[Milton-L] Abdiel

Alice Crawford Berghof aberghof at uci.edu
Sat Jun 28 13:26:44 EDT 2008


Hi, Jim,
Yes, a great deal of distance - that was my point.  I think ours is 
less a disagreement over interpretation of Paradise Lost than it is an 
implicit disagreement over literary theory.  I believe Milton's 
psychology is present but not represented nor accessible in his 
characters' speech, and I believe that his characters are (doubly 
removed from psychology...) representations of linguistic lenses on 
choices, rather than on those choices themselves.  (I see your point 
and have learned a great deal from you - quite a bit not yet processed, 
I have to admit.)  The important distinction might not become, however, 
one between psychology and language in characters - so yes, I am 
agreeing with you regarding this coexistence - but one between 
different kinds of linguistic choices under the same psychological 
conditions.  Psychology is, then, not sufficiently finely tuned to 
distinguish between kinds of prelapsarian presentiment, for example.  
My initial response to you - that Adam and Eve each has a fully 
developed subjectivity with the emphasis on fully developed rather than 
subjectivity - was not a as much a theoretical comment about 
Kierkegaard and Milton as it was a gesture toward Milton's strong 
convictions about Edenic free will.

On the issue of Adam and Eve as Christians never completely innocent 
anew, I think repentance is the issue, and would perhaps be an 
interesting point of future (post-IMS9?) discussions on the list.  For 
a discussion Kierkegaard and Milton, the difference between the Fall of 
the angels and the Fall of humans is less important than the difference 
between fallen angelic and fallen human repentance.  That is the realm 
of instruction for the readers of the time, as well, in my opinion.

I am leaving aside the question of Milton and Blake, for now, because 
this would take quite a bit of time to address.  I think I would find 
more of a resemblance of revolutionary politics.

Thank you for the reference to Heidegger's indebtedness to Kierkegaard! 
  I knew something of this, but had been thinking about late Heidegger's 
indebtedness to early Heidegger, as I find more parallels there than I 
am supposed to find, acc to Heidegger scholarship.  (In my earlier 
posting, I was thinking of Heideggerian thrownness and Miltonic 
prolepsis.)

I'll have to continue this discussion after the conference, and perhaps 
in a more condensed form from my side.

Many thanks to all for the lively discussion.
Alice

On Jun 28, 2008, at 6:29 AM, James Rovira wrote:

> Alice -- don't you think there's some distance between Milton and his
> characters?  Yes, they are Milton's creations, but they're deliberate
> creations, aren't they?  So perhaps we shouldn't say Milton's
> psychology is represented in his characters' speeches, but Milton's
> understanding of different psychologies and how they express
> themselves verbally is represented by his characters' speeches?
> Satan's speeches, therefore, aren't representative of Milton's
> psychology but of Milton's ideas about how an unredeemable fallen
> psychology would represent itself.  Rhetoric / rhetorical choices are
> therefore very important.
>
> So Adam and Eve's speeches (and conversations), I would expect,
> represent Milton's ideas about how an unfallen human psychology would
> express itself in speech.  My question is -- does Milton identify
> prelapsarian Adam and Eve with the Christian?   This would be a
> significant difference between himself and later writers such as Blake
> (and Kierkegaard, for that matter) -- think of Blake's progression
> from childlike innocence, to experience, to higher innocence, or
> Kierkegaard's progression from the aesthetic (immediate pole =
> unfallen innocence), to the ethical, to the religious.  In Blake and
> Kierkegaard when we move beyond sin we do it with an awareness that we
> have sinned that changes us forever, and of course it's doubtful that
> this movement beyond sin is ever completed in this lifetime.  The
> Christian is never completely innocent again, just continually
> becoming innocent again.  The prelapsarian innocent has no awareness
> of sin.   Not sure how to place Milton here.
>
> Yes, there is a great deal of confluence between Heidegger and
> Kierkegaard because Heidegger borrowed extensively from Concept of
> Anxiety when writing Being and Time.  This borrowing was only
> acknowledged in a footnote in the second edition, but has been
> documented in Kierkegaard scholarship.  I suspect Heidegger borrowed
> from Concept of Anxiety when writing about boredom in Fundamental
> Concepts of Metaphysics, but at least this time he wrote far more
> extensively and in more detail than Kierkegaard on the subject.  What
> Heidegger says about anxiety in Being and Time is rather two
> dimensional compared to what Kierkegaard says about anxiety in Concept
> of Anxiety.
>
> Jim R
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