[Milton-L] Directly

Jeffrey Wilson jrwilson at uci.edu
Fri Jul 28 18:11:49 EDT 2006

For example, when Satan spies Uriel at 3.631-34, the Muse narrates,

Glad was the Spirit impure as now in hope
To find who might direct his wandring flight
To Paradise the happie seat of Man,
His journies end and our beginning woe.

God previously said that Satan goes directly to Man. Here, the Muse  
says that Satan has a wandering flight. The events of the poem - i.e.  
the progression Michael Gillum has outlined in his post -  
overwhelmingly support the Muse's analysis rather than God's.

To bend and squeeze the definition of "directly" until it fits with  
Satan's flight is to, as Richard Rorty is fond of saying, beat the  
text with a hammer until it says what we want it to say; or, more  
locally, it is to treat the obviously imperfect narrative abilities  
of the characters in the text as "when men follow the doctrine too  
much for the teacher's sake, whom they think almost infallible; and  
this becomes through infirmity, implicit faith" (Of True Religion).

Jeff Wilson

P.S. I don't have a reference handy, but for an alternate reading,  
Victoria Silver would take God to speak these lines ironically, as in  
"Look at Satan as he goes *directly* toward the new created world and  
man placed therein. Ahahahahaha, what a schmuck is he to think he's  
going directly." As Silver says, it doesn't make God any more likable  
but differently dislikable.

On Jul 28, 2006, at 3:22 PM, Michael Gillum wrote:

> Jeff Wilson,
> Could you please indicate what points in the text support the view  
> that Satan doesn't head to Paradise as directly as it is possible  
> to do? He flies directly from Chaos to the outside of our cosmos,  
> walks/ is blown around on the surface until he discovers the portal  
> to the interior, looks in while standing at the foot of the stair,  
> drops through, flies down, sees Uriel standing on the sun, asks  
> directions, and flies to Earth.
> Michael Gillum
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