It’s another day in Paradise, as we finally tackle the most influential Satanic literary classic of them all. Four hundred years ago, English poet John Milton redefined our ideas about who Satan is and what his struggle means with “Paradise Lost”…although he probably didn’t mean to. Helping us look at Milton’s Satanic epic up close, with a close reading of the most influential Satanic rhetoric in Paradise Lost, we are joined by Bella from the Satanic Bookroom.
Praise, condemnation, questions, and cherubs making frowny faces can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Daily Beast: Trump’s New Favorite COVID Doctor Believes in Alien DNA, Demon Sperm, and Hydroxychloroquine
- From Dartmouth’s John Milton Reading Room, the full text of Paradise Lost
- Paradise Lost Audiobook
- John Milton, American Academy of Poets
- Scott Derrickson’s “Paradise Lost” Adaptation
GET IN TOUCH WITH BLACK MASS APPEAL
- Tabitha Slander’s Instagram
- Discord server
- Leave a voicemail any time! Just call 1 (415) 579-2055.
SATANIC BAY AREA
- Twitter (as @SatanicSF)
- Sign up for Satanic Bay Area’s newsletter
- Coffee Hour is the third Thursday of every month from 6 – 8 pm at Wicked Grounds in San Francisco
Welcome to Black Mass Appeal, a podcast that brings modern Satanism to the masses. Today on Black Mass Appeal, it’s another day in paradise as we finally tackled the most influential satanic literary classic of them all. And in the news, we’re honestly not sure what this doctor ordered and, at home, Satanic Bay Area is considering going far afield. Joining me today I’ve got Daniel.
Hi, my name is Daniel. I’m an organizer for Satanic Bay Area and I’m a member of the Satanic Temple, and I for one am amazed to discover that this episode is in fact not about Simone pining for the tiki bars to reopen.
*sighs* Well, my favorite tiki bar is doing takeout cocktails, so, I’m doing okay on that front but yeah, I miss it. *sighs again* Hopefully joining me at a tiki bar sometime in the future is Tabitha.
Hey, this is Tabitha. I’m an administrator for a Satanic Bay Area and I actually lost my paradise on the bus. Do-where can I call to see if somebody found it and turned it in? *Simone laughs*
Joining us later in the show will be Bella from the Satanic Bookroom. And until then, you’ve got me. My name is Simone. I’m an organizer for Satanic Bay Area. And, you know, if you go to the Paradise Lost and Found, there’s lots of, like, chargers there for your phone. A couple of knickknacks, so-
Yeah. Black Mass Appeal is a product of Satanic Bay Area and it is not associated with any other satanic groups. This is a podcast for Satanists is to discuss modern Satanism, its history, left-leaning political activism, and how Satanism relates to current events in pop culture. Or for people who want to learn more about modern Satanism, whether you’re a newbie or already involved in satanic groups. And speaking of satanic groups, what has Satanic Bay Area been planning, I guess?
Well, we do have a couple of things to go down the slate here. One thing that I want to mention, ordinarily, this is the time of the year when we would be planning our satanic summer field trip, for, obvious reasons, that has run into some problems this year. We- some of us have been considering, however, a trip to the San Francisco Zoo, which has recently reopened. That seems like a good trip because we love animals, it’s a Satan thing. Also, because some of the animals down there are having some- there, their welfare is in danger because the zoo was having trouble covering its cost, the costs of taking care of them, so a little bit of business their way couldn’t possibly hurt. At the same time, you can well imagine we are a little bit anxious about the idea of doing any kind of gathering right now, even though the plan that we have follows all of the city’s guidelines, and all the zoo guidelines as well. I think that we’re going to try to organize this, we’ll see how it goes. I only bring this up for our listeners now to point out that, you know, there are rules, and we’re sticking to them, and we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do to take care of everybody, but at the same time, we still have some anxiety and I think that’s not only normal right now, but healthy right now. And if you yourself are grappling with that, to those contradictions, too, you are not alone, so we’re all in this together, slash, safely far apart.
We originally wanted to go to the Oakland Zoo, but they, they’re not allowing groups more than- I think you can only go with your household. And, which is a shame because they have, like, giant fruit bats there and they’re very cute. But at the same token, like, I definitely respect what they’re trying to do. I can’t wait for this to be over. *sighs*
I mean, we can go see the giant fruit bats on our own about- I think we’ll definitely do that.
But we can’t do it and, like, a formal group expedition. Indi-we’ll have to do individual bat pilgrimages.
Yeah, having you know, like 20 Satanists all show up at the same time, all of us looking like Satanists dressed in all black, I think they’re gonna quickly figure out that we all just didn’t happen to randomly show up on the same day.
To when we all go to the goat enclosure first is probably going to give the game away. *laughter*
Well, two other things that we have coming up. First, we are working on a project, an audio project. We are looking for Spanish speakers. Must be fluent in Spanish and capable of discussing Satan-y things in Spanish. So if you’re so inclined, please get in contact with us, you know the email address, so there’s one. Then, we’re also looking for viewer participants. We have our anniversary show coming up and we’re going to make a little game out of it, so if you want to join us for [an] audio or zoom, little situation, that we can explain in more detail later, get in contact with us. So, we do have some fun stuff coming up.
Man, can you believe we’ve been doing this for three years now?
No, no, I don’t. It can’t. I don’t-
Just like last year, it seems like both way less time and way more time than that.
*laughs* Yes, yes. And yes.
Now, for the old school way of having a little listener participation, we have our apple podcast reviews! So, our first review comes from SpiderMike89, who says “absolutely amazing! I started with Episode One, as I’m new to Satanism, and the title intrigued me. In just a few short weeks, I’m up to Episode 40. Yes, I have a lot of time in my hands as a security patrol officer. I sent you an email with a short story that I hope you can share if it’s not too long because Episode 39 had some stories that I can relate to. I’ll have to keep listening to, one day, hear this review on the podcast, keep up your unholy work!” Well, we always have the possibility of repeating, you know, topics, revisiting topics, especially the ones that were really viewer-driven. People who sent in their letters about their experiences. It’s always good to hear from new perspectives. And, you know, we have so many topics to talk about, but we never quite finished talking about any one of them, so definitely could be in the cards.
I just want to offer an extra personal message to SpiderMike right now, so this is it. The day is here. You’re hearing it. Was it everything you dreamed up? Let us know.
Yeah. How long did it take for you to get to it? Was it like, a couple more weeks? Or, you know, write us another review! That’s it, no, I’m just kidding. *laughter*
But thank you very much; we love having you.
Okay, our next one is KrishaVak [?], who says, “I’m essential, and so is this podcast. In these difficult and confusing times, it only makes sense to have something that is not only a great distraction, but an insightful and entertaining commentary as well. The crew at BMA are not only funny, but educational. Thank you for all that you are doing, hail yourselves, and Hail Satan!” Well, hail you! I mean, you don’t say what your profession is, but essential workers are exactly that, essential, and they do not get thanked enough or recognized enough. So, please accept this, you know, attempt at saying thank you.
*sad voice* I’ve never been essential before. *laughs*
I think Daniel would disagree.
And he says nothing. *Tabitha laughs*
Well, what else is there to say? *laughter*
Sometimes I’m not essential, so I keep to myself in those cases.
No, mmm, that’s a lie.
I’m just a bunch of essential oils in human form. *laughter*
I’m very squishy, very squishy inside and when I sit, I leave a sheen, like Soul Glow, in Coming to America.
Anyway, moving on, our last review here is from Dude.50 who says, “Just what I was missing-“
Actually, I want to point out this is Dude-point-50. I think, I think that’s a measurement.
Some-maybe caliber? 50 caliber dude? *laughter*
So Dude says, “I’m an atheist, and I practice Secular Buddhism, but I enjoy exploring other’s views and I’ve always felt that there was a part missing from my beliefs slash lack thereof. I’m glad that in my exploration, I found your podcast. While I’d heard of TST with the Decalogue case in Arkansas, before this I had not had the courage to explore Satanism further. Now I’m a card-carrying member of TST. As an ICU nurse, I have only told one person because in these Midwest communities gossip spreads like a virus.-“
“-Thank you for being here and producing the podcast. Hail Satan.” Again, hail you for being an ICU nurse on the frontlines!
I mean, again, hail yourself.
Also, great use of the word decalogue.
Yeah, that’s, that is a good one.
Yeah. Ten dollar word.
For the Ten Commandments. *Tabitha laughs* Okay, well, the other helpful thing that folks can do to support the show is to contribute to the Patreon. The Patreon is the means by which we, you know, run this whole shindig. It also helps us to donate money to causes that, you know, we feel align with our values. Whether or not they’re Satanic, if they’re doing good works that, you know, work with our values, then we want to help out, we want to support. So for the month of July, we were able to donate to OCCUR, which is a foundation here in Oakland, and they say they “serve as a facilitator and catalyst bringing together neighborhood residents, merchants, and government to strengthen and stimulate the economic development potential of emerging communities.” They have a lot of different initiatives under their umbrella. One of them is the small black-owned business fund, which is helping folks out during this time that’s very hard on small businesses. And if you’re interested in learning more about OCCUR’s work or want to donate yourself, their website is occurnow.org, and so, we are honored to be able to offer, you know, a little bit of monetary support and we have you guys to thank for it. So, to thank our contributors, we’ve got Krista, then in the Mark of the Mini Beast Club, which is $3.33 per month, we’ve got MountainMurders.
That sounds like a good podcast, too.
Yeah. *Tabitha laughs* And then in the Mark of the Beast Club, we’ve got a Crystal Palladino, Jimmy Nails, Richard Proctor, and Thomas Jacob. And then one more to thank is Mason Woods who is an upgrade!
Yes, he has upgraded far beyond the Mark of the Beast Club member level now. He’s on to multiple beasts. I also want to point out that he has, in the past, upgraded to contribute more and then sometimes dial that back a little bit less, but then bumped it up again, so we mentioned him on the show a lot so if you ever, like, want multiple shout outs, he’s got the formula down. He’s figured it out.
Is he in the super secret, like, Illuminati tier of the Patreon? *laughs*
*stage whispers* Don’t talk about super secret Illuminati tier!
Oh shit, sorry! *fake coughs* I mean, Ba-luminati. *laughter*
it’s just, it’s the Illuminati but with, like, a little mustache on it. *laugher* Would it be, like for Wario, like, Wa-luminati? *laugher*
Oh, good that covered our tracks expertly! *laughter*
Okay, *Luigi voice* it’sa me, Wa-luminati! *Tabitha laughs*
*chuckling* I hope [unitelligible] after that.
