The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Awe and Amazement Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
The best chess-player in Christendom may be little more than the best player of chess; but proficiency in whist implies a capacity for success in all these more important undertakings where mind struggles with mind. When I say proficiency, I mean that perfection in the game which includes a comprehension of all the sources whence legitimate advantage may be derived. These are not only manifold, but multiform, and lie frequently among recesses of thought altogether inaccessible to the ordinary understanding. (2)
The key to this ideal analytical/creative whist brain is that bit about the "[lying] frequently among recesses of thought altogether inaccessible to the ordinary understanding." What we have here is awe before the human mind itself, which can think, but which has trouble thinking about how it thinks. What makes Dupin so fabulous is that he is able (symbolically, at least) to meet and do battle with those "recesses of thought altogether inaccessible." After all, what is the Ourang-Outang if not a giant, ape-shaped symbol of our irrational, repressed instincts?
"Dupin," said I, gravely, "this is beyond my comprehension. I do not hesitate to say that I am amazed, and can scarcely credit my senses. How was it possible you should know I was thinking of -- -- ?" Here I paused, to ascertain beyond a doubt whether he really knew of whom I thought. (14)
Here it is, practically an engraved invitation to Dupin to spend about a page and a half on the amazing workings of his own mind. Without the encouragement of the narrator's astonishment and confusion, Dupin would have no plot-related reason to reveal his logic, and we'd have no story.
"But it is by these deviations from the plane of the ordinary, that reason feels its way, if at all, in its search for the true. In investigations such as we are now pursuing, it should not be so much asked `what has occurred,' as `what has occurred that has never occurred before.' In fact, the facility with which I shall arrive, or have arrived, at the solution of this mystery, is in the direct ration of its apparent insolubility in the eyes of the police." I stared at the speaker in mute astonishment." (59-60)
Not only are there two kinds of human mind according to Dupin, but there also appear to be two kinds of criminal cases: the obvious kind that the police are pretty good at, and the difficult kind that they can't seem to solve. It's exactly the irrationality of these murders that make Dupin so particularly suited to them. Which raises the question, what does Dupin do with the little questions of his everyday life? Does he stare fixedly at the narrator throughout the day trying to deduce, we don't know, what he had for breakfast?