Monday, September 30, 2013

Eliot and Milton

T. S. Eliot, widely considered one of Modernism's most important poets, is famous for his works such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Wasteland. He published many very influential critical essays, at least two of which directly deal with Milton.

In the first, "A Note on Milton's Verse," he claims that what Milton did well he did better than any other writer, but that "the marks against him are both more numerous and more significant than the marks to his credit." Some of these marks against Milton include his strenuous adherence to traditional language and his verbose inefficiency. Many blame Eliot and his disciples for removing Milton from the forefront of literary thought and replacing him with Donne and the metaphysical poets.

Although Eliot would later revisit the subject and give Milton some credit he had denied him,

Social Media Renaissance: Part 2

A common worry throughout history has been how more convenient forms of communication can negatively alter our realities. (See this comic for details.) However, with convenient forms of communication come convenient forms of feedback. It puts power into the hands of the people to not only circulate ideas, but to make them well-polished. I believe Milton would have thrived in our modern community. As mentioned in my last post, Milton believed people deserved the opportunity to become scholars and sages. Because of Martin Luther, Milton, and other Reformers with similar beliefs, we have the information we do. And the number of people exposed to the Restored Gospel increases each year because of the stance of the Church on social media. It's hard to give testimonials for others, though they are out there, so I'll briefly touch on some things I've done and experienced through this format.
It can be difficult to figure out at first, but once used to, it can be exciting.

Things I've done
  • Found communities in Google + that may be interested in the topic or the blog
  • Posted different hooks for different audiences
  • Read and responded to others' posts
Fun perks
  • An educational community from Singapore has shown interest in my ideas about education
  • I've learned a lot about PLCs from a lot of critics and supporters
  • Educators and others from around the U.S. have put me in their circles to see more about these subjects
  • I've had scholarly discussions and found places to go for future research
  • I've received personal and specific feedback about ideas my roommates think are too boring

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Paradise Lost and Politics

This post doesn't connect so directly with the reading for this week, but I just wanted to comment on something that I had been thinking about this week and had done a little research on.  Specifically, I was curious about looking at Paradise Lost in the context of the the Interregnum (after Charles I was executed) and the Restoration (after Charles II was reinstated as monarch).  Milton, of course, had been a vocal proponent of Republicanism and had played a part in the government under Cromwell.  He had lived to see a revolution against the king that resulted in the king's beheading, the setting up of a republic, the downfall of those republican ideals, and the restoration of the king to the throne.  Looking at PL, it's hard not to look at it and see connections between the earthly monarchies and legislatures that Milton saw and the supernatural ones (both heavenly and devilish) depicted in PL.

In looking for material related to this topic I ran across an interesting article called "'Warring Chains of Signifiers': Metaphoric Ambivalence and the Politics of Paradise Lost" by Peter C. Herman, which focuses on the ambiguity behind many of Milton's metaphors, especially in describing Satan.  I think this ties into the question:  Is Satan the "hero" of Paradise Lost?  While this article doesn't answer that question directly, I believe it provides some insight as to why this remains such a long-standing and divisive question.

A New Frontier for Comics: Paradise Lost as a Graphic Novel

So if you didn't know already, I'm a bit of a comic book nerd. I'm also into the new style of adapting classic stories into graphic novels. I think it's a great idea and can add so much more depth. I know some people protest it and say it detracts from the book, but I think it can add to the story, creating a visual effect along with the influence of words. On that note, I think adapting Paradise Lost into a graphic novel would actually be a really good idea. I know they're doing a movie of Paradise Lost but I don't think that would work very well. As far as an alternate medium goes, I think the graphic novel medium and not a live action film medium is the best choice for Paradise Lost. Here's why:

Eve: The Problem Child

Did it bother anyone else that Eve is content to be an object in Paradise Lost? It got my feminist tendencies going a little bit. I have "ugh" written in the margins of the section where she says:

“My author and disposer, what thou
Unargued I obey; so God ordains, 
God is thy Law, thou mine: to know no more
Is woman’s happiest knowledge and her praise."

Milton, John (2009-10-28). The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton (Modern Library) (Kindle Locations 14820-14823). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

What's love got to do with it?