Okay, let’s go ahead, take a break and we’ll come back with the news!
Black Mass Appeal 12:30
*old-timey breaking news doots*
Those doots mean time for the news! It’s right on schedule! So, today we are reading from the Daily Beast: “The President is pushing the Coronavirus theories of a Houston doctor who also says sexual visitations by demons and alien DNA are at the root of Americans common health concerns.” *pauses* It’s quite the title. “A Houston Doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission of the highly contagious Coronavirus has become a star on the right-wing internet, garnering 10’s of millions of views on Facebook on Monday alone. Donald Trump Jr. declared the video of Stella Immanuel, a must-watch.” Ugh, there’s a recommendation. “Before Trump and his supporters embrace Immanuel’s medical expertise, though, they should consider other medical claims Immanuel has made, including those about alien DNA and the physical effects of having sex with witches and demons in your dreams. Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister-” Mmm.. “-has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She’s often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches. She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious.” If only. “And despite appearing in Washington DC to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part, not by humans, but by reptilians and other aliens. Immanuel gave her viral speech on the steps of the Supreme Court at the White Coat Summit, a gathering of a handful of doctors who call themselves America’s frontline doctors and dispute the medical consensus on the novel Coronavirus. Toward the end of Immanuel’s speech, the event’s organizer and other participants can be seen trying to get her away from the microphone. *laughs* But footage of the speech captured by Breitbart was a hit online, becoming a top video on Facebook. Both Facebook and Twitter eventually deleted videos of Immanuel’s speech from their sites citing rules against COVID-19 disinformation. The deletion set off yet another round of complaints by conservatives of bias at the social media platforms. Immanuel responded in her own way, declaring that Jesus Christ would destroy Facebook servers if her videos weren’t restored on the platform. In her sermons, Immanuel offers a sort of demonology of Nephilim, the biblical characters she claims exist as demonic spirits and lust after dream sex with humans causing all manner of real health problems and financial ruin. Immanuel claims real-life ailments such as fibroid tumors and cysts stem from the demonic sperm after demon dream sex, an activity she claims affects many women. ‘They turn into a woman and then they sleep with a man and collect his sperm,’ Immanuel said in her sermon, ‘then they turn into the man and they sleep with a man and deposit the sperm and reproduce more of themselves.’ *sighs* According to Immanuel, people can tell if they have taken a demonic spirit husband or spirit wife if they have a sex dream about someone they know or a celebrity, wake up aroused, and stop getting along with their real-world spouse, lose money or generally experience any hardship. In a 2015 sermon that laid out a supposed Illuminati plan hatched by a witch to destroy the world using abortion, gay marriage in children’s toys, among other things. Immanuel claimed that DNA from space aliens is currently being used in medicine. Immanuel argues that a wide variety of toys, books, and TV shows from Pokemon, which she declares Eastern demons, to Harry Potter and the Disney Channel shows Wizards of Waverly Place and That’s So Raven were all a part of a scheme to introduce children to spirits and witches. Immanuel warned that the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana was a gateway to evil because its character had an alter ego. She has claimed that schools teach children to meditate so that they can meet with demons. In the sermon, Immanuel preserves special vitriol for the magic eight ball, *Daniel laughs* a toy that can be shaken up to reveal any answer. Immanuel claims that the otherwise innocuous magic eight ball was in fact a scheme to get children used to witchcraft. ‘The eight ball was a psychic,’ she said. She didn’t bring up this allegation publicly in Washington, but she has claimed that the American government is run in part by non-human reptilians. ‘There are people that are ruling this nation that are not even human,’ Immanuel said in her 2015 Illuminati sermon, before launching into a conversation she had with a reptilian spirit she described as half-human, half ET.” *pauses* Wow, that’s a lot.
So what did she gettin’ her show? *Simone laughs* When is she going on, what, Fox News?
Fuck a show, she’s gettin’, she’s getting a cabinet position.
Meet your new Surgeon General!
Uhh, no, Simoneee! *laughs*
Hey, like, that’s a fucked up joke, but you know it’s been considered.
*groaning* It’s true! *Simone laughs* That was a lot. I hate it here. *groans again*
Oh, where to start? First of all, this is actually- those are just selections from a very long piece by Will Sommer, who’s a great writer and really funny to follow on Twitter. Well, that stinks. If you’re curious, Immanuel herself tweeted Will’s story, saying that it very accurately conveyed the substance of her sermons, so-
-there’s that. If you’re wondering where she got that weird bit about how the demons turn into women to sleep with men to get sperm to then turn into men to impregnate women with, I-this is a very old belief. I actually believe that straight out of the Malleus Maleficarum, the 16th-century German inquisitors manual and it was to answer the question of how it is possible for demons to- demons don’t have bodies, so therefore how could they possibly impregnate women? That is, of course, theology of the time, insisted that they could and of course, the answer was, well, they must get it from, from a man instead because naturally. So, I don’t know what her source was, but that is *a* source for that belief. Uh, geez, where else, where, where do you even go with this one. You know what? This perfectly encapsulates a problem that I brought up on the show so many times, and that I brought up recently when we were talking to Steven Bradford Long on sacred tension is, you know, people have these religious beliefs that to us seem bizarre and even irrational. But at the same time, there’s a weird sort of separation of powers, where, despite believing things that I think are crazy, these people still managed to be rational and reasonable about most other things. You know, they’re, they’re, they’re doctors, they’re lawyers, they’re bus drivers. They do these jobs in a way that I don’t have to worry about them. Somehow they keep these things separate. I don’t know how, it doesn’t make sense to me, but that seems to be the way the world works. And that separation is one of the things that allows a person like me to respect their beliefs, even if I think they’re weird or nuts. Here’s where that line has been crossed! This is an example of why it is so critical for people to continue to maintain that separation because once you start stepping over that, it’s like, I can’t. I can’t. This is, this is where, like, you know, I try to be nice and try to be respectful, even when I have mixed feelings about that expectation, but it’s, like, here’s the-this is it, this is it. If this is not too far, what is, you know? Don’t go to this doctor, okay? *laughter* She’s a pediatrician? Don’t take your kids. Okay?
What- yeah, what is she prescribing for these children?
That’s what I’m saying! I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s- *groans*
I’m just sad. I’m sad that these people are getting platformed. I’m sad that, that this is where we are right now.
How did I get here?
I keep thinking about that Talking Heads line more and more.
But here’s what I’m trying to get at in the, the enormity of, the enormity of this situation crushed my spirit for a second there, but I’m fine now. These beliefs are not necessarily that unusual in the circles that somebody like her travels in. The only difference is, do people let them affect their politics and their work? A lot of people do not. And when they do, that’s what, like, that, that’s the red, that’s the red line. That’s the hard red line. How people stay on one side of the line, I don’t know, but most people seem to be able to do it. So, it’s, it’s very strange to consider that there are a lot of people who kind of live in two worlds, where on the one hand they believe these things, but on the other hand, they let a different set of standards influence their behavior in the most important things. I’m glad they’re able to do that. I don’t quite get hows so *groans* there we have it. *laughter* Actually, one more thing. Tabitha pointed out on Twitter recently that we’ve got the right to fuck demons in our sleep if we want to. *Simone laughs*
Yes. Look, I am a, an adult. and if I want to fuck a demon? Who’s gonna fucking stop me? You can’t stop me. That’s what I do in my bedroom. I can do whatever the fuck I want. I can do it at the Walmart-
As long as it’s, you know, consenting Tabitha and consenting demon, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
Yeah, I mean, it’s funny when I wrote that Twitter thing, you know, I was trying to kind of evoke the, like, anti-maskers. But really, like, I was just, like, immediately into it, so I don’t know if that- *laughter* -if maybe I failed in, in what I was trying to accomplish, but I don’t know.
You convinced yourself.
That was the thing, like, when you read that part where she says ‘this is a problem that affects many women,’ I can imagine a lot of women read that say, ‘tell me more…’
*laughs* All right, well, let’s go ahead. We’ll take a break. And we’ll come back with our main topic.
Black Mass Appeal 23:07
400 years ago, English poet John Milton redefined our ideas about who Satan is and what his struggle means, even if that’s probably really not what he meant to do. Helping us look at Milton’s Satanic epic up close, with a close reading of the most influential Satanic rhetoric in Paradise Lost, we have Bella from the Satanic Bookroom. Thanks for joining us, Bella!
Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Well, we’re excited to have you. So, for the folks who aren’t familiar, I want you to tell us a little bit more about yourself, your relation to Satanism, and the Satanic Bookroom, and Paradise Lost.
All right, well, I first came across Satanism, probably in the 90s and that was through the Satanic Bible and Anton LaVey. I didn’t really start in a serious manner until about 2012, where I was questioning a lot of the things going on around me with Christianity, and my conflict with it with being an atheist, and I decided to look into Satanism. In 2016, I came across the Satanic Temple, which also fostered more thought into it as an organized religion, and therefore decided to call myself a Satanist, which I’ve been ever since. It feels like a spot to be in that will probably be lifelong for me and continue to expand. So I’m a supporter of TST and also spend a lot of independent time exploring and looking at my religion now. I also have a group on Facebook called the Satanic Bookroom that assists with the- discovering the Satanic literature that is the basis of a lot of philosophies for our religion, and includes almost 5000 members from all walks of life- some of them identify as Satanists, and others are just curious in learning about, about Satanism.
Now, obviously, since you’re, you know, literature-oriented, when was the first time that you read Paradise Lost?
I first was introduced to it in college, which was probably in the 90s. I was trying to remember back as we were having this episode, if we had actually read through the whole thing; it’s quite a long epic. *laughs* So-
*laughs* No kidding!
Yeah, that’s where I was first introduced to it.
Just to get a plugin, by the way, I believe the current group read for the Satanic Bookroom right now is still Lord Byron’s Kane, which we talked about just two episodes prior, so anybody who thought that sounded intriguing, there’s a good opportunity to get in on the group if it strikes your fancy. I guess anybody who didn’t think that Kane sounded interesting, I really appreciate you coming back for this episode. It shows you’re very open-minded.
Yeah, it is. You know, as we discussed on the episode, two episodes ago, about the Romantics, John Milton was not a Romantic, but he really influenced them, so it’s still kind of in that literary vein. So if it’s not your thing, well, you can re-listen to the goat episode. That was a fun episode.
