allan Poe has been the object of psychoanalysis since the subject was born.

 "Eureka represents what Poe believed were unalterable truths which govern the material and spiritual universe. How, then, can a reader of Eureka, himself a denizen of the universe, resist attributing the same consistencies and truths to material and spiritual man, who, according to Poe, exists as a God-like reflection of Poe's grand cosmic scheme. The obvious answer? He can't resist, for Poe knew that every aspect of man's being is indentured to the Divine Will. This essay, the second of the series, will discuss the psychological implications of Poe's universal constants.

In Eureka we find Poe's explanation that our universe has spun from unity to diversity, that all of creation has been thrown into the 'unnatural' condition of multiform particulars. In my first essay, Poe is credited for postulating what science later tagged the 'Big Bang' theory of creation. But Poe's description is decidedly oriented to his own spirituality; for example, he states that all spiritual and material manifestations of the universe are but individuations emanating from the unity of the Godhead, and that these spiritual and material individuations long for, and eventually return to, that Divine Unity, which Poe believed to be the 'natural' condition of the universe. Upon reunification, God recreates the universe in another horrendous explosion, initiating the next expansion sequence. Poe called this compression and expansion of the universe the heartbeat of God.

It is important for readers of this essay to note Poe's belief that only in dissolution, in death, can the longing for unity imprinted on all matter and spirit be satisfied. In extension of this premise, this essay focuses intently upon perverseness, that impetus of mind which describes Poe's obsession, the longing of everything to rejoin within the Godhead, the tendency of all, including humanity, to seek its demise. And what could be more perverse than a personal quest for dissolution?

Moralists and philosophers who precurse Poe well understood that humans possess creative intelligence. Volume upon volume regarding the sources and substance of creative genius populate the libraries of literary and philosophical theory. As humans, we might even revel in the notion that we are supremely creative among all creatures. Yet how comparatively few, before or since Poe's time, have examined the countervailing coercion of man--the perverse, that primal instinct which betrays creative genius, that seed of annihilation, which Poe believed, is secreted in every material and spiritual filament of the cosmos. Interestingly, Poe's belief in the perverse caused him to transcend traditional morality, instead, searching out this radical impulse, which he believed rules the dark side of human behavior.

Important distinctions must be drawn here, distinctions required by our living in a culture with an ethic steeped in morality. When Poe speaks of perverseness, he does not intend narrower denotations of the various forms of the word. He does not mean 'perverted,' as in sexual miscreance. Though such deviancy may be perverse, it bears little resemblance to the examples of perversity which Poe elucidated in his tales."

-David Grantz

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