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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Edition Volume 2


page 6 of 6 | page 1 | The Works of Edgar Allan Poe Raven Volume 2

Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

_P._ You speak of rudimental "beings." Are there other rudimental thinking beings than man?

_V._ The multitudinous conglomeration of rare matter into nebulŠ, planets, suns, and other bodies which are neither nebulŠ, suns, nor planets, is for the sole purpose of supplying _pabulum_ for the idiosyncrasy of the organs of an infinity of rudimental beings. But for the necessity of the rudimental, prior to the ultimate life, there would have been no bodies such as these. Each of these is tenanted by a distinct variety of organic, rudimental, thinking creatures. In all, the organs vary with the features of the place tenanted. At death, or metamorphosis, these creatures, enjoying the ultimate life - immortality - and cognizant of all secrets but _the one_, act all things and pass everywhere by mere volition: - indwelling, not the stars, which to us seem the sole palpabilities, and for the accommodation of which we blindly deem space created - but that SPACE itself - that infinity of which the truly substantive vastness swallows up the star-shadows -- blotting them out as non-entities from the perception of the angels.

_P._ You say that "but for the _necessity_ of the rudimental life" there would have been no stars. But why this necessity?

_V._ In the inorganic life, as well as in the inorganic matter generally, there is nothing to impede the action of one simple _unique_ law - the Divine Volition. With the view of producing impediment, the organic life and matter, (complex, substantial, and law-encumbered,) were contrived.

_P._ But again - why need this impediment have been produced?

_V._ The result of law inviolate is perfection - right - negative happiness. The result of law violate is imperfection, wrong, positive pain. Through the impediments afforded by the number, complexity, and substantiality of the laws of organic life and matter, the violation of law is rendered, to a certain extent, practicable. Thus pain, which in the inorganic life is impossible, is possible in the organic.

_P._ But to what good end is pain thus rendered possible?

_V._ All things are either good or bad by comparison. A sufficient analysis will show that pleasure, in all cases, is but the contrast of pain. _Positive_ pleasure is a mere idea. To be happy at any one point we must have suffered at the same. Never to suffer would have been never to have been blessed. But it has been shown that, in the inorganic life, pain cannot be thus the necessity for the organic. The pain of the primitive life of Earth, is the sole basis of the bliss of the ultimate life in Heaven.

_P._ Still, there is one of your expressions which I find it impossible to comprehend - "the truly _substantive_ vastness of infinity."

_V._ This, probably, is because you have no sufficiently generic conception of the term "_substance_" itself. We must not regard it as a quality, but as a sentiment: - it is the perception, in thinking beings, of the adaptation of matter to their organization. There are many things on the Earth, which would be nihility to the inhabitants of Venus - many things visible and tangible in Venus, which we could not be brought to appreciate as existing at all. But to the inorganic beings - to the angels - the whole of the unparticled matter is substance - that is to say, the whole of what we term "space" is to them the truest substantiality; - the stars, meantime, through what we consider their materiality, escaping the angelic sense, just in proportion as the unparticled matter, through what we consider its immateriality, eludes the organic.

As the sleep-waker pronounced these latter words, in a feeble tone, I observed on his countenance a singular expression, which somewhat alarmed me, and induced me to awake him at once. No sooner had I done this, than, with a bright smile irradiating all his features, he fell back upon his pillow and expired. I noticed that in less than a minute afterward his corpse had all the stern rigidity of stone. His brow was of the coldness of ice. Thus, ordinarily, should it have appeared, only after long pressure from Azrael's hand. Had the sleep-waker, indeed, during the latter portion of his discourse, been addressing me from out the region of the shadows?