Both Shoaf and Danielson go to vast length to illustrate that Milton has solved Epicurus' dilemma throughout his inspired use of this dogma, illustrating; "that God is omnipotent, that he is wholly good, (despite the fact) . . . that evil exists in the world" (Danielson 1982:7). They use dissimilar judgment to accomplish this agenda; the venture; "remains a euphemistic petitio principii no matter whether evil is regarded as a lesser good or as an effect of the finiteness and limitedness of created things. The false conclusion necessarily follows from the premise Deus=Summum Bonum,' since it is doubtful that the perfect good could ever have created evil" (Jung 1958:49). Danielson "solves" the "trouble" of evil by taking it back into the Chaos that was at the beginning, which is a non linear approach. By differentiating between the formation of Heaven and earth, which are "bounded," and the earlier "boundless" Chaos (1982:46-47), he attempts to show that; "God is good, and so is the stuff he makes" (ibid., p. 41). He contends that; "just as Milton needed the doctrine of creatio ex deo in order to establish that the 'original matter . . . was good, and . . . contained the seeds of all subsequent good' (CD, p. 308), so, in order that he might do justice to the fact of evil, he needed to retain an infinite Chaos even after the world was created" (ibid., p. 48). Danielson cannot come to a conclusion as to whether Chaos is God's delicacy or not. He says; "To allow the seeds of good to grow and bear fruit beyond himself, God had first to make a 'beyond'" (ibid., p. 48). Conversely, "in the preactual abyss of Chaos there are evil possibilities as well" (ibid., p. 49). If God created these "evil possibilities," then He is as liable for evil as if he had formed evil in and of itself, as He is omniscient; he possessed the foreknowledge that the potential of evil would be actualized. One might infer that Milton does not view Chaos as a force of neutrality for in Paradise Lost, when Satan meets the "Anarch old" who rules Chaos, he is told ; “…I know thee, stranger, who thou art, That mighty leading Angel, who of late Made head against Heav’ns King, though overthrown…If that way (earth) be your walk, you have not farr; So much the neerer danger, go and speed; Havock and spoil and ruin are my gain” (2.990-1009)
Danielson does not desire to deny the omnipotence of God and he agrees with Milton when he says, in Christian Doctrine, that; "In God a certain immutable internal necessity to do good, independent of all outside influence, can be consistent with absolute freedom of action" (1982:37). Danielson makes attempt to define God’s omnipotence as that; "It must not be taken to mean power without any limits of any sort whatsoever," citing distinctively "The limitation imposed by the principle of noncontradiction . . ." (ibid., p. 26). A restricted omnipotence would seem, tautologically, to not be any form of omnipotence at all, and these "restrictions" lead one to question who or what earlier to God forced these confines. The origin of this type of analysis is made evident by an earlier statement in Milton's Good God; ". . . I believe that there is a God who is omnipotent and wholly good . . ." (9). Here is the petitio principii--Danielson begins with the conclusion of his argument as his premise, meaning that any sequence of analysis, together with the "need" for extra stages of Creation and the concept of restricted omnipotence, will lead to the conclusion he has already formulated. In Shoaf, one finds that no one could blight God, and, to lend support to the argument, a quote from Paradise Lost claiming that mankind was; "created 'to repair his [God's] numbers . . . impaired [by Satan's seduction of "well nigh half / The angelic name"]'" (1985:16--insertions are Shoaf's). In "Aion", Jung points out the fundamental problems with positions like those espoused by Shoaf and Danielson, which they attribute to Milton as well. The reason for this is the doctrine of Summum Bonum . . . the hubris of the speculative intellect had already emboldened the ancients to promulgate a characterization of God that more or less obliged him to be the Summum Bonum. Thomas Merton, criticizes this attitude, which makes God into an object to which certain fixed properties (like being completely good) can be attributed; “But when God becomes object, he sooner or later 'dies,' because God as object is ultimately unthinkable. God as object . . . contains so many internal contradictions [some of which we have just seen] that it becomes entirely nonnegotiable except when it is hardened into an idol that is maintained in existence by an act of sheer will. For a long time man continued to be capable of this willfullness . . . but now many have let go of the 'God-object' which their fathers and grandfathers still hoped to manipulate for their own ends”. (1968:23)
And from the Far East, comes the warning that; "No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea" (Suzuki 1970:116). It is no accident that the location from which Danielson has a the root of his argument is the source of evil as found in Chaos, which is described in Paradise Lost as a just rendering of the night world of the unconscious mind, from which, Jung asserts, rises the shadow. When the ego identifies with a constrained segment of its total "the dark side of things" appears in the shape of a "Luciferian opponent" (1958:38-39)- Satan- whom Milton decreed as; "the Enemie" (4.304), and "the Adversary of God and Man" (2.629). Psychology; "knows that equivalent opposites are necessary conditions inherent in the act of cognition . . . [and that] it is not exactly probable that anything so intrinsically bound up with the act of cognition should be at the same time a property of the object. It is far easier to suppose that it is primarily our consciousness which names and evaluates the differences between things, and perhaps even creates differences where no differences are discernible" (Jung 1958:50-51).
