The theories of art and the mind which Poe advances systematically in his criticism and elaborates into the cosmology of Eureka are also expressed in his literary works on all levels of theme and form, including recurrent actions, symbols, settings, patterns of characterization, and narrative stances. Despite his separation of beauty from truth and duty, and of the imaginative faculty from reason and conscience, Poe's aesthetic is a self-contained metaphysics and ethics. Unity, the essential condition and supreme value of art, is the condition likewise of death, as pursued by Poe's fictional characters through destructive acts which are vicariously and finally suicidal. Often literally artists or connoisseurs, these protagonists are motivated by a “perversity” indistinguishable in its goals and techniques from those of the divinely inspired imagination. In killing others, they impose unity upon the diverse and particular, assimilating into themselves identities which were tangible reflections of their own beings, and were, so to speak, imperfect art objects. When the hero is victim rather than aggressor, his passage into unconsciousness or mystic awareness is again governed by his longing for unity and attended by aesthetic insight. The relationship in Poe's essays between artist and critic illuminates the ratiocinative tales. Here, the detective's solutions arise from imaginative identification with the criminal and internal enactment of his deed. Obedient to the same intuitive forces, the critic-detective and the creator-criminal display a kinship which conforms to the doubling of aggressive and passive figures in the tales of terror. Life, in Poe's value system, is inimical to an aesthetic bliss; and the didactic implications of his poetry and fiction are reversals of conventional humanistic judgments.