October 12th, 2017

171012 zen pencils edgar allan poe imp of the perverse

I’ve had a copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Imp of the Perverse on my desk for several weeks. I came upon the story after reading an old essay by Oliver Burkeman: On being tempted by the call of the perverse. The piece is eight years old, but I recently finished reading Burkeman’s older essays and this was one that I had flagged for a deeper read.

This morning I got an email from Gavin Aung Than—the artist behind In The Mood For Work and many other wonderful illustrations—about his latest: Zen Pencils No. 218: Procrastination. Gav chose to illustrate the 5th paragraph of Poe’s short story:

We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us,—of the definite with the indefinite—of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest have proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails,—we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies—it disappears—we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!

I’ve written much before about my muse, Calliopemost recently this—but the synchronicity of Oliver’s and Gav’s pieces caused me to think of her nemesis, my own Imp of the Perverse. I did a search to see if there was an anti-muse demon but I did not find such a creature. I did, however, find the goddess/demon Astareth. Like most female deities, the patriarchy has worked hard to diminish her so I take a listing of her as provoking laziness, vanity and rationalization with a grain of salt, but for now I’m happy to give her name to my imp.

So, what kind of imp do you have?


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