Quote note (#112)

Some Horror Night samples from the Old Master:

The first Book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, Man’s disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was placed: Then touches the prime cause of his Fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now falling into Hell described here, not in the center (for Heaven and Earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos …
— PL I The Argument

… who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark, unbottomed, infinite Abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight,
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt …

— PL II 404-9

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven
— PL IV 75-8

And on Milton’s blindness, a key unlocking the gates to abysmal depths of visionary accomplishment:

… Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature’s works to me expung’d and ras’d,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.

— PL III 40-55

September 26, 2014admin 11 Comments »

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11 Responses to this entry

  • existoon Says:

    Early Elend wrote a sublime interpretation: Lucifer’s fall is the crucifixion of Christ. For those who dare to look in the eyes of the Basilisk:


    … and late Elend went even deeper into darkness”



    existoon Reply:

    (What is celebrated in the Catholic officium, in fact, is the “baptism” of Christ-Lucifer, whereas ELEND continue following the angel into the heart of darkness (i.e. the outer darkness, “les ténèbres du dehors”, a term from Christian cosmography describing the place for those creatures that either have no name anymore or ha ve never had any). At the end of ELEND’s officium there is only silence, death and darkness. Death is the only
    way to attain liberty and to escape patriarchal law.)


    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:


    but they don’t get it.


    Posted on September 26th, 2014 at 6:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#112) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on September 26th, 2014 at 8:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wyrd Says:

    Milton! Now there is a poet our friend Scott Alexander should be studying instead of Ginsberg.

    Here at least
    we shall be free; the Almighty hath not built
    Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
    Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
    to reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
    Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.

    -The Cathedral’s Prayer


    Posted on September 27th, 2014 at 2:28 am Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    As usual, it’s instructive to contrast the splendour, subtlety and profundity of Milton’s Satan with Dante’s depiction of what is basically a robot weeping and slobbering with impotent rage, its mechanical wing-beats keeping its own icy prison securely frozen!

    My object all sublime
    I shall achieve in time —
    To let the punishment fit the crime —
    The punishment fit the crime;
    And make each prisoner pent
    Unwillingly represent
    A source of innocent merriment!
    Of innocent merriment!


    bob sykes Reply:

    A while ago, I read Mandelbaum’s award-winning translation of “The Divine Comedy.” It is good English poetry, but in the end one is left wondering why Dante is so esteemed. He is unarguably inferior to Milton, and his long poem is unedifying. It ultimately reduces to Dante getting even with his enemies and being petty.


    Erik Reply:

    No it doesn’t. Ought I perhaps say that your comment ultimately reduces to “Hell is for enemies, and justice is petty” ?


    Aeroguy Reply:

    I’m not particularly keen on respecting the authority of populists and think it is gravely important to distinguish between populist authoritarianism and elitist authoritarianism. For this reason I find the placement of Brutus in the 9th circle to be very disagreeable.

    Alex Reply:

    He is unarguably inferior to Milton, and his long poem is unedifying.

    Milton’s tragedy is unarguably more in tune with modern sensibilities than Dante’s comedy.

    “Justice is what moved my exalted Maker;
    I was the invention of the power of God,
    Of his wisdom, and of his primal love.”


    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Yes, Milton is actually my least favorite ‘well esteemed’ English poet. For one, he scrawled some pathetic verses against the monarchy.

    Posted on September 27th, 2014 at 10:04 am Reply | Quote

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