Wednesday 23 November 2011

Paradise Misplaced

A couple of authors and songwriters that I admire often make references to Paradise Lost, so I thought that I should read it. Knowing that I wouldn't understand it by myself, I looked for an annotated version, and stumbled across one by Isaac Asimov, all round genius and one of my favourite science fiction authors. It's a good job that I don't have Amazon one-click ordering because only one edition was printed, they're rare, and one in pristine condition costs about £4000.

I jokingly asked my mum to borrow one from the library. Unsurprisingly Plymstock public library didn't have one in stock, but they put out an "Inter-Library Loan Request". Believe it or not, the British Library sent their copy down for me! It came with a fantastic note saying that this is a valuable book, and forms part of the UK's national document collection, and they'd quite like to have it back on time and in good condition.

I don't think I could have understood Paradise Lost by myself, but with Asimov explaining it, and ripping apart the religious doctrine and ingrained sexism it was fantastic. With apologies to John Milton and biblical scholars, this is the important bit, and it's just an exercise in passing the buck.

God: What are you doing wearing clothes? You've eaten the fruit haven't you? The one thing I told you not to do.
Adam: Eve had already eaten some and didn't die. She was worried about how you'd punish her, and wanted me to keep her company, so I did eat it, but I ate it out of love and solidarity.
God: Perfectly understandable, good for you, you're still cursed though. Eve, what the fuck were you playing at?
Eve: The serpent tricked me into it, he said he'd eaten it.
God: You're cursed. Serpent, what have you got to say for yourself?
Serpent: Don't look at me, I haven't even got the power of speech to tempt Eve with, I was possessed by the devil at the time.
God: That's no excuse, I'm confiscating your legs. Satan, did you tempt Eve into eating the fruit?
Satan: Too right I did, it was a legitimate protest. Anything to show how fallible you are. We have serious concerns about your leadership. You're obsessed with this vanity project in Eden, you've promoted your son above all the more qualified applicants, and you have no concept of forward planning. Worse than that, rather than discuss these things with us you used force of arms to condemn us to a life of misery and pain in Hell. If you were really all knowing you'd have seen how easily I could tempt Eve into betraying you.
God: I'm God, sing my praises or fuck off.

Richard "shredding and fret-tapping for people in dinner suits and ball gowns" B

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