          Some people could argue that it is possible for someone to be truly altruistic, but I'm not one of them. I don't even mean that in the cynical way that I sometimes approach other topics like this--this rings truer and sits better with me than a lot of other things I've been researching--but I don't believe that true altruism can be achieved... anymore. (This obviously isn't a new concept, but in terms of my own beliefs and opinions it is relatively new, so I'm very open to discussion.)

I offer, on me let thine anger fall;
Account me man; I for his sake will leave
Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee
Freely put off, and for him lastly die.

          This excerpt is found in lines 237-240 in Book III of Paradise Lost. It is spoken by the man who I believe committed the last truly altruistic acts on earth: Christ. Christ was perfect and everything that he did he did for God and for us. He did it with a pure heart. When he offered himself to this task to atone for our sins, his language is a tell that he is doing it for anybody but himself.
          Here's how I feel...people do good things every day. We all serve and we all do these little acts of kindness just because we know it will make the other person feel better. We even go so far as to not expect any sort of reciprocation or reward for good behavior. I would have assumed that this is altruism, but even if one doesn't expect something in return, one can still get the good feeling of knowing one did something for someone else...which is a benefit--not intentional--but a benefit nonetheless. That person still got something for themselves out of what they thought was a selfless act, and I believe that makes it impossible for the act to be truly altruistic.

Siloa's Brook

Something that interests me a great deal are all the nifty little biblical references Milton employs in his lines. He adds them in almost casually, and it's easy for me at least to just read through them and not try to understand the allusions he's making. However, they're pretty cool, and one in particular caught my attention.

I hadn't heard of Siloa's Brook before, and "flowed fast by the oracle of God" was just more confusing, so I did a wee bit of research. There's a paper from the University of North Carolina Press titled "Siloa's Brook, the Pool of Siloam, and Milton's Muse" that shed some light on the subject. The authors point out that Isaiah 8:6 references the "waters of Shiloah," and that the body of water "corresponds to the dark-colored spring of the classical muses." They go on to discuss how, if the type of body of water is temporarily ignored, this may also reference the pool at which Christ healed the blind man, the account of which can be found in St John 9.

I think it's interesting how we can see Milton once again fusing classical pagan culture with Christianity, merging his Muse with a miracle of Christ. It will be interesting to see how this pops again in the rest of Paradise Lost, as I'm quite sure it will.

For anyone interested, you can find the paper here, though it is on JSTOR and you will need to log in to read the full text.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Paradise Lost Office App

As I explored the internet for Milton-related topics, I thought to check out Twitter and the #JohnMilton and #ParadiseLost hashtags. I was surprised to see rather pithy quotes from Milton in random tweets. One tweet that piqued my interest was a link explaining the significance of Milton changing Paradise Lost from ten books to twelve books after publication. Immediately, I jumped on that intriguing idea! However, after perusing Google, I did not find a satisfactory, essay-worthy answer, although I will be on the look-out. Nevertheless, those hashtags did lead me to this website.

Yes, a Paradise Lost Office App for smartphones! Jason Braun, a poet, musician and professor at SIU, designed the app in an effort to educate others about Paradise Lost and give it a "more modern and practical context". His intent was to create an app like a deck of flashcards, easily read and easily applied to one's life. After downloading it myself, I think it is a little strange to have the prompts at the bottom of each screen, but it is a neat selection of quotes. It is also free and contains the entire work of Paradise Lost within the app. The comments are meant to connect Milton to modern society, but sometimes appear as trivial or crude. For instance, regarding the description of Eve in Book 4, lines 304-308, the app responds, "Have you met the boss' daughter yet?" I don't think Milton would want his masterpiece to be reduced to that, even if it does show the temptation of what one can't have.

In the article Braun says, "That quote from Milton can be shared via text message, and email at this time. You can flip through to other “flash cards” with other quotes, or click to go to read the full text of Paradise Lost as well. But most of all, this app is about presenting a modern and practical context for Paradise Lost, and serving it up in smaller bites. Paradise Lost in the Office is about pretending to pay attention to the PowerPoint presentation, but really indulging in classic literature while asking yourself “What Would Satan Do?”" Braun's idea is comprehensive enough, yet I do not understand this tagline which he includes in the article and the app's introduction..."What Would Satan Do?" Personally, Paradise Lost is not about Satan's mischief, but rather a unique interpretation of the Fall, including Satan's perspective. 

