To be novel is to be both unique and new.

Poe wishes to think what has not yet been thought. This, to him, is novelty. He approaches it at first through poetry, but the jeus d’esprits go far beyond any Romantic quest in pushing the boundaries of language. Poe exercises his mind every minute of every day, but the thoughts are lost to us now. What did he think while he was destroying his notes? What could we have learned? These are not “yes, if only ...” wishes. These are descriptors of what we need to be able to reverse engineer what we can then know as Edgar A. Poe, learning from the hoaxes outward.

Originality is frustratingly hard to come by under any circumstance to a thinker who has thought so many things so quickly as Poe. Poe works out fictive plots in his head as he skims through dozens of articles and books of all kinds, all of it what we could call content moving through media channels. He is hyper alert but drifting at the same time. His mind sifts through vast gobs of dreck by scanning sideways, screening content chunks as he pushes it all through his processor as quickly as possible in the course of his work day, reading and thinking and writing for the job but also working on multiple plot lines of his own in his head. He summarizes, writing reviews of just-read fiction in his mind. What stands out in the stream of text and images is the oddity, sometimes a mistake or clumsy wording or cheap paper but especially flat-out bad writing, oh worst of all. The unnecessary waste of his time re-processing the same tired tropes is an insult when he could be putting said time to much more productive use. Woe to the unoriginal, and how dare they call such a thing “novel!”

He seeks to push beyond the boundaries of whatever system he attacks (it is always a frontal assault with Poe) to find the Truth, which is One, as he explains later in life. To be worthy of consideration at all and therefore worth mocking, the system in place must be in Poe’s view oppressive or restrictive in some way, comically entangling itself in its own rules. Of course most systems are found lacking, engendering failures and frauds who yet find succor within The System. Those who entitle themselves Professors and Astronomers (read: ”deep thinkers”, which will include Emerson as much as Longfellow) by working this system are ludicrously repetitive clods and duplicitous scoundrels: Von Underduk [up/down] and Rub-a-dub [repetition].

Poe wants it all, but cannot reach beyond 99.999%, although he tries endlessly. He gets to some level of interpreting the rules of The Calculus, but cannot invent it. He pushes language, fictive language but perhaps more, to the edge in the hoaxes. He has found his milieu. He is novel, but above all unique. Which is to say, new.