I do believe that that episode was 75? *laughs* For once, I know which one it is, haha!
Also, on the topic of how long this poem is, I kind of feel like I owe Simone an apology, even though I’m sure she probably does not remember this, because, of course, we’ve talked about doing an episode about this before and I think there was one time when it came up that I said, ‘I don’t know, do you want to do all the reading?’ And later, I realized, that was a really dick question! Like as if, you know, like, like, it sounded like, it seems like a very pompous thing to say. And I’m sure nobody else remembers this conversation, but it’s been bothering me, so sorry about that. That was, that was not a tactful way to feel out a prospect for the program. *chuckles*
I don’t remember that. I- thank you for the apology. But, it is, it is quite long. I mean, we’ll, we’ll kind of get into this more, but I mean, it’s ten books, I guess in some versions, it’s 12. It’s a, you know, they use the word epic for ‘epic poem’ for a reason.
Well, I did get a tip- our unfaithful listener HollowHeathen told us- I think it was HollowHeathen- told us that, when she read it, she listened to the audiobook simultaneously and followed along with it, which to me sounded a little weird, but if that helps, great, that’s awesome. And actually, the useful thing about the audiobook is that you will know exactly how long it will take you to read this because *laughter* you can look at the timer, so that’s probably a good mental tool for some people who might feel a little bit intimidated tackling the text. Anybody out there, if anybody else out there has done that, let us know how it worked out for you.
Yeah, I was about to say, she’s not the only person I’ve heard who has done that. I know a couple of people who have listened to it on audio, you know, the audiobook. You know, it’s, it’s, if you’re not into that kind of like, sort of, Shakespearean language in terms of reading with the kind of, you know, the older style spellings just to listen to it, and absorb it that way is, also, I mean, it’s a wonderful way to do it.
Also, I would point out that the more recent reading I did of Paradise Lost was- it [was] with plain English. *laughs* It’s obviously written in English, so it’s kind of funny that there’s an English version that makes it more plain and my copy has it right next to each other, so you can read some of the more flowery and winding language and then just get it straight in a couple sentences right next to it, and that really helped.
*laughing* He sat down! Okay? *laughter*
That’s the kind, that’s the one that I had. That’s the one that I read most recently, and, I do have to admit, though, that the Kindle version that I got, I don’t, I can’t remember, like, who edited it or whatever. But it’s so funny because it’ll actually do, like, a line from the poem in the original text, and then just below it is the ‘quote-unquote translation,’ or the simplification, but it’s real funny to me because, they’ll be like three, like, very dense, you know, sentences and then, like, just one -way- over a simplified English sentence underneath it. It will be this long passage about, you know, ‘Satan and his wings and flying,’ and then the English is, ‘he flew.’ *laughter* Okay. That was helpful. Okay. Anyway, before we get too deep into this, let’s offer some contextualization about John Milton and the circumstances of him writing this thing. Daniel, do you want to take this first one?
For the record, this is the same very brief, one-paragraph bio culled from the Academy of American Poets that we included back on Episode 58, so a little bit of review, but you know, not everybody has heard every episode also, you probably haven’t heard Episode 58 recently, it was a while back. So, “John Milton was born in London in 1607, into a middle-class family. He was educated at Christ’s College, Cambridge.” I always really love that phrase, by the way, because it sounds, It sounds very exasperated. ‘Christtt’s Collegeee.’ *Simone laughs* “-and prepared to enter the clergy after university, however, he abandoned his plans to join the priesthood, and spent the next six years at his father’s country home following a rigorous course of independent study to prepare for a career as a poet.” I don’t know if this is a proper characterization of this, but this kind of makes me think about, you know, when you drop out of school to tour with your band.
I’m just thinking about, you know, if you want to have a career as a poet, like, do ya get your LinkedIn set up, you know? The, the career of a poet, when approached in that manner seems, a little- *laughs* I don’t know.
You bench press books, is what you do.
I mean, you’re joking, but actually, yeah, it kind of was a who you know sort of thing in those times. Although bench pressing books, I kind of like that image, too. *laughter* It continues, “during the English Civil War-” This is, there’s a lot of English civil wars. This was the 17th-century one when Parliament cut the king’s head off. “Milton championed the cause of the Puritans and Oliver Cromwell, and wrote a series of pamphlets advocating radical political topics, including the morality of divorce, the freedom of the press, populism, and sanctioned regicide. After the restoration of Charles the Second to the throne in 1660, Milton was arrested as a defender of the Commonwealth, but soon released. He lived the rest of his life in seclusion of the country, completing the blank-verse epic poem Paradise Lost in 1667.” And when I say it’s who you know, I seem to remember from our study of this in college, it really was kind of his friends in high places who admired his poetical work. We got a spring from prison after this because he was pretty deep into the movement there. It also helped at that time, he was an old man and blind and so, kind of feeble, so he had a good, he had a good pity vote for clemency there, as well. It continues, “Paradise Lost chronicles Satan’s temptations of Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from Eden. Since its publication, the work has continually elicited debate regarding its theological themes, political commentary, and its depiction of Satan, who is often viewed as the protagonist of the work.” Often? Is there anybody who does not? I, I-
Well, I was actually reading an essay to this effect about how the definitions of protagonists stand, does Satan meet all of them? I wish, I should have just pulled that up, but there are some who argue that God is the protagonist of this work. So-
-there you have it.
I guess that does make sense in a way although he is a rather remote personage, but then, you know, he’s got-
Isn’t he always?
Yeah, he doesn’t have to get out of the house very much. I used to joke of, like, you know, in the old days, like, God was very sociable, he would go hang out with Abraham and with Moses and the prophets and what have you. These days, like, he just stays at home all the time, nobody ever hears from him, his son died a while ago and he seems like he just never really got over it. Very sad story.
Well, you know, maybe he tried to appear as a burning bush again, and it got out of hand because it was here in California. *Daniel laughs* Sorry, that’s terrible.
Somebody just hit him with the fire extinguisher like in Dogma, that was the end of it. *laughter*
Okay, so now that’s kind of the overview of Milton and the circumstances of his life leading up to this. He, in my reading, one of the things that I thought was interesting is that he was very determined to write an epic poem, and he, I guess, like, kind of toyed with the idea of doing something about King Arthur and, but it was, yeah, towards the later part of his life that he actually kind of went through with it, so. It’s that thing of where you work on your first album for a really, really long time and, and then it’s a hit, and then, you know, do you have anything to follow it up with? But. Anyway, focusing on Paradise Lost, as we mentioned before, this has 10 to 12 books depending on the edition. We’re going to talk about 12, the 12 version. And, so, just to give people context for the more in-depth discussion, we’re gonna whip through these 12 books real fast.
Okay, so previously on Paradise Lost in Book One, Satan and the rebel angels, cast out of Heaven, awake to find themselves in Hell. Satan and his Lieutenant Beelzebub vowed to continue defying God, and they fashion a plan to spoil Eden for the newly created humanity. Book number two, the fallen angels hold a great council to debate their next course and Satan tells them that he will travel to Earth to execute their plan. Flying to the gates of Hell, he finds him guarded by his daughter, Sin, who sprang from his head at the moment he conceived of disobedience in Heaven, and their incestuous son, Death. Sin unlocks the gates and Satan flies out into the realm of Chaos, where all of the strange things that God neglected to use to create the universe still reign. And he persuades the Lord of Chaos to direct him towards the world. Book number three, back in Heaven, God in his son, who is not yet called Jesus, having not yet been born as a man on Earth, discuss what’s happening. Book Three is honestly pretty boring. And if you skip it, you’re not missing much. But it does include one intriguing bit. God knows Satan’s plan, and is going to let it happen, in part because if he never gives humans the opportunity to disobey, then they will, in effect, be slaves.
Bella, do you want to take the next three?
Yeah, I’ll take the next three. All right, so let’s continue with Book Four. Satan, finding himself in Eden, is charmed by the beauty of the world, but also tortured by regret, doubt, and uncertainty. Despite this emotional turmoil, he vows to press on with his plan and spies Eve and Adam at work. That night, he creeps into their sleeping place, and whispers promises into Eve’s ear, but some of God’s angels discover him and drive him away. Book Five, the angel Raphael visits Eve and Adam and warns them that an enemy is near. Well, he actually just warns Adam because Eve shouldn’t worry about big stuff like that with her womanly mind. Raphael describes how war broke out in Heaven after some of the angels refused to bow God’s new son, and Satan rallied them to his side. Book number six, the rebel angels and the loyalists meet in battle, which is pretty futile since angels can’t die. Satan even invents cannons to overwhelm his foes, but cannot turn the tide. Finally, on the third day of war, God’s son leads the charge, and the rebels are cast down.
All right, well, I’ll take this next bit here. So, previously on Books Seven and Eight, Raphael relates the creation of the world, the creation of Adam, and all the other living creatures, and, last of all, Eve. Moving on to Book Nine, despite the warnings, Eve and Adam work in separate parts of the garden the next day. Satan inhabits the body of the serpent and approaches Eve, and, amazed to see an animal speak, Eve listens to his story about how he ate the fruit of a particular tree and gained knowledge. Though she protests that she’s forbidden to eat fruit from that same tree, Satan persuades her to taste and after eating, she resolves to convince Adam, too. Daniel, want the, want to bring us home?
You got it. In Book Ten, Satan returns to Hell loosing Sin and Death on the world and erecting a road between Hell and Earth. As punishment, all of the Fallen Angels are transformed into snakes, Satan becoming the dragon- so hey, good, we’re wrapping it up there from Genesis to Revelation, that’s smart story-telling- and they pour forth into the world. In Book 11, God’s son arrives on Earth to pass judgment on Eve and Adam. Here’s a case where Milton breaks from Scripture a little bit here by sending Jesus to do God’s job, interesting choice there. To comfort his punishment, Adam is granted visions of the history of the world to come. Eve is not because *laughs* for fuck’s sake.
Uh, yes. In Book 12, the angels continue to relate the history of the world become and then finally, in a bittersweet conclusion, Eve and Adam comfort each other as they leave Paradise forever, and I actually find the closing lines of this poem very, very touching from- for, for my purposes. So yeah, so this is- I used the Dartmouth version here, because it’s online and it’s much easier to be able to copy and paste these. *Simone laughs* Copy and paste the verses into the show sheet rather than transcribing them by hand because they’re long. And so yeah, this is the 12 book version. The 10 book version condenses some of these together like Books Seven and Eight become the same one because they’re eventually- because they’re, you know, two halves of the same story. There is a lot of debate about the proper way to divide up the story. There’s a lot of debate about the proper way to punctuate the poem. For example, people will fall into rat holes that never come out of on that. I don’t think we have to worry about that sort of thing here, but, you know, be prepared that if you wade into the discourse, these are the sorts of things that are going to come up.
