From Alpha to Omega: What Does Infinity Look Like?

With “Crossing the Alps” functioning as mediator, a side-by-side comparison of Wordsworth’s “The Dream of the Arab” and Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” reveals the rather disorderly nature of apocalyptic prophecy: the “characters” of the approaching apocalypse are obscure, varied, and together form a rather chaotic scene manifested in the environment of the visions.  Wordsworth’s “The Dream of the Arab” is inherently apocalyptic, as it takes form in the most cloaked and misunderstood arena: the latent human psyche.  Our most wild, intense, and vivid dreams reveal the unveiled, unexplored crevices of our subconscious state of mind, which in itself suggests something altogether daunting: are we all capable of experiencing and foreseeing the apocalypse by delving into the uncharted territory of the darkest nooks of our thinking space?  Moreover, the dream setting proves to be of grand importance, as he initially encounters a wholly apocalyptic “boundless plain” before his exchange with the Arab. Such infinite territory suggests both possibility and imprisonment, which calls upon the notion of the Alpha and the Omega – a beginning and an end – from “Crossing the Alps.”

Like the sense of uncertainty expressed in the “The Dream of the Arab, “Kubla Khan’s” apocalyptic flavor is found most potently not in the ancestral voices that proclaim war but in the bizarre natural setting. Coleridge describes “A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!” which presents opposites (sun and ice) that automatically call upon the notions of the beginning and the end and the dark and the light that are conjured by “Crossing the Alps.”  Like the Alpha and the Omega, the dichotomy of the sun and the ice is another representation of an apocalyptic backdrop, representing polar opposites encapsulated in a single dome, wholly outside our realm of reason.  It seems that the common thread that  is woven through these three pieces is that each account of apocalyptic experience requires a scenery that dwells outside the territory of complete understanding, and spans the field of our  vision; a backdrop that covers the lengths every possibility and every escape, from Alpha to Omega.

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~ by Romantic Fanatic on September 13, 2012.

One Response to “From Alpha to Omega: What Does Infinity Look Like?”

  1. “Kubla Khan” indeed “reveals the rather disorderly nature of apocalyptic prophecy” as “the “characters” of the approaching apocalypse are obscure, varied, and together form a rather chaotic scene manifested in the environment of the visions”. It is considerably fantastical, illuminative in a dark way, and outrageously eye-opening. “Each account” does contain “scenery” that is appropriate for the shadow envisioned by the authors, namely Coleridge and Wordsworth. With that being sad, that is noted well in this blog. But, both authors’ works are more about religious mourning and awe-awakening prophecies than imagery, scenery, and characterizations.

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