Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Writer's block sucks.

It especially sucks when you're trying to write about Milton. The greatest individual ever to write in the English language doesn't forgive writer's block, dead as he is. "Paradise Lost" is a harsh master and demands knowledge of classical sources, political context, contemporary literature and incorporates a slew of other fields from Hebrew text to chaos theory to international affairs. It boggles the mind as to how a blind man could have incorporated so much into his text. It doesn't bear thinking about too much because the more you think about it, the more depressing it is.

Of course, Milton was also intolerant of new views on women as well as intolerant of women, even if he did not hold the conventional male view that was prevalent at the time. After he wrote an article detailing the evils of censorship, he went ahead an censored Catholic articles while working in Cromwell's government. When people responded to his brilliantly (though selfishly conceived) written articles regarding divorce, his responses were vitriolic and harsh.

He wrote that he was search for a "fit audience" when he wrote Paradise Lost, and it is entirely likely that his fit audience was an audience of one; himself. For anyone else to try to comprehend it is an exercise in folly of the greatest degree. And yet I'm doing it. Trying to look into the text, trying to pierce the obscure veil that surrounds the author, a veil that also surround Milton's God, a seductive veil that invites your interest and then maddeningly defies the attempt to make out the image behind it.

This, by the way, is kind of the topic of my second chapter. In talking about narcissism and attempting to tease out the various meanings and nuances that it has on Milton's characters, I've arrived at one conclusion. Milton's God poses a grand paradox to all his children, from Satan to the Son to Adam, and for doing so, he's written out to be quite the bastard. I like the idea that Milton's God is an image of the real God, altered to drive home a point about the evils of tyranny and the evils of kings. I'm not sure I buy it completely, but it's a possiblity that critics have suggested recently.

God's paradox is as follows: "I am the Father. You will obey me and worship me and sing my praises as I sit on this throne behind a bright cloud that obscures my features completely. My voice is all you need. You never need to see me, nor should you ever try to see me or question my immortal wisdom, and nor should you ever try to be an origin yourself and attempt acts of creation. To do so is to die or be cast into eternal damnation. Pick your poison. You may be my sons but I do not need to reveal myself to you. It is not necessary."

And yet, in heaven, where no talk is necessary, only a melding of spiritual entities to convey thought, God is unquestionable and obscure. He communicates, but does not explain. Only to the Son does he converse, really. A good father he is.

Satan falls first, rebelling even though Heaven's rule is simple, requiring only daily obedience and worship. He attempts to create, for if you cannot see you maker, then why not try to see him through yourself and your offspring? This isn't allowed of course. And Satan, in his conceit, sees everything, all relationships, through himself, a very megalomaniacal, solipsistic view, but hey, he's Satan. He has sex with his daughter Sin because she is his image and she submits to him, as he is her maker. Their offspring is Death, the being with no image that is describe as the shadow of a shadow.

Adam falls next, even though he was "sufficient to stand" and even though he had a being made in the image of "God in him" for him, to serve as his "helpmeet", namely, Eve. Why does Adam fall? Heck, why does Eve fall? It was promised that they would have offspring, even as their pre-lapsarian (prefall) sex was upwards, and an aspect of worship (no kidding, by the way. Milton wrote this). I'm still trying to figure this one out. If Adam has his image in Eve, and his future children will be images of him, why does he need the knowledge of the image of God? Is it because Adam takes the concept of image to literally and overvalues the physical image of Eve? Possibly.

The Son (Christ) does not fall. He promises his father to be man's salvation, and in a retrospective episode in Paradise Lost, is sent out to do battle with the rebel angels, and does so gloriously, defeating them and casting them down into Hell. The Son also promises that man will be "all in all" with himself and God. He will be the King (Elvis Lives!) in that he has first become King of himself, and then becomes not a tyrant King, but one that is in fact equal with God and man, in that there is no more God, no more Son, but one entity/conciousness/thing. In "Paradise Regained" he rejects the throne of David, the armies of Rome and Babylon, and all earthly temptation. By becoming master of himself, he elevated everyone to the Kingdom of Heaven.

What makes the Son so sufficient that he does not need to challenge the father or disobey him but instead is rightly narcissistic, understanding his father's image and his role perfectly, to just the right extent? I'm lost. Perhaps Milton's point is that a fit audience does not need to seek to pierce the veil of his text and be enlightened scholars, but should instead be individuals that are committed to finding something within themselves, and in doing so, build a Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Oh wait . . . I like that . . . .


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