Thomas de Quincey

The following quotations copied from Roisin McCluskey, PhD transfer submission, UUC 2008.
Query: does this passage inform or underpin the snow passage in "The Dead", or other passages in "A Portrait" where the motif "falling softly" is reiterated - or ‘flick as flowflakes on this nether page’ in Finnegans Wake?

Quincey wrote of memories: ‘Everlasting layers of ideas, images, feelings, have fallen upon your brain soft as light. Each succession has seemed to bury all that went before, and yet in reality not one has been extinguished.’ (‘The Palimpsest of the Human Brain’, in Masson, ed., Thomas De Quincey: The Collected Writings, Vol. XIII, p.346.)

‘Yes, reader, countless are the mysterious handwritings of grief or joy which have been inscribed upon the palimpsest of your brain.’ (Ibid., p.348.)

‘[L]ike the annual leaves of Aboriginal forests, or the undissolving snows of the Himalayas, or light falling upon light, the endless strata have covered up each other in forgetfulness. But by the hour of death, but by fever, but by the searchings of opium, all these can revive in strength. They are not dead, but sleeping.’ (Masson, op. cit., Vol. XIII, p.348.)

‘[O]ften I have been struck with the important truth that far more of our deepest thoughts and feelings pass to us through perplexed combinations of concrete objects, pass to us as involutes (if I may coin that word) in compound experiences incapable of being disentangled, that ever reach us directly, and in their abstract shapes.’ (‘Suspiria de Profundis’, in Masson, op. cit., Vol. I, p.39.)

‘[...] I am convinced [...] that the dread book of account which the scriptures speak of is, in fact, the mind itself of each individual. Of this at least I feel assured: that there is no such thing as forgetting possible to the mind.’ ( Confessions, ed. Edmund Baxter, p.235.) Note: John Barrell identifies ‘involutes’ as a scientific term used for conch-shells ( The Infection of Thomas De Quincey, Yale 1991, p.32.)

For Althea Hayther, De Quincey’s ‘whole lifetime of experiences which, under the agency of opium dreams, folded inwards round each other and became a single involute of feeling.’ (Opium and the Romantic Imagination, Faber 1971, p.126.)

Cf. Wordsworth: ‘There are in our existence spots of time / Which with distinct pre-eminence retain / A fructifying virtue ... / Such moments chiefly seem to have their date / In our first childhood.’ ("The Prelude"; in Romanticism: An Anthology , p.307.)

David Hartley [associationism]: ‘Simple ideas will run into complex ones by Means of Association’ (‘Doctrine of Vibrations’, in Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty and His Expectations , 1834; available in Google Books. (The foregoing quoted in Roisin McCluskey, PhD transfer submission, UUC 2008, p.7 - describing it as an ‘account of the brain’s memory system’.)

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