So there you have it, the very, very brief movie trailer version of Paradise Lost, and all of its books. Now-
Paradise Lost for Dummies. *chuckles*
Yes, Paradise Lost Cliffnotes. Do they have those still? Like the, the paper, the yellow paperback copies? They-
I see them in college bookstores all the time, so yeah, they must.
Are you going to college bookstores a lot? Daniel? *chuckles*
No, but I go to Alexander’s Books over on Second Street, which is very close to the Downtown Campus of City College and they carry a lot of materials for the students there.
All right. All right, I’ll allow it.
*laughs* Okay. So, now we’re going to take our deeper dive here and we’re going to go through the books and- kind of focus on a particular quote and pull it apart a little bit for you. So, let’s just keep the order that we had. So Tab, why don’t you read this quote here from Book One?
Okay. So this is Satan and Beelzebub plan for the future. “Is this the region, the soil, the clime,’ said then the last archangel, this the seat, that we must change for heaven, this mournful gloom for that celestial light? Be it so, since he who now is sovereign can dispote and bid what shall be right: farthest from him is best, whom reason has equaled, force has made supreme above his equals. Farewell, happy fields where joy forever dwells: Hail horrors, hail infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell receive thy new possessor. The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven; Here at least we shall be free: in my choice, to rain is worth ambition, though in Hell: better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
I know so many of you guys have that tattooed on you out there.
That last line. ‘Cuz it’s a great fucking line!
‘Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.’
If there was one mantra for Satanism, that would probably be it.
Yeah, I’m gonna definitely agree with that. [unintelligible chatter] I’m like, are you gonna finish that? *laughter*
You know, this is a great book for people who don’t have the fortitude for long reads because if you only end up reading the first one or two sections, you’re still getting a lot of the really good stuff, a lot of the really good stuff is these first two chapters in Hell, and, you know, you’ll still have a lot of the reference points under your belt by the time you get to the end of those. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t read the rest, but I’m saying, for folks who drop out early, they, they have still been enriched, so lucky that. I get chills every time I read this bit, I- particularly, I- It’s just. Ooh, stirring.
Yeah, it is.
Okay, so we’ve got, like, some good book club discussion questions here. One of them- I particularly like this, there’s this weird phrase that sneaks in here talking about God, ‘whom reason has equaled, force has made supreme above his equals.’ So Satan here is kind of saying, ‘logic would say that God is our equal. Force made him better than his equals.’ What the hell do you think that means? Because that is some tricksy little wordplay that he’s got going on there.
For me, what I saw was the beginning of the breakdown of the system of hierarchy that God had put into Heaven, so this is the beginning of Satan being able to see that, hey, that God is no better than everyone else. He’s kind of seeing God for what he is, and this view is the crumbling of this structure right now to be removed. So, he’s seeing that only force has made him better than his equals, but is, is really starting to relate that his authoritarian-authoritarianism is just assigned and therefore begin to dissipate inSatan’s mind
Yeah, I get that same kind of impression that, like, you know, what, like, really it’s more of a question. Like, what, what is it that makes him better, other than he’s in charge is you know, he decided. *chuckles*
I’m your heavenly father and I said, so.
I feel like the levels of hierarchy is a very, very base thing in Christianity and the opposite being a very consistent thing with Satanism, where we often eschew the system of hierarchies. And that’s the idea, like, as a Satanist, I become responsible for myself and [am] my own God, and a lot of those things- ideas have been broken down as Satanism often uses the value of authenticity, which goes against comparison, therefore, breaks down systems of hierarchy. And so, that’s kind of the difference between Christian ideology and Satanist ideologies. So I kind of see this as the beginning of Satan becoming Satanic.
If the, the kind of kernel at the heart of the, the whole questioning of the system.
Well, you remember last episode when we were talking about the Goya paintings, and that particular critic whose name I can’t recall said, ‘really, there’s two basic schools of thought about these. You can read it straight, or you can read it ironically.’ I guess the ironic, subversive reading of this is the one that we’ve just given it, where this idea of it’s really just kind of trying to de-legitimize God and de-legitimize the fact that the war turned out one way to say, ‘well, God is not any better than us. He just happened to have won.’ He won through, like, you know, force- is like, the most basic, least, the most basic means of achieving something in the way that’s least afforded respect. Um, that’s probably not what Milton had in mind, though- I mean, I don’t know John Milton, people have been arguing about that for about 400 goddamn years now- Um, but, keeping in mind who he was, I think what’s interesting is that we’ll see in the later chapters, that Satan made this argument before the war, where he said, ‘is God’s superior to us? That’s news to me.’ So here, it’s possible he’s trying to preserve that philosophical and ideological structure, again, even in the face of the fact that they failed, which, like I said, it’s kind of tricksy. It’s, it’s, it’s- Satan’s rhetoric, the way that he changes values around and makes things very relativistic, Heaven for Hell, Hell for Heaven. This is the same way- he’s doing the same thing here, he’s saying, ‘winning, losing, forced worthiness, what do these things even mean?’ Let’s just, let’s just clear away these distinctions at all time, which again- is *probably* not supposed to be a good thing, but, for obvious reasons, we’re much more sympathetic to that perspective than probably the ideal reader at the time was.
I could see what you mean, because the term, ‘it’s better to roll in hell’, or ‘it’s better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,’ could also be looked at as sour grapes. *laughs* Because he just lost and was banned to hell, instead of-
-this profound thing that a Satanist take of like, ‘yes, that is the basis of who we are.’ So, and of course, what he had said to that- this is not what Milton was trying to do, like, make the template for modern-day Satanists *laughs* to read over it and get some good material for our own basis of philosophy. His ideology for making this epic was to-I guess justify to Man that God was really pulling the strings and had planned this all along or, like, has, what is it? Eternal Providence was a term that was used as, as a goal for this Paradise Lost epic. So yeah, it does go back and forth, I see, where there’s a theme that seems to be going my way of things that I like and then, and then I turn around I’m like, ‘ah,’ he just seems kind of like he’s being an asshole and jealous of the way that things turned out. So you’re right it can definitely go both ways.
He’s like, I didn’t want to be on Twitter, anyway. You can ban me. I don’t care! *laughter* I got, uh? Friendster? *laughs*
Friendster is Hell is what I’m trying to say. *giggle*
I was just thinking of the, the Alt-right assholes who declared that they’re leaving Twitter for what’s it? Parler, or Gab, or whatever? *in dumb voice* We’re gonna build our own Twitter with Nazis and terrible people. It’ll be great! But-
Man, it’s gonna be the echoiest chamber that ever was. Hurray!
Okay, let’s move on to Book Two. Bella, why don’t you read the passage?
Alrighty, well, in this passage, Satan is telling the fallen angels that he’ll conduct the expedition to Eden himself. All right. “Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads to the light: Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire, immures us round ninefold, and gates of burning adamant barred prohibit all egress. These past, the void of Night receives him next, wide gaping, and with utter loss of being threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf. But I should Ill become this throne, oh peers, and this imperial sovereignty, adorned with splendor, armed with power, if difficulty or danger could deter me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume these royalties and not refuse to reign if refusing to accept as great a share of hazard as of honor? Go mighty powers, terror of Heaven, though fallen, while I abroad through all coasts of dark destruction seek deliverance for us all: This enterprise none shall partake with me.”
So I singled this bit out mainly because of that last line there where he talks about deliverance, which, of course, has a very distinct meeting in religious terms, especially with somebody with a religious outlook of Milton, that it does sort of in everyday English. Uh, Satanists-
Hey, I just really quickly, like Dinga-a ling, Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, like that? *laughter* I had to; I’m sorry!
Satan is kind of setting himself up here as, as a Christ figure, as somebody who is going to lead them to salvation, quite literally out of their sins. They are, you know, you’ll hear preachers use that phrase, ‘you’re in your sins.’ Here, they are. They’re, like, sitting in them. It’s everywhere. It’s all around them. He’s going to, quite literally, deliver them from that. I find that fascinating and weird. I don’t know about anybody else.
I kind of took it as that thing where someone- I mean, this is, this is quite literally, what it does- but it’s a leader who is saying, ‘Oh, no, I wouldn’t be a very fit leader. Now, if I wasn’t, you know, willing to do the things that I’m going to ask you to do. So here, let me, let me do this, let me possibly sacrifice myself’ in order to build that sympathy and loyalty. However, when I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think, he just wanted to leave. He just, he was just like, ‘I gotta get out of here. I’m gonna, I’m gonna make this plan or I can get the fuck out of here.’ Because he specifically says, like, you know, none, none of you are gonna go with me. And I’m like, yeah he just wanted to get the fuck out.
I mean I think the text literally says that at one point. Just after this, Milton butts in with his opinion, pointing out saying it’s like, there would actually be no benefit for him to let anybody else go, so he’s cleverly framing this as self-sacrifice, when, really, it’s just if you’re smart, right, it’s the smart thing to do.
Yeah, I would agree that it’s, that it’s a smart tactic to take because they’re the rebels, they’re the adversity and you want to, you want to imply that you’re getting down and dirty with them, unlike God who’s sitting on his throne and has everyone else like angels and the Son doing all the battling and dirty work. Even if Satan is looking for glory, or wants to go his own way, and do his own battling or deviousness up on Earth, I do think that he is using this as kind of a way to connect, or maybe an excuse as well, *laughs* to be like, ‘I’m down with the troops!’
Also apropos of what we were talking about just a second ago, again, a big theme in this is this idea about what makes authority good and right and just and justified. And of course, you know, over the centuries, it has not escaped people’s notice that John Milton is a failed revolutionary, you know, he tried to overthrow this divine monarchy, he failed, he ended up in exile, and he was, in many people’s eyes, vilified for his actions in that. So this question of how was he relating to Satan has created this tension over this poem for, for centuries now. And I, you know, I’m not going to be able to pretend to answer that, but I do know that some critics have offered this idea that he was actually trying to use Satan as a foil for himself. He was saying, you know, you may think that I am this villainous devilish figure, but let me show you what, you know, real evil and real treachery and disloyalty is.’ So, Satan here is kind of trying to offer, he’s trying to give himself legitimacy. He’s undermined this idea that God is a true king, you know, by saying, you know, only through force, only through these simplistic means, you know, has he achieved authority over us- what am I going to do for authority? What am I going to do? Justify sovereignty, I am going to act, you know, I’m going to be self-sacrificing, I’m going to be heroic, I’m going to put myself in the danger that, you know, I would not want you to ask. And so he is offering up an alternative model, which, again, is a fascinating idea. And then, Milton of course, undercuts that completely by saying, *whispers* ‘it’s not really what he’s doing. Be very, very careful when politicians talk like this.’ So again, there’s a lot going on there, you can be very inspired by this idea, but then also acknowledge, you know, that the text is doing different things with it than maybe we would like to.
