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|This article is reprinted from the Spring/Summer 2006 issue of FIDELIO Magazine.
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Edgar Allan Poe: The Lost Soul of America
by Allen Salisbury
In the Federal Republic of Germany, the great poet Friedrich Schillers memory and spirit are kept as a living tradition, albeit by a small and aging core of devoted followers. In Italy, despite attempts to purge the Commedia of Dante Alighieri from the public schools, there are still enough who know him that we may band together to prevent such an occurrence. In Greece, there is still great pride among sections of the population that their country was the birthplace of perhaps the greatest poet of them all, Plato.
In Spain, Cervantes is still revered by an admittedly too small elite. I think that even in the Soviet Union some still take pride in the work of the great Russian poet Pushkin. But in America, here in America, which has for the last 200 years been the recipient of the benefits of the best minds the rest of the world has to offer, the nation has allowed its only poet to be treated in such a despicable manner that one can argue that the very soul of the country has disparted.
This statement is not what some may wish to call hyperbole, others poetic license, still others, metaphor. It is a simple statement of fact.
I do not hold you, the reader, responsible in this matter, because you have been lied to on the subject of poetry and art in general to the point that most of you recoil with visions of Andy Warhols soup cans or some group of nuts performing a pagan ritual on stage accompanied by electronic grunts, groans, and screams.
To prove that most of you have been lied to, what do you think of when you hear the name Edgar Allan Poe?
The great majority of you have been told, perhaps by an ignorant or misinformed junior high school teacher, that Poe was some sort of alcoholic or opium-eater. A greater majority of you have images of Vincent Prices
performances on the Late Late Show or Chiller Theater. In fact, your minds have been filled with so much of this garbage that you have forgotten the intense joy and excitement you experienced when you first read a poem or a tale written by Mr. Poe.
It is my purpose in this excerpt to give an accurate account of who Edgar Allan Poe really was, as well as to show you exactly how, by whom, and for what purpose you have been deliberately misled.
Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?
Perhaps a better title for this section would be How to Smell a Rat While Reading History Books. The key to unlocking Poes identity is rejecting at once the repeated and hysterical denials by most Poe scholars that Poe was not anything like the detective C. Auguste Dupin he created in The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter.
Once the matter of Poes philosophical and political outlook is settled by actually reading what the man wrotehis poetry, tales, and critical essaysone can glean through various biographies and history books, actually using the method of Dupins search for the purloined letter, to determine the significance of the lie being retailed to find the relevant empirical proofs that remain in letters and archives to satisfy the ordinary reader that it is a lie.
The particular untruth that Poe was unlike Dupin usually goes along with an assertion that Poe never left the United States, despite what Poe says to the contrary. The evidence usually presented for this assertion comes from the French nut Charles Baudelaire, and consists of pointing out that there are no street names in Paris such as the ones given in Poes detective stories.
All this is asserted despite the fact that ample evidence exists to the contrary.
The following letter, written by Alexander Dumas to an Italian police official, proves not only that Poe visited France, but also hints at the nature of Poes visit and proves conclusively that Poes detective stories were, among other things, autobiographical in nature:
It was about the year 1832. One day an American presented himself at my house with an introduction from his fellow American James Fenimore Cooper. Needless to say I welcomed him with open arms. His name was Edgar Poe. From the outset I realized that I had to deal with a remarkable man; Two or three remarks which he made upon my furniture, the things I had about me, the way my articles of everyday use were strewn about the room and on my moral and intellectual characteristics impressed me with their accuracy and truth.
Now consider the following description of Poes Detective Dupin from The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Residing in Paris during the spring and part of the summer 18, I there became acquainted with a Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin. This young gentleman was of an excellentindeed of an illustrious family, but, by a variety of untoward 60 events, had been reduced to . . . poverty . . . It was a freak fancy of my friend . . . to be enamoured of the Night for her own sake; and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon. At the first dawn of the morning we closed all the massy shutters of our old building; lighted a couple of tapers which, strongly perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest of rays . . . until warned by the clock of the advent of the true Darkness. Then we sallied forth into the streets. . .
I might add that the Dumas letter was written four years prior to the first publication of Poes Dupin series. Despite the fact that such evidence points us in the proper direction to gather biographical data concerning Poe, it is either denied or dismissed out of hand. For example, historian Harvey Allen says on the very first page of the preface to the second edition of his Israfel The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe:
Since the publication of this biography not a great deal of important material about Poe, from a biographical standpoint, has come to light. What of interest has recently been turned up by scholars I have sometimes availed myself of, now and then, incorporating a few minor facts into the text with the necessary acknowledgment and reference. In that connection it is proper to say that I have not felt it incumbent upon me to mention in the body of the text the so-called letter from Dumas the elder to an Italian officer of police, which purports to tell of Dumass meeting with Poe and Fenimore Cooper in the year 1832 in Paris, although through the courtesy of the present owner I was permitted to examine the letter and the material connected with it . . .
This is the kind of stuff meant to intimidate Masters or Ph.D. candidates from treading too far into an area which has been marked off limits. Scholars like John Ward Ostrum, Daniel Hoffman, and others echo this view that Poe was far less a character than Dupin, that the inventor of the story was less than his invention.
