jfleming at sfu.ca
jfleming at sfu.ca
Tue Sep 25 15:45:29 EDT 2007
You effectively illuminate the dependence of your proposed reading (and
similar such readings) on a mysteriously pre-hermeneutic understanding (of
What Milton Must Have Meant). Accompanying the latter appear to be a
didactic authoritarianism, and an irritated contempt for dialogue. All of
which, in my opinion, Milton constructs in _PL_ as Satanic.
As you suggest, on your reading, as on Fish's (who broadens the point to the
whole plane of the text), whether or not a given line has or merits a comma
simply doesn't matter. But this seems to me a gross misunderstanding of what
does and does not matter in philological inquiry. I would propose that
punctuation, in some circumstances, does; but that the material origins of
the universe (to take us back to where we started), in most circumstances,
On Tue, 25 Sep 2007 14:04:05 -0400 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
> This fine catalogue --"the ostensibly nonsensical, the paradoxical, the
> mercurial, the polysemous"-- which Fleming applies to Milton's rhetoric
> seems not dissimilar to characterizations of Chaos he and others have
> offered recently.
> Now Fish makes the rhetorical effect of PL a judgment or disclosure of the
> reader's sin. Please correct me if I don't have that right. But, if so,
> mustn't we then formulate thus: Milton has created a text whose
> (nonsensical, etc..... polysemous...) rhetoric provides just the sort of
> fertile (and illusory) psychological environment for us sinners as Chaos
> provides for Satan?
> This line of thought would suggest that those who, with Fleming, enjoy and
> discover and prefer the nonsensical/mercurial/etc. spaces&qualities of
> Paradise Lost are of one party, perceiving the poem and their own place in
> it as Satan perceives Chaos. Better to reign in Polysemy than serve in
> Faith. While another party doubts not in the end (and perhaps not even in
> the beginning) but that "warne him beware / He swerve not too secure"
> simply "warne him beware / He swerve not, too secure." Milton leaves the
> comma out so that the text can play its winnowing role, but to the fit
> audience, comma or no comma, "simply doesn't matter."
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <jfleming at sfu.ca>
> To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 9:58 AM
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] swerving
> > In my opinion, the ostensibly nonsensical -- the paradoxical, the
> > mercurial,
> > the polysemous, etc. -- is precisely appropriate to the
> extraordinary task
> > of representing unfallen freedom.
> > And it is freedom, isn't it? JDF
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James Dougal Fleming
Department of English
Simon Fraser University
Nicht deines, einer Welt.
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