Making the most of your nervous breakdown
How your own bouts of grief-induced galaxy brain could lead to glory, as they did for Poe
Hey friends, welcome to a special, unscheduled edition of Poe Can Save Your Life. I’m getting in touch because today is the anniversary of the sheer strangest and most fascinating stunt that Poe ever pulled. Which, this being Poe, is really saying something.
The year was 1848. Poe had lost his beloved wife only one year prior and, grief-stricken in the wake of her death, he’d become obsessed with a new set of ideas. In fact, he’d developed his very own grand unifying theory of the physical, metaphysical, mathematical, material, and spiritual universe.
Finally, on February 3rd, Poe gave a lecture in which he shared this theory… and essentially attempted, in three hours, to explain our whole galaxy.
In the long years since Poe delivered those remarks, scholars and fans have wrestled endlessly over Poe’s precise meaning, with some arguing that Poe predicted the Big Bang Theory, and others advancing a view of Poe as a half-cracked charlatan—no better than a babbling kook in a tinfoil hat.
So—had Poe gone crazy? Or was he decades ahead of his time? Perhaps most importantly, how can you and I make the most of our own nervous breakdowns?
Here’s the piece I wrote about all this for The Millions, just published today. Hope you’ll check it out.