Sunday, October 23, 2011

Revelatory Art from Terrance Lindall . . .

Humiliation of . . . Satan
Terrance Lindall

Terrance Lindall sent me (though not only me) another image from his illustrative paintings for John Milton's Paradise Lost . . . though it looks more like the Book of Revelation to my mind's eye, rendered by a modern-day Hieronymous Bosch! But here's what Terrance himself writes:
One of the most interesting times in painting is when the elements of a new picture comes together. This is what the beginning of an illuminated illustration looks like at the beginning. This is the tribulation and . . . humiliation, stultification, abasement of pride, or mortification of Satan. Our vanquished "hero" is curled up in a fetal position before the Son. The serpents representing Satan's rebellious alter ego are being stabbed and mortified. The Queen of all saints is there in the background too, with the Son celebrating the conquest.
From Terrance's email, we read of his art's endeavor and see that this is indeed more the Book of Revelation's last times than Paradise Lost's first times. Since "the Son" is "celebrating the conquest," this does not occur during the Miltonic War in Heaven (though one also finds such a war in Revelation), for that is not a war of conquest, but of expulsion. This conquest is the conquest of Hell. We thus find in the background the "Queen of all saints." This is Mary, the mother of Jesus, holding the infant Jesus -- perhaps based on an image in Revelation of the woman who gives birth in the desert -- and Terrance's expression "Queen of all saints" recalls the Catholic title for Mary as the "Queen of Heaven." Is Terrance "high Lutheran"?

Even if so, he's a bit unorthodox, for if we consider the image of Satan being subjected to "humiliation, stultification, abasement of pride, or mortification," and ask why, we might imagine that "mortification" means Satan's destruction by death, but the term can also mean the rather Catholic expression, "the mortification of the flesh," a type of purging that cleanses one of sin. If we consider the "abasement of [Satan's] pride" and the stabbing and mortifying of Satan's "rebellious alter ego," we can understand these expressions to refer to precisely what Satan is undergoing, namely, the purging of his rebellious pride. He is being prepared for redemption, being made fit again for heaven -- hence leading us to interpret Satan's "fetal position" as a symbolic image of one about to be reborn through the Son, perhaps in the Johannine sense of being "born again" or "born from above," both possible translations being applicable here. This is Terrance's vision of apokatastasis, a universal salvation that for him includes even Satan. My reading here isn't entirely subjective, for Terrance has told me that he thinks, ultimately, even Satan will be redeemed. Like Terrance, God is an artist reworking old creations and letting them shine in a new light.

Strange, to think where life takes one. I reflect on this image of Satan and Terrance's words and recall that I first saw his artwork back in the latter 1970s, maybe something like this story in Heavy Metal, whether in the Arkansas Ozarks or Waco, Texas, I no longer recall, but the time was shortly before I left the South for the Bay Area, thereby setting myself off on my unexpected trek through the world and life, which has brought me this far, thus far.

Only to meet Terrance again, not in hard copy this time, but electronically . . .

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