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The Inscribed Pillar in "The Purple Cloud"
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 30 March, 2018 10:48AM
Since I read "The Purple Cloud" by M. P. Shiel, I have been thinking every now and then what is the meaning of the inscribed pillar in the center of the horrible polar lake. Is there somebody to explain it? :-)

Re: The Inscribed Pillar in "The Purple Cloud"
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 11 April, 2018 09:26PM
I'm only 2/3rds of the way through the novel, but I'm going to venture an answer before someone else beats me to it.

It's "the Beast" of Revelation.

So the "name" Adam vaguely recalls is (presumably) the "name of blasphemy".

What he takes for a "date" is in fact a number (I think we can guess the number).

We later learn that, from the account of the Frenchman Tissu, that on the same day that Adam awakens "the Beast" in the Pole, "the Beast" comes out of the sea (the South Sea) with 10 horns ("ten hewn pillars of water"), with a crown on each horn ("bearing upward ten flames of fire").



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11 Apr 18 | 09:32PM by Platypus.

Re: The Inscribed Pillar in "The Purple Cloud"
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2018 09:07AM
Of course, in purely prosaic terms, it can all be explained as volcanic activity. Under this interpretation, there cannot be any name or date inscribed on the "pillar"; that must be just a dream or vision in Adam Jeffson's overheated mind; as is his impression of the swirling waters around the "pillar" being the lifeblood of a living organism. Under this way of looking at things, Adam's simultaneous arrival at the pole is pure coincidence; and the apocalyptic warnings of Mackay are completely irrelevant.

Re: The Inscribed Pillar in "The Purple Cloud"
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2018 12:04PM
Interesting opinion.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Apr 18 | 12:04PM by Minicthulhu.

Re: The Inscribed Pillar in "The Purple Cloud"
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 April, 2018 09:04PM
I tried to look for an analogy to the "seven heads" of the Beast, but here, if one is intended, the author has gone out of his way to be less-than obvious. Instead, we learn that Adam sees "eight or nine" smoking volcanic peaks on the former site of the undersea eruption. But Adam then goes on to say that he "did not count" them, and it might have been as few as seven, or as many as ten. (Sneaky!) We know from Tissu's account that the 10 waterspout pillars were visible simultaneously with the emerging landmass, though Tissu does not count the number of volcanic peaks.

Re: The Inscribed Pillar in "The Purple Cloud"
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 April, 2018 09:08AM
There is also this, from Revelation, referring to the Dragon, who is evidently the same as the Beast:

"And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth"

This is suggestive of the countless jeweled meteorites strewn on the polar plane as Adam and his companions approach the polar lake. It also suggests what part of the Beast's body the polar "pillar" might be.



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