The concept of introducing the world to Paradise Lost and John Milton through an app is a great idea, but I believe Braun may have focused too much on Satan's roles and lines. Braun quotes General Electric's CEO Jack Welsh as saying, "Be number one or number two in every market, and fix, sell or close to get there." As a lover and reader of Milton, it is difficult for me to interpret lines in such a cavalier manner.That being said, it is an app for those in the office, so perhaps, as a student, I am not the best reviewer! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Satan and Achilles, True Heroism

What makes a character a hero? Is it great accomplishments, firm morals, courage to fight through any situation? Talking about Satan as a hero figure in class on Wednesday made me realize that he is not much worse of an individual than many of the great heroes of the Greek epics. Think about Achilles, the great "hero" of the Iliad, was he really any better of an individual than Satan? He didn't rise from the depths of defeat, he groveled in it, quit when he was offended, and channeled his rage into nothing more but blind revenge. Achilles might have been the devil who would start a war with heaven anew. I never liked Achilles nor did I even seen any heroism in him at all, at least in his depiction in the Iliad.  It's an interesting comparison to think about. Satan's journey to earth also contains a lot of parallels to Odysseus's journey home. Both are portrayed as masters of trickery, deceit, and disguise. One was considered a great hero, while the other the reason for all unhappiness in the world. But are they really that different in character? I feel a little better sympathizing with Satan considering
Achilleus and Odysseus weren't the most heroic of figures. Oh and they were both favored by certain gods as well. Satan had nothing. Perhaps that may be the root of our sympathy for the devil in Milton's great tale. Satan has all odds stacked against him (like GOD) and yet still he finds the strength within to fight a losing battle. Thankfully none of us have to fight such a fight, nor do I think we would ever want to. If the devil can use revenge, hatred, and his suffering to push towards a hopeless goal, can't we fight on even stronger terms against him to do what is right and survive this mortal experience? Unlike Satan or Sisyphus, the rock we roll up the mountain of our life will reach the top, and we aren't the only ones pushing it.

Distortions of Historical Perspective

The All-Seeing Eye
While I agree that the warped timeline we see in the narrative simulates something of God's perspective (as we've discussed), I also wonder if it's really that different than Mormon and Moroni's editorial choices? Not only is the chronology of the narrative non-linear, it's loaded with editorial interjections written from their own time period. The same can be said of passages in the Bible as well - when we are first introduced to Judas Iscariot, he is identified as him "who betrayed [Jesus]."

This is why we say "hindsight's 20/20," right? It's a commonly held belief that we can discern the full import or the true nature of a word, act, character, event, circumstance, etc. when we know what will become of it; when we have the cumulative knowledge of a historian.

There is some truth to this, but the historian (including lay historians like ourselves) is always in danger of conflating who a person became with who he was, of creating a caricature wrapped around the most prominent moment, achievement, or failure of his life...

Social Media Renaissance

It has been said of our generation that we are in the "Social Media Renaissance." What does that mean for Milton lovers? It means we're one step closer to his own world. Life in the Renaissance was changing fast. Why? (I know you love all my rhetorical questions). Fine I'll tell you. Because their way of communicating was changing. 
Education specialists Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner say in their novel Teaching as a Subversive Activity,
"You seldom, if ever, have an old element plus a new element, such as a printing press or an electric plug. What you have is a totally new environment requiring a whole new repertoire of survival strategies. . . When you plug something into a wall, someone is getting plugged into you. Which means you need patterns of defense, perception, understanding, evaluation. You need a new kind of education."
I could talk for days about the implications of new media on education (ask my slowly decreasing pool of non-Facebook friends), but I won't. What I will talk about is how media always has and always will play a crucial role in our learning process through social feedback.

