Now she’s gone and I don’t worry, Lord I’m sittin’ on top of the world…

Sitting on Top of the World (Sitting on Top clip) has been recorded about a zillion times, but the version I heard first and fell in love with was sung by Jimmy Martin on the second Circle album from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  In the image below, ant-like people scurry atop Preikestolen (Preacher’s Pulpit) in Norway.  I’ve written about the place before…a chunk of rock sitting about 1,800 feet above cold, hard water.  Have you ever been close to the edge of some precipice, maybe a building top or high bridge, and had this feeling that if you stay long some irresistible urge would lead you to jump off?  Not because you wanted to do so, but out of some weird misfiring of synapses in your brain?  You would not be alone.  Many people have this sensation, and I felt it myself atop Preikestolen.  Not the fear of falling off…the fear of jumping!  In “The Imp of the Perverse”, Edgar Allan Poe describes it as carrying out an act simply because we know we should not- the imp that sits on your shoulder and whispers self-destructive encouragement in your ear.  Poe had issues of his own, no doubt, but the man also had creative genius.  He is usually credited as the inventor of the genre of detective fiction, paving the way for generations to enjoy crime-solving maestros from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon (“the Da Vinci Code”).  So, if you read detective fiction, you might want to check out Poe’s short stories featuring the Parisian detective C. Auguste Dupin so you can see where it all came from.  And if you might enjoy a rollicking old bluegrass standard, give the Dirt Band’s Circle Volume II some ear time…I think you’ll be glad you did.  (15 August, 2011  Preikestolen, Rogaland, western Norway)

All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream…

Edgar Allan Poe might be best known for the raven that croaks “Nevermore”, but there was a lot more to the guy.  He was one of the first American authors to try to make a living from writing, but it didn’t work out any better for him than it has for the majority that followed.  Hunter Thompson called writing “the most hateful kind of work”, comparing it to sex: fun for amateurs, but not so much when it’s your paying gig (“Old whores don’t do much giggling”).  Known in life mostly as a critic of others’ writings, Poe also tried making it with journalism, poetry, and even invented the detective story genre with his character C. Auguste Dupin.  Sherlock Holmes’ creator Conan Doyle said of Poe “each [of his stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed…”  He married his 13 year-old cousin Virginia, got kicked out of West Point, was disowned by his semi-adoptive father, and died young after being found passed-out-drunk (maybe?) in a Baltimore gutter…one of the original bad boys of Western literature.  My title is from a poem in which he questions the reality of existence, while my image was shot on a dreamy summer afternoon biking the upper reaches of a placid Norwegian lake.  (8 August, 2011  Sognsvann, Oslo, Norway)