Yeah, I also want to mention on that, that in the text, aside from this, quote, Satan tells his, the rebels, you know, the demons and followers, that he has been chosen as the leader in the situation by the laws of heaven, which is kind of ironic that he is going, he is forming all of this to be against heaven and its hierarchy and structure, but yet, he’s trying to say that, if you, like, because of its structure, he is inadvertently chosen for this role.
That’s true, but you’ll notice, and again, when we get into the later books, you know, Satan has a very different idea of what the Hierarchy of Heaven, and now Hell, is than maybe it was intended. Like here, he still refers to them as his peers, and later on, when he’s rallying everybody [he] talks about, ‘yes, we’re all equal, we’re not necessarily all the same, some of us have higher station than others, but that doesn’t make us better than one another., And so, maybe, he’s- the ideas that he’s trying to translate that now into this new context, saying, ‘you know, I’m not really any different from you. I’m kind of different from you, but not in the ways that matter,’ you know?
I feel like, maybe it’s the residual of the beliefs of them. Like, I feel like it’s a way of manipulation, kind of, to sweep up the changing views of like, the troops of Hell, because- I think that making changes from where they came from, just in general, like, in life is, is a long journey, and so people don’t recover from ideologies all at once, you know, or even these, the characters in these stories, like they, they grow and they change. So, to me, I took it as maybe like a residual of if there were any doubters, or people that, you know, maybe held on to that structure of hierarchy, that he would say like, ‘oh, by the way, like, even on those terms, I’m supposed to be in this position.’ Like, almost the, the flip side of God. And I see throughout the, this poem, like, it plays upon that, where he, to where, yeah, like, on one hand, he, he says that there shouldn’t be hierarchy, but then he turns, like in Hell, but then he turns right around and uses him as the designated leader, and on his throne in a way. So, anyways, it seems to flip back and forth, like it never seems to be consistent on how Satan presents his position, because he’s against authority, but yet he’s also at the throne of Hell and at its helm.
We’re gonna go ahead and move on to Book Four. Book Three is just a lot of God and Jesus talking, so we don’t care about that. Moving on to Book Four! So, this is Satan has newly arrived in the world and he’s kind of wrestling with his own feelings. “Had this powerful destiny ordained me some inferior angel, I had stood then happy: no unbounded hope had raised ambition. Yet, why not? Some other power as great, might have aspired, and me, though mean, drawn to his part. But other powers as great fell now- whom has I then to accuse but Heaven’s free love- dealt equally to all? Be then that love accursed, since love or hate alike to me deals eternal woe. Which way shall I fly: infinite wrath, and infinite despair? Which way I flee is Hell; myself am hell, and in the lowest deep a lower deep still threatening to devour me opens wide, to which the Hell I suffer now would seem a heaven. Is there no place for pardon left? None but by submission, and that word disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame among the spirits beneath whom I seduced with other promises: While they adore me on the Throne of Hell, With Diadem and Scepter high advanced, the lower still I fall. So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear, farewell remorse: all good to me is lost. Evil, be thou my good: by thee at least divided empire with Heaven’s king I hold, and more than half perhaps will reign.”
Yeah, actually, I’m just going to- apologies to everyone, I’m going to take point on this because this is my favorite bit in the entire poem. Most people find Satan’s- the, the inspiring thing about Satan in this poem, most people find these very stirring speeches that he gives to his troops. This is the part, weirdly enough, that inspires me- it’s this very private moment, where he’s wrestling with doubt and regret and uncertainty in this very human and pained and relatable way, and I think it’s honestly really beautiful. And this is actually what I find inspiring about the character, is this vulnerability. And this is really, very much the model for, if you go back to the Romantic Satanism episode where we talked about the idea of the Romantic Hero, and especially the Byronic Hero, a character’s a hero, not necessarily because he’s admirable in a conventional way, but because what you admire about him is the depth of those feelings, and everything that he’s going through, and just the, the, the sheer weight of the burden of being this guy, but he keeps going through it anyway, and that is what you find so endearing and so admirable about him in that weird, ironic way. That’s this right here. Also, I realized not the most inspiring image, but I kind of think about, I kind of think of Satan as Jack Skellington in this scene, where he’s talking about the burdens- *laughter* expectations. Which again, like I said, is a, is a, not a conventionally heroic posture., but I don’t know, that, that’s very relatable to me. And so, I’ve written about this an awful lot over on the SBA blog, especially a blog that I really like called “Satan the Loser” where, again, as strange as it seems, the thing that I like about Satan is not that he is a mighty, powerful, intimidating figure, but that he is like us- that he is human, and that he is fallible, and that he has to deal with these same things. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that this passage in Book Four, this is actually where he is in a godlike position, because if you think about it, he would be the first person, in the universe, to deal with these feelings. He’s the first person to fail like this, and to have self-doubt like this, he’s the first person to ever deal with Imposter Syndrome, and he is creating this emotional universe that is layered and complex and nuanced, and inspiring, and really beautiful. And I find that quite touching. And so, more than anything, I always come back to this. And I also particularly- sorry, I’ll stop in a second- to a degree in Book One, when we find Satan kind of lying in the Lake of Fire. But again, more importantly, on this moment when he’s reflecting on it with a little more perspective- When there are times in my life when things are really bad, when things are really, really bad, I think about this- I think about that feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach, where all you can think about is, what do I do now? What in the world do I do now? And this story, and this poem in particular, are things that I think about in those moments. So, that’s why I love this and that is what inspires me, so I want the little Reading Rainbow sting to play me out. *chuckles*
Aw, that was beautiful! Just like your- I can’t recommend the Satanic Bay Area blog, “Satan the Loser” enough. It was really, really well written.
Oh, well thank you, that was sweet of you. Anyway-
I’m biased, but-
I’ve monopolized the discussion, how does everybody else feel when they read this?
Well, so harkening back to something that you said, Daniel, is the kind of relatability, because we’ve seen Satan portrayed as very, very human in other works. I don’t feel that way here, but the, you know, the grappling with this, self-doubt is, like, a very human thing in this kind of un-human being, to my mind. And it’s very sympathetic, because who hasn’t been there, you know? Kind of like, what Daniel said, we’ve all had those moments of, like, you know, you, talking heads and you go, how did I get here? You know, it’s, again, it’s an, it’s a contrast to God who is sitting up and far away and just watching, so, you know, a really good passage.
Yeah, I am. I want to be like, same. Same Satan. There’s something about how much this feels like Depression. And I know we’ve all kind of touched on this, but like, the way he speaks about what’s going on, and what he’s doing sounds to me a lot like Depression. And it feels, it’s messed up to say it, like, it feels good, but, like, it feels nice to be recognized like that in such a big, imposing figure.
Well, I mean, that’s kind of the thing about most art, you know. Y’all know that I love my Nine Inch Nails- the lyrics are depressing and angry, but when you’re in a concert situation- in the before times anyway- you really feel that you’re not alone, that other- someone has put to words your feelings, and all these other people here with you, singing along, are feeling those feelings too, so to explore that depression is, is really helpful, I think.
Um, for me, I really feel that accepting the whole spectrum, you know, the whole spectrum of human emotion, both the good and the bad, is part of being a Satanist. Whereas opposed to in this story, there is a part where Uriel, who is in the sun, like, sees him and- Satan is actually sitting on a mountain disguised as a cherub while he’s going over this in his head with this internal dialogue, and Uriel realizes that it’s not an angel or cherub, because he sees the, or Uriel sees the emotion on Satan’s face, and posits that angels don’t have emotion and are always at peace. So, to me, this insinuates, like, the Christian goal for piousness and purity is to be absent of emotion, and that’s what equals peace, but in the Satanic realm, as well as Satan, showing emotion and turmoil is all part of the spectrum once you’ve left Heaven. You know, and it also shows that with, with the story of Adam and Eve that comes along in the paradise loss, and that, they’re kind of naive and shallow in this way and then after getting the Tree of Knowledge, like then they too can experience the full range of human emotion. I know I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but that’s what I see in Satan exposing some of his emotion and internal dialogue and the part where, where they know he’s no longer an angel- or not an angel because angels supposedly don’t have emotion, but so yeah.
Yeah, I thought that part was, was pretty funny, actually because it’s like, ‘oh, here’s a beautiful cherub, why is he frowning? Wait, that’s not a cherub after all!” *laughter*
*laughing* That’s no cherub!
That’s no moon; it’s a cherub-
That’s creepy, it’s like that scene in Invasion of the Body Snatchers where they figure out who’s not one of them.
You know, that, that’s- I particularly I- thank you so much for bringing that up. That’s such a wonderful, beautiful point. And point- going back to what Simone said a second ago about how God is perfect but boring. Actually, in this poem more than anything, Jesus is annoyingly perfect, because, of course, that’s the theology there, right? Like, Jesus is so great you’ll never be as good as him., that’s the whole idea. Whereas-
It would drive me crazy, too.
Yeah. Whereas Satan is already just like us. That is why we find him relatable. And, to the point that, you know, when they put together this story, when they put together the Satan myth, what did they do? They copied and pasted the story of Eve and Adam. This, you know, you, that you’re the preferred- you’re the favorite creation, and then you disobey, and now you live in sin. It’s the exact same story, so I guess it’s not surprising that they ended up sticking Satan in there too because they, they, they do this. It’s, it’s a repeat, it’s a rerun. You know, this really is? This is not Satan. This is the genius of evil when, you know, you look at, when we look at that statue, and, like, when we’re not just checking out his abs, *laughter* but when we look at the emotion of that statue that people find moving, it’s this moment, it’s this feeling that he’s dealing with. What Tabitha said about Depression fascinates me because, I was just the other day watching- if anybody knows the YouTube channel, PhilosophyTube, which, by the way, [Abigail] would love to have you on the show sometime- [She] has a video on there, which is actually about Jordan Peterson of all things, but in that video, he is cosplaying Satan, and he talks about how, yes, being in Depression is very much like being in Hell, and he quotes, not from Paradise Lost, but from Marlowe’s Faustus, but the line there is almost identical where he talks about, you know, “think you Not that I, who saw the face of God/ and tormented by ten thousand hells” by being awake, by being out- no longer there. That idea that everywhere you go was Hell because Hell is that feeling of just not being able to escape these feel- just not being able to escape this thing, that is, that is part of you. Ooh, chills, I get chills again.