|t r u t h b e n t| or Satan: all in one and one in all

There is a lot to say about Milton's depiction of those darn devils. I think its interesting that Milton uses rhetoric with them, in their speeches and claims as to what should be done, but a lot of times their rhetoric and persuasions are contradictory. For instance when Moloch is speaking, he is lauding that they should rally and attempt to regain Heaven again whether they won or were completely destroyed, that Moloch "rather than be less, cared not to be at all" (l.47-48).
Moloch's POV reminds me a lot of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon and how they twisted history to better fit and justify what they wanted to do. Look at what you did to us! This was definitely not our fault so we're going to make life as miserable as we can for your people and drag as many of you down with us as possible. Not to mention, hold a grudge for all eternity. And yet just shortly after Moloch's spiel, Belial stands up and says referring to the end of their war, "What when we fled amain...and besought the deep to shelter us?" l.165-167. So in one instance they were thrust down to Hell and another they fled headlong to its "sheltering" darkness.
Things start to get messy when it is like this - with the different representations we begin to lose sight of what is truth and lead ourselves to believe that everything is relative and subject to what we personally want or feel we deserve (as with the Lamanites, as with the devils, as with humanity a whole lot of the time.)
After noting these things and continuing to wonder, the daily inspiring quote I receive from pinged in my inbox and, honest to goodness, this is what it said. 

"We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments. ... We also know that evil exists and that some things are simply, seriously, and everlastingly wrong." Elder Dallin H. Oaks

If that doesn't lay out what we believe and where Satan is wrong, I don't know what does. So what is Milton's point?

On Fate, Shame, and Destiny

O had his powerful destiny ordained me some inferior angel, I had stood then happy; no unbounded hope had raised ambition. (Paradise Lost, 4.58-61)

Throughout my own life, I have fought what I consider delusions of grandeur. I don't know how Milton's sense of destiny impacted his daily life, but more often than not, daydreaming about my own foreordination has lead to foolish presumption, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of discipline. Here's why: destiny is often a euphemism for fate: it assumes outcomes may be inevitable; it assumes greatness or ignominy can overtake us no matter how quickly or earnestly we may (or may not) seek it. This concept is played out in countless narratives, from Oedipus Rex to Kung Fu Panda.

Granted, there is much we cannot control beyond our own thoughts and attitudes. We are "things to act," but that doesn't ensure we will never be acted upon by God, man, or circumstance. And we often defend illusions of control to our own detriment. But according to our latter-day faith, fulfillment of a prophecy requires conscious, active, and even strenuous work. If we are, in fact, drenched in destiny, we must be meekly so. Anyway...

Another outcome of this sense of destiny may be the impulse to sweep failures and foibles under the rug.

Milton's Mischief

It's always fascinating to look at the early years of those who have become great leaders or celebrities. Some experience uncommon fortune from an early age, others seem born of commonplace circumstances. It's clear that Milton had both uncommon advantages and a fantastic work ethic driven by his sense of destiny. It can be tempting to think of his life as following one great crescendo leading to his great master works, but I wonder about the lesser known episodes from his youth, and I'm reminded of President Monson; we often hear about Monson's work "as a young bishop of 22," and I suppose he has told quite a few prosaic stories from his life from the pulpit, but some new dimension to his life seemed to opened up when he revealed how he nearly destroyed Provo Canyon by fire at eight years old.

As a typical young boy, Tommy was guilty of typical shenanigans, and the embarrassment that inevitably seems to follow foolish missteps. I presume poets are no less susceptible than prophets to such things. I wonder what sorts of embarrassing mischief Milton got into. And I remember my own, perpetrated with an accordion around the turn of the century.

It's Time: Milton's Manipulation of Time in Paradise Lost

In class, we talked about how Milton bends time and takes things out of chronological order, but he does more than that with time in Paradise Lost. I noticed in particular with the meeting of the fallen angels. He mentions devils such as Moloch, or Beelzebub and then proceeds to mention a lot of their deeds and how they have affected men and such. However, while these things according to chronology haven’t happened yet, they are referred to as the past. An example is when one of the demons, Moloch is described by his actions toward men: "the wisest heart / of Solomon he led by fraud to build / his temple right against the temple of God" (400-02). Here, Moloch's actions are described in the past tense, even though they haven't happened yet in the narrative. This is done for several other devils and fallen angels. It's an interesting paradox that I decided to research more. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Blind Prophets

