"Matter vs. Spirit"

by Robert Giordano, created 23 Jun 2005 3:11am


In The Mesmeric Revelation, Poe writes the following text:

"The matters of which man is cognizant, escape the senses in gradation. We have, for example, a metal, a piece of wood, a drop of water, the atmosphere, a gas, caloric, electricity, the luminiferous ether.  Now we call all these things matter, and embrace all matter in one general definition ;   but in spite of this, there can be no two ideas more essentially distinct than that which we attach to a metal, and that which we attach to the luminiferous ether.  When we reach the latter, we feel an almost irresistible inclination to class it with spirit, or with nihility.  The only consideration which restrains us is our conception of its atomic constitution ;  and here, even, we have to seek aid from our notion of an atom, as something possessing in infinite minuteness, solidity, palpability, weight.  Destroy the idea of the atomic constitution and we should no longer be able to regard the ether as an entity, or at least as matter.  For want of a better word we might term it spirit.  Take, now, a step beyond the luminiferous ether  conceive a matter as much more rare than the ether, as this ether is more rare than the metal, and we arrive at once (in spite of all the school dogmas) at a unique mass  an unparticled matter.  For although we may admit infinite littleness in the atoms themselves, the infinitude of littleness in the spaces between them is an absurdity.  There will be a point  there will be a degree of rarity, at which, if the atoms are sufficiently numerous, the interspaces must vanish, and the mass absolutely coalesce.  But the consideration of the atomic constitution being now taken away, the nature of the mass inevitably glides into what we conceive of spirit. It is clear, however, that it is as fully matter as before.  The truth is, it is impossible to conceive spirit, since it is impossible to imagine what is not.  When we flatter ourselves that we have formed its conception, we have merely deceived our understanding by the consideration of infinitely rarified matter."

What is Poe trying to tell us here? Among other things, it seems like Poe is questioning the validity of atomic theory. Today, a section of the scientific community is questioning this as well. As for spirits, I am convinced they exist. I also believe that spirits must follow the same laws of physics that every particle in the universe follows. Surely, science has not yet provided us with the proper atomic theory that can explain the composition of spirits.

I'll add more on this later...

- Rob G


Newest comments at the bottom


Poe writing habits

03 Apr 2006 4:36am, smalley_72

"Where did Poe do must of his writing (in dark rooms, park, or public places)? Also, what time of day he like to write?"



03 Apr 2007 11:09am, jolo_zoologos

"Poe is not against the atomic theory. As a matter of fact, the idea of atoms constituting the universe is an essential tool in his cosmological essay, Eureka, where he shows that matter and spirit is both different and the same."



01 Dec 2007 10:44am, salvytrucha_15

"I think Edgar A Poe was a cool man!!!"


Poe's poetry

01 Oct 2008 4:53pm, life_is-cool

"Although Poe's poetry is dark, it makes me wonder if he actually is reflecting his life to it. Could it be his dire need to kill someone or could it be he had a really bad life. I read all about him but I still can't figure out why he had the thoughts he did."


orry king

27 Oct 2008 3:21pm, orryking

"this is really good but what does edgar allan poe do with all of these things exactly?"


one step a time

09 Nov 2008 9:42pm, roenamorrison

"This is really good"


koOLKIDd auZtin

10 Dec 2008 10:41am, kirby120022

"um poe is like the best horror author in like the world besides twisted pictures (SAW'S FRANCHISE) but yeah um i like the poe dude he is so scary is cute and cuddle to me but yew kno i am weird"



30 Apr 2009 3:38pm, shortyb_9106

"Poe is simply this, a genius! His mind is wrapped around pure imagination and great thought.. its too bad these days people are stuck with television and other distractions that the mind never thinks for itself.. -Syl. April 30, 2009"



09 Mar 2010 11:19pm, snowdreamer20

"i lov poe! in fact as it turns out we're related!!! lol"


reggie man 44

21 Oct 2010 1:25pm, zrtj

"he was one scary dude"



27 Oct 2010 11:54am, edger

"hay whats up. you're a good writer"



17 Dec 2010 9:00am,

"wow it was so good i didn't understand some of it"



29 Apr 2013 11:32am, keri_robin_98

"I have to honestly believe that Poe had a heinous mind such as I, and his insights on the dead and anatomy were conjoined together to where he had no choice but to put them on paper whether he liked it or not because if he didn't his own train of thoughts would all at once come fluttering out of his on mind - wile infecting the hearts of other people infecting his own as well causing not only him but the people that love him to go insane."


Matter vs. Spirit

09 Mar 2014 2:05pm, carrie.schultz14

"I like it but I don't understand how he can get stories like this he must write his stories in a evil place and then his stories becomes fears."



05 Sep 2014 8:45am, sasha.jaffarove

"I think Edgar Allan Poe was a great writer but had a different way of expressing his feelings and attitude toward his life. I feel that his writing was a way of getting out of tragedies."


He is dead

09 Oct 2017 12:16pm, Zachary.robinson

"I wp think he is dead."


matter vs. spirit

31 Oct 2017 9:30am, trinetypark123

"the story or article gives a lot of life lessons:)"


For school work

01 Nov 2017 11:37am, Abcdefg12345678910

"I think Poe was a very mysterious man"


True writings

08 Nov 2018 10:06am, Tobiaskunkel14

"Why exactly was Poe™s poetry so dark, was it the fact of his family falling apart, or was it the fact that he wanted to express his feelings towards the society at the time?"



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