By Paul Hurh
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Extra resources for American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville
Rather, terror is inimical to reason, as Horkheimer and Adorno express: “Enlightenment is mythic fear turned radical” (16). In their critique, the dream of Enlightenment reason is born from fear: “Man imagines himself free from fear when there is no longer anything unknown”; so that through its efforts to dispel fear, the fearful is deposited into a single taboo category of exteriority: “Nothing at all may remain outside, because the mere idea of outsideness is the very source of fear” (16). The Enlightenment’s commitment to rationality, as they theorize, demands that it regard with terror all that it cannot explain according to reason and self-preservation, including its own origins: “The mythic terror feared by the Enlightenment accords with myth.
26 Grimstad shows how, on a linguistic and compositional level, Poe’s and Melville’s deployments of experience as experiment coincide with the broader pragmatist function of “wording the world into something shareable and meaningful” (14). Thinking about experience as publicly conditioned rather than an autonomous affective encounter, Grimstad brackets tone to better account for composition as procedural, as a dynamic that flowers out of the tension between general and particular in the act of writing.
Perry Miller, for instance, points to a shift in 1652, when the jeremiad’s list of God’s punishments comes to include the sinfulness of the people themselves. According to Miller, in this turn inward, “the subjective preëmpted the objective: a universal anxiety and insecurity had become no longer something, which, being caused, could be allayed by appropriate action, but rather something so chronic that the society could do nothing except Â�suffer” (From Colony to Province 28). The effect on the jeremiad was that, for the next forty years, its terrors became the expression of a people caught between an absolute theological imperative and an emerging capitalist expediency.
American Terror: The Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville by Paul Hurh