To piggyback off of that, you know, I like the part where he’s talking about I, I’m in Hell, but there’s, you know, if that Hell doesn’t work, there’s another one below that and there’s another one below that, and it’s just Hells all the way down. And one of my favorite quotes describing Depression *sighs* is actually from a fanfic writer, but she put it in a very eloquent way, is that ‘Depression is not the absence of hope, it’s the belief that there never will be hope.’ So, you know, if it’s Hells all the way down, like, *sighs* I mean, why don’t you just lay back down in the Lake of Fire?
So here we’re going to go ahead to Book Five. Book Five, as we mentioned in the outline, is a flashback. Now, Raphael is relating the history of the War in Heaven. I’m not 100% sure how he knows this since he wasn’t here for a lot of this stuff, but I guess God sees all. Nevertheless, here is the scene where Satan is rallying the angels to revolution. This is really where he persuades everybody to come over to his side in this conflict, and we mentioned in passing, the thing that incenses them is this creation of God’s Son, and this idea that, now there is not only this new thing that’s been set above them and this idea of, like, ‘Well, why should we be less than him?’ And, you know- so here is what he’s saying, quote, “Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers- If these titles [yet remain not] merely titular, since by decree another now to himself has all power, and us eclipsed under the name of king anointed. But what if better councils might erect our minds and teach us to cast off this yoke? Will you submit your next and choose to bend the supple knee? You will not, if I trust to know you right, [of] you know yourselves natives and sons of Heaven, possessed before by none, and if all equal, yet free, equally free. Who can in reason then or right assume monarchy over such as live by right is equals? Or can introduce the low and edict on us, who without law err not, and much less for this to be our lord, and look for adoration to the abuse of those imperial titles which assert our being ordained to govern not to serve?” And so, again, this sounds an awful lot like the rhetoric that young John Milton used to argue for and during that English Civil War, It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of spooky, honestly. Going back to the-
Well, write what you know, right?
Yeah. Going back to the Romantic Satanism episode, you know, we talked about how William Godwin, looking at Satanists or this revolutionary icon, this was the heart of his argument. He said, Satan just does not see this conflict in the same terms that God does. God sees a hierarchy. Satan does not really recognize that authority as natural or even logical. What do we think, based on what he says here? Do we think that this seems like an authentic and reasonable motivation? Do you think that is his ideals hold water?
Oh, yeah, I don’t have so much to say, because I was thinking that, I was thinking that it would insinuate that legitimacy was the only problem as if Satan still wanted to exist in the structure of hierarchy, but that there’s a paradox and that he acknowledges the hierarchy in some ways, but ultimately, I think he wants to destroy the structure of hierarchy and not be a servitude, in servitude of it. He wants freedom from it. So, I think it goes much further than just the legitimacy of God in his position. But when you were talking, I was thinking, well, maybe he means the legitimacy of the whole structure, which I think is the point I was trying to make. Did any of that make sense? *laughs* I’m starting to feel the fatigue!
You know, it’s, it’s, well, I mean, it’s heady stuff.
I think the ultimate idea is that the entire structure must be destroyed, not just the question of if God is legitimate or not and his authority.
Well, it’s interesting to hear you say that, because really, if we look at this, what Satan’s argument? He says, you know, things have always been one way and that way was just. Now we’re being asked to take on this extra burden for, as far as we can see it, no reason. And so, in a certain sense, he’s making sort of a reflexive or even regressive argument. He’s saying, you know, this change is wrong for our society, we need to go back to the way things were, but in doing that, he’s actually proposing an even more radical idea. But to him, it doesn’t seem radical, to him it seems natural, you know, to, to challenge God because again, if he does not think of himself as subservient in the first place, he just thought it was, like, we’re all in the natural place, that we, that we’re all in the place that suits us best, and, you know, it’s the lack of merit of this intrusion is what is provoking him. So, I guess there’s a reading by this in which this is only inadvertently revolutionary. And at the same time, [he] now proposes [an] even more radical idea than the one he’s objecting to, which is intriguing.
Now, we are going to skip a couple of books to get to some of the really good stuff. So, Tab, you’re ready for Book Nine?
I am so ready for book nine. This is Satan disguised as a serpent, beguiling Eve, “Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve, easy to me it is to tell thee all. I was at first as other beasts that graze the trodden herb. of abject thoughts and low, til on a day roving the field I chanced a goodly tree [loaded] with fruit of the fairest colors mixed, ready and gold. Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung tempting so nigh to pluck and eat my fill, I spared not, for such pleasure till the hour at feed or fountain never have I found. Ere long I perceived strange alteration in me, to degree of reason in my inward powers and speech, though to this shape retained. Thenceforth my speculations high or deep I turned my thoughts, and with capacious mind considered all things in Heaven, or Earth, or Middle, all things fair and good. But all that fair and good in thy divine semblance and in thy beauties I beheld, which compelled me thus to come and gaze, to worship thee, sovereign of creatures. Universal Dame.” Wow.
Why did this remind me of, like, a really positive Yelp review of a restaurant?
*laughs* So true.
‘Amazing tree with the best fruit, four stars!’
‘I got all this knowledge of heaven and earth and the middle, and, you know, big thumbs up.’
I know that this is, like, way not the point, but how does a snake eat an apple? *giggles*
Swallows it whole?
I guess? You bite it? *laughs*
It’s just gonna get stuck on its fangs if it’s one of those snakes that [have] them.
So here, I’m gonna lay like, like, for people who, who skipped the college-level literature courses. Here, we’re gonna lay, like, the serious classroom shit on you now because the question that I’ve got is- of course, we know Satan is lying, he’s not really a snake. He did not really eat the fruit of the tree. The fruit of the tree did not make him smarter enough to talk and reason. Except, maybe it has. Because of course, we know that the fruit is a symbol; it’s sin, it’s disobedience, it is, you know, your self-interest. And, in that sense, well, didn’t Satan eat from the tree? Didn’t he do that first? Has he actually gained more knowledge and more perspective from his experience and the things that have happened to him and everything that led him here?
Well, he got depressed. *giggles*
Yeah, I mean- which, which, so does Eve, very shortly, so, I don’t know. What do we think? It’s, it’s again, on the superficial level, this is not true, but this might be more honest than he really thinks he’s being, in this moment.
I like that point that, that he’s being more honest than he himself thinks he is. He, you know, the thing about lying is that if you lie, and you keep the lie as close to the truth as possible, it’s so much more believable, and I kind of feel that here.
I might be the odd person out in that I can see what you, what is- I can see what the question that you asked is trying to say, that there’s, that there is an accurate, accuracy in it in that eating from the tree of knowledge will change you and give you something deeper than what you had before. But, of course, I feel like it’s still really deceptive because he’s putting forth this idea that ‘Oh, everything is good about it.’ And in reality, and as a Satanist, I know that it’s absolutely not, it’s neither good nor bad, knowledge is a tool and they’re both to be embraced. And once you have knowledge, you have to embrace both sides, all the benefits and the consequences, so I really feel that he is giving Eve the runaround, and that defies really any accuracy or goodness that can be brought from it. I feel like he’s really deceiving her. Although, you know, I, of course, do think that knowledge is a good thing to be had. So, I can see what you’re saying there, in that he has gained some benefit from it.
Well so, not only is he lying, but he’s also compounding that by lying through omission. Like, he’s not mentioning the pitfalls, so the whole thing is a lie, plus he’s leaving out the downsides.
I also feel like- if we’re, if I am continuing on this train of him being depressed, that he is, you know, misery loves company, right? So, he’s like, ‘Yeah, do it. It’s good. It’s really good.’ And he just wants someone else to be just as miserable as he is. *chuckles*
Yeah. Thanks, Satan. Now I’m smart. Fucker.
I learned it from you, Satan. *laughter*
Well, here’s my point. Here’s why I’m trying to, sort of validate the Satanist reading of this poem in a way that I undermined earlier, where it’s, like, you know, in the same way that John Milton did not set out to write the foundational cornerstone texts of Satanism, but that is still what he did, and I think we would argue that was probably a better result than whatever he actually intended. In sort of the same way, again, Satan is not meaning to be confessional in this moment. He’s not meaning to convey an actual gift onto people. But is he? Is he doing that? Do we, you know, again, we think that it’s better to have knowledge than to dwell in ignorance, even though knowledge is difficult and unpleasant. And so, weirdly enough, I do think that the poem has structured itself in such a way that it reinforces that. I don’t think it meant to, but I definitely think that’s what happened.
It’s kind of like an ends justifies the means sort of thing?
Oh, maybe? That’s not really what I had in mind; what do you mean?
Like, he’s, he’s deceiving Eve of, with the idea that, of course, it’s good to receive knowledge and go forward- although I guess that’s not his itinerary. Like, he’s out to destroy mankind to take revenge on God and Heaven. But, I was thinking of it as maybe an ends to justify the means that, you know- the way he’s going about it is not right, but in the end, she would receive knowledge, which, as a modern Satanist, I think is the best course of action to take. But, Eve is naive, like, she literally has no skills or experience in making any decisions. She has very poor decision-making skills because she’s never had any experience at all. That’s why he’s hitting her in all these different ways with flattery, and calling her, like, what is it? ‘The queen of the universe’ and stuff like that, like, she’s really no match for Satan, but she’s really no match for anyone. She’s completely inexperienced, which is the downfall of not giving anyone any knowledge or experience in life is that they don’t have any tools to use. Like, it could be anyone, that you can fall for anything you can fall for. *trails off*
She is really good at standing right behind leaves. *laughter* That’s her one skill; being able to stand behind a leaf, so her crotch is covered. *laughs*
Really, really high camouflage skill. *laughter* Yeah, here’s, here’s what I’m saying is, like, if we follow this idea that, like, Milton is- how ’bout this? Milton is offering us, with this book, something that is really kind of destructive, he’s offering us these sort of regressive, toxic ideas. This poem is, is sexist, and it’s patronizing, and it’s trying to reinforce theology that is oppressive to us. And even though many of Milton’s political ideas were forward-thinking for their time, to us, they are, you know, baseline at most, you know. So, his intent that he had in writing this was a kind of a net loss, from our perspective, but that was- what his intent, was not his results. He’s given us this poisoned apple, and we ate it and we discovered, ‘oh, this is actually good anyway,’ in a way that he did not intend at all. And so, I would argue that- this is the same way- Satan is trying to do something destructive here, but we have the better perspective to see, no, actually, this was ultimately beneficial in a way that he never intended. So in a very weird way, I interpret the poem, as its- as the subject, in, in a really strange grad school postmodernist way that, again, is definitely going far afield from the text now, but I don’t know. That’s where- that’s how my brain works.