Quite the contrary, the evidence points to the fact that in the early 1830s Poe was assisting James Fenimore Cooper in the Marquis de Lafayettes attempts to establish a French republic for the second time. The Marquis de Lafayette headed the European branch intelligence services for the Society of Cincinnatus, which he founded with George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, and which included Quartermaster General David Poe, Poes grandfather and close collaborator of Lafayette during the Revolutionary War.
Coopers public activities in France at that time consisted of organizing for a republic in France as well as in Poland. He was instrumental, along with Lafayette, in countering a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign being conducted by British magazines and British-influenced journals in France. Cooper also solicited the aid of his, and later Poes, American publisher, economist Mathew Carey. Carey was requested to send to France a refutation of the British propaganda line which claimed that it was cheaper to run an aristocracy like Britain than to run a republic like the United States. Carey had been an associate of Lafayettes since he worked as an Irish emigré é publishing the dispatches of Benjamin Franklin from Franklins print shop in Passy.
The Dumas letter also mentions that Poe was receiving a 300-franc-permonth credit from one M. Lafite. This Lafite was a famous French financier and the architect of much of Frances post-1830s industrial development. Lafite was also part of Lafayettes political network in France. His family vineyards still produce some of the finest wines in Europe under the name Lafite Rothschild.
That Poe planned to go to France to aid the allies of Lafayette is clear in this letter that he wrote to Commandant Thayer of West Point shortly after his departure from the Academy:
Sir: Having no longer any ties which can bind me to my native country . . . I intend by the first opportunity to proceed to Paris with the view of obtaining through the interest of the Marquis de Lafayette, an appointment (if possible) in the Polish Army. In the event of the interference of France in behalf of Poland this may easily be effectedat all events it will be my only feasible plan of procedure.
The name C. Auguste Dupin has also been the subject of much debate among Poe scholars. I will not bother here with some of the suggested sources for the name Dupin, since Poe could have been referring to one person only: Charles A. Dupin of Paris, a leading figure in the Ecole Polytechnique circles of Gaspard Monge, Lazard Carnot, and their associates. It is the Ecole Polytechnique method of scientific investigation that is the subject of Poes detective tales, or tales of ratiocination, as Poe more properly termed them.
This is no matter of mere conjecture or guesswork. Poe very early in life came under the influence of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall and General Winfield Scott in his home in Richmond, Virginia. In his early teens, Poe was selected to serve as second in command of the Richmond Junior Volunteers honor guard that accompanied Lafayette during his 1824 visit to the city. Lafayettes visit to Richmond, part of a months-long tour of the United States, was organized by the Cincinnatus Society to secure the Presidential election of John Quincy Adams and to raise funds for Lafayettes forces in Europe.
Marshall had been influential in helping to establish the Society of Cincinnatus, and Winfield Scott later became an honorary member of the society, with specific charge over matters of military intelligence. General Scott, together with Commandant Thayer, made several trips to Paris for the specific purpose of acquiring the necessary textbooks and related materials to firmly establish the tradition of the Ecole Polytechnique at West Point.
The military-artillery training acquired directly from the French military genius Carnot was taught to West Point upperclassmen at Fortress Monroe, where Poe had enlisted under the pseudonym Edgar Perry. Poes commanding officer at Fortress Monroe was Colonel Worth, an aide de camp to General Scott and the former commandant of cadets at West Point. It was Colonel Worth, along with General Scott, who obtained for Poe his cadetship at West Point after Poe had already completed the advanced training. The following letter from Poe to his foster father should prove the point.
. . . I made the request to obtain a cadets appointment partly because I know that . . . the appointment could easily be obtained either by your personal acquaintance with Mr. Wert or by the recommendation of General Scott, or even of the officers residing at Fortress Monroe, and partly because in making the request you would at once see to what direction my future views and expectations were inclined.
It is also a matter of note that a good portion of the American intelligence community was in France during Poes visit. To name a few, these included General Scott, Colonel Worth, James Fenimore Cooper, and the inventor Samuel Morse. Of course, any biography of these individuals will say that their trips to Paris were for reasons of health. Funny how so many great men seem to get sick all at once.
Poe vs. the Clark Brothers
It is often said by Poes critics that Poe chose his victims for literary criticism out of jealousy of their success or because he was prejudiced against their literary style for some reason. Even the best of Poes biographers only reach the conclusion that Poes wrath was directed against the literary cliques because they sought to control the nations literature by puffing (advertising) the works of fellow clique members. In the case of Willis and Gaylord Clark, who controlled the New York Knickerbocker clique, Poes venom struck at the core of matters vital to the United States and its security.
Both brothers were run from the Edinburgh division of the British Secret Intelligence Services. Their literary affairs, and their other assignments, were controlled directly by Sir Walter Scotts private secretary and literary agent Gordon Lockhardt.
The Clark brothers were instrumental in conducting a vile slander campaign against the vital assistance James Fenimore Cooper was rendering to Lafayette in France.
