(Read And Initiate Discussion)

UNST 122G: Forbidden Knowledge

Dr. Martha J. Bianco

Winter 2006

RAID No. 1
due in Mentor Session Th 26 Jan. 2006

General Instructions:
Answer all questions, using the guidelines at http://www.marthabianco.com/Courses/Cities/RAID.html.  Be prepared to be randomly selected to lead and/or actively participate in discussion about any one of the questions during your mentor session.  If you are a leader, you will be graded on how prepared you were to lead the discussion, how well you succinctly presented your responses and arguments, how professionally you handled the process of facilitating group discussion, and your overall response to the question. If you are a participant, you will be graded on how attentive and responsible you were during the leader's initial presentation, how well (extent of preparedness, ability to respond, etc.) you engaged in dialogue about the topic after the leader finished, how professionally you participated in discussion (not taking up too much time or interrupting), and your overall grasp of the subject matter.  Each student will also be graded on the written RAID response: format, content, thoughtfulness, professionalism, etc.

Please include each question (you can just copy and paste from here) or a short (paraphrased) version.  Your discussion points for each question should not exceed half a page or so.  

Special Information:
Because we are doing reading groups, I will be devoting one RAID question to one or more books in the group.  I will phrase the question in such a way that someone who actually read the book can serve as a leader, but everyone else should be able to participate.  So, everyone needs to read and answer each question, but for readings that correspond with groups, the extent to which you answer the question depends on whether you read the book.  If this isn't clear, please contact me.

I.    This question is based on The Giver.  If you read the book for this module, be expected to lead this discussion.  If you did not read the book, be prepared to participate in the discussion anyway.

Briefly explain how The Giver relates to what we have been discussing in class about Paradise and the gifts -- and limitations -- bestowed upon Adam and Eve.  Be sure to draw connections between The Giver and what we've discussed so far in Paradise Lost regarding the elements of utopia, gifts/talents, and prohibitions; don't just describe the story line of The Giver without these connections.  Similarly, describe Jonas's task and what he decides to do with it and discuss how you see that relating to the notion of free will and decisions made by Adam and/or Eve.  Create an ending for The Giver that parallels what you think happened to the world after Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise:  is this world a good place or a bad place?  

Many tales, legends, and stories about utopias (or a Paradise) paint a picture of the inhabitants as having limitations on their free will or their access to knowledge.  Assume that knowledge and memory go hand in hand, that is, that you cannot have one without the other.  In The Giver, people have no memory beyond the here and now.  In Paradise, as described by John Milton, Adam clearly has some memory, for he is able to recount the story of his creation.  After the fall, however, Adam and Eve both become aware of something they were not aware of before:  their nakedness.  They were naked before, but only now (after the fall) do they recognize -- and become ashamed of -- their nakedness.  Suppose that this shame comes in part from an awareness of how, before, they were naive and unknowing, and now they can see.  Are they ashamed of what they see, that they see, or that before they did not see?  

The Christian scholar, St. Augustine, wrote extensively about the meaning of memory.  The Giver explores this concept as well.  For Augustine, we (fallen) humans have memory so that we can remember something in particular.  If there is a God, with divine providence and grace, why has he given us memory?  First he asked us not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.  Then we ate.  Now (as "punishment"?) we have the ability to feel, see, experience, remember, and analyze all that is around us -- the good and the bad.  Why do you think that is?  Why do we have senses, emotions, and memory?  Is there a point to our having these faculties?

II.    We were unable to get to the concept of the "Fortunate Fall" (Culpa Felix) in Milton, although Shattuck does mention it in Ch. 2, and I believe we began to enter the subject well enough for you to explore it in this RAID.  On the left are original words from Milton, and in the middle are my "layperson's" interpretation, and on the right are the questions for you to answer.

Original Milton MJB's Translation Questions

[XII, 465 = Book 12, line 465 in Paradise Lost]

. . . His faithful, and receive them into bliss,
Whether in Heaven or Earth, for then the Earth
Shall all be Paradise, far happier place
Than this of Eden, and far happier days. [ XII, 465 ]

    So spake the Archangel Michael; then paused,
As at the World's great period; and our Sire
Replete with joy and wonder thus replied:
"O goodness infinite, goodness immense!
That all this evil shall produce, [ XII, 470 ]

And evil turn to good; more wonderful
Than that which by creation first brought forth
Light out of darkness! Full of doubt I stand,
Whether I should repent me now of sin
By me done and occasioned, or rejoice [XII, 475 ]
Much more, that much more good thereof shall spring,
To God more glory, more good will to men
From God, and over wrath grace shall abound."

The Archangel Michael has been telling Adam the prophecy of what will happen to mankind after the Fall.  Most of the story is pretty depressing; however, it concludes with Michael predicting the second coming and final judgment, when Christ will reward those who have been faithful and lead them to a paradise -- when in heaven or here on earth, because by that time, the earth will be paradise, a much happier place -- happier even that the present Eden.

