[Milton-L] Fish's eternity = nowhere to go ["mortal taste" /"lethal taste"]

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Wed Dec 3 11:06:21 EST 2008


Thanks for bringing this delightful fragment to my attention!

On the matter of eternity equalling 'no WHERE to go' we find ourselves staring at the limits of language, but not the imagination.  Milton's imagination, unlike Plato's, loves these 'limits' because you can make music with them, something like the humming of those aboriginal harmonicas on the end of long strings that you whirl round your head in a circle that has neither beginning nor end, like the perfect closing lines of the poem, coming after Books XI and XII that caused C.S. Lewis so much anxiety.  He, like many readers, thinks limits are imperfections.  Blake, for one, knew better.  He writes: 'The Elect ... cannot Believe in Eternal Life/ Except by Miracle & a New Birth.  The other two Classes; /The Reprobate who never cease to Believe, and the Redeemed, /Who live in doubts & fears perpetually tormented by the Elect/These you shall bind in a twin-bundle for the Consummation--/But the Elect must be saved [from] fires of Eternal Death' [Milton 25 (27): 32-38].  In a word, those who never cease to believe are like Milton and most on this list, always reading, always searching, never trusting the Elect and always bundled with those (the Redeemed) tormented by the Elect with their manic reason caught in overdrive.

Jim Watt
________________________________________
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Campbell, W. Gardner [Gardner_Campbell at baylor.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 9:00 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Fish's eternity = nowhere to go ["mortal taste" /"lethal taste"]

For the record, I disagree utterly with Stanley on this matter. But more on that anon.

Gardner

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Carl Bellinger
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 7:55 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fish's eternity = nowhere to go ["mortal taste" /"lethal taste"]

This, from Stanley Fish's appreciation  [blogs.nytimes.com; see link below] of Danielson's new prose edition of PL:

<< To say that a “mortal taste” brought death into the world is to say something tautologous; but the tautology is profound when it reminds us of both the costs and the glories of being mortal. If no mortality, then no human struggles, no narrative, no story, no aspiration (in eternity there’s
nowhere to go), no “Paradise Lost.” >>

The quip on eternity caught me up short. Is the eternity of Milton's PL one where "there's nowhere to go?"   -Carl


----- Original Message -----
From: Curt LaFond<mailto:clafond at capnhq.gov>
To: John Milton Discussion List<mailto:milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 9:46 AM
Subject: [Milton-L] Fish on Danielson in NY Times

Members of the Milton List might be interested to read Fish’s appreciation for Danielson’s Parallel Prose Edition of PL in today’s New York Times:

http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/paradise-lost-in-prose/


Regards,

Curt LaFond
Lurker






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