Hello all and welcome to the end of our journey through the Milton ‘Verse, I am sad to see this voyage end but am happy to move forward from this class with what I have learned. I feel that I have learned a lot from this class, my perspective on so many things has been altered by new knowledge and new perspectives that I otherwise would have not been exposed to on my own. I am truly thankful for all that I have learned and so after exploring some things from the last bits of Paradise Lost I will share with you, my fellow travelers, some of my favorite bits of knowledge and what for me has changed, and then I will have to sign off for a final time. Alright let’s dive in!
Metanoia is my new favorite word, I honestly thought of getting it as a tattoo (What a nerd I am) but alas, I am still being careful and will not go out into society (unless it’s vita) until I’ve gotten the second covid vaccine. But maybe in the future… I digress as usual so let’s get back to this fabulous new word. This word is essentially a galaxy word, it translates to ‘after thought’ and has been translated and equated to repentance. Basically, the ability to acknowledge fault, take responsibility, and change your heart/mind/whatever you think compels you to act and to act in a way that changes your life. I mean we talk about changing a person’s mind, but have you ever really tried? It is a harrowing task trying to get someone to budge, especially if they feel at fault, the ego is a powerful negative force that our integrity is always battling for dominance over our moral compass, and ego so often wins out. Do I preserve the self? Will I be able to change? Will the hope that I can change last long enough for me to not revert back to my old ways? Like it’s such a chasm of unknowns to leap over. I see why the fostering of good and genuine faith is prized in many religions, used right, faith can help a lot of people hurdle that chasm I suppose. I mean Adam and Eve lament over their wrongs, they pray for forgiveness, and going off of Milton’s own justification of God, the punishment is just, so he doesn’t have to be merciful, but he is because that is what Milton also believes in his version of God and so the Son gives Adam and Eve furs for their bodies. I know this is not a popular opinion, but I personally don’t see Adam and Eve’s fate as unfair. I do not care about the justification of God (I still appreciate Milton’s attempts at it though and appreciate the open-ended way he explores it) but personally I do not have any real problem with the punishment, Adam and Eve were given the rule/a condition and knowledge of their punishment and so they are simply being held accountable. Do I like the punishment of death itself? No, but that was the condition of paradise, so I don’t see it as unfair. Plus, Milton ends the whole thing on hope, how can I complain? Like I know it is anti-climatic and a run through of the major plot points of the Bible, but I like that Milton was such a hopeful individual and that in his interpretation of the fall of man he wants to end on the future of mankind, and he gives Adam (and we can assume he relays this to Eve) the knowledge that his wrongdoing will lead to some amount of good. That to me is a truly kind act and not a necessary one, Milton didn’t have to do this, but he did.
Alright on to the highlight reel!
First off a shout out to Comus and the Nativity Ode! I loved you two the most out of Milton’s other works. Morality and time just shown most. I take it back, sonnet 23 probably sits at the top of heart, I am hopelessly romantic (might as well admit it) and so this sonnet of mourning for his wife just hit all the heart strings with a very strong strum. You know when you hit the ground and feel the impact force all the air out of your lungs and compress your chest? I felt that after reading the sonnet. I don’t usually have very strong physicals reactions to emotions so for me this was a big reaction, one I still don’t know how to process. So I keep a printed copy of it on my desk for when I need to be vexed.
On to the poem!
Got to say that I am here for the tragic villain arc that Milton gives to Satan. I could probably happily spend a good portion of time diving into that complex psychological process that Milton captures so well in Satan, they creation of his own Hell by giving up on hope, by giving up on love, the “death” that he experiences and the slow crumble of his person. I don’t think I will ever get over his argument that he has in his own head on Mount Nephrates. Also, watching him self-sabotage himself is a really more anger inducing than anything else, I never thought I would be yelling for Satan to get his shit together, but I was. I was hoping and I mean hoping that he would see that he was the one behind the mask in a Scooby Doo episode, not God, but he fails. What’s most interesting is that he fails himself more than anyone and I think that that is one of the hardest things to come to terms with when it happens.
The depiction of Adam and Eve was to say the least refreshing and to say more is extraordinary if you think about the original text Milton was working with. It is no small feat to take the Bible (full of patriarchal BS, I mean no disrespect but it’s just true) and to strip a large portion, not all of it, away to depict a relationship made equal through consent and willingness to be together is pretty incredible. The man was from the 1600s, using a text that is ancient, and so for him to depict a non-violent, not domination centric, or toxic relationship shows us a lot about the man. Yes, Eve is the one to fall, yes, she is still “technically” the weaker of the two (though Milton explains this as an error made in ignorance by the angel), but Milton still has to follow a script. A script he improves greatly in my humble opinion. And it is definitely not perfect but to be honest Milton does better than a lot of modern media I’ve seen even recently. Also, Milton can’t exist outside of his time, not to rant, but we gotta remember the context that this story was written in and the time period it was done in. I am surprised and happily so that it meets so much of the modern-day criteria that it is put through. Like, I have been reading a lot of 19th century novels for another class and let me tell you how poorly many of them do in comparison, like offensive to the point that I could barely finish some of them. That’s two hundred years after Milton and they were so much worse.
My favorite part of this poem is Milton’s exploration of time. You all know I am a huge nerd for physics, for relativity, for all that science stuff. I love time so much; I love when people explore the non-linear possibilities in the narrative and through the narrative. I love that Milton starts the poem with Satan on the fiery lake and then we learn about the fall from heaven in the garden. The mixing of past, present, and future is what makes the narrative interesting for me as a person. It’s why I loved Milton’s Nativity Ode the best. It even goes with Typology, history has a shape, time has a shape, what does it look like? The separation and then overlap between Chronos and Karos is something that absolutely love, I mean to make the intersection at the birth of Jesus and then that’s how he connects his timeline that moves in two ways. I love that it all revolves around giving meaning to meaning. That intersection gives the past events meaning and shapes the future events to fit that meaning, it’s so mind-blowing! Also, with that logic/philosophy it is so easy then to see the fall as a past event that is given meaning, that is given the hope of the future that will come to pass thanks to the birth of Jesus. Like, in that context the fall becomes a part of a hope -centric timeline, just as hope often given our lives meaning and is shaped around major events, this fall is no different, it’s the darkness right before a sunrise moment.
But is hope a gift or a curse? I guess that is a question that seems to haunt humanity’s walk-through history and I don’t have an intelligent answer or an arguable point. I think hope is not a curse. In my life I have often thought, “it will get better” which is a lie/truth/guess that a lot of people make, and I do think that whatever gets you through the day is okay. The hope that there is more, more to life, more happiness to feel, more people to meet, more places to go, even more hardships to hurdle, life moves, and it keeps me moving forward. All I can do is speak with my life in mind and for me hope is the thing I hold on to tightest. I am probably what you would call an optimist, but I honestly think I am just someone who acknowledges that infinity lies in possibility and that hope is what keeps my eyes on those possibilities rather than on the dead-end pitfalls of regrets, of failures, and of being unchanging out of stubbornness or more often fear.
I have greatly, enjoyed this journey into the Milton ‘verse. The galaxy brain has expanded a great deal in ways I could never have guessed. In a way it has given me great hope that it is impossible to fully guess (or let’s be honest even remotely guess) the impact that a single event, in this case a college class, can have on me. I have had an amazing time being challenged as a student and as a person, there were so many surprises and a few bumps and bruises, and I am leaving with a changed mind in many ways.
Alight fellow travelers, this is your captain signing off for the last time, I wish all the best to fellow explores and hope that you keep your eyes on the light, like Milton did, even in unending darkness and that you find hope in all your journeys.