Terrance Lindall: "Satan’s Peculiar Grace" in The Bottomless Bottle of Beer?
My friend Terrance Lindall, artist and intellectual, has prepared a lecture, "Satan's Peculiar Grace," for the 14th Annual WAH Salon Art Club Show, which has its opening reception on January 26, 2013, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (WAH Center). In that reception, Lindall will offer a literary analysis of the character of Satan in John Milton's Paradise Lost and related literature, as we see here in his preliminary lecture notes:
Literature and art are fecund with the character of Satan. In Faust he inspires a scholar, who, in pursuit of knowledge, seems to be ensnared. In Balzac's The Fatal Skin, Benét's Devil and Daniel Webster, and Stoker's Dracula, we see that Evil incarnate has a peculiar, even attractive grace. Why are stories of these Satanic characters MORE interesting than stories about goodly characters? Milton had that problem. Paradise Lost was far more interesting than Paradise Regained and Dante's Inferno far more compelling than Dante's Paradiso. You can see at the WAH Center on January 26th where we discuss this issue one of the latest works of art revolving around an oily and persuasive Satan. They are my own illustrations for Horace Jeffery Hodges' BOTTOMLESS BOTTLE OF BEER that was just published two weeks ago. Indeed you will see that the devil therein has a peculiar grace as he attempts to ensnare a guileless naif.Lindall's lecture is farther-reaching than just my story, but he'll have on display some of his illustrations for my story, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, which can be seen in part here and can be ordered here.
The expression "peculiar grace" derives not from Jeffrey Lent's novel of that name, A Peculiar Grace, but from John Milton's Paradise Lost 3.183-4, where God declares:
Some I have chosen of peculiar graceThose chosen of peculiar grace have a divinely selected role to play in God's purposes, a theme taken up by Stephen M. Fallon in Milton's Peculiar Grace: Self-Representation and Authority, in which Fallon argues that Milton applied the category to himself, considering himself "blameless" and "perfect" (page x). Those of us who are not John Milton might consider this a peculiar pride on Milton's part, a pride shared with Satan, so perhaps Milton really was "of the devil's party," as William Blake suggested.
Elect above the rest; so is my will . . .
Lindall draws specifically upon Fallon's book, at least for the lecture title, but takes up the other side of Blake's equation and applies "peculiar grace" to Satan himself, as though Satan has a divinely chosen role to play, a suggestion that leads into such debatable soteriological territory as that of felix culpa (i.e., happy fall).
Lindall seems to play with another meaning of "peculiar grace" with respect to my story. That 'peculiar' grace Lindall refers to wouldn't happen to be an allusion to something that I borrowed from Neil Gaiman, a Shoggoth's Old Peculiar, would it?
The complete lecture notes to Lindall's talk can be read here.