Homer and his guide. William-Adolphe Bouguereau
As a student assistant for Brother Cowan, a blind professor who teaches here in the Church History and Doctrine area, I was intrigued by Milton's descriptions of his own blindness and poetic opinion of his limitations.
During his invocation at the beginning of the Third Book, Milton asks that he be blessed like other blind prophet poets to be able to perceive the things of God. He lists four names: Thamyris, Maeonides, Tiresias, and Phineus. I knew a little about a few of them, but was curious to learn more about their lives and why Milton chose to allude to them.
Thamyris is described in the Iliad as being a gifted poet/singer. Unfortunately, he was so confident in his abilities that he claimed he was a greater artist than the Muses themselves. To punish him for his pride, the Muses blinded him and robbed him of his talents, making him painfully aware that all inspiration and gifts can be taken by the Gods.
Maeonides is another name for Homer, the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Very little is known about Homer's life. Many translations of the Greek origins of his name

Milton's Multipartite God

Old Testament Trinity, by medieval
Russian iconographer Andrey Rublev
As I've been reading Paradise Lost and various scholarly resources on the work, I've become somewhat interested in certain of Milton's deviations from traditional Christian thought. One prime example is his portrayal of a multi-person God. In Book III of Paradise Lost, God the Father and Christ discuss the fall of man and the means whereby man might be redeemed. However, oddly, they are presented as separate, sentient Beings, each with His own thoughts and motives. Milton emphasizes this distinction at various points in the text, as in the following excerpt, spoken by Milton's God the Father:
                                . . . But all ye gods,
Adore him, who to compass all this dies,
Adore the Son, and honor him as me. (3:341-343)
In "Milton’s Strange God: Theology and Narrative Form in Paradise Lost," Samuel Fallon notes that this idea of a bi- or tripartite God is in contrast with the prevalent Christian theology of Milton's time, which emphasized the Holy Trinity. Fallon remarks: "even at his most heretical, Milton could agree with nearly all Reformed thinkers when it came to God’s essential attributes," and stipulates various traits, including "oneness." Is this a valid assertion? Does Milton's portrayal of God really suggest a belief in the oneness of God? In what other ways are Milton's theological ideas less than orthodox or even "heretical"?

Article Citation: Samuel Fallon. "Milton’s Strange God: Theology and Narrative Form in Paradise Lost." ELH 79.1 (2012): 33-57. Project MUSE. Web. 25 Sep. 2013.

Heaven, Earth, and Hell

"The terms place and space do not signify something different from 
the body that is said to be in a place; they merely mean its size, shape, 
and position relative to other bodies.... [N]o object has a permanent 
place except by the determination of our thought." 
~Descartes Philosophical Writings
(Space and Place in "Paradise lost" by John Gillies)

The above is the popular thought regarding space and place during Milton's day. Given all the talk about where the Earth was in comparison with the Sun and the rest of the universe, it is unsurprising that Descartes and other philosophers would hold this view. After all, Copernicus and Galileo paved the way for new modes of thinking about our place in the universe and our relation to it. But this isn't the kind of philosophy Milton uses in Paradise Lost.

So why did Milton choose to go against the grain? Does having Heaven, Earth, and Hell in unmovable places make a significant difference to the book? I think it's easier to tell an epic tale where people are moving when one has unmovable places in space. But did Milton have another reason? What do you all think?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Influence of Dictation: Writing By Voice

The more I continue to listen to Paradise Lost the more fascinated I become with the fact that Milton dictated the entire epic. Composing verses in his head, committing them to memory, and pulling them out later for dictation, what a mind! The idea makes me wonder how dictation would have affected Milton's work and how different methods of transcription influence the writing they produce. Does Milton's epic find its greatness from being created orally rather than constructed on paper?

First of all the work is transmitted through another human being. It becomes a performance, to a certain degree, subject to the reactions of the transcribers, and would seem to force the author to become more self-conscious of the work he is creating. I found an interesting article that contrasted this setting with the rise of other sorts of transcription, especially voice recognition software that has been rising in popularity among writers. One author, Richard Powers, described the idea as "a return to 'writing by voice' as done by authors through history."

Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall

*The passage that I wanted to focus on for this post is found in Book III, lines 93-111. It was a bit longer so I didn't want it to take up too much space.*
          Growing up, my dad was always obsessed with talking to us kids about free will and choice. Every time the littlest allusion was made--be in from TV, books, or elsewhere--he couldn't seem to help himself from going on these long tangents on about how central the idea of free will is and how we probably can't understand exactly how important. Yada yada yada... (I actually grew to love our conversations, and they can still last for hours at a time.)
          Luckily, I was reading Book III of Paradise Lost at my parents house, and when I came across this passage, I yelled for my dad to come listen so I could read it to him.
          It really got me thinking...where would this story have gone if we didn't have free will? What if they had gone along with Satan's plan and taken away the free agency of Man?

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Paradise Lost by One

One of the things that has struck me most as I've been reading the first couple of books in Milton's Paradise Lost is the parallel of Satan's and Christ's relationship to their followers. You could say that I've thought a lot about salvation and damnation and what each means and how each is ensured, either by deference to virtue (Christ) or to sin (Satan), but a couple of pretty simple lines have had me thinking about how one figure (Christ or Satan) can figure into the fates of millions of individuals.

In the second book of Paradise Lost, Satan announces that he will "Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek / Deliverance for us all: . . . (2:464-465). The parallel to Christ's salvation here is, I think, more than apparent. Just as Christ is the author and finisher of our salvation--of our ascent back from a fallen condition--so also does Satan become the savior figure for those devils cast out of Heaven. But what really got to me was some lines that I came across among my annotations as I was reviewing the first book:
Millions of spirits for his [Satan's] fault amerced
Of Heav’n, and from eternal splendors flung
For his revolt . . . (1:609-611).
I had never really thought about this before, but just as man is saved by one supernal, vicarious act, so were those among that third part cast out for one singular act of selfishness. Each individual is, of course, responsible for his/her own actions and decisions, but would those "morning stars" and "sons of God" (Job 38:7) have relinquished their glory had not Lucifer stepped forward in defiance? After all, the Bible states that "all the sons of God shouted for joy" when the foundations of the earth were laid. Why then did they follow Lucifer, the light bringer that would cast them into darkness? What is the power of one to save or to damn?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ages of Hopeless End

Paradise Lost Book 1-2
          So I'm starting to see these devils as normal know with feelings and stuff like that. I always forget that they're fallen angels. Angels! They had the good life and they made one bad choice and it was a downward spiral from there. I've never once considered that Satan might feel sorry for pretty much being responsible for damning his followers, but then I read this:

"...cruel his eye, but cast
Signs of remorse and passion to behold
The fellows of his crime, the followers rather
(Far other once beheld in bliss) condemned
For ever now to have their lot in pain,
Millions of spirits for his fault amerced 
Of Heav'n, and from eternal splendors flung
For his revolt, yet faithful how they stood,
Their glory withered..."

So. There are some entertaining characters in the first two books here...

Moloch: this guy doesn't seem to be thinking clearly. He is first to speak in the panel of demons and immediately says that they should go to war. ...again. He states that there is no way there is a punishment worse than Hell itself, so what have they got to lose going to war? Which is a good point...until you realize what they already lost...

Sonnet: Psalm 5

Psalm 5

O my Lord, hear the words of my pond’ring.
To thee, my Heav’nly King, I ever pray
For thy heart is not in evil wand’ring
Nor shall thy holiness let evil stay.

For the lab’rers of delusion and vice
Cannot withstand the power of thy gaze,
For their faithlessness earns no paradise
Only just death for their rebellious ways.

But I, O Lord, that way of life reject,
And in thy hallowed temple seek thee out.
Guide me, Lord:  Thy path I’ll never reject
As thou leadest me away from all doubt.

Peace and joy shall thy guidance ever bring
Thanks to thee, Savior, Defender, and King.

Sonnet of the Shepherd

Sonnet: Psalm 23

As a lamb, I do not want for the Lord
Is my shepherd and tends my feeble soul,
The sly, shadowy wolves from which he wards
Me; He quenches my thirst to make me whole.

