[Milton-L] Satanic Monument Next to Ten Commandments

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Mon Dec 9 16:20:31 EST 2013


I was just going to respond the same way: how is Milton's Satan "selfless"?


I think what we have here isn't Satanism but a Gnostic reading of Satan.
Hans Jonas established a Gnostic narrative in which the true God was
partially enslaved by false gods (or a false or subordinate deity or
deities) in material nature, and sentient beings are parts of the true God
trapped within it. The false god, being the creator of material nature,
sets himself up as the true deity over it, suppressing all expressions of
the true God (as well as knowledge of the true God) through authoritarian
structures and a rigid moral code. Therefore transgressive figures such as
Prometheus and Satan are heroes because of their rebellion against the
false god who rules over and through material nature. Sentient beings must
gain enlightenment to escape their bondage to material nature and reunite
with the true God. Gnosticism, by this account, is as much a hermeneutic as
it is a religion. Plato's Allegory of the Cave, therefore, really
represents the human skull as the cave, and enlightenment as escaping the
confines of the human skull (physical senses) to attain enlightenment
(knowledge of the true God).

This sentence sounds particularly Gnostic, but it celebrates material
nature rather than rejects it:

"...the Satanic archetype as a symbol of revolt against the tyranny of
autocracy as well as the tyranny of archaic dogmas… a literary Satan that
holds primacy in the corporeal world from which God is permanently
detached."

I would say these Satanists have presented Blake's Satan far more than
Milton's given their celebration of the aesthetic and sensory (but refined
sensory, not bestial). That's a cowardly Satanism, though: "Yes, we're
Satanists, but we're polite and refined. We have taste." Why bother?
They're better off just sticking with the Epicureanism they invoked if they
don't have the courage to pursue unrestrained worship of the senses through
material nature.

Or they could just be Catholics instead.

My reading of Blake is that he adopts the Gnostic narrative to serve as
commentary on the English church/state complex: the God of the Anglican
church is a false God who has trapped English believers in a false
phenomenology of material nature (mechanism: Bacon, Newton, Locke) and
which presents a false, authoritarian religion which Jesus resists.

A monument to Loki, now... everyone would get behind that. Especially after
the latest Thor movie.

Jim R


On Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 3:47 PM, Jameela Lares <jameela.lares at usm.edu> wrote:

> I would have difficulty linking "selfless" and "Milton's Satan."
> Self-deluded, maybe.
>
> Jameela Lares
> Professor of English
> The University of Southern Mississippi
> 118 College Drive, #5037
> Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
> 601 266-4319 ofc
> 601 266-5757 fax
> ________________________________________
> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Hannibal Hamlin [
> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, December 09, 2013 2:29 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Satanic Monument Next to Ten Commandments
>
> I regret there's no picture of the proposed monument to Satan. The Satanic
> Temple, however, seems straight-up and has a substantial website:
> http://www.thesatanictemple.com/. I'm intrigued by their statement of
> belief:
>
> "The Satanic Temple seeks to separate Religion from Superstition by
> acknowledging religious belief as a metaphorical framework with which we
> construct a narrative context for our goals and works. Satan stands as the
> ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational
> inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness."
>
> This suggests Milton's Satan, rather than the biblical-traditional one, is
> really at the center of their self-conception. Is the desire to separation
> Religion from Superstition and the acknowledgment of the metaphorical
> (think of the Eucharist) really so far from Reformation theology?
>
> Hannibal
>
>
>
>
>
> On Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 11:56 AM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com
> <mailto:jamesrovira at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Gregory:
>
> I suspect he's living out Anton LaVey's parable in The Satanic Bible:
>
> One day, one man said to another man on the street, "I will give you the
> secret to lifelong happiness, prosperity, and power if you hand over to me
> all the money that you have in your wallet right now." The second man,
> surprised, quickly handed over his money, and then first man leaned forward
> and whispered into his ear, "There's a sucker born every minute."
>
> We should let them pay to erect a useless monument so what we can laugh at
> them for laughing at us for allowing them to pay quite a bit of money to
> erect a useless monument.
>
> Jim R
>
>
> On Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM, Gregory Machacek <
> Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu<mailto:Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu>> wrote:
> I take it the Satanist representative is being tongue-in-cheek when he
> says the following:
>
> "We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with
> community standards," Greaves wrote in letter to state officials. "Our
> proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will
> certainly abide by these guidelines."
>
> I'll admit I don't know anything about serious modern-day Satanists, but
> it would seem to me that either 1) their monument should not be in good
> taste and consistent with community standards (i.e. be the negation of
> those) or 2) the "community standards" he references are, a la Young
> Goodman Brown, the actually Satanic ones in a professedly Christian
> community.
>
> I'm trying to get at Greaves' tone in this quote.
>
>
>
> Greg Machacek
> Professor of English
> Marist College
>
>
> -----milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> wrote: -----
> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:
> milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>>
> From: John K Leonard
> Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu<mailto:
> milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>
> Date: 12/09/2013 11:30AM
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Satanic Monument Next to Ten Commandments
>
>
> Interesting that the Satanists want to erect their monument as "an homage
> to the historic/literary Satan" (quotation from Jeffrey's link). I don't
> know what the Satanists mean by "historic," but I think I can guess just
> which literary Satan they have in mind. They have good taste, but why not
> raise a monument to Satan's creator (literary creator)? I'd be all for
> that, especially on this day.
>
> John Leonard
>
> On 12/09/13, Steve Fallon <sfallon at nd.edu<mailto:sfallon at nd.edu>> wrote:
>
> Hi Jeffrey,
>
> I'm glad that you liked the photo.  I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't
> think of the date until I saw the message below.  Thanks for making sure I
> didn't miss Milton's birthday!
>
> And thanks for the marvelous hospitality at the recent NEMS.
>
> All the best,
> Steve
>
> Stephen M Fallon | U. of Notre Dame | John J Cavanaugh Professor of the
> Humanities |Professor, Program of Liberal Studies and Department of English
> | 356 O'Shaughnessy Hall | Notre Dame, IN 46556 | Tel: 1.574.631.6598<tel:
> 1.574.631.6598> | pls.nd.edu<http://pls.nd.edu/>, english.nd.edu<
> http://english.nd.edu/>
>
>
>
> On Dec 9, 2013, at 10:41 AM, Shoulson, Jeffrey wrote:
>
> Perhaps some of you have already seen this article about a group of
> Satanists who, following the precedent set by their Christian counterparts
> in Oklahoma in erecting a monument to the Ten Commandments outside the
> state capitol, want to build their own monument to Satan (privately funded,
> of course):
>
>
> http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/oklahoma-satanists-seek-to-put-monument-on-capitol-steps-next-to-ten-commandments
>
> On Milton's 405th birthday, it's difficult to think if a better way to
> mark the occasion.
>
> Best wishes,
>
> Jeffrey
>
>
>
>
> _____________________________________________________
> Jeffrey Shoulson, Ph.D.
> Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies
> Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life
> Professor of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages and Professor of English
> University of Connecticut
> Thomas Dodd Research Center
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>
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>
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>
> Fictions of Conversion, now available
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>
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> --
> Dr. James Rovira
> Associate Professor of English
> Tiffin University
> http://www.jamesrovira.com
> Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
> Continuum 2010
> http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
> Text, Identity, Subjectivity
> http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index
>
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> --
> Hannibal Hamlin
> Associate Professor of English
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-- 
Dr. James Rovira
Associate Professor of English
Tiffin University
http://www.jamesrovira.com
Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
Continuum 2010
http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
Text, Identity, Subjectivity
http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index
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