I appreciate Jeff Wilson's grammatical fastidiousness, and I especially appreciate his post's attempt to lay out his position clearly and calmly. On the basis of his argument, I am prepared to accept the proposition that the passage must be read as showing Satan winging directly towards both the cosmos and A&E. Now perhaps there has been too much give and take in the discussion, or maybe I'm just slow, but I seem to have forgotten how so saying puts the Father in a—shall I say—"incomplete" relation to the Truth.
<br><br>I say this not because I have much stake in the outcome of the present discussion; I confess—sorry PCH—that it seems (ironically) tangential. I seek clarification on the possibility that it could persuade me that my perception of the discussion has been wrong. I understand the stakes of whether or not God is just, truthful, etc., but I seem to have lost sight of the relevance of "directly" to these stakes. Again, I am grateful for Jeff Wilson's attempt to put this all in freshman-comp terms. I guess I'm looking for the supplement to his summa.
<br><br>I understand Michael Bryson's reading—that the purported directness of Satan's flight is not *exactly* direct (and yes, I have driven on the 405: lasciate ogne speranza, che voi intrate). This just doesn't seem the most effective textual point on which to base an argument for the Father's practice of prevarication (if there is such a textual point, which seems to be the issue).
<br><br>If I could offer a possible change of direction, we could discuss the consistency, or lack thereof, in the poem's representations of the prohibition. As nearly as I can tell, there are three: 4.411-439, 7.529-547, and
8.319-337. Without going into length, things that seem inconsistent include whether or not Eve is present, the ontological status of death (allegory or no?), and how the human(s) who hear(s) the prohibition respond(s) to it.
<br><br>Whereas the discussion over "directly" involves the narrator portraying, however directly the narrator does (sorry...), the Father speaking. The poem does not do this for the prohibition. Unless I am mistaken (always a possibility), PL never shows the Father directly delivering the prohibition; all representations of it are mediated. My point is emphatically not that the Father is somehow derelict in his duty to be forthright (I'm not sure he has such a duty). Rather, I think a discussion of the differing perspectives these multifarious accounts give, from within the poem, of a presumably singular statement by the Father might usefully give us some insight into the difficulties Milton's God faces in trying to communicate something as seemingly direct as: "See that fruit? DON'T EAT IT!"
<br><br>Since the meaning of "directly" in the current discussion seems to hinge, PCH's reference to the OED notwithstanding, on how we, the readers, understand the word, perhaps it might be enlightening to see how "readers" in PL address what the Father has to say. Along the way we might also conjecture as to why Milton chose not to show the Father saying it.
<br><br>Jason A. Kerr<font style="font-family: arial,sans-serif;" size="2"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"></span></font><br><br>-- <br>"Den som vover mister Fodfæste et Øieblick;<br>den som ikke vover mister Livet."
<br> -Søren Kierkegaard