Spirit as Energy
During my analysis of Satanic self-creation I tried to summarize in Cartesian epigrams Milton's view of how human existence tends innately to unpack from itself religious existence: I think, therefore I am; I am, therefore I was created; I was created, therefore I am religious. I also suggested that the absence of a name for God, by introducing a need for metaphor and dislocating words from their given designation in a semantic search for God, establishes in unfallen language a poetics continuous with religious devotion. Returning to the nature of poetry from another angle, I would like to place a third Miltonic addendum beneath the cogito: I am religious, therefore I am poetic.
At the outset of his fine defense of Milton's style, Christopher Ricks concedes a few passages in Paradise Lost to his opponents, among them the "aridities" of angelic digestion. I sympathize to some degree. The Lucretian episodes we are interpreting seem at first glance arcane and dated, defended against ridicule by odd bits of discredited science, or simply boring in their distance from charged human event, like an "Aire and Angels" turned inside out in the manner of Benlowes or More, making love into a labored metaphor for pneumatology. But the second half of book 5 has special authority in Paradise Lost. It contains the axioms of reality. That this reality was carefully formulated, weighed in the poet's mind for two decades, everyone knows.____________________