By besmirching Coopers name in the United States, it was hoped that his role as spokesman in Europe for the American form of government could be drastically undercut. Anyone who has read the correspondence between Cooper and Samuel Morse on this matter knows that a great deal of significance was placed on uncovering the source of these attacks and stopping them. Morse wrote to Cooper on February 21, 1833:
By the way, I have something to tell you in relation to the review in the American about which we had so much conversation; I gave you the name of the writer in Paris, on the authority of Lieutenant Pane; since I have been at home it has been declared to me that the review was written here by an obscure clerk in a counting house and Verplank [Gillian Verplank the Cincinnatus Society was founded at his home] was cited to me as having assured by informant of the fact. Notwithstanding the authority cited, I think the document itself is proof against such an origin. My informers were silenced by my exposé of the matter, and I have heard nothing of the subject for a long time. There has been some trickery in this business and you may depend on it. This clerk, whoever he is, is made father to it, and he might have been the translator. If you can ferret the truth out, and expose this contemptible meanness by ascertaining, as I think you can, whether Nizard actually wrote it, I should delight to see the authors arraigned at the bar of public opinion for their tricks.
Later in July, Morse wrote:
I send you the Evening Post of the 20th inst. being the last shot, and which I fear has sunk the enemy; everyone I meet says so at least. Here are 5 days passed and no answer; I have sincerely been hoping for one, for I am now confident that the more the subject is agitated, the more you will be appreciated and your opposers humbled.
The way the literary stringers of British intelligence worked is made clear in this postscript to a letter from Willis Gaylord Clark to James Watson Webb, an editor in the clique:
p.s. Do you want to hit Cooper on the raw? See a note to the article Change for American Notes in the last London Quarterly Review of Lockhardt? It is a stinger!
And William Leete Stone, a member of the Clark clique, a Jesuit, and the editor of the New York Commercial Advertiser (mentioned in the Morse letters) joined the fray against Cooper.
. . . Even the government party in France would have no inclination to attack us, if Americans abroad pursued the same reserve in politics which we enforce against Europeans here.
Later, Stone added:
. . . Americans regretted and I along with them, that Cooper had left the American scene which had been the best inspiration of his work, and that our American author had mingled in the strife of politicsvolunteering his services as a sort of Republican propagandist in Europe, when no possible good was to result from such a course either to himself or others.
Stone ended his attack by saying that he preferred the Toryism of Sir Walter Scott to the Republicanism of Cooper.
It is no wonder then that one of Poes first editorial announcements concerning the literary cliques who paid homage to British masters was the following:
We know that the British bear us little but ill willwe know that in no case do they utter unbiased opinions of American bookswe know that in the few instances in which our writers have been treated with common decency in England these writers have either paid homage to English institutions or have had lurking at the bottom of their hearts a secret principle at war with democracy. We do indeed demand the Nationality of Self-respect. In letters as in Govt. we require a Declaration of Independence a better thing still would be a Declaration of Warand that war should be carried forthwith into Africa.
And declare war Poe did!
Poes first major editorial assignment upon his return to the United States was with the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia. He acquired this position through the help of John P. Kennedy, himself an author of note whose works were also published by the Carey firm. Kennedy was also one of the founders of the Whig Party in opposition to Jacksonianism, and during his terms in Congress introduced the bill that guaranteed Federal funding for his friend Samuel Morses electrical telegraph to be strung from New York to Washington, D.C. Kennedy also served a term as secretary of the Navy during the Administration of Millard Fillmore.
The first major target of Poes critical pen was Theodore Sedgewick Fay, who, together with the Clark brothers, owned the New York Mirror and the Knickerbocker magazines. Poe used a review of the widely puffed Fay novel Norman Leslie to lob the opening shots of his campaign to destroy this clique literarily as well as politically. Poe wrote the following, mocking the style of the Edinburgh Review, Blackwoods Magazine, and the Quarterly Review:
Wellhere we have it! This is the bookthe book par excellence, the book bepuffed, beplastered, and be-Mirrored; the book attributed to Mr. Blank, and said to be from the pen of Mr. Asterisk; the book which has been about to appearin pressin progressin preparation and forthcoming; the book graphic in anticipationtalented a prioriand God knows what in prospectu. For the sake of everything puffed, puffing, and puffable, let us take a peep at its contents!
The review continued in Poes typical polemical style. The wrath against Poe delivered by the outraged clique still shows up in slanders in biographies of Poe today.
A Broader View: The Politics of Poetry
Despite the fact that Poe himself spells out his Platonist philosophical and political tradition in his works, legend still has it that Poe was some kind of a mystic. As Poe himself emphasizes at numerous points in his writings, the cultish evil descendants of Aristotle and Sir Francis Bacon were in a conspiracy to wipe out the influence of Platonism. This was not merely some momentary quirk of history, but a fight that extends back, as far as modern knowledge is concerned, to the creation of Platos Academy, and whose consequences have shaped the destiny of the human race over centuries, and according to Platos own account, back centuries before his own time.
It was the tradition exemplified in the work of Plato and Dante Alighieri which was responsible for the creation of the American republic, and the scientific and literary model for Poe throughout his life. Nearly everything in Dantes Commedia is Plato viewed through Platonic eyes. The Commedia was not merely a work of art, but a political document that played a leading part in shaping the political history of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries. The ideas communicated through the Commedia armed the political intelligence apparatus of the Augustinian networks associated with Petrarch, Chaucer, and others. It is necessary to summarize the argument of the Commedia as has been done by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. in his A Gaullist Solution for Italys Monetary Crisis (National Democratic Policy Committee, 1980), and Muriel Mirak in How Dante Used Poetry to Start the Scientific Renaissance (The Campaigner, April 1980), so that we understand the point of reference of both Poe and his enemies.
