Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Fallen Angels: "Implacable resentment was their crime"

Satan as Dorian Gray
(Image from Gypsy Scholar)

Some readers might recall the quoted line in today's heading as coming from 1756 tragedy Douglas, by John Home, for I cited it once before. The playwright Home wasn't describing Satan and his fallen compatriates, but 'twill serve, for it describes especially Satan's motive for rebellion, both his initial revolt and his continued opposition as depicted in John Milton's Paradise Lost.

I had this insight (undoubtedly unoriginal) in response to a recent remark by a friend who works at The Hague in a field that borders on the world of diplomacy:
"Recovering from a very hard week. Discovering that coworkers can be sabotaging ambitious jerks, even when there is nothing to gain. Universal, I guess."
I responded, albeit a bit belatedly:
I had intended to sympathize, but time got away from me. Sorry to hear of the "ambitious jerks" sabotaging you for no gain. That's the mystery of our fallen natures, Milton would say. Sabotage without gain is the quintessence of Satan's resistance throughout Paradise Lost. The Adversary continues his revolt against Heaven when he has nothing to show for it but his dissatisfied resentment and greater depths of fallenness.

Everyone should read Milton . . .
The depiction of Satan in Paradise Lost is our own Dorian Gray, for as he falls, his appearance falls, as depicted above in a famous image by Terrance Lindall, and that fallen and ever-falling cropped image, as Milton would agree, mirrors the appearance of our own cropped and fallen soul.

But we can at least take cold comfort in the fact that there's something angelic about us . . .

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At 8:05 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Dorean Dark Gray

At 8:23 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That, too . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:49 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

even when there is nothing to gain

It can be sublime, if it is done in a Surrealist mood.
As Milton's Satan should have done, but in fact he did want to gain something.

That's btw why I deny the current / mainstream idea of Salvation: according to it, Jesus' actions are too usefully-biased.
And useless, therefore.

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

P.S. the true un-gain-ly thing was the poem Paradise Lost itself. I don't think, in fact, that Milton wrote it in order to gain glory, either in his time or afterwards (unlike Dante).

At 7:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

True, Satan hopes to gain damned souls, but that's cold comfort -- and ultimately no comfort at all, as every act of rebellion redounds on Satan's own head, increasing his resentment even as that resentment is made ever less forgivable.

Jeffery Hodges

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