[Milton-L] 'nude, not naked' -- really?

Dr. Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Wed Nov 23 12:51:24 EST 2005


I'd guess that "know" carries the valence of "be intimately familiar with," Boyd--in all of the senses of that phrase (as in to "know" someone or something well--as, in this context, to have the sense to know the limitations of proper inquiry--and to "know" in the sense that Faustus wants to--to overreach for the sake of overreaching, as Eve does in IX, not knowing--acknowledging-- the limitations of what it is good and proper for her to know, or to want to know.

I hope that's intelligible. It's rushed. (I'm at work.)

All best,

Carol Barton


-----Original Message-----
From: berry <bberry at vcu.edu>
Sent: Nov 23, 2005 11:51 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L]  'nude, not naked' -- really?

All:

I have tentatively been thinking about the narrator's voice as human--i.e.,
fallen, who repeatedly bumps up against his/her limits.  "Undetermined
square or round."  Lots of Fish's examples.  "Process of speech" for human
ears.  Etc.  Which got me to wondering if sex in book 4 isn't another place.
Can we think that a fallen voice can present "unfallen" sex to other fallen
persons?  I got to that question before this string developed.

Whatever, I am struck by the negative language in the passage.  Bad
hypocrits, bad harlots, and the last line--"And know to know no more."
Among other matters, how is "know" used here?

Hence I salute the opening of flemminng's message.

Boyd Berry
----- Original Message -----
From: <jfleming at sfu.ca>
To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 12:05 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] 'nude, not naked' -- really?


> It seems to me that the concept of "innocent sexuality" -- with its
> presumption that "innocent" can or needs to attach to "sexuality" -- is
> precisely fallen. Thus the point of prefallen sex in _PL_ is not that it
is
> innocent or not, but that the innocent/not-innocent binary does not apply.
> Thus "sweet reluctant amorous delay" (4.311); naked breasts meeting
> half-hidden (4.492-497); the sun mounted in nature's womb (5.300-302);
Adam
> licked dry by the same sun, relieved of the "balmy sweat" that so
horrifies
> Geoffrey Hartmann (8.253-256)-- and that wd have horrified him even more
if
> he had remembered, via Marvell's "morning glue," the period homology with
> both dew and semen; thus the identity, rather than the distinction, of
> "Seized" (4.489) and "seized" (9.1037). The briefest and completest way to
> think about this matter, accordingly, is that it is perfectly innocent not
> to be innocent in Milton's paradise. Thinking it through in terms of the
> fallen analogues, pornography is (arguably) a truer index than
> anti-pornography to what unfallen sex, in M's vision, is and possesses.
> Arguably. JD Fleming
>
> On Tue, 22 Nov 2005 21:37:57 -0500 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
> > Somewhere, somebody is innocent.  I was, once.  There's a photograph
> > of me as Cupid, at the age of about two, fully frontal nude, and I was
> > of course completely unaware that I was funny, or a boy, or a subject
> > for pedophilia.  I would still like to believe that there are innocent
> > people and that there is innocent love.
> >
> > It is true that I have not seen innocence or innocent sexuality shown
> > well in movies.  Some movies that I think have been successful in
> > showing innocence or innocent love in one form or another have been
> > Dear John (Swedish, 1964) and Babette's Feast (1987).  Since Elvira
> > Madigan is a story of adultery, it doesn't qualify, even if Mozart's
> > piano concerto seems innocent.  For innocent nudity, see Manon the
Spring.
> >
> > I had a discussion about whether Paradise Lost could be staged, with
> > the wonderful stage director Jonathan Miller, and, though he is
> > certainly not prudish, the issue of presenting nudity without shame or
> > heat puzzled him to the point where he did not pursue the project.
> > There is a movie, not at all good, by Mike Figgis, called The Loss of
> > Sexual Innocence (1999); it depicts Adam and Eve as black man and
> > white woman arising out of water, but they look mildly embarrassed,
> > examining each other as if playing Doctor.  There is a bower and a
> > snake, and a sex scene after the Fall, but none of it is very
convincing.
> >
> > Roy Flannagan
> >
> > >>> rastrier at uchicago.edu 11/22/05 12:21 PM >>>
> > Yes, we are lewd viewers.  That's what being fallen means.  In
> > concept, we can distinguish before and after, but not in experience.
> > Watching unfallen sex would be just as hot, if not hotter, than
> > watching unfallen sex.  As would watching a nude picnic.  We would be
> > kidding ourselves not to acknowledge this, and failing to take into
> > account what being fallen means-- that's the "something."  Who are we
> > kidding about "innocent nudity"?  In idea, yes.  In reality, no.
> > Roger Scruton recently tried to argue that great art can't really be
> > erotic.  What nonsense.
> >
> > The Graves poem seems quite complex and tricky to me.  To think that
> > it "resolves" the issue seems to me a bad reading of that nice
> > (though very minor and not very serious) poem.
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>
>
> James Dougal Fleming, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor of English,
> Simon Fraser University,
> (604) 291-4713
>
> Laissez parler les faits.
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Carol Barton, Ph.D.


With no other privilege than that of sympathy and sincere good wishes, I would address
an affectionate exhortation to the youthful literati, grounded on my own experience.
It will be but short; for the beginning, middle, and end converge to one charge:
NEVER PURSUE LITERATURE AS A TRADE. ...
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, _Biographia Literaria_, ch. 11



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