There is an interdependent relationship between of the principle of God as the Summum Bonum and the responsibility of Satan in Paradise Lost. God is described as; "Heaven's all-powerful King" (2.851), and "Heav'ns high Arbitrator" (2.359), whose "Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heav'n" (1.124). He is in a battle with Chaos, whose ruler Satan asks; "if some other place / From your Dominion won, th' Ethereal King / Possesses lately" (2.977-979), who reports to Satan that God has been encompassing his "Frontiers" to the point that he has "little left to defend" (2.998-1000). This is exactly the role of the ego in relationship to the unconscious mind--to "encroach on its frontiers" by bringing forth more psychic hubris to consciousness. As Jung wrote; “if the self shows no inclination whatever to recognize . . . its projections . . . then one encounters projections, one does not make them . . . The effect . . . is to isolate the subject from the environment" (1958:8). The self encounters an archetypal strength apparently dedicated to "th' unconquerable Will, / And the study of revenge, immortal hate, / And courage never to submit or yield" (Paradise Lost 1.105-108), bringing the task "A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time" (ibid., 1.253). Milton acknowledges that the shadow will never surrender, and; "Stand in his presence humble, and receive / Strict Laws impos'd, to celebrate his Throne / With warbl'd Hymns, and . . . Forc't Halleuiahs" (ibid., 1.240-243). The ego cannot; "over Hell extend / His Empire, and with Iron Scepter rule . . . as . . . in Heav'n" (ibid., 2.326-328).
Merton shows that, God as an entity is not malleable, but several of the contradictions that come forth by perceiving the battles of Paradise Lost as involving an omnipotent, omniscient God and his "Adversary" dissolve before a psychological reading of the same material. Satan wonders whether; "Though Heav'n be shut, / And Heav'ns high Arbitrator sit secure . . . this place may lye expos'd / To the utmost border of his Kingdom . . ." (ibid., 2.358-362), and hopes that; ". . . with neighbouring Arms / And opportune excursion we may chance / Re-enter Heav'n . . ." (ibid., 2.395-397). This is not the Satan who saw the matter through his own world view or it might be disregarded to his own imprudence, but, actually, Heaven has a analogous feeling that its borders and plans are endangered. Raphael tells Adam of traveling; "toward the Gates of Hell; / Squar'd in full Legion (such command we had) / To see that none thence issued forth a spie, / Or enemie, while God was in his work" (ibid., 8.232-236). If an omnipotent and omniscient God delivered these angels to ensure that nothing evil either approaches or enters, then He is challenging them, for He was conscious of the approach of the most evil thing likely, and did nothing to alert them to the fact. But interpreted psychologically, this passage quite evidently reads that the ego feels to be on sentry against the forces of the unconscious, but that unconscious essentials circumvent its defenses regardless. But the continuance of this status of siege is only obligatory from the position of examination of ego, or, as St. Paul would have it, sarx, which; "in a larger sense denotes the hostility of the human self to the divine absolute" (O'Keefe, 1982:28-29). It is the consequence of the ego's effort to maintain itself as "all-powerful King."