I agree with you in that, that it has to be compared to the context of the time and the intent of Milton. Like, I thought one of the, kind of, revolutionary or radical ideas that he did in it, is that he made Adam- the reason that Adam was able to, or was tempted to eat the fruit and partook of it, after Eve tried to get him to was because he loved her and wanted to be with her and that’s a different version that is often not put forth in a lot of, in a lot of versions of- Christian versions of the story, and I thought that was interesting because a lot of Christian stories in the Bible kind of denounced the woman, which this story does, too, but it doesn’t really make her an object of love, or an equal. And that’s what Milton does in this story.
Yeah, in my reading, one of the perspectives was that Eve, being fully, you know, naive and ignorant, she eats of the apple and she sins, but it’s Adam who, like, knows what she’s done and does it willingly, and so that’s worse. A lot of the times, you know, I feel that Eve gets the shit end of the stick because she’s the one to do it and she’s kind of, it’s sort of skewed as she made Adam do it, but here, it feels more, or, you know, the perspective can be taken as Adam, you know, did it willingly and, you know, so, therefore, it was a worse transgression.
Yes, going back to what you were saying a second ago about Adam kind of ducking out on responsibility here, that reminds me, if you actually look at Genesis Three, here’s out of the, the ‘Ye Old King James Version,’ let’s see was it- “And the man said, [The] woman whom thou gavest to be…she gave me of the tree and I did eat.” *laughing* So that’s- I crack up every time I read that because you don’t always picture, like, the little kid finger-pointing, ‘Hey, that woman you made for me did all this!’ Like-
As a woman that kind of makes me feel proud. *laughter*
Yeah, a little bit.
She was able to rope them into the Tree of Knowledge.
I just find it funny that he’s blaming Eve and also indirectly God her,e by saying- it’s like ‘You, you gave me the woman, okay? Let’s, let’s talk about your hand in this!”
I was happy with the rib, okay? I could have just been there with the rib and not be having this problem. *laughter*
I think blame is a cornerstone, a cornerstone in Christianity as it is.
Like, you’re born flawed, God made you do it, Satan made you do it, on and on. There’s always someone to blame other than self in Christianity. *laughs*
Daniel, wanna do the last passage?
So the serpent gives her this story and she objects when she sees the tree’ ‘Oh, this is the one tree that I can’t eat from.’ Of course. And this is what Satan says- this is the clincher argument here. He says, “Oh sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving plant, mother of science, now I feel thy power within me, not only to discern things but to trace the ways of highest agents. Queen of this universe, do not believe those threats of death: you shall not die. How would you? By the fruit? It gives you life to knowledge. By the threatener? Look at me, who have touched and tasted, yet both live? Shall that be shut to man which to beast is open? Or will God incense his ire for such a petty trespass, and not praise your dauntless virtue, whom pain of death denounced- whatever thing death be? Deterred not from achieving what might lead to a happier life: knowledge of good and evil. Of good, how just? Of evil, if what is evil be real, why not [known], since easier shunned? God therefore cannot hurt you and be just. Why [then] was this forbid? Why but to awe, to keep you low and ignorant, his worshippers. He knows that in the day you read thereof, your eyes, that seems so clear yet are dim, shall be perfectly then opened and cleared, and you shall be as gods, knowing both good and evil. These and many more causes import your need of this fair fruit?” So just to be clear, because the phrasing is not completely transparent here, where he’s saying, “Of good, how just,” meaning that if God punished you for knowing what is good, how would that be right? And then “of evil,” you know, “why not?” Since then you would know what is, if not, “why not known since easier shunnned,” so why would God punish you for knowing what is evil? How can you really be obedient if you don’t know what’s wrong? Then Eve, of course, is lying there, saying ‘what is evil anyway,’ which she’s asking rhetorically, but is actually a legitimate question on the part of Eve. Eve really has no idea what the stakes here is. She doesn’t know what knowledge is. She doesn’t know what good and evil mean. Is this really a fair test to put in front of her or for God to have placed in her path and then for Satan to be playing on here? It’s, it’s a contradiction in terms, isn’t it?
Well, earlier in the book, you know, doesn’t- God acknowledges that he knows what’s going to happen. He knows that, you know, as we previously said, if they aren’t given the chance to fail, you know, through free will, they are as slaves and so God is still allowing this to happen. So it could be argued that it doesn’t matter if it’s fair or not, because God already knows the outcome, and, I guess, it’s an outcome that he was cool with.
It’s like God got tired of his toys, and so he manufactured this whole thing to get rid of Adam and Eve. It’s like, ‘I’ll get this angel, he’s kind of a pain in the ass, so let’s just make sure that he doesn’t want to stay here, and then eventually he’ll go fuck around my kids.’ *laughter*
And, and, I, you know, just to continue a little bit. You know, we, we talk about how naive and fragile, if you will, Eve is. She’s like a lamb. You know, we talked on our goat show about how delicate sheep, you know, baby sheep are, and so, she is, you know, if God has foreknowledge of what’s going to happen, and he knows that she’s gonna do it, and he’s gonna punish her, he is again, sacrificing another innocent, essentially,
There are plenty [of] instances in the Bible where God is toying and torturing humans.
What I saw in this is that the story is trying to note the transformation of Eve, eventually, through eating the Tree of Knowledge, but I don’t see that happening yet because I think the transformation is from the experiences and the consequences that you get from receiving knowledge and, and the things that happen to you in, in action. So I feel like here she is just doing the same thing; like, first she believes God and what he says, like, wholeheartedly without question and doesn’t seem to have the ability to discern the veracity of information that she hears and now she’s receiving it from Satan and she’s doing it- the same thing, like anyone that has experience is going to assess the information and be able to, to portion it out and make some investigation, but once again, she doesn’t; that’s part of her naivety. So she in, if she was to have her own story, I think it would come upon as well. And in the story, in this story, it kind of seems to center around Satan and his journey instead, which is also a progressive one. So.
Well, I’m glad that Simone brought that up, because that- to the surprise of no one- I’ve got a bone to pick with god’s rationale for this whole thing to begin with. Where he says, you know, ‘I have to give them a choice or they’re not really free.’ Okay, that sounds good on paper, but if the choice you’re giving people is, here’s two binary options, if you picked the wrong one, I’ll kill you. Well, then there’s, that’s not really freedom, now is? *laughs* That’s, that’s, even on paper, that’s not really freedom. What’s actually happening here is we have this 1000’s year-old folk myth that no longer fits the theology, you know, the story was written- you don’t know what the assumptions of the people who created it were, but now it has to exist in this frame of reference in which God is assumed to know everything, and so, just like back in Book Three, which we skipped because Satan’s not in it, where Jesus asks, ‘Why would you allow this in the first place?’ Well, he’s got to come up with an answer for that, and I guess this is the best answer he could come up with. But really, the answer is, the answer does not suit the story at all because it’s a post hoc rationalization from 1000s of years later, from a radically different context. So here, again, is where I kind of attempt to, for lack of a better word, redeem the Satanist reading of this book, saying that, if Milton and conventional theology of his time can take this old story and interpret it in a radically different way that it was never intended to, fine. So can we. And if his reading is just- that is valid, then so is ours. You know, we’re doing the exact same thing that he did, and really, what could possibly suit the spirit of the work better than that, right?
*in a silly voice* Yeahhh, that’s real nice. I like that.
Well, well, Milton’s goal was kind of to justify and inform that God is actually pulling all the strings. Do you think that he succeeded in this epic?
If he wanted to make God look good, then no. *Simone laughs* He just- it is a coherent story, but it probably does not fulfill his rhetorical aims, but, you know, that’s my opinion.
I feel that he failed in that respect, too because, like you said, it doesn’t really make sense that- Oh- It almost seems like an excuse, where they’re, like, ‘oh, God knew that was gonna happen,’ or ‘oh, yeah, he meant him to do that.’ You know? *laughs* Like, throughout, and it just doesn’t jive in the end for me.
Yeah, I mean, that, that’s exactly what Shelley said, right? Again, going back to the previous episode, Percy said, ‘You can’t read this and think that God is in the right and once you accept the idea that God is wrong, Satan actually looks like a lot better by comparison, because at least he’s got integrity. At least he’s consistent. At least, you know, it all adds up on Satan’s end, right?’
Well, he gets a story arc and that’s awesome. You know, how many actual Bible stories or anything actually have a real arc and isn’t just, like, here’s a cautionary tale, here’s when we killed some people, I don’t know why? *laughter*
You get some more character development.
That’s, that’s actually, that’s actually a great survey of the Bible. *laughter*
You know what, giving voice to the adversarial part and making him more human is actually a really powerful tool to make people question the premise before of the person in power. and that’s what this, this story ultimately does, because modern Satanists in the 2000s are now using it as a basis *laughs* and it goes to Satanic literature, so there you go.
He’d hate that, and I am all the way for that. *laughter*
I find that to be delightful. *more laughter*
Let’s go ahead- let’s, you know, bring this discussion home. You know, in terms of overall impressions of the book. I know some of y’all have read it many times, and some of us are a little newer, so let’s start with Tabitha. Tabitha, what were your overall impressions of the epic poem Paradise Lost?
Uh, Satan is a sad boy-
-and I love him very, very much. *giggles* I think that it, it goes- I like the journey that we go on with Satan and I think that, even though I’m not really a big fan of liars, I think that because- going back to this whole thing that I’ve been, this through-line of Depression is that it feels very real and that it’s definitely something that a trod-upon depressed person would do.
To piggyback off of what Tab said, I like that Satan here is complicated. You know, is he lying? Is he, you know, lying, but telling the truth? Is he, you know, prideful? Is he doing the whole sour grapes thing? There’s a lot going on here and a lot of religious stories, you get these one-dimensional cardboard cutouts, you know, someone’s all good, someone’s all bad, and, you know, in many portrayals of Satan, it’s the, the complexity that I think is interesting, and this is, you know, one of the first examples of the character being given that complexity. Bella, how about you?