The Commedia is organized in three sections, each containing 33 successive cantos. In each section, the ordering of the cantos reflects an ordering principle. This ordering principle is a transfinite ordering principle, and each of the three differs essentially from the other two. The succession of sections represents a fourth ordering principle, that which is relatively transfinite in respect to the subsumed three as predicates of this higher-order transfinite. The ordering principle (conception) embodied in the 33rd canto of the final section, the Empyreal, is in agreement with the higher-order transfinite ordering of the three sections as a whole. That agreement defines the proper conclusion of the successive development of the entire composition.
The configuration of the Commedia is strictly Platonic in all essential features of organization. In the first section, the Inferno, the ordering of the cantos leads us into the pit of hell. This, of course, is an unsatisfactory conclusion for all but the most degraded existentialist Dionysians. The reaching of the pit demonstrates that the characteristic ordering principle of the Inferno is not acceptable for the continued existence of mankind. The principle to be superseded is that of heteronomic, irrationalist forms of egoistical sensuality.
Consider the case of Count Ugolino. Ugolino, thrown into prison by persecutors, survives for awhile by eating his children, for which he is condemned to pass eternity gnawing on a skull. Egoistical, heteronomic sensuality superseded all reason or even rational morality in Ugolino. So, like the bronze souls of Platos Phoenician myths, Ugolino lives in the hell of being perpetually what he is. It was for this reason that Poe condemned the New England Transcendentalists as frogpondians, to sit forever croaking in Dantes hell.
This first ordering principle must be rejected, negated as a whole. That discovery is embodied in the first canto in the next section of the Commedia, Purgatory. In Purgatory, this same ordering principlethat of greed, of sensual appetites informed by logical forms of knowledge proceeds to a second dead end, Earthly Paradise. Those in Purgatorys Earthly Paradise are the silver souls of Platos Phoenician myths.
Earthly Paradise is neither hell nor is it the end humanity requires. Purgatorys ordering principle is superseded when the reader reaches the first canto of the final section of the Commedia, Paradise. The achievement of Dantes Empyreal through that new ordering principle brings us to the desired condition of human existence, the agreement of thought and practice with the higher ordering principle that is demonstrated by the overall course of progress from infantile sensuality to reason. The fact that the conception coincides with the higher ordering principle demonstrates sufficient reason, that we have reached the proper condition of human willful governance of human conduct. We have become the golden souls of Platos dialogues.
This was the Platonic tradition of St. Augustine, Dante, John Milton, and the English Commonwealth before the Stuart Restoration. This tradition was the target for destruction by various British and Venetian literary intelligence circles after Great Britain failed to win a military victory during the American Revolution.
The British Secret Intelligence Service branch at Edinburgh had primary responsibility for carrying out this task, but a great deal of the early dirty work was accomplished out of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard. Edward Tyrell Channing, the teacher of both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, opened the campaign with a tirade against what was called the tyranny of an Augustan age in his address before the Phi Beta Kappa Club of Harvard in July 1816.
Let us look at one or two ways in which freedom and originality of mind are assailed or endangered. The first is by inculcating an excessive fondness for the ancient classics and asserting their supremacy in literature. By some means or other the ancients have exerted an enormous influence among literary men, and in nations too that have had hardly anything of real congeniality with them . . .
It was almost as if Channing sensed the importance of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, which had come just seven years before.
Even more vociferous than Channing was his associate, another Phi Beta Kappa member, J.W. Simmons, who wrote: There is no monopoly of Poetry for certain ages and nations and consequently that despotism in taste by which it is attempted to make those rules universal . . . is a prestige which ought not be allowed.
The evidence for this conspiracy against culture can go on and on. But to make clear the insidious nature of the conspiracy we shall take a brief look at one John Neal. Neal is little known now, but during his day he was a power broker for the Edinburgh branch of British intelligence in the United States. Neal owned and edited an anti-Augustinian journal called Brother Johnathan, but his most despicable acts were his attacks on the American classicists during a stay in Britain, during which he wrote under a pseudonym for Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine. Neal gloated that the purpose of this publication was to ensure British magazines pre-eminence over Native American Journals. As Neal put the matter in a letter to Blackwoods:
They are making prodigious efforts in America now, for the promotion of native literature. Your Maga, I hope and believe, will become a sort of dictator. I wish it for many reasons; for your sake; my own& for that of America. It will operate a reform there.
After Neals stint at Blackwoods, he moved into the home of Jeremy Bentham, the arch enemy of the American Constitution. In fact, Neal occupied the same rooms only recently vacated by the traitor Aaron Burr. Much of the rest of his life was dedicated to translating the French writings of Bentham and establishing a literary circle in Baltimore called the Delphian Club. The Delphians were exposed by Poe in his Tales of the Folio Club.
Neal learned his lessons well from the noted pederast Bentham. Shortly after his return to the United States he was ostracized for attempting to impregnate the nineyear- old daughter of the family which was gracious enough to extend him its hospitality.