His wooden rod and staff of protection,
Guide me as I walk the valley of death,
A lost sheep, the Lord gives me direction,
And comfort, and even my daily breath.

Before mine enemies’ eyes, he prepares
A table. He drops blessings on my head
With anointed oil and murmured prayers.
My cup runneth over, my living bread!

At my heels, goodness and mercy follow,
The Lord’s house fills my heart, no more hollow.

I, too, have gained a greater respect for Milton composing sonnets...what an endeavor!

Satan: the Love-Hate Relationship

I have a love-hate relationship with Satan. He takes the things I preach and uses them to manipulate. It's brilliant. It's human. I'll finish explaining in the video.

Sonnet: Psalms 46

Sonnet: Psalms 46

Our living God, protecting us with strength
Despite our fleeting fear, and earth's unease.
His glor'ious mount, a refuge without length,
Tho' earthly quakes and roarings of the seas.

Through holy city, streams the river glad,
Where God resides as one eternal round.
Though kingdoms fall, as wrought by heathens mad,
The Lord of Hosts, King Jacob's God stands ground.

Destructions brought and fates of wars reversed
Behold the awe-some works of God, whose might
Burnt the chariot, split the spear and bloodied bow.
Exalt our Heav'nly King above our plight.
        The Lord of Hosts chastises with His Rod
        Be still, my child, and know that I am God.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Paradise Lost and Paradise Stolen

Satan vs. Adam and Eve (Videoblog . . . Aaaah!)

So, the video has a watermark on it . . . still hashing out the details of all this tech stuff, but here's my two cents for this week, weird camera angles and everything. Also, some pictures I found relevant.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Psalm 108

I chose Psalm 108 for my sonnet. The original reads as such:

O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truthreacheth unto the clouds.
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;
That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.
God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;
 Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.
 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?
 Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?
 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

And my version:

Fixed is my heart. O God, I sing thy praise
Among the folk, nations, kindreds, peoples.
For all of thy mercy my hands I raise
Heaven high, thy mercy lies on steeples.

Rescue, O God, thy beloved with thy right hand.
Answer me, thou who wrote the holy writ-
Rejoice! Gilead, Manaseh, Ephraim, they stand
As mine, and thine. Divine, I will commit,

But who shall lead me into Edom strong?
Wilt thou, O God, cast off thy children yet?
Wilt thou tread down the foe that throngs
To raze thy humble flock with trials met.

O God, thy help in strife we plead and claim
For any help of man or beast is vain.

Can I just say I have mad respect for Milton after doing this.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ethos in Milton's Psalm 114

So while I was rereading Milton's sonnets of the Psalms, I noticed that Milton seems to use ethos as his primary device in making his appeal for God, especially in Psalm 114. While pathos and logos are definitely also present in the text, Milton writes "Jehovah's wonders were in Israel shown, / His praise and glory were in Israel shown (5-6)." In the line before the author references the "strength of the Almighty's hand (4)" as the reason for the Israelite's success, and later we find allusions to God's divine power in the earthquakes and floods referenced in the original psalm.

While these could definitely be interpreted as logos, pathos, or a combination of the three, I think these aren't used an emotional or purely logical appeal, but instead a testament from Milton's point of view of God's very real divine powers. Milton is in a sense building a bit of a resume for God, writing up the miracles of Biblical times and pointing out a very practical reason He should be revered and worshipped.

I'm interested to see if this pops up in Paradise Lost and Milton's other religious works, and I'll look forward to spotting it in the future. This is a great version of the poem, and has some pretty handy footnotes as well.

