9.28.2009

Sometimes a Dahlia is just a Dahlia, Sigmund

Recently, in a message to Wishydig, I tried to account for my taste for Philip K. Dick:
What hooked me is his claim that he had a mystical revelation in the spring of '74 in which he punctured, for a moment, the veil of time... and his little experience--whether acute psychosis or mystical revelation he refuses to judge--was sorta the only thing that ever interested him again.
Today I'm reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's last & unpublished novel, Septimius Felton, or, The Elixir of Life. The title-character wants to live forever, and a flower described as "more like a dahlia than any other flower with which I have acquaintance" plays a central role in his possibly (I haven't finished!) discovering a path to immortality. Here's Hawthorne, describing how a single profound transcendental experience may overtake all else as the holiest of holies describing that flower:
Day after day the strange crimson flower bloomed more and more abundantly, until it seemed almost to cover the little hillock, which became a mere bed of it, apparently turning all its capacity of production to this flower; for the other plants, Septimius thought, seemed to shrink away, and give place to it, as if they were unworthy to compare with the richness, glory, and worth of this their queen.
I wonder if this kind of monomania could ever be anything but a dangerous thing.

2 comments:

Insignificant Wrangler said...

Wait, does the flower represent life or death? Or both?

Casey said...

See, I'm not even sure it "represents" anything! -- weird, huh? Hawthorne's really elusive like that, which is why I keep reading him... sometimes I just think he's a sentimental softy who writes about flowers and sin and stuff. Other times I think he's my conscience.

coessing