The Poetry of Politics
By the time Poe entered on the American literary scene it was infested with a mad variety of sects and cults. Transcendentalists, Carlylists, Knickerbockers, Furriourists, and spiritualists were crawling all over the place. Poe assessed the situation in his very first editorial statement for the Southern Literary Messenger:
When shall the artist assume his proper station in society . . . ? How long shall the veriest vermin of the earth, who crawl around the altar of Mammon, be more esteemed of men than they, the gifted ministers to those exalted emotions which link us to the mysteries of Heaven? To our own query we may venture a reply. Not long. A spirit is already abroad at war with it.
Poes proper and most urgent concern, among his other duties, was to reestablish the universal rules of Platonic poetic composition which had earlier been the root of American culture. It was because of his efforts to accomplish this that he incurred the wrath of the literary charlatans, and still angers them today. Poes warning that this literary conspiracy was destroying the very soul of America was the subject of many of his tales, including Mellonta Tauta, from which I quote a relevant passage.
. . . It appears that long, long ago, in the night of Time there lived a Turkish philosopher (or Hindoo possibly) called Aries Tottle. This person introduced, or at all events propagated what was termed the deductive or a priori mode of investigation. He started with what he maintained to be axioms or self-evident truths, and thence proceeded logically to results. His greatest disciples were one Nueclid [EuclidAS] and one Cant [KantAS]. Well, Aries Tottle flourished supreme until advent of one Hog, surnamed Ettrick Shepherd, who preached an entirely different system, which he called the a posteriori or inductive. His plan referred altogether to Sensation. [Poe is having a little fun here at the expense of Francis Bacon and James Hogg, a Scottish writer for Blackwoods Magazine sometimes called the Ettrick Shepherd.AS] He proceeded by observing, analyzing, and classifying factsinstantiae naturae, as they were affectedly calledinto general laws. Aries Tottles method, in a word, was based on noumena; Hogs on phenomena. Well, so great was the admiration excited by this latter system that, at its first introduction, Aires Tottle fell into disrepute; but finally he recovered ground, and was permitted to divide the realm of truth with his more modern rival. The savants now maintained that the Aristotelean and Baconian roads were the sole possible avenues to knowledge. . . .
It was this Platonic method of soaring that Poe correctly identifies as responsible for the discoveries of Kepler and the musical compositions of Mozart and Beethoven. It is the same method that Poe elsewhere identified with Leibnizs principle of sufficient reason. It is the method of Platos golden souls of the Phoenician myths, as well as the method of Dantes Commedia, most emphatically of Dantes Paradise.
The Baconian method of creeping sense-certainty is relegated to the lowest regions of Dantes hell, where dwell Platos bronze souls. The Aristotelean method of crawling, deduction from an assumed set of facts, is at best in the lower regions of Dantes Purgatory, or associated with Platos silver souls. Hence, Poe writes: I am but defending a set of principles which no honest man need be ashamed of defending, and for whose defense no honest man will consider an apology required.
From this standpoint, all of Poes tales and poems ought to be immediately comprehensible to Englishspeaking audiences. Poes essays and literary criticisms are the explication of Poes method of composition. To this day, what is left of Poes book, The History of English Literature, of which his Philosophy of Composition and Rationale of Verse are chapters, is probably the bestknown text for teaching the principles of poetic composition to English-speaking audiences.
Poe often had a great deal of fun composing tales that mocked the methods employed by the leading British literary journals. One of Poes favorite targets in this regard was Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine. Blackwoods was notorious for its sense-certainty literary style, and this style was the source for two of the most hilarious satires written by Poe, How to Write a Blackwood Article, and A Predicament.
In the former, our heroine Suky Snobbs receives instructions as to how to write a tale, of course making sure that she has an experience from which it will be worth recording her sensations. In the latter, she has such an experience, and records her sensations as her head is severed by a pendulum and first her eyes, then her head roll into a nearby gutter. Then, of course, she becomes very properly confused as to whether her identity is in her head or her body. Suky Snobbs, of course, is none other than Margaret Fuller, a leading American Transcendentalist.
Poe singled out Margaret Fuller not only because he disliked her writing, but because she was a political tool of the British SIS. During her stay with Thomas Carlyle in England, Fuller, under Carlyles direction, had secretly supplied the Italian terrorist Giuseppe Mazzini with an American passport and escorted him through France and safely into Italy. Mazzini was the head of Young Italy, a creation of the same Edinburgh SIS and Venetian oligarchist networks that created Young America, Young France, etc., as post-Jacobin battering rams against the surviving republican currents in those countries.
In another vein, Poes tales such as The Pit and the Pendulum are often mistaken for mere horror stories. No doubt Vincent Price is responsible for this. But, The Pit and the Pendulum is another exposition of the utter futility of sense-certainty methods of investigation. The hero of the story, trapped in a pit (an obvious allusion to Dante), begins investigating his circumstances using his senses of touch and smell to measure the dimensions of the cell. By this method, he comes very near to falling into an abyss while the pendulum swings closer. Driven to the point of despair by this method, our hero finally begins to soarthat is, to reason a solution to his predicament.
In his tale of ratiocination The Purloined Letter, Poe presents us with a problem that is unresolvable by methods of creepingsense certainty. Here we have a problem concerning the letter and its whereabouts. Yet the prefect of police, carrying sense-certainty methods to their extremes, cannot locate it. Dupin, using superior methods, does. Poes story The Murders in the Rue Morgue is a case where reason succeeds, while mere deduction from certain clues fails.
