Monday, November 2, 2009

"the hideous dropping off of the veil"

"I looked upon the scene before me - upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye-like windows - upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees - with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium - the bitter lapse into everyday life - the hideous dropping off of the veil." - E. A. Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher

When I started this blog, Beyond the Veil definitely referred to the veil being lifted from this side of reality, our concrete world of everyday life, in order to discover the rest of what matters. In re-reading the Poe story quoted above this weekend, it struck me how he described the lifting of the veil from the other side. "Utter depression" occurs when we are on the other side, revelling in presumed awe and wonder, and the veil drops to reveal that reality. Poe describes our everyday life here as bleak, vacant, rank and decayed. And of course, he crossed over the veil through the use of opium.

But this was a reminder of how it works both ways. There is a world of wonder alongside the common world. Mythical living, I think, works only when we can see both sides of that veil. If we are stuck in the wonder, it is easy to lose sight of what is around us. Yet - if we see no wonder in what surrounds us, surely we are just as stuck.

The veil is thin if we allow it to be.

1 comment:

Nikki Faith said...

My students read "Tell-Tale Heart" this week. ;)