Saturday, January 26, 2008

Project Paradise

Perhaps it's all the drugs I've been taking for my virus (which we can now officially call "bronchitis," thanks to another visit to the doctor), but I'm beginning to imagine the possibilities of reality television for literary material. Maybe the hour every few weeks I spend catching up on Project Runway is the only time I allow myself to be purely ridiculous, but combining that with an evening of John Milton is really spicing up my reading experience.

As Heidi Klum reached the pivotal moment in the most recent episode - when she looks the two worst designers in the eye and says, "Your execution was poor," or "This was not unexpected" - I had to take pause.

In Milton, if the situation were presented in an equally dramatic manner - with quick cuts and chaotic music - God would come down and look the devils in the eye.

"As you know, in Heaven, one day you're in, and the next day: you're out." And he reviews the challenge (holiness) and carefully repeat each product that has been advertised excessively during commercial breaks.

He lists the minor sinners first. "Moloch. Belial. Mammon. Beezelbub." Each would step forward as he heard his name. "Your scores have qualified you for the next round. You may leave the runway."

Relieved, they walk off camera. Moloch squeezes his hands into fists. Belial yawns. Mammon hugs himself and jumps up and down. Beezelbub says something sassy to the cameraman offstage.

The music grows. God shows up in close-up. Commercial break.

God is back. He repeats the challenge. "You three had the lowest scores," he says, more to the viewers who just joined them during the commercial break than to the three sinners before him. Those three stand squirming before him. Finally, he makes eye contact.

"Sin," he says. "You had relations with Satan and your own son." And then - "Death. You raped your mother, filling her womb with rampant hell-hounds." And finally - "Satan. You sacrificed yourself for the other devils, and went forward to look in the world, to find men to support your efforts. You demonstrated vision and skill. But ultimately, you were not a successful group leader. You know why, Satan? Because you were proud."

The music grows discordant and loud.


Satan does not look away. He looks right in God's eyes.

"You're out."

Sin and Death do not look at him. They are pleased to remain onstage. But the camera dismisses them.

God kisses Satan on the cheek. "Auf Wiedersehen."

1 comment:

Evan McLaren said...

What an image your mind has produced! I will no longer be able to think about Paradise Lost without hearing Heidi Klum's voice.