Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eureka: A Prose Poem

Meet Edgar Allan Poe, the proto-god of modern physical cosmology. Polemics aside, I genuinely find it strange that he of all people came up with their concepts before most of them were born. His last book called Eureka: A Prose Poem is a thing of beauty because it is insane.  Eureka is subtitled an essay on the Material and Spiritual Universe.  Poe probes physical as well as spiritual topics, even man's relation to God.    

Let's start with an abstract taken from the elite peer reviewed scientific journal:

From the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol.35, p.177-192

In this paper I describe the scientific content of Eureka, the prose poem written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1848. In that work, starting from metaphysical assumptions, Poe claims that the Universe is finite in an infinite Space, and that it was originated from a primordial Particle, whose fragmentation under the action of a repulsive force caused a diffusion of atoms in space. I will show that his subsequently collapsing universe represents a scientifically acceptable Newtonian model. In the framework of his evolving universe, Poe makes use of contemporary astronomical knowledge, deriving modern concepts such as a primordial atomic state of the universe and a common epoch of galaxy formation. Harrison found in Eureka the first, qualitative solution of the Olbers' paradox; I show that Poe also applies in a modern way the anthropic principle, trying to explain why the Universe is so large. (Cappi, 1994)

Poe dreamed up some of modern physical cosmology's core concepts before Einstein and Lemaitre were conceived. He posits a primeval atom and universal expansion.  He says "Space and Duration are One."  He also anticipates Black Holes and the Big Crunch theory.  Some even say he came up with a solution to Olber's ridiculous and unsolvable Paradox which is a foundation of modern cosmology.  In his ravings, he even tried to modify LaPlace's nebular theory!

Another abtract from an online article:

One of Poe's major scientific hypotheses was the rough equivalent of the "big bang" theory. He contended the universe filled with matter after a single, high-energy particle exploded. Current "big bang" theory says the entire universe formed during a similar process, not just the matter inside it.
Poe theorized the universe must be expanding, since the energy of the explosion is pushing matter outward. Scientists wouldn't adopt this theory en masse until the early 20th century.
Poe also figured gravity eventually would pull all particles together, though, and the process would start over. Scientists believed that was true, too, until 1998, with the discovery of "dark energy" -- energy that works against gravity to keep the universe accelerating. (Poe's Little Known Science Book reprinted, Rombeck, 2005, link)

Eureka: A Prose Poem is a testament to the delusion of modern physical cosmology. It was Poe's last work. Poe even admitted that he may have been out of his mind when he wrote it. It is esoteric. It is almost unintelligible. He made strange claims that no one would understand it for thousands of years. In all his egotism, he thought it to be his greatest work even though everyone around seemed to hate it.  

It is said that in writing Poe used this transcendentalist technique called intuition. His intuition was probably induced by alcohol, drugs and God knows what else.  Here is a paragraph taken from the first section of his work:

My general proposition, then, is this: — In the Original Unity of the First Thing lies the Secondary Cause of All Things, with the Germ of their Inevitable Annihilation.
In illustration of this idea, I propose to take such a survey of the Universe that the mind may be able really to receive and to perceive an individual impression.
He who from the top of Ætna casts his eyes leisurely around, is affected chiefly by the extent and diversity of the scene. Only by a rapid whirling on his heel could he hope to comprehend the panorama in the sublimity of its oneness. But as, on the summit of Ætna, no man has thought of whirling on his heel, so no man has ever taken into his brain the full uniqueness of the prospect; and so, again, whatever considerations lie involved in this uniqueness have as yet no practical existence for mankind.

The 'Germ of Inevitable Annihilation'?  Seriously, this hogwash was probably generated by Irish whiskey and opium.  In his deranged ravings he muffs up Genesis 1:2 by implying the august Hebrew word tohu wabohu into his one primitive particle non-sense:

Let us now endeavor to conceive what Matter must be, when, or if, in its absolute extreme of Simplicity. Here the Reason flies at once to Imparticularity -- to a particle -- to one particle -- a particle of one kind -- of one character -- of one nature -- of one size -- of one form -- a particle, therefore, "without form and void" -- a particle positively a particle at all points -- a particle absolutely unique, individual, undivided, and not indivisible only because He who created it, by dint of his Will, can by an infinitely less energetic exercise of the same Will, as a matter of course, divide it. (emphasis mine)

Eureka makes something like Alice in Wonderland look sane. But lo and behold Einstein called it a beautiful achievement. Astrophysicist Arthur Eddington defended it saying, "Eureka is not a work of dotage or disordered mind". Apparently Eddington was initiated into Poe's esotericism. Other physicists like George Smoot cite it in their books.

Because of all its delusion, critics have posited hypotheses as to Poe's intentions. Poe makes caricatures of some of the world's greatest thinkers, e.g. Aristotle is called Aries Tottle. He accuses Kepler of coming to his conclusions through guesswork. He also seems to deliberately mess up Newton's ideas of gravity. So some suggest what he proposes as the true nature of the Universe is really not this Universe at all, but a poetic parallel universe which he creates for some ironic or aesthetic purpose. An astute and learned poet such as Richard Wilbur recognized Poe's work as a satire, a criticism of the world. Wilbur suggests that Poe is criticizing the world for falling away from God by placing scientific reason above poetic intuition!!!

Wilbur may be on the right track. Poe dedicated this work to Alexander Von Humboldt, a philosophical naturalist who had an ultra-Romantic idea of nature. Poe writes in his dedication:

To the few who love me and whom I love — to those who feel rather than to those who think — to the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities — I offer this Book of Truths, not in its character of Truth-Teller, but for the Beauty that abounds in its Truth; constituting it true. To these I present the composition as an Art-Product alone: — let us say as a Romance; or, if I be not urging too lofty a claim, as a Poem.
What I here propound is true: — therefore it cannot die: — or if by any means it be now trodden down so that it die, it will “rise again to the Life Everlasting.”
Nevertheless it is as a Poem only that I wish this work to be judged after I am dead.

Poe's intentions seem artistic and delusion-ally romantic. Perhaps he even has some aesthetic theory encrypted in this crazy piece of work.  He was a dreamer just like the modern physical cosmologists. The fact that modern cosmologists actually take some of Poe's concepts seriously, even as portents of their own concepts, condemns them! It is fitting that a delusional poet should have been the first one to conceive of the Big-Bang and other modern cosmological nonsense. The Big-Bang and other modern cosmological concepts are nothing more than a poetic myth. They are among the greatest myths in all of history. 

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