On this point, Edgar Allan Poe drove Arthur Conan Doyle into hysterical fits of defending the deductive method. For example, in his introduction to A Study in Scarlet, Doyle has Sherlock Holmes react the following way when Watson informs him that it is the Earth that revolves around the sun:
Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.
Later Holmes defends Euclid, the Aristotelean whom Poe attacked. Still later, he attacks Poes method directly:
No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin, he observed. Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends thoughts with an a propos remark after a quarter of an hours silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine.
On this same pointthat of having the ability to look into the very soul of anotherArthur Conan Doyles countryman Charles Dickens believed Poe possessed some sort of mystical powers. It was Poes habit to guess the ending of the Dickens novels which appeared in serial form in American magazines. Having successfully guessed the ending of several novels, Poe proceeded to explain why it was so easy to determine the ending of a novel written by formula. The reader should not be amazed at this ability. It is somewhat akin to the way you are able to predict the outcome of so many of the made for television movies that you watch every night, bored but glued to the chair as you await the next jiggle of sensation to flash across the boob tube.
Our present-day police detectives would learn a lot from a comparison of Poes tales of ratiocination to Doyles detective stories. It would spare them the problem of waiting for a mute dog to show up.
The Case of H. Bruce Franklin
The theme Edgar Allan Poe was a plagiarist has been adopted by a large segment of the so-called field of literature. Like the slanders of Poe the mystic, the chief aim of the plagiarism smear, whether deliberate or the result of stupidity, is to hide or obscure Poes actual method.
I have before me a copy of H. Bruce Franklins Future Perfect (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), in which Franklin deliberately repeats the charges of plagiarism against Poe, Franklin, as of this writing, is employed as a professor of American literature at Rutgers University.
As we shall show, a reasonably attentive junior high school student would consider the charges made by the college professor analogous to charging Ben Franklin with plagiarizing his discoveries concerning electricity from the maker of his kite.
In Future Perfect, Franklin champions a charge of plagiarism first made by W. K. Wimsatt, Jr. in his article Poe and the Chess Automaton (American Literature, 1939), in which Wimsatt accuses Poe of stealing the material for his 1835 story Maelzels Chess-Player. The socalled plagiarism that Franklin alludes to is Poes solution to the riddle of a chess-playing automaton. It is charged that Poe plagiarized his solution from that given by Sir David Brewster in his Letters on Natural Magic. Franklin states:
Maelzels Chess-Player illustrates [Poes] method and how it misleads anyone ignorant of his sources. This piece, which has very recently (1963) been called Poes brilliant exposé, an example of his superlatively logical mind operating with nothing to go on except the manner in which the game was conducted, was actually lifted outright from a readily available publication . . .
Franklin makes this and other charges concerning Poes alleged lifting from other sources to assert that Poe was not a scientist. He says: Rarely in Poes science fiction does one find science itself as a subject and nowhere does one find any kind of true scientist as a consequential figure . . .
We will reproduce here both Brewsters and Poes solution to the automaton riddle, so that the reader may have before him the mere facts of the matter. But first it is necessary to state that far from plagiarizing from Sir David Brewster, Poe considered the man a deadly foe bent on destroying the continental system of science in the United States, and particularly at the West Point Military Academy.
Indeed, at the very time that Poe wrote his Maelzels Chess-Player, Commandant Thayer and the continental system of the Ecole Polytechnique were being forced out of the curriculum of West Point and replaced by courses designed by the British Association for the Advancement of Science which was headed by none other than Sir David Brewster.
The Letters on Natural Magic were written by Brewster at the request of the feudalist Sir Walter Scott as a part of a project initiated for the purpose of obscuring the scientific method, and investigating the usefulness of updating ancient methods of masking actual science with mysticism for the use of British intelligence. Scott was also a hated enemy of Poes.
In a letter to Sir Walter Scott published as a preface to his Letters, Brewster says:
My Dear Sir Walter,
In Letter Four, Brewster actually blames scientific progress for the practices of the ancient priest:
It was fortunate for the human race that the scanty knowledge of former ages afforded so few elements of deception. What a tremendous engine would have worked against our species by the varied and powerful machinery of modern science: Man would still have worn the shackles which it forged, and his noble spirit would still have groaned beneath its fatal pressure.
To be sure, in the published version of his book Brewster takes great care to pretend that he is exposing an ancient evil. But in his actual life, Brewster was a member of and served the same cult he pretended to expose.
In addition to Sir Walter Scott, Brewsters collaborators included Edward Sir Bulwer-Lytton, head of the Rosacrucian Society, who I will discuss in another chapter. Brewster himself was a member of the Scottish Freemasons and his chief literary accomplishment was the tracing of the Scottish Rite back to the same pagan cult of Isis he pretends to criticize. For example, in his History of Free Masonry and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Brewster says:
In Egypt and those countries of Asia which lie contiguous to that favored kingdom, the arts and sciences were cultivated with success, while other nations were involved in ignorance; it is here, therefore, that Free Masonry would flourish, and here only can we discover marks of its existence in the remotest ages. . . .
