In this section I will discuss how Coleridge uses qualia as an expression of emotions in his poem “the Pain of Sleep” and how Wordsworth also uses qualia in this manner in his poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. In determining the emotions that they use I will be using Antonio Damasio’s definitions for emotions and feeling as a guide.
Damasio definition of emotions are “outwardly directed and public; complex collections of chemical and neural responses; biologically determined; six primary emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust) and many secondary or social emotions (including embarrassment, jealousy, guilt, or pride) and background emotions (including well-being, malaise, anxiety, calm, tension)” (Damasio 42). And his definition of feelings are “inwardly directed and private awareness of qualia, experience, emotion, etc.; feelings allow qualia and emotions to impact the mind. Feelings can be non-consciousness, but when we become aware of them, that Is consciousness. ‘Background feelings,’ arising from background emotions, include fatigue, energy, excitement, wellness, sickness, tension, relaxation, surging, dragging, stability, instability, balance, imbalance, harmony, and discord (286)” (Damasio 30-31).
“The Pain of Sleep” discusses Coleridge’s withdrawal from an opiate. As the poem progresses the affects seem to worsen and he looks at the world through a negative lens due to all the pain he is experiencing.
In the following passage Coleridge is describing the atmosphere around him and writes:
A lurid light, a trampling throng,
Sense of intolerable wrong,
And whom I scorned, those only strong!
Thirst of revenge, the powerless will
Still baffled, and yet burning still!
Desire with loathing strangely mixed
On wild or hateful objects fixed.
Fantastic passions! maddening brawl!
And shame and terror over all! (Coleridge 18-26)
He views everything through a negative lens because the qualia of this experience are agonizing and painful. He sees a horrid, bright light and a devilish or evil crowd. These sites leave him with a feeling of or a desire for revenge, but also a sense of powerlessness and a burning sensation. Coleridge also seems to feel a sense of confusion, hatefulness, shame and terror. The confusion is confirmed through the words “still baffled.” The hatefulness I perceive when Coleridge says a “desire with loathing strangely mixed on wild or hateful objects fixed,” where he is saying that he feels this sense and desire to hate fixed objects. Then he says “and shame and terror over all!”, explicitly saying how over all he has this feeling of terror and shamefulness. During another night of this withdrawal, he expresses that he feels burdened by great misfortune as he implies with the words “Distemper’s worst calamity” (Coleridge 36). This showing that the experience he is having is prompting this feeling of misfortune. He continues:
Had waked me from the fiendish dream,
O’ercome with sufferings strange and wild,
I wept as I had been a child;
And having thus by tears subdued
My anguish to a milder mood,
Such punishments, I said, were due
To natures deepliest stained with sin,—
For aye entempesting anew
The unfathomable hell within,
The horror of their deeds to view (Coleridge 38-46).
He is overcome by anguish, the “unfathomable hell within” and horror. Throughout his withdrawal he experiences these horrible qualia connected to the qualia of the physical and mental states of his withdrawal. Now he is awakened by a “fiendish dream.” (Coleridge 38) Coleridge has been consumed by so much suffering and it leads him to cry and reminds him of his childhood. The quale of the pain of his withdrawal wakes him up from his dream and causes him to cry, relieving him of some of his sadness, bringing his “anguish to a milder mood.” (Coleridge 42) However, he experiences such a painful, horrible quale during his withdrawal from the opiate. He feels as though he is forever stained with sin and engulfed by an “unfathomable hell.”(Coleridge 45)
In Wordsworth’s poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” Wordsworth discusses how he saw two years earlier bunch of daffodils dancing in the field.
After experiencing this site he claims that
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought: (Wordsworth 15-18)
With this observation it seems as though all he got from this experience was an excess amount of happiness. He presents the account using different words that describe happiness. He writes: “could not but be gay,” “a jocund company,” which means a cheerful or merry company, and then he ends off with “what wealth the show to me had brought.” Wealth here means great happiness (Wordsworth 5, 6, 8). Wordsworth does not seem to be engaged in much thought. Rather he is very focused and drawn to this site, maintaining a very long gaze at the site before him.
Next, he shares his experience of lying down on his couch and one of many things that come to mind is his experience watching the daffodils as a wandering cloud. It is as if he is brought back to that moment in his life and is able to relive the experience in his thoughts. Wordsworth notes the quale of the experience as
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. (Wordsworth 19-24)
While he reclines on his couch, the qualia he has puts him in a dreamy mood and the scene previously described flashes into his mind producing happy, pleasurable emotions and feeling. He talks about being in “bliss of solitude” and an extremely happy state of mind as he recalls his memories alone on the couch. As a result of him remembering the scene and the quale of it, his heart is filled with pleasures as he visualizes and dances again with the daffodils. Wordsworth quale from this produces physical, mental and emotional happiness and pleasures.