Unformatted text preview: Books 10 and 12 Books 10 and 12
Admitting It…The Way Back The Power of Contraries The Power of Contraries
Remember Philip Pullman quoting Milton, “All these in their pregnant causes mixed/Confusedly and which thus must ever fight/Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain/ His dark materials to create new worlds” ? It is the Maker, the Author, that holds contraries in perfect balance—that allows both voices to be heard That creates the perfect balance and synthesis Satan and God Satan and God
This balance is why Satan’s voice is never excluded from Milton’s poem or God’s universe Satan has a place in it God has a place in it Both voices (in Milton’s poem anyway) are the condition of human freedom Neither one can be repressed or denied or excluded My own interpretation? My own interpretation?
As I’ve been reading Milton this time, for this course It’s my sense that Philip Pullman reads Milton as Milton would like to be read As an author who holds the possibility of “other worlds” within the infinite possibilities that contraries (held in balance) open up— A place where no voice is denied the freedom to articulate its own way of seeing and being Despite the textual difficulty in which I’ve engaged all of you, Milton is crucial to “getting” Pullman But what I’ll actually offer you here is an interpretation that I welcome you to think about in your sections The more our voices explore contrary positions, the fuller our reading will be, and the more accurate too—so long as we are in balance So…this interpretation of Milton So…this interpretation of Milton may be a little different but nevertheless necessary The Son’s Glory The Son’s Glory
Back in Book 3 we saw the son’s understanding of glory as an entrance simultaneously into the Otherness of the Father And an entrance into the Otherness of humanity The Son, then, embraces both versions of “otherness” completely, holding them together In this sense he can fully empathize with both and facilitates understanding between them Satan’s Sense Satan’s Sense
We saw in the last lecture that Satan acknowledges “the hateful siege of contraries” within him, But instead of allowing them to come into harmony or holding them in balance Satan resists all good, absolutely, attempting to repress that side of himself as his way of getting even. He wishes to cancel that Voice, that subjectivity, absolutely. The Son and Satan The Son and Satan
The subjectivity that the Son opens up contains both identities completely—the infinite in God and the full subjectivity of the human pair, Male and Female The subjectivity that Satan opens up contains the principle of Self in its most limited sense—in its drive for glory through external heroics and in its drive for glory through selfmatyrdom; it actively resists the “other” side of Self. SelfInterest SelfInterest
Both of these dimensions are rooted in self interest, and the Fall has led the human pair to embrace each of them: Eve has attempted to be heroic by going up against Satan on her own—in order to prove her faith and strength Adam has attempted to be heroic by sacrificing himself for Eve—in order to prove how much he loves her Gender Reversals? Gender Reversals?
Eve has failed to be the Hero and Adam has failed to be the martyr: neither of these roles are fitting—and each becomes angry and resentful. In fact, we recognize that the Man is generally portrayed as the hero and the woman is generally portrayed as the martyr. Milton ultimately presents a balance, I think, in the fully integrated self that is open to the voice of the Other. The Son is open in this way… The Son in Book 10 The Son in Book 10
Mine both in Heaven and Earth to do thy will Supreme, that thou in me, thy Son beloved, May’st ever rest well pleased. I go to judge On earth these thy transgressors; but thou know’st Whoever judged, the worst on me must light When Time shall be; for so I undertook Before thee and not repenting, this obtain Of right, that I may mitigate their doom (7176). The Son’s Task The Son’s Task
As the Authority and Judge, He will offer himself: God will die so that Humanity can live. He will do this not only by embracing deity and humanity and holding them in perfect balance, But he will also do this by holding both genders in perfect balance as the fullest representation of Deity So—God sends the Son down to judge the human pair with this “embrace” fully in view. The Blame Game… The Blame Game…
Very much as we saw in Genesis, Milton’s text reveals a difference in gendered response: Adam holds both God and Eve responsible for his error, While Eve says succinctly that she was deceived by the Serpent. To both of them, the Son offers specific corrective: About Eve? About Eve?
