More Milton. The state of Satan described, and his fall attributed to Jealousy at the state of Man. The lines here are telling, and No light, but rather darkness visible is a description not of Satan alone, but of his servants, in this realm and the next. A hat tip to Bruce Charlton who linked to this with a different quote, but Milton would agree with the Imaginative Conservative.
The Ring can be seen to symbolize Pride, the one sin to rule them all and in the darkness bind them. If we succumb to its power and its promises, we begin to live the lie with which it overshadows us. We become slaves to our addiction to Pride and its narcissistic self-centredness. We become Pride’s prisoners, unable to escape from the confines of the ego. We cannot sacrifice ourselves for others, which means that we cannot love. In such a state of self-imposed self-isolation, we begin to shrivel into a pathetic shadow of who we are meant to be. We gollumize ourselves.
We deceive our self if we think we are building in this life a spiritual temple, a new mystery, and making ourselves as God. IF we want the power of the almighty. We are human, and that is enough. The mystery we think we are building is not a cloud of unknowing. Milton was correct. It is darkness visible.
Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heav’n, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equal’d the most High,
If he oppos’d; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Rais’d impious War in Heav’n and Battel proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from th’ Ethereal Skie [
With hideous ruine and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,
Who durst defie th’ Omnipotent to Arms.
Nine times the Space that measures Day and Night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquisht, rowling in the fiery Gulfe
Confounded though immortal: But his doom
Reserv’d him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes
That witness’d huge affliction and dismay
Mixt with obdurate pride and stedfast hate:
At once as far as Angels kenn he views
The dismal Situation waste and wilde,
A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great Furnace flam’d, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv’d onely to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery Deluge, fed
With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum’d:
Such place Eternal Justice had prepar’d
For those rebellious, here thir Prison ordain’d
In utter darkness, and thir portion set
As far remov’d from God and light of Heav’n
As from the Center thrice to th’ utmost Pole.
O how unlike the place from whence they fell!
John Milton Paradise Lost Book One