'"All opium eaters are tainted with the infirmity of leaving their work unfinished, and suffering reactions of disgust."
In that bitter sentence De Quincey finally admitted that his hopes, and the hopes of so many opium addicts, of writing a grand philosophical work which would explain the riddle of the universe, were delusions; the great books would never be perfected and published. Coleridge's huge designs which never got further than Hints towards the Formation of a More Comprehensive Theory of Life, Poe's Eureka, Francis Thomson's resolution to become 'the poet of the return to God', De Quincey's own projected De emendatione humani intellectus,
all were headless failures.'
Opium and the Romantic Imagination
Prophet of evil I ever am to myself:
forced for ever into sorrowful auguries
that I have no power to hide from my own heart,
no, not through one night's solitary dreams.
In a moment I saw too plainly that
I was not Monsieur Monsieur.
I might be Monsieur but not
Monsieur to the second power.
Thomas de Quincey: The Confessions:
On receiving an usnidentified letter ...
. . . memory is for a time our external world,
and all passionate moments recur again and again . . .
( The following epigraph appears at the start of the prologue of the novel "Terrorism Considered as One of the Fine Arts" )
Now, if merely to be present at a murder fastens on a man the character of an accomplice; if barely to be a
involves us in one common guilt with the perpetrator:
it follows, of necessity, that,
in these murders of the amphitheatre,
the hand which inflicts the fatal blow
is not more deeply imbrued in blood than
his who passively looks on;
neither can he be clear of blood who has
countenanced its shedding;
nor that man seem other than a participator in murder,
who gives his applause to the murderer
and calls for prizes on his behalf.
"Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts"
Thomas de Quincey
Nothing (not even God) now disappears by coming to an end,
Instead, things disappear through proliferation
or contamination, by becoming saturated or transparent,
because of extenuation or extermination, or as a result of the epidemic of Simulation.
Rather than a mortal mode of disappearance, then, a fractal mode of dispersal.
After the Orgy
Trans: James Benedict