Reading the introductory paragraph of “Berenice,” Poe’s cosmology, his facultative triangle of the human mind, which Dr. Adamson spoke of in lecture on Monday (Sept 19th), immediately comes to mind. The passage unfolds in a kind of tension, emphasizing the uncanny, the strange, even the horrific, and yet, lyrically, it’s beautiful, incantatory, evoking – even as it proceeds toward a horrific story – that image of the author’s cosmology Dr. Adamson provided in lecture: a sort of expansive creation, the big bang in one paragraph:
MISERY is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide horizon like the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, as distinct too, yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon like the rainbow! How is it that from Beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? — from the covenant of Peace, a simile of sorrow? But thus is it. And as, in ethics, Evil is a consequence of Good, so, in fact, out of Joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are, have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been. I have a tale to tell in its own essence rife with horror — I would suppress it were it not a record more of feelings than of facts.