So, Adam is intrigued:  does the Archangel Michael mean to say that after everything goes to hell in a handbasket,  things will actually be better -- better even than they are right now in Paradise?

"So, what you're saying, Mike," says Adam, "is that all the horrific things that will happen as a result of our messing up (the fall) will actually end up with our experiencing infinite good -- like, even better than before this paradise?  Well, if that's the case, then I'm wondering if I should even bother with repenting -- 'cuz you're starting to make it sound like the fall's actually going to turn out to be good thing, that better things will come from it than we had before, and that we humans will end up being able to show more grace to the man upstairs, and vice versa?

This portion of Paradise Lost is what scholars refer to as the "Fortunate Fall," and its main mention is in the yellow highlighted lines (to the left), in Book XII of Paradise Lost.  
Explain your understanding of what is meant, through a reading of this passage and what we've discussed so far, regarding the concept of the "fortunate fall."
This having learnt, thou hast attained the sum [XII, 575]
Of wisdom; hope no higher, though all the Stars
Thou knewst by name, and all the ethereal Powers,
All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,
Or works of God in Heaven, Air, Earth, or Sea,
And all the riches of this World enjoydst, [ XII, 580 ]
And all the rule, one Empire; only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add Faith,
Add virtue, Patience, Temperance, add Love,
By name to come called Charity, the soul
Of all the rest:

      then wilt thou not be loath [XII, 585]
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A  Paradise within thee, happier far.

Let us descend now therefore from this top
Of Speculation; for the hour precise
Exacts our parting hence; and see the Guards, [XII, 590]
By me encamps on yonder Hill, expect
Their motion, at whose Front a flaming Sword,
In signal of remove, waves fiercely round;

We may no longer stay: go, waken Eve;
Her also I with gentle Dreams have calmed [XII, 595]
Portending good, and all her spirits composed
To meek submission: thou at season fit
Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard,

Chiefly what may concern her Faith to know,
The great deliverance by her Seed to come [XII, 600]
(For by the Womans Seed) on all Mankind.
That ye may live, which will be many days,
Both in one Faith unanimous though sad,
With cause for evils past, yet much more cheered
With meditation on the happy end. [XII, 605]
Michael then goes on to explain to Adam that he (Adam) now knows just about everything -- about the stars, the secrets of the deep, nature, air, earth, sea, etc., and that he understands about God and how He is in charge of everything; that all Adam has to do now is let his actions speak louder than words, by being fairthful, patient, termperant, loving, and charitable (charity being the fuel for all the other good deeds).

So, there's no reason, he is saying, for Adam to be loath -- or regretful -- about leaving Paradise, because he'll be getting a much better Paradise, be much happier within, on the other side.

Now, he says, it looks like it's about time to go; the guards are waiting there for us.  Go wake up Eve.  Don't worry; I also told her about how everything is going to be great on the other side, so she's all calmed down now.  But tell her what I've told you.

Mainly, Michael says, tell her how she is actually going to be the "savior" of mankind because of her having children and populating the earth, that you'll all live a long time, even though you'll feel sad for the evil things that happened here with the Fall.  But be cheered by remembering that things are going to turn out happy in the end.

What do you interpret Eve's role to be, from the perspective of the "fortunate fall?

III.    What parallels do you see between The Truman Show and Adam/Eve in Paradise?  Discuss any that come to mind, but in particular identify why people find themselves cheering Truman on as he comes closer the learning the truth and to walking out that door from his "paradise" to the real world.  If you were Adam/Eve/Truman -- knowing what you know now about the world -- would you want to live in the peaceful paradise of ignorant bliss or the imperfect real world in which we can certainly see that "the truth hurts" and evil seems to be all around us?  Think carefully.  Would you really trade the real world (think of war, injustice, cruelty, slavery, molestation, the Holocaust, and "evil" in all shapes and sizes) for a paradise of ignorant bliss?   (In other words: is forbidden knowledge worth it?)  Why?

IV.    After Eve eats from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and then gets Adam to eat, too, they first are both pretty pleased with themselves.  Then they become ashamed and things start to get messy.  They get into a fight, with each casting blame at the other.  You will be randomly chosen to play the part of Adam or Eve for the following exercise, so be sure to prepare both parts.  

You've come to marriage counseling and you each want to make your case in front of the counselor as to why you think you were right and the other wrong.  So, basically, the premise for each role is this:

Adam:  Eve completely ruined everything.  She has caused the downfall of mankind.  She should have listened to me.  
Eve:  Adam owes me a big thank-you. If I had listened to him, we'd still be ignorant.

Be sure to expand on these; the Eves should be prepared to have an interactive debate with the Adams.  You will not be assigned according to your gender; again, this will be random.  So, prepare to expand on both sides of the argument (you can have just a bulleted list of pros and cons for each position -- but try to think of as many arguments pro and con as you can, based on what we've been reading and talking about).