[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

John Rumrich rumrich at mail.utexas.edu
Wed Jul 12 14:37:11 EDT 2006


Oops.  I forgot to include the title of the journal:  Representations.


On Jul 12, 2006, at 1:27 PM, John Rumrich wrote:

> Fred Hoerner published a carefully argued essay discussing Adam's 
> invention of fire in the contexts of Augustinian theology and practice 
> theory.  In it, he addresses many of the concerns touched on in this 
> thread.
>
> Here's the citation:  Fred Hoerner, "'Fire to Use': A Practice-Theory 
> Approach to Paradise Lost," Summer 1995, 51: 94-117.
>
> John Rumrich
>
>
>
> On Jul 12, 2006, at 1:01 PM, jfleming at sfu.ca wrote:
>
>> On Tue, 11 Jul 2006 19:54:55 -0400 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
>>> Adam invents fire when bad weather begins after the Fall
>>> (10.1070-85). This is after Adam has absorbed Eve's idea of
>>> repentance and begun to think there may be a point to carrying on
>>> with life.
>>>
>>> Michael Gillum
>>
>> Granted. But (1) this is a response to the fall, helping to throw the 
>> fall
>> (with its temperature control, uncooked dinners, and guiltless tools) 
>> into
>> relief. (2) even here, A does not "invent" fire, in the modern and
>> technological sense. Perhaps we could say that he "invents" it in the
>> early-modern, rhetorical sense. But perhaps it would be simpler to 
>> note that
>> "invention" and its cognates, with all of their problematic 
>> associations,
>> are absent from the passage (cp Satan's gunpowder speech in 6).
>>
>> Fire is not a capability that Adam discovers where it was unapparent 
>> -- as
>> Satan discovers gunpowder beneath the green fields of Heaven. Neither 
>> is
>> fire something that A proffers as a startling or new possibility, or
>> anything that stretches vocabulary in the manner of new technologies 
>> --
>> compare Raphael's stammering attempt to describe cannon in 6. Rather, 
>> the
>> possibility of fire is something that Adam identifies as apparent in 
>> his and
>> E's experience, and available for imitation precisely because it is
>> established and intelligible:
>>
>> 		   as late the Clouds
>> Justling or pusht with Winds rude in thir shock
>> Tine the slant Lightning, whose thwart flame driv'n down
>> Kindles the gummy bark of Fir or Pine,
>> And sends a comfortable heat from far,
>> Which might supply the Sun: such Fire to use,
>> ... He will instruct us praying (10.1073-1081)
>>
>> It is hard to imagine a less Promethean, or less Satanic, account of 
>> the
>> matter. Not only has God been giving fire, even when it wasn't 
>> needed, all
>> along; A also assumes, correctly, that _prayer_ is the way to figure 
>> out how
>> to use it. If A identifies a _techne_ in this passage, it is prayer. 
>> But
>> this is hardly technological. Something is at stake here for M.
>>
>> JD Fleming
>>
>>
>> James Dougal Fleming, Ph.D.
>> Assistant Professor of English,
>> Simon Fraser University,
>> (604) 291-4713
>> cell: 778-865-0926
>>
>> Laissez parler les faits.
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