America in Milton’s Paradise Lost by Rocket Kirchner

DORÉ, Gustave Illustration for John Milton's Paradise Lost 1866

Image by carulmare via Flickr

by Rocket Kirchner
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rocket Kirchner (blog)
Rocket Kirchner (youtube channel)
February 8, 2016

From time to time it is a wake up call to just go back and read the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States Constitution. In regards to things like goodness and liberty, ”We seek our own good for ourselves, and from our own live for ourselves, though in this vast recess, free and to none accountable, preferring hard liberty before the easy yoke of servile pomp”. Yes indeed, it is a wake up call to go back and read their writings.

However, what I just quoted to you was not from their writings, but was a direct quote from the character of Satan in The Argument Book Two from John Milton’s masterpiece entitled Paradise Lost. Comparing Milton’s Satan to the writings of the Founding Fathers is the real wake up call. The goodness sought from self in the vast recess of land to none accountable, choosing hard liberty is the root and foundation for every bloody injustice in American history.

Although Paradise Lost was first published in 1667, a century before the ink was even dry on the United States Constitution, America’s nefarious activity can be seen ever so clear in this epic poem. One might even call it a foreshadowing of what was to come. As opposed to the triad of infinite goodness, grace, and mercy as laid out in The Argument Book One, Satan and his angels directly after the fall experience confusion, wrath, and vengeance. It is important to note in this inversion of opposites that Milton uses the word treble before the word confusion.

David Tobia seems to think that the word treble stands for trebled or tripled. This is a very plausible theory considering the multiple usage of triads to express the Christian paradigm as in regards to the virtue and essence of the Godhead. In no disrespect to Tobia, I see it as a double entendre. The musician in me sees the word that is every bit definitionally valid as the word shrill. A shrill confusion so to speak. From my own sonic experience of what torture can be with a shrieking guitar with too much high end treble, the mind descends into absolute confusion.

This triad of shrill confusion we see and hear all around us every day and night in America. It is sexual, racial, and political. There is so much shrieking today about identity sexuality, identity racialism, identity politics, and it just does not let up. It is really starting to banish all clarity. A lecture on moralism this is not. An observation on identity crisis this is, through the filter of great literature.

Exactly what kind of identity crisis was Milton’s main character Satan in the poem actually going through? And how can that be applied to the identity crisis acting out of America today? Being thrown out of Heaven for Satan’s attempt to overthrow God, it was not enough for him to just let things be. He was as we read totally stunned. But after gathering some semblance of composure within himself, he has much to say that seeks to rationalize such a mistake which he does not view as a mistake. Self-deception equal self-crisis.

One senses self-loathing in almost every word but veiled very well under his seductive and eloquent speech. No indeed, Satan can’t just let it be. He becomes a preacher, a ranter, a shrieker. His self-loathing and cognitive dissonance is projected to the almost infinite power. He is rallying the troops in full blown iambic pentameter. And to what end? REVENGE. Welcome to America 2016 in all its madness, except without the poetry.

John Kerrigan in his book Revenge Tragedy: Aeschylus to Armageddon, places Milton’s Paradise Lost right along side and in context with Seneca’s Thyestes and Shakespeare’s King Lear in chapter five entitled “On Anger.” Anger resulting from hubris indeed ends in tragedy. But not just any tragedy, but revenge tragedy. One has to be masochistic to listen to all of today’s shrill confused shriekers beating their tin drums, whether it be politicians wreaking havoc on each other and the public psyche, or obsession with sex in its so called normalcy or its so called perversions, or the whole racial thing of all races colliding with each other.

Ladies and Gentleman, let us face facts: there is no more civil discourse in the public square. There is nothing naïve. All is out in the open like Satan’s soliloquies. A bleeding wound that will not heal. We are at full fever pitch waiting for national implosion. The great harangue is the great burial. The big resentment is the big heat. To listen to all of this one might go deaf. To get roped into it all this political, sexual, and racial insanity may split the self as it split the atom and one might go mad.

Wherever one falls on any side of the coin on any side of these issues today is not as important as the erosion that this lethal atmosphere can do to our sanity and our humanity. Losing that is the equivalent to being kicked out of Heaven. America IS Paradise Lost. The media airwaves, the streets, the universities, the pulpits, the podiums, the campaign trails, all of it is a howling wilderness of hate. The hate of one another comes from a deeper hate. And Milton gives the real reason and tells us who we really hate straight out of the mouth of his larger than life Satan:

How wearisome Eternity so spent
in worship paid
to whom we hate!

from the archives:

Emerson and the Arrogance of Self-Reliance by Rocket Kirchner

The Self As The Ultimate Source Of All Tyranny by Rocket Kirchner

Deliver Us From Virtue by Rocket Kirchner

The Crossing: The Event That Changed My Life by Rocket Kirchner

Rocket Kirchner: The Cult Of One + Thawing Out


9 thoughts on “America in Milton’s Paradise Lost by Rocket Kirchner

  1. Pingback: Compromise and Commitment in Literature by Gaither Stewart | Dandelion Salad

  2. Thanks Rocket, this is spot on. It’s tragic that a nation that so long has seen itself to be Christian resonates so closely today not with the words of Christ but those of Milton’s Satan. We’ve forgotten, if we ever really knew, how to love our neighbors–our enemies even–and instead worship at the altar of the Self.

  3. Very well said Rocket, that certainly raises the bar ~ and I don’t mean in the backstage lounge…amply stated, Sir.

    Now I’ll have to consult H Bloom again and Frye and…even Milton. Should keep me quiet for a while….

    • David, thank you. Bloom on his book The Western Canon deals with Milton of course. I just bought Milton criticism from Samuel Johnson to TS Eliot.

      Of course he caught hell because he made the character of Satan so big. As a literary device so that salvation via the humility of Christ really means something.

      I began to see America in this masterpiece when Milton said “Treble Confusion.”

    • David – heads up on Stevie Davies : Images in Kingship in Paradise Lost – Milton’s politics and Christian Liberty. She details in context of its day the political side of things and how Milton addresses this in Paradise Lost.

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