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Reload the Canons!

This series of articles is an attempt to play through The Canon of videogames: your Metroids, your Marios, your Zeldas, your Pokemons, that kind of thing.

Except I'm not playing the original games. Instead, I'm playing only remakes, remixes, and weird fan projects. This is the canon of games as seen through the eyes of fans, and I'm going to treat fan games as what they are: legitimate works of art in their own right that deserve our analysis and respect.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fall 2011 Paper Roundup Clambake And Panic Attack Extravaganza 1

So, by the popular demand of my hideous lack of time, and because people seem to be down with the idea, rather than posting straight articles I'm going to be periodically tossing fragments up over the next two weeks of essays and projects I'm working on as I wrap up the semester. This will give me more time to focus on my school work and possibly give me some good feedback while still giving all of you something to dig into and enjoy.

The first thing I'm putting up is a part of my final project in my Milton Class. Rather than go the Evangelion route described in an earlier article, I've decided on a more creative project. See, William Blake, the crazy poet/prophet/visionary/artist dude, has this whole critique of Paradise Lost where he says, essentially, that from the unison of opposites--the blending of good and evil--new ideas arise. One and the other on their own cannot allow for truly new ideas to emerge. So, I'm going to reapply those principles to Milton by taking different characters in the text and making them--if good--do evil and--if evil--do good.

The first one is the most logical choice: Satan himself. In the original text, Satan decides that the best way to revenge himself upon God is to destroy God's new creation: Earth, and by extension Adam and Eve. There's a monologue he gives in Book 4 of Paradise Lost where he starts out marveling at and pitying the two helpless mortals, astonished at how unprotected they are from the penetration of his overwhelming evil into Eden. Ultimately, however, he convinces himself to continue on his task and destroy the two, seducing them into falling.

What would happen, I thought, if Satan had instead chosen a different path?

First Fantastic Vision: Satan’s Repentance; The Roving Eye of God

The Argument
Satan now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he must now attempt the bold enterprize which he undertook alone against God and Man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions, fear, envy, and despare; but at length confirms himself in evil, journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and scituation is discribed, overleaps the bounds, sits in the shape of a Cormorant on the Tree of life, as highest in the Garden to look about him. The Garden describ'd; Satans first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at thir excellent form and happy state, and his growing doubts on the nature of his mission. Satan concludes that God hath plotted the whole enterprize; he vows a return to Hell and the foundation of an eternal war that God’s eye might be drawn from the innocents in Eden; the eventual fall related in brief. Satan’s journey interrupted by Gabriel and Uriel at dusk, he makes a desperate bluff, vowing to raze the Earth if not given safe passage; Gabriel and Uriel stalled by a Sign from Heaven, Satan flies out of Earth; Uriel vows revenge.

[Satan begins his monologue upon seeing Adam and Eve]
...O Hell! what doe mine eyes with grief behold,
Into our room of bliss thus high advanc't
Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps, [ 360 ]
Not Spirits, yet to heav'nly Spirits bright
Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue
With wonder, and could love, so lively shines
In them Divine resemblance, and such grace
The hand that formd them on thir shape hath pourd. [ 365 ]
Ah gentle pair, yee little think how nigh
Your change approaches, when all these delights
Will vanish and deliver ye to woe,
More woe, the more your taste is now of joy;
Happie, but for so happie ill secur'd [ 370 ]
Long to continue, and this high seat your Heav'n
Ill fenc't for Heav'n to keep out such a foe
As now is enterd; how could I not feel
A stirring pity for these newborn lights!
Although my heart does yearn to make with them [ 375 ]
A compact or a hellish league to sate
The howling loneliness of I bereft
Of pity and of true comradery
To see them here so helpless, without sin
Compels me back, now doubled on my plan, [ 380 ]
Of two minds fraught! Could this now be the scheme
Set forth by my assailer, to create
A land unfenced and free, protected not
From archfiends sowing mischief in the fold?
Not even my opponent would be rash [ 385 ]
As this! A trap instead: the vaunted one
Seeks out their fall, through me, a damned wretch
With such insid’ous thought to turn Eden
Into a kind of hell. And so revenge
Becomes for me another fall. I now [ 390 ]
Renounce my vow before Hell’s princes grand
And turn my back upon this errand bleak;
Now Moloch’s errand seems the better task,
To rally up the armies of the deep
And marshal out once more my bitter fiends [ 395 ]
To draw the eye of the Almighty God
Away, and to our battles in the roil,
Away from Eden, that these two might stay
Untainted by this godly, dev’lish trap!
So saying, the archfiend ascended hence [ 400 ]
From Eden, ne’re to forge the Fall of Man,
Out to attract the roving eye of God
And draw it from the innocents on Earth.
Although the fall would come to pass in time
A softer fall it was, and knowingly [ 405 ]
As Eve and Adam unified in trust
Ate undeceived that they might taste of truth,
By sin to know of Eden’s beauty more...
[Satan exists, the confrontation with Gabriel and Uriel, &c.

I've chosen, obviously, to take the original text and veer off from it. I would be interested to hear if people can pick out exactly what points in the poetry I started making changes. By the end, obviously, things have run completely off the rails. In this version of Paradise Lost I imagine that the rest of the book would chronicle, in true Epic Tragedy fashion, the horrible toll that the eternal war would take upon both combatants, Satan knowing all the while that he must deceive the other devils and throw them mercilessly into battle in order to protect the innocents. I won't be delving into that, as I want to explore the possibilities rather than a full rewrite of the text (you'll see more of these possibilities as the week goes on) but I wanted to at least suggest that possibility in my revision of the original plan for Book 4.

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