Essay about Lycius' Dilemma

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Lycius' Dilemma

The Master and Margarita and Lamia are the vastly different works of two men from far flung times and places. Though the histories and plots of these works diverge, their thematic elements resonate. Each text invokes a dualism of worlds: the world of the imagination and the world of reality. The imaginative realm is a mythic space of love, creativity and magic. Paradoxically, the characters that speak for the realm of imagination are those aligned with the devil (Lamia and Woland). Reason control and mortality characterize the realm of reality and its representatives are Appollonius and the Muscovites. The source of conflict and distress in these works arises from the seemingly unbridgeable schism between these two
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When symbolic wreaths are passed out at Lamia's wedding, Appollonius receives the spear-grass and thistle, yet we are left to wonder: "Do not all charms fly / At the mere touch of cold philosophy?" (Keats, II, 229-230). This rhetorical question establishes the opposition between the "cold philosophy" of Appollonius and the figurative charms of Lamia's mysticism. Appollonius' touch has the power to banish "charms"-those things that confound direct categorization. The various herbs and plant leaves that decorate the guests are, on the surface, merely vegetation. The deeper significance of these items is lost on Appollonius. Surely, he could faultlessly identify the binomial nomenclature of the adder's tongue, but its symbolic resonance remains out of reach.

Appollonius' power is analogized to scientific explanation in the text. Like scientific explication his acts of definition destroy the mystery of objects they study. This parable is elucidated through an analogy to a rainbow:

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture-she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things
(Keats, II, 231-233)

The rainbow existed once in heaven, but is now brought down to the level of scientific texts, dissected and known. The passage suggests that the mystery and indeterminacy of the rainbow rendered it worthy of exaltation. "Heaven" is the ultimate transcendental
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