[Milton-L] Eve's curls (reply to William Moeck)

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Fri Sep 4 20:46:43 EDT 2009


Well, Jeffery--

I can't say that I know who planted them, and no--I wouldn't blame that on God, at least not from Milton's perspective--but the first entity with whom Eve falls desperately in love is herself (her reflection). Freud would say that the seeds came from her ego: she is "lovely to attract" the appreciation of her husband, after all, and "lovely to attract" her own admiration as well, and perhaps part of Milton's point is the danger of too much emphasis on the physical (but I don't see that as being what this is about). In some sense we are all easily destructible "images," ephemeral snapshots in time that instantly fade: my vision of myself over (mmmph) decades of life never included anything like the old woman I see in the mirror these days; in my mind, my image of me is that 20-something smiling back from a long-ago photograph. That Eve loves herself first, before God, and before Adam--that she has to be dragged physically away from her instanteous self-adoration at the moment of her creation--is of course foreshadowing of all that is to come. But I don't think Milton intends to point to the vanity of woman in any exclusive sense. Lucifer also adores himself before all others, and can't subordinate his will or his desires or his welfare or his burning need for revenge to anyone's or anything else's well-being; me before thee, in all aspects of his existence, such that he is willing to destroy all of the loyal angels who support him and the human pair who have never done him any harm to get what *he* wants. (If he could, he'd destroy the Father and the Son into the bargain.)  MY will be DONE!!

I suspect that the capacity for self-love is inherent in the human condition. It's what enables a Madoff to bilk hundreds of people of their life-savings; it's what allows a kid at Virginia Tech to slaughter dozens of people he doesn't know, to appease his own sense of "injur'd merit"; it's what allows a son, a daughter, a friend, a spouse to discard those who have loved him or her and supported and cared for and been there for him or her without a second thought, and never look back, or feel a nanosecond of remorse for the hurt left in the wake of that abandonment.

"Greater love hath no man . . ." indeed. But how many of us are capable of such selflessness?

Therein lie the seeds.

Best to all, 

Carol Barton
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