Poe exposed Brewster in his brilliant critique of Hegel, the Philosophy of Furniture:
As for those antique floor-cloths still occasionally seen in the dwellings of the rabblecloths of huge, sprawling, and radiating devices, stripe-interspersed, and glorious with all hues, among which no ground is intelligiblethese are but the wicked invention of a race of time-servers and moneylovers children of Baal and worshippers of Mammon Benthams, who, to spare thought and economize fancy, first cruelly invented the Kaleidoscope, and then established joint-stock companies to twirl it by steam.
It was Sir David Brewster who took credit for inventing the kaleidoscope, and together with Sir Walter Scott formed a stock company to finance the making of a steam engine to twirl itall for the purpose of enhancing its effectiveness in performing rites of necromancy!
In other words, Brewster was attempting to utilize what he had learned from his study of the ancient cults, a time-honored practice that the British continue up to this day.
What is important about the controversy surrounding the charges of plagiarism is that, with his Maelzels Chess-Player, Poe took the opportunity created by a national tour of the sensational automaton chess machine to demonstrate to a wide popular audience the scientific incompetence of Brewster and his accomplices.
The Automaton Chess Player was invented in 1769 by Baron Kempelen, a nobleman of Presburg, Hungary. Kempelen disposed of the device and the secret of its operations to one M. Maelzel, the inventor of the metronome, as well as a hearing device for Ludwig van Beethoven.
During various exhibitions, the automaton excited much controversy over whether or not it was an actual machine that played chess or whether it was in fact operated by some human agency. Those who took the point of view that it was a human agency which actually played the game of chess had to decide whether Maelzel himself operated it from afar, or whether some means were used to conceal someone inside of the apparatus. Some speculated that Maelzel somehow operated the automaton by means of electromagnetism; other treatises were written proclaiming that an expert dwarf chess player was hidden inside the apparatus.
The former solution, however, was easily ruled out, because during exhibitions the spectators were allowed to carry lodestones. Spectators were also allowed to have the apparatus moved to any section of the room during the course of a chess game.
The excitement created by the exhibition of the automaton is roughly analogous to the interest generated by todays attempts to design a computer that can defeat a human being at the game of chess. In his solution to the automaton mystery, in fact, Poe anticipates and answers the question of whether or not a computer will ever be able to replicate human intelligence.
First let us look at the solution of the chess-player riddle as we find it in the following excerpt from Sir David Brewsters Letters on Natural Magic:
When the automaton was exhibited in Great Britain in 1819 and 1820, by M. Maelzel, it excited as intense an interest as when it was first produced in Germany. There can be little doubt, however, that the secret has been discovered; and an anonymous writer has shown in a pamphlet entitled An Attempt to Analyze the Automaton Chess-Player of M. Kempelen, that it is capable of accommodating an ordinarily sized man; and he has explained in the clearest manner how the enclosed player takes all the different positions and performs all the motions where are necessary to produce the effects actually observed. The following is the substance of his observations;
This is the piece that H. Bruce Franklin accuses Poe of plagiarizing. Franklin and others, but especially Franklin, use the claim of plagiarism to prove that Poe was no scientist and merely copied scientific details from others.
We now give Poes solution to the same puzzle, with his critique of Brewster included, as excerpted from Poes Maelzels Chess-Player:
Of late years, however, an anonymous writer, by a course of reasoning exceedingly unphilosophical, has contrived to blunder upon a plausible solutionalthough we cannot consider it altogether the true one. His Essay was first published in a Baltimore weekly paper, was illustrated by cuts, and was entitled An Attempt to Analyze the Automaton Chess-Player of M. Maelzel, This Essay we suppose to have been the original of the pamphlet to which Sir David Brewster alludes in his Letters on Natural Magic, and which he has no hesitation in declaring a thorough and satisfactory explanation. The results of the analysis are undoubtedly, in the main, just; but we can only account for Brewsters pronouncing the Essay a thorough and satisfactory explanation, by supposing him to have bestowed upon it a very cursory and inattentive perusal. In the compendium of the Essay, made use of in the Letters on Natural Magic, it is quite impossible to arrive at any distinct conclusion as to the adequacy or inadequacy of the analysis, on account of the gross misarrangement and deficiency of the letters of reference employed. The same fault is to be found in the Attempt, &c., as we originally saw it. The solution consists in a series of minute explanations, (accompanied by woodcuts, the whole occupying many pages) in which the object is to show the possibility of so shifting the partitions of the box, as to allow a human being, concealed in the interior, to move portions of his body from one part of the box to another, during the exhibition of the mechanism thus eluding the scrutiny of the spectators. There can be no doubt, as we have before observed and as we will presently endeavor to show, that the principle, or rather the result of this solution is the true one. Some person is concealed in the box during the whole time of exhibiting the interior. We object however, to the whole verbose description of the manner in which the partitions are shifted, to accommodate the movements of the person concealed. We object to it as a mere theory assumed in the first place, and to which circumstances are afterwards made to adapt themselves. [emphasis added]. It was not, and could not have been arrived at by any inductive reasoning. In whatever way the shifting is managed, it is of course concealed at every step from observation. To show that certain movements might possibly be effected in a certain way, is very far from showing that they are actually so effected. There may be an infinity of other methods by which the same results may be obtained. The probability of the one assumed proving the correct one is then as unity to infinity. But in reality, this particular point, the shifting of the partitions, is of no consequence whatever. It was altogether unnecessary to devote seven or eight pages for the purpose of proving what no one in his senses would denyviz., that the wonderful mechanical genius of Baron Kempelen could invent the necessary means for shutting a door or slipping aside a panel, with a human agent too at his service in actual contact with the panel or the door, and the whole operation carried on, as the author of the Essay himself shows, and as we shall attempt to show more fully hereafter, entirely out of reach of the observation of the spectators.
