Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Invisible Tower Trilogy: Philosophical Matters Touching upon John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, John Locke...

curious theme in We Reign Secure—Book 2 of the Invisible Tower Trilogy—is a figurative but also sometimes dramatized debate over the question:  “Is Satan the hero of Paradise Lost?” The debate becomes very involved, both as a phenomenon of plot development and subtextual theme—and, indeed, with geopolitical implications. In The Sky-Shaped Sarcophagus, Book 3, Satan (or so he calls himself) also plays a role.

It isn’t a spoiler to say the “good guys” in the trilogy do not think Satan is the hero of Paradise Lost.  

More broadly, the Satan-as-hero reading of the poem reflects the Gnostic heresy that characterizes the technocrat and transhumanist clans that are the “bad guys” in the trilogy, as well reflecting the Weltanschauung of the “luminaries” in a variety of contemporary real-world conversations.

We might ask ourselves, is Milton’s Satan a globalist and/or a transhumanist?

Deeper still: from time to time in Paradise Lost, is not Milton at some pains to present himself as a man with strong similarities to the Satan he has created?

Reviewing a list of the biographical and psychological comparisons of Milton to Satan in PL would be rewarding, with the caveat that Milton is engaged in an assessment of his own emotions and acts in this regard, and he is on track to correct his errors, especially when it comes to good and effective politics.

Germaine to my purposes in the Invisible Tower Trilogy, the question of Satan’s supposed “heroism” serves to underscore the ethical/political distinction I draw between the two characters engaged in the debate: Eddie Allan the “mastermind” of the Invisible Tower, and his step-father John Allan the technocrat with “Gnostic” and “Satanic” proclivities. Critics should properly read parallels between Eddie Allan and John Allan in the trilogy, and, respectively, Edgar Allan Poe and his step-father John Allan in the history of American literature

But once more to the question of the “hero” of Paradise Lost:

Allow me to share my impression of the philosophical trajectory that moves from Milton to John Locke.  For the nonce, let’s assume that Satan is an exponent of “bad politics,” while the Son is an exponent of “good politics.”  I think it follows that John Locke is the formulation of the political posture, method and system to which Milton is pointing.  And, indeed, not only does Locke refine Milton’s political ideas into usable forms and institutions, but students following Locke’s biography (see Roger Woolhouse) will be impressed with Locke’s ability to get along with people, and even when surrounded, as he was at Oxford, by people who were watching him very very carefully (Locke’s father fought for Cromwell, Locke was no Anglican, and so on).  If you want to achieve a revolution and properly install (as Aristotle advises) the middle classes into the legislative and magisterial offices, you follow the Son and not the fallen angel, not the narcissist, not the liar, not the Gnostic, and so on.  And, as a coda to this, I endorse Peter Lastlett’s (I think) observation that in assessing Locke’s philosophy, one should begin with A Letter Concerning Toleration. Indeed, the spirit of collegiality, of tolerance and of the free exchange of ideas promoted in this short book is central also to Locke’s An Essay on Human Understanding—is central to the genial spirit of free and open inquiry that is modern skeptical-empirical science; and, moreover, is central to the politics of Classic Liberalism, as presented in Locke’s Two Treatises of Government.

These are but several of the many philosophical threads that animate the trilogy.

Please click the following image to see the Amazon description:

Michael shows Adam things to come, PL Book XI

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