[Milton-L] Perspectivism and Chaos

Yaakov Mascetti mascety at mail.biu.ac.il
Sun Sep 23 00:24:08 EDT 2007


Dear All:

A brief note in this erudite debate to propose a different way to  
interpret the role of Chaos in Milton's PL: what would happen if we  
were to read the nature of this ambiguous and problematic realm from  
the perspective of the single protagonists who face it throughout the  
epic. Meaning: the Word, Satan, Death and Sin. How does Chaos appear  
to each of these? And if there is a difference, how must we interpret  
the fact that the same thing is seen in different (very different)  
ways? Let me ask an even simplet question: why does Chaos interlocute  
with Satan, but it does not with the Word? Why does it react  
rebelliously to the building of the bridge by Sin and Death, while it  
placidly undergoes a "similar" act by Gd?

If there is an issue of perspectivism in Milton's conception of  
Chaos, would this help us to understand the different versions we  
have of it" Boundless, bounded, inchoate, fertile womb of creation,  
good matter, destructive forces, infernal dregs, etc.

Hope this may ignite further discussion on a subject I am much  
interested in.

Best regards,

Yaakov Mascetti

--
Yaakov A. Mascetti PhD
Dept. of Comparative Literature
Bar Ilan University
Israel

On Sep 22, 2007, at 9:43 PM, Harold Skulsky wrote:

> Hi, Michael!
>
> I share your doubt about whether (unlike heaven, hell, and nature  
> [the physical universe]) chaos deserves to be included among  
> Milton's multiple worlds. For one thing, it is the womb of nature-- 
> the quarry for the basic raw material of the physical universe. In  
> other words, it's part of that universe in which God puts forth his  
> goodness in an inchoate form; the atoms may be powerless to form  
> objects spontaneously, but they obey dynamic laws that doom them to  
> an endless cycle--unless the Creator intervenes.
>
> I think this last is the point of what amounts to a thought  
> experiment: Democriitus and his modern epigoni are wrong to think  
> that the natural order results from the chance collisions of  
> elementary particles in the absence of intelligent design. "Swerve"  
> isn't enough to give us galaxies. Atomism (on this view) would be  
> well advised to beef up its explanatory hypothesis with a clause  
> about intelligent design. In short, part of M's literary project is  
> to produce a Christian materialist corrective to Lucretius or  
> Manilius. I can imagine an alternate history in which we had a De  
> rerum natura (in characteristically marvelous Latin) from M's hands.
>
> Cheers,
> Harold
>
>>>> Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu> 9/20/2007 3:16 PM >>>
>  I'm not sure Chaos ought to be listed in series with the three  
> created places as one
> of  four "worlds."
>
>
>
>
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