An Early "Merry Christmas" from Terrance Lindall
A Dungeon Christmas Card Greeting
The surrealist artist Terrance Lindall is sending his holiday cards out early this year, and the artwork this time will look familiar to readers of Gypsy Scholar because Terrance is borrowing an image from his recent illustrations for Paradise Lost, which he allowed me to post about. Originally, the figure with the sword was identified with the Son of God, but Terrance later decided to identify the figure with Michael the Archangel. That seemed to me to shift the meaning of the symbolism from the prediction in Milton's Paradise Lost that the Son himself would defeat Satan in a final battle -- though Terrance reinterpreted this to mean Satan's redemption -- to a prediction in St. John's Revelation that Michael will defeat Satan in a final battle. Terrance therefore added an "M" to the angelic figure's belt buckle.
I now see that Terrance might have had another motive, namely, identifying the figure with Milton himself, such that the epic poet ends up not merely defeating Satan but redeeming him, for Terrance explains in his email on the above image: "He is mortifying the great liar Satan with the 'Sword of Truth and Justice.'" How does this redeem Satan? Recall my hypothesis:
[I]f 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.I asked Lindall about my interpretation, and he replied:
MY GOD!! You are one of the people who can put all my work over time together the right way!!!! You interpret me absolutely right! You should write the book on my PL art!Maybe I will, but I'd best wait till Lindall has finished, for my hermeneutic above is already out of date, which is why I've had to modify some points now that we've seen the sword-bearing figure shift from identification with the Son to Michael to Milton! I guess I can't be right all the time. At any rate, Terrance is offering his cards on the market, as explained in a recent email to those of us on his e-list:
This is this the basic design for the 2011 Xmas card, "Milton Harrowing Hell." He is mortifying the great liar Satan with the "Sword of Truth and Justice." This will be an art print on watercolor paper, signed and numbered. I am not sure how many I will produce. Would any of you like to order them? $25 each (because they are a frame-able art print). Shipping $3. This is the lower 24k gold border panel of one of the elephant folio pages.Anyone interested in sending Christmas cards of artistic value can perhaps contact Terrance Lindall at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center to inquire about purchasing copies.