The Son says, “Was she thy God that her thou didst obey Before his voice? Or was she made thy guide Superior or but equal…” (10.1457) For his error, Adam will have to labor with difficult, “cursed” ground until he returns to the ground. Adam and Dust Adam and Dust
“For thou Out of the ground wast taken: know thy birth For dust thou art, and shalt to dust return” (206 7) Adam will labor in dust and return to dust as his place of origin. We will need to think about the implications of dust, then. Is dust beautiful—the full cycle of who we are? Or is dust a sign of our mortality and fragility, our sin? Let’s leave that open. Eve Eve
Eve is mentioned when the Son speaks to the Serpent: “Her seed shall bruise thy head, thou bruise his heel” (10.181) Through maternity (Eve’s seed) Satan will be overcome. Eve is told of the labor of childbirth and her subordination to Adam (10.1956) The Son clothes Adam and Eve The Son clothes Adam and Eve
Milton says he does this as a Father (and Milton privileges the fatherly and patriarchal in God) but I would say his act really embraces the roles of Father and Mother. When he leaves, the human pair must still sort out their relationship to God and their relationship to one another They do this by giving voice to their concerns. Adam’s monologue Adam’s monologue
Adam’s monologue allows us to see how he feels as he works through stages of grief, anger, resentment, blame, and guilt. Giving voice is his way of coming to terms. First, he feels that he’s lost the world: “O miserable of happy! Is this the end/Of this new glorious world, and me so late/The glory of that glory?” He has to let go what might have been. What has he lost? What has he lost?
God: he can’t look at him anymore (725). He accepts this, he says. His role as Father: now everyone who is born will blame him for their error, sin, and loss (742). He can’t accept this, and initially he wants to hold God accountable for making him: “Did I request thee, Maker, from the clay to mold me Man?” My “WILL” wasn’t in this choice; it was yours. Adam’s guilt Adam’s guilt
Adam then considers his response by empathizing. In his own role as father, would he allow a son to make him accountable for his own freedom to choose? He says “No.” He acknowledges, then, that he’s responsible. But what about Death? Adam thinks through the possibilities. If he’s not dead now, is death to be protracted infinitely—in himself? In his sons? (10.817) Taking it on Taking it on
Adam would like to “waste it all myself”: he would like to be able to eliminate sin, death, and anguish altogether—from the future race of men. But he knows he cannot take it on— “though divided with that bad woman” (837). Here, he resists seeing Eve as a part of himself. Eve unacknowledged… Eve unacknowledged…
He locates her outside of himself, as a sharer in guilt but not in any way accepted or acceptable He thus denies the very ground of his subjectivity He can find no “refuge,” himself “to Satan only like, both crime and doom” (841). He is just as isolated, just as alone, just as limited to one way of seeing and thinking But Eve is listening and will not But Eve is listening and will not remain separate
“Soft words to his fierce passion she assayed” (865). Adam goes after her in earnest, though. He calls her a “serpent,” serpent like in acts. Her “heavenly form” was all a show, a lie. She made him lose the world. He retells the story of the Fall because he hasn’t gotten beyond it: he’s fixed there in resentment And he rethinks his own body too And he rethinks his own body too
In rejecting the rib, he would have to reject himself, so he now considers the “rib” something extra—not part of himself at all. God should have “thrown it out” and left his “just number”—utterance that faults God, finally, as an author and maker in order to free himself of responsibility. Adam turns this into his most misogynistic moment. Heaven is perfect because it’s Heaven is perfect because it’s male…
There aren’t any female angels, only “spirits masculine” and so God got it right, initially When God “reformed” earth and made woman, he created a “defect” in the scheme of things Women—and the problematic side of marriage —make life itself a living hell. Men never end up with the right one (890908). Adam turns away but Eve does not Adam turns away but Eve does not
She says she’ll reverence him, even if he won’t acknowledge her She says she was deceived She says she still needs him She says with the little time they have, they should make peace She says she is lost and she is miserable Primarily because she sinned against God and him Eve comes up with a plan, again Eve comes up with a plan, again
She’ll go back to God and accept full responsibility for what happened. She’ll own up. Adam changes in heart and feeling. He’s disarmed. He stops being mad. He says, then, that she needs to bear what she can herself— And in saying this he knows it’s also true of him. He says that he’ll go back to God and make a request because he’s really responsible. When Eve says things When Eve says things
Adam really hears them. When he says them, he remains trapped, but when she says them, he can feel his way out and see the problem clearly. He says, “Let’s not blame each other any more,” and in saying so, he gets to where Eve already is. He mentions their “hapless seed”—the future they’ve brought into being, their “labor” in dust
But Eve has a plan, again! But Eve has a plan, again!
You can’t say she isn’t always paying attention. She’s pragmatic, not philosophical. She doesn’t go around in circles. She comes immediately to the point (9951007). If you’re worried about our future and our children, we can end it right here. We end it in ourselves, through suicide, or we end it in ourselves through abstinence. It’s simple What’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong with this picture?
