3 moments that might convince you Edgar Allan Poe was a time traveler.


This story was initially printed on HistoryBuff and first appeared on 8.16.16

I am fairly optimistic that Edgar Allan Poe had (has?) the ability to journey by time. Hear me out on this one.

It is not simply the well-known circumstances of his life — orphaned at a younger age, father of the thriller novel, grasp of cryptology, maestro of the macabre. Nor am I referring to the head-scratching particulars of the times main as much as his loss of life: how he was discovered on the road close to a voting ballot sporting another person’s garments, and through his subsequent hospitalization, he was alleged to babble incoherently about an unidentified particular person named “Reynolds.”

And I will not even get into the confounding studies of a anonymous determine who, for seven many years, would present as much as Poe’s gravesite within the early hours of his birthday with a glass of cognac and three roses.

Tragic and curious, sure, however hardly proof that the acclaimed horror author may transcend the bounds of house and time. No, my time journey concept issues the writer’s artistic output, which you will quickly see is so flukishly prophetic as to make my outlandish declare appear believable — nay, possible!

The proof is within the pudding, and the pudding is a loosely linked map of flesh-eating floaters, crunched cranium survivors, and primordial particles. OK, right here we go…

Picture by Albert Sterner/Wikimedia Commons.

Exhibit A: “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”

Revealed in 1838, Poe’s solely accomplished novel particulars a mutiny on a whaling ship misplaced at sea. Out of provides, the lads revert to cannibalism, drawing straws to elect a sacrifice. A boy named Richard Parker attracts the shortest straw and is subsequently eaten.

Now this is the place it will get bizarre(er): In 1884, 46 years after the novel’s publication, 4 males could be set adrift following the sinking of their yacht. Shipwrecked and with out meals, they too would go the survival cannibalism route, electing to kill and eat a 17-year-old cabin boy. The boy’s identify: Richard Parker.

The extraordinary parallel went unnoticed for practically a century, till a widely-circulated letter from a descendant of the actual Parker outlined the similarities between the novel’s scene and the precise occasion. The letter was chosen for publication in The Sunday Occasions after journalist Arthur Koestler put out a name for tales of “hanging coincidence.” Putting certainly.

Picture from the gathering of Jack and Beverly Wilgus/Wikimedia Commons/Wikimedia Commons.

Exhibit B: “The Businessman”

In 1848, a railroad employee named Phineas Gage suffered a traumatic mind harm after taking an iron spike by the cranium. By some means he survived, although his persona would change drastically. These behavioral modifications have been intently studied, permitting the medical neighborhood to develop the primary understanding of the position performed by the frontal lobe on social cognition.

Aside from Poe, who’d inexplicably understood the profound persona modifications attributable to frontal lobe syndrome practically a decade earlier. In 1840, he penned a characteristically ugly story known as “The Businessman” about an unnamed narrator who suffers a traumatic head harm as a younger boy, resulting in a lifetime of obsessive regularity and violent, sociopathic outbursts.

Poe’s grasp of frontal lobe syndrome is so exact that neurologist Eric Altshuler wrote, “There is a dozen signs and he is aware of each single one… There’s every part in that story, we have hardly realized something extra.” Altshuler, who, to reiterate, is a medically-licensed neurologist and in no way a crackpot, went on to say, “It is so actual that it is simply bizarre, it is like he had a time machine.”

Picture through NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

Exhibit C: “Eureka”

Nonetheless unconvinced? What if I instructed you that Poe predicted the origins of the universe 80 years earlier than fashionable science would start to formulate the Huge Bang concept? Absolutely, an newbie stargazer with no formal coaching in cosmology couldn’t precisely describe the equipment of the universe, rejecting widely-held inaccuracies whereas fixing a theoretical paradox that had bewildered astronomers since Kepler. Besides that is precisely what occurred.

The prophetic imaginative and prescient got here within the type of “Eureka,” a 150-page prose poem critically panned for its complexity and regarded by many because the work of a madman. Written within the remaining yr of Poe’s life, “Eureka” describes an increasing universe that started in “one instantaneous flash” derived from a single “primordial particle.”

Poe goes on to place forth the primary authentic resolution to Olbers’ paradox — the query of why, given the huge variety of stars within the universe, the night time sky is darkish — by explaining that gentle from the increasing universe had not but reached our photo voltaic system. When Edward Robert Harrison printed “Darkness at Night time” in 1987, he credited “Eureka” as having anticipated his findings.

In an interview with Nautilus, Italian astronomer Alberto Cappi speaks of Poe’s prescience, admitting, “It is stunning that Poe arrived at his dynamically evolving universe as a result of there was no observational or theoretical proof suggesting such a risk. No astronomer in Poe’s day may think about a non-static universe.”

Picture from Dodd, Mead and Firm/Wikimedia Commons.

However what if Poe wasn’t of a day in any respect, however of all the times?

What if his written prophecies — on the cannibalistic demise of Richard Parker, the signs of frontal lobe syndrome, and the Huge Bang concept — have been merely reportage from his journey by the extratemporal continuum?

Absolutely I sound like a tinfoil-capped loon, however perhaps, perhaps, there are numerous extra prophecies scattered all through the writer’s work, a risk made all of the extra probably by the truth that, as The New York Occasions notes, “Poe was so undervalued for therefore lengthy, there’s not numerous Poe-related materials round.”

I will go away you with this quote, taken from a letter that Poe wrote to James Russell Lowell in 1844, by which he apologizes for his absence and slothfulness:

“I dwell frequently in a reverie of the long run. I’ve no religion in human perfectibility. I feel that human exertion may have no considerable impact upon humanity. Man is now solely extra lively — no more completely satisfied — nor extra clever, than he was 6000 years in the past. The outcome won’t ever differ — and to suppose that it’s going to, is to suppose that the foregone man has lived in useless — that the foregone time is however the rudiment of the long run — that the myriads who’ve perished haven’t been upon equal footing with ourselves — nor are we with our posterity. I can not comply with lose sight of man the person, in man the mass… You communicate of “an estimate of my life” — and, from what I’ve already mentioned, you will note that I’ve none to offer. I’ve been too deeply acutely aware of the mutability and evanescence of temporal issues, to offer any steady effort to something — to be constant in something. My life has been whim — impulse — ardour — a eager for solitude — a scorn of all issues current, in an earnest want for the long run.”

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