Far from H. Bruce Franklins assertion that Poes science was really science fiction, Poes critique of Brewster in Maelzels Chess-Player proves that Poe was a scientific thinker of outstanding merit. Sir David Brewster was considered one of the leading British scientists of his day, which only proves that British science was an incompetent as H. Bruce Franklins literary criticism.
It is the discovery of the principle of the operation of the automaton under all circumstances, and not merely how it might be made to operate by forcing the circum- stances to fit a solution, that puts Poe at odds with Sir David Brewster.
And I am at odds with H. Bruce Franklin for being a bald-faced liar when he makes charges of plagiarism against Poe. Having made that last statement, I can hear all of liberal academia screaming: How crude! How vulgar! What a malicious thing to say! After all, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. To these pathetic cries, I answer that one is not entitled to spread bull manure throughout our nations classrooms and call it food for thought. Furthermore, Mr. Franklin is not merely mistaken in this matter; he lies deliberately and with a purpose. It is true that we do not consider Mr. Franklin very intelligent, but we know he lies for political purposes which we shall demonstrate below, and he lies with the sort of cunning associated with the linguistic school of Noam Chomsky.
H. Bruce Franklin cannot be unaware that he is of the exact-same pedigree of literary figure that Poe sought to destroy in his lifetime: a terrorist associate protected by the cloak of academic respectability. Franklins own career is the paradigm for the sort of cynical agent who manipulates the rabble (as Poe would call it) against the forces identified with and committed to technological and economic progress.
It was H. Bruce Franklin, formerly a captain of Air Force Intelligence in the Strategic Air Command (specializing in irregular warfare) who created the Maoistterrorist group the Revolutionary Union. After leaving the Armed Services in 1959, Franklin received his Ph.D. in English literature, concentrating on science fiction with a heavy emphasis on the British intelligence agent and New Dark Ages proponent H.G. Wells. The study of the policies and methods of especially Wells, Aldous Huxley, and Bertrand Russell is a must for any truly cunning British intelligence operative.
Before helping to found the Revolutionary Union, Franklins conversion to Maoism occurred during a stint in Paris (he was sent there for a year by Stanford University), where he became involved in the G.I. deserters movement, along with Robert Bo Burlingham of Weatherman fame, and Andrew Kopkind, who is now a leading agent for the terrorist-controlling Cambridge Institute for Policy Studies in the Boston area.
One of the main features of the deliberate prolongation of the Vietnam War was the creation of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and the proliferation of terrorist sects, of which the Revolutionary Union is one. During the late 1960s, Franklin is reported to have conducted weapons maneuvers with RUers while they were under the influence of drugs (part of his irregular warfare training). And, writing under the pseudonym William B. Outlaw, Franklin provided articles detailing the use of weapons to several Bay-area underground newspapers. During the early 1970s, Franklin led an already preconditioned split-off from the RU known as the Venceremos Brigade, as a prelude to the deployment of a filthier sort of terrorist operation, the Symbionese Liberation Army. In fact, both Joseph Ramiro and Thero Wheeler of the Symbionese Liberation Army, were first members of the Venceremos Brigade under Franklins direction.
This terrorist activity Franklin carried out and still carries out from behind his cover as a professor of literature.*
It is also interesting to note that of all the misconstructions of Edgar Allan Poe Franklin incorporated into his book Future Perfect, there is one joke of Poes that the present author cannot understand Franklin having missed. In Poes Mellonta Tauta, a great republic is destroyed by a dictator named Mob.
As I have stated throughout, America owes a profound debt to Edgar Allan Poe, and the author owes a profound personal debt to Poe. Few Americans are even aware of the debt they owe Poe. But the last great President this nation ever had acknowledged his personal debt to Poe.
Abraham Lincoln not only used Poe in his campaign literature for the 1860 election campaign, but Lincoln is recorded as saying that he owed a profound debt to the poet for his own philosophical outlook.
America has been living off the wellsprings of Lincolns four years in office for more than a century. It is past time to replenish those wellsprings, lest the soul of this country becomes lost beyond redemption.
During the last years of Poes life before he was murdered, Poe gave lectures on the principles of poetry and music before audiences that numbered as many as three thousand. I dont think such events have been replicated since. If you, the reader, have learned anything from reading this excerpt, I request that you join with me and my collaborators in organizing a series of Poe celebrations in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Richmond, Virginia. We need musicians, elocutionists, teachers and students, and just plain interested citizens to join in redeeming Poes good name and our countrys soul once and for all time.
* H. Bruce Franklin remains a fixture on the radical left to this day. His latest article is scheduled to appear in the April-May 2006 issue of Mother Jones magazine. He is currently the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers Universitys Newark, N.J. campusEd.
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