[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

jfleming at sfu.ca jfleming at sfu.ca
Tue Jul 11 11:26:13 EDT 2006

> Quoting Harold Skulsky <hskulsky at email.smith.edu>:
> > A hint: thanks partly to the Ezekiel tradition, in Rabbinical and
> > Cabbalistic literature some of which may have been known to Milton
> > through intermediaries, mercavah [ = "chariot"] (or ma'aseh mercavah [ =
> > "lore of the chariot"]) becomes a term of art meaning "mystical or
> > esoteric wisdom." Relevant hermetic and neoplatonic associations with
> > "chariot" have also accumulated by the time Milton comes on the  scene.
> > In short, a naively literalistic  reading of the spectacle of the Logos
> > in a chariot is not on, whether Milton likes it or not; and there is no
> > reason to believe he likes it.

What reason -- what evidence in the text -- is there to believe that he does
not like it? "It" being the said "naively literalistic	reading of the
spectacle of the Logos in a chariot," that is. Your statement above,
although obviously very learned, begins conditionally ("some of which may
have been known") before ending definitively. How did this happen?

Esoteric readings are always possible, because the evidence for them,
more-or-less by definition, is absent or secretive. But ought we not, for
that reason, be rather cautious with our esoteric readings? They are our
ticket to interpretative interminability. 

JD Fleming

James Dougal Fleming, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English,
Simon Fraser University,
(604) 291-4713
cell: 778-865-0926

Laissez parler les faits.

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