[Milton-L] Re: porno vs. art?

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 24 15:46:03 EST 2005

Re: porno vs. art?We're all entitled to react to art--any art--as we see fit, Richard. I (personally) find nothing appealing in any sense about Mapplethorpe's work, and I know people who have no use for Milton's. Some grown men see something titillating in small children--or old ladies. There are many, many conceptions of what is or is not "sexy," some of which society recognizes as legitimate, and others of which are by general consensus aberrant: that doesn't seem to have stopped them from thriving. I don't think, though, that we're intended to see Eve in the Bower as a Marilyn Monroe, a Gypsy Rose Lee,  a Chita Rivera, a Moll Flanders, a Circe, or a Catwoman--and though none of these next comport perfectly with my image of her, either, I am more inclined to see Eve as Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, even Julie Andrews--with a dignity, grace, charm, and intelligence that is more attractive, even more "sexy," than anything that could be discerned by the eye.

But then, I've never found a man attractive because of his "pecs" or "buns" or "abs," either: intelligence, wit, a good heart, some dignity, and a dazzling smile will get me every time.

I must admit your umbrage in behalf of womanhood made me chuckle, though. Believe it or not, some of my best friends are female.

I also think it critically important to the meaning of Book IX that Eve (whose first encounter with an Other is narcissistic) is *not* flirting with the serpent: she is as absorbed with the mental "mirror" of herself as Adam's better in this scene as she was in that one, only here, there is no warning Voice to call her away.

What she sees this time is indeed herself--and only herself--as her speech immediately after she sings the praises of the Fruit indicates. Her fall has *nothing* to do with "seduction" by another--and everything to do with self-seduction.

That's why I think the idea that she is flirting with the serpent is absolutely wrong.

As to your other questions:  "1) who is going to police them?"--I don't see how that's relevant to this discussion; no one's talking about regulating responses, only what possible responses are, based on how we envision prelapsarian Eve.

You can see a peeled tangerine as "sexy" if you like--but that doesn't mean you can convince me to do so, too.

Best to all

Carol Barton
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