What is there to say? I'm not very interesting. I'm not a good writer. I don't even dress well. If you insist on knowing something about me just wander through the archives. It's all there.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

On mental imagery run amok

I posted a comment on another blog (Glory Be at the other day concerning a literary quote. That simple act caused me to buy tickets on two different trains of thought both leaving the station at the same time. I know that there are people who think in words, I think in pictures. Most of them are crudely drawn in what appears to be crayon.

The first of my divergent mental threads had to do with the fact that on that site I had commented on a post that commented on my postings. I started to imagine what would happen if someone else commented on my comment with a post which commented on the previous two posting's comments. Someone could then comment by posting a comment about my comment on my post concerning the subsequent comment on the post mentioned in a post that commented on my posts having referred to the original posting. You get the picture (lots of arrows drawn with a red crayon, I think). The image that I got was that of a single continuous parasitic posting that twisted and turned throughout the blogiverse. I saw this huge tangled tapeworm of words infesting the intestines of the Web and growing longer by the nanosecond.

The second thought stream had a less disgusting lump floating down it. It concerned the works of Edgar Allan Poe, the subject of the aforementioned comment. Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe are two authors who have their own category in my list of favorite writers. I guess I would call this category “authors whose well-known works I don’t really care for, but whose more obscure articles and essays are favorites of mine.” They’re not usually found under that in the library catalog.

I went back and re-read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head", originally published in Graham’s Magazine, September of 1841. I believe this article was written in response to some criticism that Edgar had received due to the fact that his horror stories lacked a “moral” at their end. The subtitle for the article was “A Moral Tale”. Originally, it took me about six readings to figure out that the article was a tongue-in-cheek protest against the political and literary correctness of his day. At least that’s what I get out of it (sorry, there are no Cliff Notes available). Most people don’t associate E.A. Poe with comedy. Indeed, even reading through one of his 19th century essays requires tremendous stamina in order to cut through the dense underbrush of verbiage. However, this story about the imaginary character, Toby Dammit, has some of the cleverest word play I have ever read. This is my favorite section. When I read this passage, I can see it being performed by Larry, Moe, and Curly wearing black cutaway tailcoats, hats, and gloves (black crayon on white elementary school paper, of course).

“When he said "I'll bet you so and so," nobody ever thought of taking him up; but still I could not help thinking it my duty to put him down. The habit was an immoral one, and so I told him. It was a vulgar one–this I begged him to believe. It was discountenanced by society–here I said nothing but the truth. It was forbidden by act of Congress–here I had not the slightest intention of telling a lie. I remonstrated–but to no purpose. I demonstrated–in vain. I entreated- he smiled. I implored–he laughed. I preached–he sneered. I threatened–he swore. I kicked him–he called for the police. I pulled his nose–he blew it, and offered to bet the Devil his head that I would not venture to try that experiment again.”


Blogger Adinah said...

the cosmic conundrum of got that one right. It happens alot....and your three stooges analogy hit that one right on the head. the real corker starts when you start commenting to your post on your own post tab.......

1/6/05 10:46 PM  
Blogger Glory said...

There's a Twain story--more like a novelette, I guess--about Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Very witty (of course) and gentle, and containing one of the more beautiful definitions of love in all of literature. Unfortunately, it escapes me at the moment. I hope you know it; if not, I'll look through the stacks.

2/6/05 7:17 AM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

"Eve's Diary", perhaps.

2/6/05 8:11 AM  
Blogger Glory said...

"The Diary of Adam and Eve." They spend the whole story bickering at each other, and generally misunderstanding each other's motives. But it ends with Eve saying,

"...if one of us must go first, it is my prayer that it shall be I; for he is strong, I am weak, I am not so necessary to him as he is to me--life without him would not be life; how could I endure it?..."

And Adam says (putting a lump in my throat):

"Wheresoever she was, there was Eden

2/6/05 9:49 AM  
Blogger HCaldwell said...

You realize, of course, that you have created a comment on a post that was about a comment on a post that referred to another posting.
Yes, I have read the Diary of Adam and Eve. I agree, good stuff. I am not sure, but I think there were several magazine articles that were compiled into the final story. M. Twain was into recycling.
I like "Italian Grammar".

2/6/05 8:51 PM  

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