Adam hears it, as if for the first time. We realize that he thought about this, but not pragmatically. It was all philosophical, abstract. Adam now sees how everything ties together in the Son’s judgment. In talking to Eve, he suddenly “remembers” it, puts it back together like so many missing pieces of himself—or her. “Thy seed shall bruise the serpents head!” If they ended it If they ended it
She would not become victorious, would not triumph. There’s something to look forward to, after all. They can create an “other” world together. But first things first. They’ll go back to God. Adam gets there, we see, but he gets there by hearing, as if for the first time, what Eve says If Adam had repressed the voice of If Adam had repressed the voice of his Other
He would never have been able to escape his insular self pity, selfloathing, and resentment He would never have heard what he was saying Her pragmatic response to him facilitates this He has become open to transformation because he has listened, not defensively, not to repress or destroy But to go somewhere new. They go back together. What Eve said she would do, they do What Eve said she would do, they do together
And they get back another world. But what will the world finally look like? Michael lets Adam “listen in” on all of those “other worlds” to come in Book 12. I’m going to give you just a few highlights— To tie Milton in to Pullman’s trilogy, primarily. Another Education… Another Education…
Raphael’s didn’t work (we recall) and the Angel Michael is more severe. He has to keep correcting Adam’s interpretation and responses in Book 12. Crucial here is the relationship between liberty and “right reason” which are twins, held together in perfect balance. Human beings have trouble seeing this since the Fall (12.85), and are subjected to corrupt Kings, corrupt Churches. Michael tells the history of the world Michael tells the history of the world
And God’s selection of the Hebrew people and prophecy of the son: “the like shall sing All prophecy—that of the royal stock Of David (so I name this king) shall rise A son, the Woman’s Seed to thee foretold, Foretold to Abraham (12.3258). Adam sees and sings Adam sees and sings
“Why our great expectation shall be called The Seed of Woman: Virgin Mother, Hail High in the love of Heaven, yet from my loins Thou shalt proceed, and from thy womb The Son of God most high” (379383). Adam acknowledges Eve will give birth to this “Son” by way of Mary, Virgin Mother, but he takes some credit too (from my loins). When the Son goes up against Satan one last time… Maybe Raphael’s stories were not quite enough for him. He wants to hear the culminating story… But Michael says Adam’s too interested in external battles and visible heroics, still. Michael tells the full story of the Son’s life, death, and resurrection—one not really about earthly heroics but chosen obedience. And Adam Would Like to See the And Adam Would Like to See the Fight Adam’s thinking Adam’s thinking
About the world he’s lost and the world he’s gained (12.468477). That God can “turn evil to good” is “more wonderful” in his view than the first act of creation because God now enters into human history directly. But, Michael notes, people have a habit of not getting it, perhaps especially in “Religion.” Corruption in the Church, Corruption in the Church, Corruption in Authority
Who all the sacred mysteries of heaven To their own vile advantages shall turn Of lucre and ambition, and the Truth With superstitions and Traditions taint Left only in those written records pure But not but by the Spirit understood (50913). This, Michael notes, is bondage This, Michael notes, is bondage
What will they then But force the Spirit of Grace itself, and bind His consort Liberty? What but unbuild His living Temples, built by faith to stand— Their own faith, not another’s, for on Earth, Who against faith and conscience can be heard, Infallible? Yet many will presume… Hearing is everything Hearing is everything
Michael says that human kind has to learn how to listen with faith and the openness of their own consciences, their own responsiveness to Grace, Not taking any one else’s word for it. But he also notes that no one is infallible, And for this reason humanity has to stay open all of the time, never closing down, never thinking that it’s finally explained… Adam says he’s learned the Process Adam says he’s learned the Process
Henceforth I learn that to obey is best And love with fear the only God. To walk As in his presence, ever to observe His providence, and on him sole depend… By things deemed weak, subverting worldly strong…Taught this by His example (12.560 572). “Thou hast attained the sum of wisdom” (12.573). Michael says Adam’s come to Michael says Adam’s come to knowledge Then wilt thou not be loath To leave this paradise, but shalt possess A paradise within thee, happier far (12. 5836). It’s within Himself (in a new subjectivity) that Adam will recover another World. Eve has dreamed it Eve has dreamed it
Eve tells Adam that she realizes that though she “lost” the world they had, “By me the Promised Seed shall all restore” (12.622). It’s through her that another world will be restored, through her that they will recover. Lost Worlds…Other Worlds Lost Worlds…Other Worlds
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon The World was all before them, where to choose Their place of rest, and Providence their guide; They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow Through Eden took their solitary way (12. 644 8) That Other World That Other World
Is one they enter together, hand in hand Is one where their choices still remain open Is one that involves rest as well as work Is one that requires openness to the guide Is solitary, despite their togetherness Is taken slowly, without knowing the way— They’ll wander into it. It’s the beginning of history. ...
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