Thurs. 2-3:30 Cont.
MAURICE J. BENNETT, University of Maryland, "Art and
Metaphysics in Edgar Allan Poe's 'Hans Pfaall.'"
Poe's emphasis on scientific and technological
plausibility in the endnote to "Hans Pfaall"
essentially established the basic outlines of what
would become science fiction. However, a close
reading of the tale in terms of his entire
oeuvre— critical as well as creative— reveals
that his central project here is identical with
that undertaken by many Romantics, a literary
record of transcendent experience. "Pfaall" (1835)
preceded Emerson's Nature (1836), so that in
dramatizing the Romantic quest for imaginative
consciousness, Poe became the first
nineteenth-century American of significant
literary stature to participate fully and
unequivocally in the Spirit of the Age.
SAMUEL R. DELANY
CHAIR: Robert A. Collins, Florida Atlantic University.
ANDREW GORDON, University of Florida. "Human-Machine
Communion in Delany's Nova.
The novel attempts to balance deeprooted fears
about machine takeover with speculation about new
man-machine relationships, but the under-riding
theme is the necessity for balance in the human
psyche. Technology is a mixed blessing whose
potential depends on the motives of the humans
employing it. When machines become an extension of
mankind, as in Nova, we are led to the inevitable
question of what contitutes the human. Our
attitudes about machinery really reflect our hopes
and fears about ourselves.
WILLIAM SCHUYLER, University of Louisville.
Anyone Here Speak Babel-17?"
Delany's artificial language forces a mode of
cognition on its speakers, one in which the
distinction between self and other is deliberately
obscured. The mode is a form of gestalt
perception in which everything in one's experience
is integrated into a unitary whole, analogous to
the "picture theory of meaning" in philosophy.
This mode lacks a mechanism for focusing
attention, for directed reference. In this form
of cognition, the perceiver IS the pattern he
perceives, the whole gestalt. Thus the pattern
perceived includes the information needed to alter
any part of it, to solve any technical problem
included in it. However, it is unlikely that human
mental capacities are capable of the immensely
detailed consciousness required for this mode of
ROBERT A. COLLINS, Florida Atlantic University.
"Allegory in Delany's The Einstein Intersection."
Among the several underlying structures of
Delany's novel are a series of metaphors that may
be read as a kind of ethnic allegory, in which the
myths of mankind become the symbols of western
culture, and the alien spirits locked uneasily into
foreign bodies represent the black consciousness,
alienated and dispossessed by its immersion in
western culture. In this reading, Lobey's task is
to exorcise the alien cultural matrix, first by
re-enacting its myths, then by rejecting them. His
refusal to revive Green-eye (Christ) implies
rejection of the martyr/hero (Martin Luther King?)
as an exemplum of racial consciousness. Similar,
though more complex, allegorical structures appear
in Dhalgren, another novel of the "sixties"
experience (and its rhetoric).
ANIMALS AND THE FANTASTIC
Herrscher, University of Wisconsin,
BEARDSLEY, Indiana University, South
Sunbird in Novalis' Klingshor-Tale and
Elves: Symbolism and Aesthetics —
Poetry and Myth."
During the period of German Romanticism the animal
takes on a new dimension. It is vested with an
"immortal soul." This phenomenon is first
observed in the bird. In focusing on the Phoenix
in Novalis' Klingsohr-Tale and Tieck's The Elves
we shall show how through their presence these two
birds reveal their soul and simultaneously enhance
the fables aesthetically. Striking similarities
between the two motifs suggest the influence of the
Phoenix in Novalis' tale upon that portrayed by
his close literary friend Tieck.
BRUCE ROSS, State University New York, Buffalo, "The
Kafka's 'The Animal
The wilderness in the form of animals of various
kinds intrudes upon the majority of Kafka's
stories, novels, notebooks, letters, and diaries.
In one fragment, however, the collocation of a
wild animal and an explicitly Judaic ritual
complex is evoked. In "The Animal in the
Synagogue" a marten-like creature inhabits the
balcony area of a small syagogue for several
generations. This paper will explicate the
symbolic, anthropologic, and religious nature of
JEAN TOBIN, University of Wisconsin, Sheboygan
County, "Werewolves and Unicorns: Fabulous Beasts
in Peter Beagle's Twentieth Century Fiction."
In The Last Unicorn and Lila and the Werewolf,
while retaining all the familiar elements of the
traditional myth of the unicorn and the legend of
the werewolf, Beagle is able to give his readers
fresh, compelling contemporary fiction by placing
his unicorn and his werewolves within a modern
landscape, by putting them among characters who
share our modern attitudes and reactions, and by
allowing his narratives in themselves to be
statements about the nature of myth in our time.