By Ken Hiltner
Hiltner argues that Milton anticipates yes crucial smooth ecological arguments.
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Extra info for Milton and Ecology
317–19). Outside of his relation with his place, Adam can only stand back and view the place as some sort of sacred ground. Though this would seem completely counter to Eve, who viewed the forbidden tree immediately after her Fall as some-thing to be consumed (and also counter to the devils who viewed a place, the hill in Hell, as mere material to bring about their ambitions); nonetheless these relations are those of a subject to an object. 305–07). This reciprocal relation of knowledge, to say nothing of the fact that the place is understood as knower of its inhabitants, makes clear what Adam and Eve have lost with Paradise: that a horrific change in their relation to the place has occurred.
As Place defined 23 mentioned in my opening remarks, once Satan comprehends his horrid lack of place, he searches the entire Earth, “Hill, and Vallie, Rivers, Woods and Plaines . . 116–19). ”38 Once the rift between subject and object is opened, every-thing other than the Self is seen as just that – a thing to have and possess. The danger to our place on Earth implicit in Satan’s subjectivism is made clear by Berry, who baldly states, “And now we are surrounded by the most insistent evidence that a mind that elects itself a place maintains itself as such by the ruin of earthly places.
Moreover, this connection is life-giving in Milton’s formulation: the woman Sabrina would surely have drowned without the saving power of the place. Whether in terms of body, ego-boundaries, life-giving power, sensitivity to the moods of the place, or loving care of the place as part of one’s Self, the genius loci of Milton’s early poetry are clearly, indeed literally, expressions of the deepest of ecologies. However, the challenge facing the mature Milton is considerable: how can these clearly “pagan” adaptations be integrated into Christian thinking?
Milton and Ecology by Ken Hiltner