[Milton-L] Fish's eternity = nowhere to go ["mortal taste"
Campbell, W. Gardner
Gardner_Campbell at baylor.edu
Wed Dec 3 11:27:23 EST 2008
Yes, but this raises all sorts of interesting questions, chief among
them "what is time for? What is the meaning of time?" I'm convinced it
had a meaning for Milton, had indeed Meaning for Milton, and was not
simply what Fish's tragic view portends: all the interesting, doomed,
noble work before the end, whether the end is conceived as either
annihilation or static perfection. Milton's sense of an ending includes
narrative and motion on the other side of that singularity. I think any
true poet's would. Maybe any true believer's, though that's going very
far and I speak (eventually, anyway) under correction!
Fish's argument is not all that different from Tillyard's influential
but colossal mistake in describing prelapsarian Adam and Eve as old-age
pensioners enjoying perpetual youth. How such a reading (Tillyard's or
Fish's) could persist beyond a thoughtful immersion in PL's complexities
is not clear to me. But there it is! As Kerrigan noted (and Fish himself
reiterated), in "Surprised By Sin" symbols become reiterative, not
generative. It's one of the great virtues of Kerrigan's reading that he
demonstrates some of the essential nature and operations of Milton's
deeply generative symbolism.
I want to add, on another topic, that I think it's important to remember
that "The Sacred Complex" is not simply a psychoanalytic reading of
Milton. It's also a Miltonic reading of psychoanalysis, and the
conversion has interesting recursive effects that find, for example,
Ricoeur and Nicholas of Cusa in fruitful conversation, with Freud a
later (or is it earlier?) participant but by no means the originator.
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Kim Maxwell
Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 9:48 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fish's eternity = nowhere to go ["mortal taste"
I think Fish is playing with an ambiguity in "eternity." If it means,
as Aristotle took it, to change for all time, then of course there are
places to go. But if it means, as Augustine and Milton in places take
it, changelessness, the timeless rather than for all time, then "places
to go" becomes unintelligible. This means that what Fish says is either
incorrect or nonsense.
Eve makes a similar mistake around the word "Good."
<< 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
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
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