Mesmeric Revelation (Poe)

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Mesmeric Revelation
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man engaged in a conversation with a sleep-waker about the nature of God, the universe, and the relationship between matter and spirit, before the sleep-waker suddenly died.

A man had been in the habit of mesmerizing his friend, Mr. Vankirk, who had been suffering from a severe illness. One night, he was summoned to Mr. Vankirk's bedside as the latter was experiencing acute pain and difficulty breathing. Mr. Vankirk expressed his desire to discuss certain psychal impressions that had been causing him anxiety and surprise. He believed that a series of well-directed questions while he was in a mesmerized state might yield some answers.

The Narrator — narrator; mesmerist who engages in a conversation with the sleep-waker.
Mr. Vankirk — sleep-waker; suffering from phthisis; possesses heightened perception and intellectual faculties during mesmerism.

The man agreed to the experiment and soon Mr. Vankirk was in a mesmeric sleep. They engaged in a deep conversation about the nature of God, matter, and the soul. Mr. Vankirk explained that there were two bodies - the rudimental and the complete, corresponding to the conditions of a worm and a butterfly. He believed that death was merely a painful metamorphosis, and that the ultimate life was immortal and perfect.

The unparticled matter, set in motion by a law, or quality, existing within itself, is thinking.

He also spoke of the existence of other rudimental thinking beings besides humans, inhabiting various celestial bodies. These beings, upon death or metamorphosis, would enjoy the ultimate life and be cognizant of all secrets except for the nature of the volition of God. He further explained that pain was made possible in the organic life to serve as a basis for the bliss of the ultimate life in Heaven.

The pain of the primitive life of Earth, is the sole basis of the bliss of the ultimate life in Heaven.

Towards the end of their conversation, Mr. Vankirk's tone became feeble and his countenance alarmed the man, who decided to wake him up. Upon awakening, Mr. Vankirk smiled brightly before falling back on his pillow and passing away.

No sooner had I done this, than, with a bright smile irradiating all his features, he fell back upon his pillow and expired.

His body quickly turned cold and rigid, as if it had been touched by the hand of death for a long time.