Adam and Eve begin their lives in Paradise, in; "Uninterrupted joy, unrivald love / In blissful solitude . . . " (Paradise Lost, 3.68-69). However, this Paradise; "contains several surprises which are not minor and are not played down" (Lewalski, 1971:87). This condition of Paradise has parallels which are established in the Buddhist notion of ‘the realm of the gods’, one of a sequence of realms attempts to define as; "primarily emotional attitudes toward ourselves and our surroundings, emotional attitudes colored and reinforced by conceptual explanations and rationalizations" (1988:24). Trungpa states that the realm of the gods is idyllic; ". . . quite possibly we might believe this to be the permanent achievement of enlightenment or union with God. At that moment everything we see appears to be beautiful, loving . . . because we have achieved oneness with ego. This is the absolute, ultimate achievement of bewilderment .” (ibid., p. 26).
The first revelation in the Garden is its overly-luxuriant intensification. Adam and Eve are relentlessly occupied in landscaping responsibilities, yet their daily toil cannot keep pace with the Garden's fecundity. Lewalski points out; “ . . even in the idyll of Book IV Adam observes that they can only barely cope on a day to day basis with the immense task of maintaining the Garden in a condition of ordered beauty, and indeed that it is a times marred by overgrown paths and 'unsightly' blossoms strewn about . . . Later, Eve makes the same point: . . . 'what we by day / Lop overgrown, or prop, or bind, / One night or two with wanton growth derides / Tending to wild' (IX,207-212)" (1971:91-92) She concludes by stating; “The implication of the analogy we have been tracing is that Adam and Eve, like the Garden, have natures capable of a prodigious growth of good things, but which require constant pruning to remove excessive or unsightly growth, constant correction of overreaching tendencies, constant propping of possible weaknesses . . . (Ibid., p. 94) Compare this with Eco’s elucidation of Edenic language, when he comments on Adam; “Furthermore, the whole process is flattering to his [Adam's] ego: ever since he started to manipulate language, he has been inclined to see himself as being on the side of God” (1979:100) One could make attempt to draw a conclusion between these two theories by reflecting on Trungpa; “So the realm of the gods is not particularly painful, in itself. The pain comes from the eventual disillusionment. You think you have achieved a continually blissful state . . . you are dwelling on that. But suddenly something shakes you and you realize that what you have achieved is not going to last forever.” (1988:27)
Eve begins to feel pain when she foreshadows Satan’s coming by complaining to Adam; "Frail is our happiness, if this be so, / And Eden were no Eden thus expos'd" (Paradise Lost, 9.340-341). Satan's first appearance in the Garden is as a cormorant hovering on the Tree of Life in Book IV, and that in Book IX he raises as a vapor from the fountain by that same tree. Life is not to permit this state to persist, Satan finally comes to Eve in the shape of a serpent, which, as Ken Wilber states; "refers . . . to all the lowest levels . . . of the Great Chain of Being (matter, vegetable, and lower animal-bodily life) . . . All of this is simply collapsed, for convenience, . . . and referred to collectively as the 'Uroboros,' the serpent of nature . . ." (1983:22-23). Furthermore; "Whatever else we may say, the serpent was there in Eden" (ibid., p. 23). The ego, no matter its shape of defense, cannot protect itself from the root of its own reality, which is the greater world beyond itself.
What are Adam and Even without the Tree? ". . . the Tree / Of prohibition, root of all our woe" (Paradise Lost, 9.644-645), and "The only sign of our obedience left" (ibid., 4.428), in which hangs the forbidden fruit. Eco says-when concluding his argument of signs (one might assume as such); “A sign is not only something which stands for something else; it is also something that can and must be interpreted" (1984:46). The apple appears to block all notions of interpretation because of the issue of mediation. Prior to the fall, there was a boundary, made manifest by a medium (the apple); this medium, paying heed to the very structure of mediation, disturbed what it mediated, death bringing forth the knowledge of good and evil. However, when Adam falls he transgressed the sign, therefore obliterating the medium which had interrupted- death . Eco asserts; " . . . interpret a sign means to define the portion of the continuum which serves as its vehicle in its relationship with other portions of the continuum . . . It means to define a portion through the use of other portions . . ." (1984:44). As Milton himself says; "Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by, / Knowledge of Good bought dear by knowing ill" (Paradise Lost, 4.221-222). Without the knowledge of which element of the continuum evil refers to it is unfeasible to know which part good demarcates. Adam and Eve's tasting the temptation of the fruit is the analysis of this sign. As Eco tells us; “the sign always opens up something new" (1984:44). Death is made manefest as an entity separate from life after the fall, death goes from being something latently apparent into something that can be differentiated as its own entity.