Righteous Hypocrite

It's been so interesting to see how Milton uses rhetoric implicitly as well as explicitly to get on the good side of his audience. In his first Prolusion he even goes as far as to state the rules:
It is a frequent maxim of the most eminent masters of rhetoric, as you know well, Members of the University, that in every style of oration, whether demonstrative, deliberative, or judicial, the speaker must begin by winning the good will of his audience; without it he cannot make any impression upon them, nor succeed as he would wish in his cause. If this be so (and, to tell the truth, I know that the learned are all agreed in regarding it as an established axiom), how unfortunate I am and to what a pass am I brought this day. At the very outset of my oration I fear I shall have to say something contrary to all the rules of oratory and be forced to depart from the first and chief duty of an orator. For how can I hope for your good-will, when in all this great assembly I encounter none but hostile glances, so that my task seems to be to placate the implacable?
In expressing that he is more humble than those who have the fortune to win their audience, he does not patronize his audience, therefore, ironically, winning their trust. It is Milton's use of what he outwardly condemns that I feel completely characterizes him as one of the greatest authors of all time. It is this characteristic that leads me to the question, is Milton's condemnation of what he uses hypocrisy if it is for a "righteous" cause?

Elisha's Vision

For my sonnet I did a rendition of 2 Kings 6:13-17, which reads:

13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.
14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion

Does rhetoric have to be words? After reading Dr. Burton's paper and exploring a bit this was the thought that occurred to me. We don't just persuade people with our words, right? My moment of "oh, I landed on something good!" shriveled up when I realized that the etymology of the word rhetoric is literally "art of an orator." So much for that idea.
As I was moving on to find another interesting bit to post about, my mind flickered back, "well, then, what is it? Where does the visual fit in?" As we delve further and further into our digital/visual age, the argument appears - do images, visual presentation, and object placement have a place within the hallowed halls of Rhetoric? 
That could be a whole essay in and of itself, but I want to discuss more of the practical effects of such a notion. 

We are up to our eyebrows in the Digital Age. We've been discussing the ramifications of a changing society in my class on mass communications and media literacy - a society more familiar and satisfied with the 140 characters of a Twitter alert, than with reading an entire news article. We are having to say the amount we've always been saying and (oftentimes more with the rate of innovation nowadays) with less. Attention has to be grabbed within the first three words or so else no one will read it. And they do say, a picture is worth a thousand words...

Milton's use of Rhetoric

So I wanted to use what I learned about rhetoric to take a look at Milton’s Prolusions 1 in a new light. I decided to find instances when Milton demonstrates the persuasive appeals, Logos, Pathos, and Ethos. While I know that in rhetoric, these appeals are used a lot and often combine together, I’ll just show a few examples when he does demonstrate these appeals.

Milton displays logos when he is arguing why Night rejected Phanes’ proposal of marriage in the legend of day and night. He looks at the reasoning, and logically discerns why Night rejected Phanes and why she preferred the security of Erebus. He shows the logic by showing Night’s nature and concerns, which then leads to her course of action.

Milton displays ethos when he talks about how we shouldn’t place our entire confidence on the poets that described Greek mythology. He then goes into the history of how such ideas have become changed and twisted. Here, Milton demonstrates a character of learning and shows that he understands the extensive history of this subject, thus assuring the reader that he knows his subject well.

Milton displays pathos when he is describing how desirable the day is to all living things. He goes into beautiful details of how the birds sing joyously of the day and he talks of all different animals that greet the day and sunshine with delight and joys. The description appeals to us in that we can understand that wondrous beauty and delight of having the sun on our faces.

Milton's prolusions show his growing strength in rhetoric and persuasive writings. These examples are just a few among the many appeals he makes in his writing. It does show to be a precursor to Paradise Lost, in which Milton has mastered the art of persuasive writing. I'm excited to see more of this persuasive writing. 

The Rhetoric of Peace, Prosperity, and War

[Copyright Duncan Hull]
Recently, some of my classmates have been posting responses to our studies of rhetoric, and I wanted to take the chance to explore the topic from a socio-historical point of view. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of human interaction, rhetoric is simply the techné of influencing other people. Thus, as Aristotle suggests, it represents neither a positive nor a negative force and can be wielded by good and evil men alike. In Gideon Burton's article, "What is Rhetoric?" the author suggests that language and, by extension, rhetoric, have served as primary facilitators in the growth of nations and the development of human civilization as a whole:
Because there has been implanted in us the power to persuade each other and to make clear to each other whatever we desire, not only have we escaped the life of wild beasts, but we have come together and founded cities and made laws and invented arts. (2)
[Copyright Traci Gardner]