Friday, November 14th, 2003
The issue of the nature of an all powerful or all knowing deity keeps coming up in BL, which is, of course, the reason for the Great Lettuce Head: tell me about the deity you might ask and I’ll say: he’s green and has lots of leaves; other than that I’m silent on the issue.
I think we had an incredible discussion about this in brit lit. Honestly, I have no idea how to deal with Milton’s audacity or genius in the face of the nature of the Christian deity, who knows all and for whom, in human conception all paths have yet to be taken, are being taken, and will be taken. Bacon would say, “Do you think you can grasp such an idea with a human metaphor? Go back and read my book and the section on Idols of the Tribe. Then check out my riffs on Cave and Theater: personal bias and perception; and myth and incomplete or indeterminate systems and logic.” In religious conception we could certainly go with Neha and Jenn’s buggy computer program metaphor that God created an imperfect world. We could work with that as a model, but my point in class was that in terms of the conception of God such a metaphor is only useful to a point. If the deity is all knowing and powerful then there would be no bugs. What we see as bugs tells us more about the limitations of the metaphor, as Hugh would claim. That Satan is a part of a plan is also limited (both of these metaphors are insightful thought; I don’t mean to say that they aren’t; nor does the issue of will and choice and determination negate valid questions about human nature) in that plan suggests “incompleteness” or process but God in Milton’s world already knows the answers. Plans are for rodents and humans.
Milton must write a deity within a linear narrative yet is also beyond the moment. Dr. Manhattan is contrained by his knowledge. Nor does he know everything; there’s no indication that he knows anything beyond his own immediate experience past, present, future. In McCarthy the judge is an entirely different animal than Satan. The nature of the judge is part of the problem of Blood Meridian. In a way, the judge is more frightening than the Fiend.