Well, I’m actually the same as you in that the biggest thing I got from it is that it exposes a lot of the complexities of Satan. I think that the largest power in this epic is showing his vulnerabilities. I think that- I actually feel a bit conflicted about the version of Satan in that he, he’s a paradox in a lot of ways, but yet, I think that harks on to, you know, being a complex being, and actually, it’s part of being very human, like he was cast from Heaven, and, you know, embraced, engaging in Earth, and in a way, became what we now know to be human, which is very vulnerable and is across the large spectrum of not only emotion, but good and evil. So, that kind of goes with what a lot of modern Satanists believe is that we accept and kind of embrace all those versions and sides of us, and then also take responsibility for it, so that’s what I kind of saw in this epic.
Daniel, how about you?
Well, you know, I’m actually going to close, not with my statement, because anybody who’s listened to the show for any length of time knows that I really, really love this poem, and so I think I’ve gone on the record quite enough about that already. Instead, I’ve got a question for people, and my question is- you know, again, I love this poem, and I want more people to read it, especially more Satanists. And in fact, I want them to read it in the, sort of, unhindered way. I actually really don’t like those additions that have the, the quote-unquote translation because I feel like that encourages- go ahead.
I was just gonna say, it actually was kind of distracting. I would force myself just to read Milton’s lines for, like, a page, and then go back and just, like, confirm with the translation.
I, I don’t like those things because I feel like they encourage reading the work in a way that treats the language, the text, like an obstacle that you have to overcome, but it’s not. The text is the whole reason you should be reading it. The text is the poem, quite literally, and it’s part of the appeal of it. I understand the idea, the frustration that some people feel, where they say, why can’t this just be more clear? Why can’t it get to the point? But, in [these] terms, like, the language that’s being used is the point, is the fact that the writer felt this is the only appropriate way to tell this story. When you read the beginning, the first lines of Paradise Lost, which actually are very unhelpfully opaque if you’re being dropped into them without any preparation or advanced warning, it is him asking, he says, like, ‘please give me the words that are suitable to tell this story the way that it deserves to be,’ so the text is, is, not only the story, but it’s a tool that is being used in the story in this very critical way. At the same time, I’ve talked about this on the show before, I don’t really know how to do that. I know that you can’t nag people into doing something like this, and also just telling them, they should- like, of course, everybody knows, they should probably read more classic literature, it’s probably not a lack of ambition on the part of most people that they’re not doing that. It’s probably that they’ve got fucking lives, and they’ve got all the things going on, and they’ve also got, like, some people, you know- some people actually can’t deal with texts, sometimes. They actually, you know, for, for neurological or learning reasons, really struggle with this in a way that the rest of us don’t have to worry about, and so, I find myself uncertain how to persuade people to approach a poem like this in the way that I really, genuinely think would be most rewarding for everybody. So I don’t know how to do that, and so that is my question for all of the listeners. What do you think? What do you think is the best way beyond just telling people they should do something? But what is the best way to, like, holistically motivate people- because of course, if only people are really reading it out of a sense of obligation, obviously, that’s not going to do anybody any good, you’re not going to enjoy it, and you’re probably not going to get everything out of it that somebody like me hopes that you would, so how do we make people want to do these things in a way that really, really persuade- that, that really solves these problems? I don’t know the answer to that; I wish I did. I will continue to labor to find that out.
Well, I’m going to compare it to Game of Thrones in that, you know, those are quite thick books, can be a little bit intimidating, but when the show came out, you know, I watched the first season of the show and was, you know, it’s- I used it as a, as a primer for actually- as soon as the first season of the show was over, I went and read, like, the next three books, and if you give folks, like, a taste or a simplified version, you kind of show them that world, I think they might be more inclined, or less scared, to tackle the source material. And it’s funny, back when I was working in LA as a talent agent’s assistant, there was a guy on our floor, who was a producer, whose name totally escapes me, but he had been trying to get Paradise Lost the movie made, for years. It actually-
Oh, you knew that guy?
I think there’s been a couple, to be honest.
It’s, you know, public domain, so, you know, lots of people can, can try and take a bite at the apple, if you will, but the producer who was just in the building with us, it was like this, he- it was like Sisyphus, pushing the boulder up the hill, like, he was not getting anywhere and it was kind of a, kind of a joke amongst the assistants.
So, so he was, so it was in development Hell?
He very much was. *Daniel laughs* But I think about it, and I’m just, like, man, if he had like gone through and actually made it- first of all, there’s so many different ways you could portray this, you know? It’s such a long epic with all these different characters and, as we’ve already talked about, Satan is very complex, and so, you could paint him sympathetically. You could paint him, you know, as the evil liar. So actually, you know, I think Scott Derrickson, the director of Dr. Strange, had been working on a Paradise Lost because I saw some creature renderings of Lucifer versus Satan. But, yeah, the producer who, you know, happened to work on Wilshire Boulevard versus Scott Derrickson. I would have loved to have seen all of them and compared them, and then yes. I think for most people, that would be a good introduction to take, taking that further step of listening to it on audiotape or actually reading it. Bella, do you have any suggestions?
No, that’s a hard one because it is notoriously difficult to get people to read, especially something like an extremely long epic from the 1600s, *laughs* especially when there are things available, like the simple version of, ‘then he flew.’ I personally think it’s a tool, and it’s a good tool for me, it kind of wipes out, you know, some of the clogs that I get sometimes if I’m reading- if I’m reading a lot of this poem, like, my, my head starts to bunch up, and so, I like having that tool, that as a tool. But, of course, I recommend to read the actual poem because, you know, it would be kind of weird and stupid to read, ‘then he flew.’ *laughter* It’s so simple, it wouldn’t be anything- it wouldn’t even be worth reading, but I think it’s a good tool, but me being, me having and running the Satanic Book Room, you know, I’ve looked at a lot of other book clubs, and a lot of them fail. A lot of them don’t stick around for very long because it’s really difficult to keep motivating people to participate and pick up books. Like, the reality is, is that a lot of people would rather see the movie version, or, you know, or whatever, or watch something else on TV instead of picking up a book, especially a really long, old classic poem, so that’s the question that remains to be answered. I know that the Satanic Book Room continued, continues to persist because we occupy a niche, which is Satanic literature and, you know, when you’re thinking of a group of Satanists, a lot of them are devoted to continuing to learn about it and, you know, that’s also kind of a cornerstone of being a Satanist, is continuing to embrace knowledge and move forward. You know, we like to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, but getting people en mass to agree to read this poem in the raw, I think is- might be an uphill battle. *laughs* It’s hard to do; it’s hard to motivate people in that way.
Well, you know, I realized-
But I still encourage it. Oh, sorry, go ahead.
It’s okay. I will add one thing. I don’t want to shame people, by the way, who, like, read that addition with the quote, unquote, translation, but, even though I really hate that. If you read that? Great, wonderful. I think that i think that’s fantastic relative to say, not reading it at all. If you only made it a little way into the book, and maybe you feel bad about that, I think that’s still wonderful that you cared. I think, even if you’re somebody who just, like, wants to read it, and you have not gotten to do it yet, even that is really an accomplishment relative to the people who don’t give a shit, the people who couldn’t be bothered to care, so I definitely don’t want to, you know, shame or stigmatize anybody who tries to approach a work like this in any way that works for them. Even though again, I have my opinions about what way is best, so, but I think that’s really important.
And Tabitha, what about you?
I’ve got three words. Hip Hop. Broadway. Musical! *laughs*
Paradise Lost by Lin Manuel Miranda. *cackles*
I mean, shit-
The never-ending joke. *laughter* That was it. *laughs*
*laughing* That was my joke! *Bella laughs* It’s a zinger!
To be honest, like, there are only two ways you could ever get me in a theater to see a musical- no offense to my friends who love musicals, I’m happy that you have this love, but it’s not shared by me- first- Oh! Trent Reznor was nominated for an Emmy, so he’s gonna get that ‘E’ for the EGOT, that just leaves a Tony, and I *will* go see that show, but Lin Manuel Miranda doing a Hamilton take on Paradise Lost? Yeah, yeah, I’m gonna have to be there. *laughter*
You know what, Tabitha is joking, but honestly? Look at that example- look at like, like, to make people in the 21st century, in America, care so much about Alexander Hamilton, the nerdiest, most obscure fucking American history niche that you could possibly have fallen into, and now? Like, that’s the, that’s- but people’s love for that is now entirely sincere, so you know what? The line between erudition and popular appeal is thin and weird.
So that was Tabitha’s joke, but it actually turned out to be the best answer.
Like, how do you motivate people to be involved in Paradise Lost and want to also read it? If-
This is why they put me on the show. *laughter*
It was brilliant.! *more laughter*
Okay. Well, Bella, thank you again so much for joining us today. If folks are interested in learning more about the Satanic Book Room, maybe even joining and picking up the next selection, where can they find you?
All right, well, we’re on Facebook under groups and it’s just the Satanic Book Room. Come on down. I run it, as well as the help of three wonderful admins. We’re constantly adding new material and discussing Satanic literature.
We also have a lot of files of books that you can read from our- oh, what is it? From our archive or files area- our files area includes a lot of free press books of Satanic literature and background that you can read.
And of course, if you want to get in touch with us here at the podcast, our email address is email@example.com. The website is blackmassappeal.com and you can find us as Black Mass Appeal on most social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
If you want to find out more about Satanic Bay Area, check us out at satanicbayarea.com. You can find us on Facebook and on Instagram as Satanic Bay Area or follow us on Twitter- the handle there is @SatanicSF. Under normal circumstances, you could also come down to satanic coffee hour at Wicked Grounds coffee shop in San Francisco on the third Thursday of every month, but of course, I don’t need to tell you that has been indefinitely postponed for painfully obvious reasons. Instead, pay attention to our Google Calendar and our social media to find out when we’re having our next online chat and, Tabitha, next time we do what are we going to be having?
Leftover Thai food!
Ooh, oh! Fuck, I forgot about the leftover Thai food.
Yeah, we got leftover Thai food, including crab fried rice and I’m gonna munch it.
Oh, we gotta Hail Satan and get on that then. All right, in that case, Hail Satan, everybody.
3, 2, 1-
Black Mass Appeal 1:51:48
Hail Satan! *Eddie Money’s Two Tickets to Paradise plays*