Signs initiate a mediation for their signifieds as opposed to bringing an interpretant immediately present to the interpreter's mind. Lives become conceptualized, for concepts multiply in order to enlighten the person to the paradoxes of other concepts; "For one forbidden Tree a multitude / Now ris'n" (Paradise Lost, 10.554-555). Concepts stand on a precipice between experience and reality, and mental structures, like the ego, arise; “It is a succession of confusions that create ego. The process of ego actually consists of a flicker of confusion, a flicker of aggression, a flicker of grasping . . . So we build up an idea, a preconception, that self and other are solid and continuous. And once we have this idea, we manipulate our thoughts to confirm it, and are afraid of any contrary evidence. It is this fear of exposure, this denial of impermanence that imprisons us. It is only by acknowledging impermanence that there is a chance to die and the space to be reborn . . .” (Trungpa, 1988:13)
Joseph Campbell’s elucidation of the symbolism one might be inclined to see when Adam and Eve leave the garden is fitting; “When Yahweh threw man out of the Garden, he put two cherubim at the gate, with a flaming sword between. Now, when you approach a Buddhist shrine, with the Buddha seated under the tree of immortal life, you will find at the gate two guardians--those are the cherubim, and you're going between them to the tree of immortal life . . . The cherubim at the gate -- who are they? At the Buddhist shrines you'll see one has his mouth open, the other has his mouth closed--fear and desire, a pair of opposites. If you're approaching a garden like that, and those two figures are real to you and threaten you, if you have fear for your life, you are outside the garden. But if you are no longer attached to your ego existence, but see the ego as a function of a larger, eternal totality . . . you won't be afraid of those two figures, and you will go on through.We're kept out of the Garden by our own fear and desire in relation to what we think to be the goods of our life. (1988:107) This is the genesis of the post-lapsarian world, where death is to be feared and life a good to be coveted. The early myths of humanity contained; "fluid boundaries," that have been; "fixed by a stiffening process" (ibid., p. 209). MacCaffery shows that for Milton the “Deity” might be the great equalizer between death and life; “Deity is the Creator above all; the aptest epithet for the devil is the Destroyer. The contrast between the powers of life and the forces of death controls much of the language of the poem . . . Hell is 'a universe of death . . . Where all life dies, death lives' “(ii.622-24). When the mind scorns death, we enter into a dualistic world; a world of transgression from one state to another. Trungpa presents the self as; "Self and objects . . . both arise through a historical conditioning that makes the past the source of what is real" (1987:176).
Negative negativity refers to the philosophies we use to validate what tools we use to circumvent our own pain. We act as though the more basal and vulgar entities of our world do not really exist and that they should never be brought into meaning; “. . . (it is) a way of trying to pretend that things are what we would like them to be instead of what they are . . (But) Basic negativity is very revealing, sharp and accurate. If we leave it as basic negativity rather than overlaying it with conceptualizations, then we see the nature of its intelligence”. (Trungpa, 1988:73-74).
In this paper, (some of) the characters, locations, and situations of Paradise Lost have been interpreted as signs of the environment of the dual mind that believes in the definitive reality of its judgments and the divisions it has produced in the continuum. However, one must not rule out hope that we may be able to break away from the cage of our own concepts. The non-discriminating mind, if it seems to judge and discriminate, does so only to point past judgment to the pure void. It does not settle down in its finding as final. It does not erect its judgment into a structure to be defended against all comers. This concluding argument can best be supported by a quote from Eco, which is far better than anything I can offer from my own self; “The sign as the locus (constantly interrogated) for the semiosic process constitutes . . . the instrument through which the subject [the ego] is continuously made and unmade . . . Perhaps we are, somewhere, the deep impulse which generates semiosis. And yet we recognize ourselves only as semiosis in progress . . . The map of semiosis, as defined at a given stage of historical development (with the debris carried over from the previous semiosis), tells us who we are and what (or how) we think.” (1984:45)
Works Cited/ Referenced
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