[Milton-L] Abdiel

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Wed Jun 25 09:05:32 EDT 2008

Following up on Boyd's remarks, my earlier post should have credited Peter,
who brought up Bell in the first place, for going to the roots of the debate
with his usual incisiveness. And the more I thought about it, the less
surprised I was that Peter should bring her up: even if her argument is too
"absolute," as Boyd says, Peter's usual MO seems to be looking at features
of the poem that we sometimes wish would go away and saying, "They're here:
let's deal with them without recourse to the usual dogmatism." For better or
for worse, Bell raises just such an issue: the fact that we're still arguing
about it 50 years later attests to its traction.

So while I admit that Tanner's argument has great appeal to me (in bringing
together two of my favorite writers, Milton and Kierkegaard, how could it
not?), in the end I'm not quite satisfied with it. It's not that any
particular part of the argument rubs me the wrong way, but rather that I'm
left with a kind of Ockham's Razor feeling, that the solution has become
much more complex than the problem. At which point, thinking of it as a
"problem" seems to become less useful...

Jason A. Kerr

On Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 8:11 AM, Boyd M Berry/FS/VCU <bberry at vcu.edu> wrote:

> In Process of Speech I argued long ago that Bell's argument was too
> absolute but suggested ilmportant elements of the Puritan aesthetic.
> It still strikes me how many guys leap out of the woodwork to "refute"
> her--long ago.
> This fall I will focus on "conversation," pursuant to my study of PL and
> Hutchinson's use of "conversation while not presenting what I take to be
> conversing.  Both Eve and Adam speak "to herself" or "to himself" as each
> falls, since they are not conversing.  My students will be puzzled by my
> talk of conversation because, to me, it involves one speaker making a point
> and theother responding not just to the point but also to the ordering of
> the point, the process of the utterance.  Conversation in PL is not a cell
> phone exchange.
> Boyd Berry
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The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

—Czeslaw Milosz, from "Ars Poetica?"
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