[Milton-L] Beauty dissertation

Carl Bellinger bcarlb at comcast.net
Fri Jan 7 07:32:48 EST 2011

I like Gardner Campbell's "slow hunch."  And, I suspect, the enormous bliss 
M sees, feels, hears, desires, and in his own art can wield he believes to 
fearful effect,  is, he also believes, way way too hot for most anyone to 
handle, thus the repeated cautions along various axes: "hope no higher;" 
"fear to transgress," which cautions,  if I read their tone aright , come 
not from one who himself has at all times remained below.

   Perhaps related: would it be fair to say that secrecy is an essential 
aspect of neo Platonism?

  And how did the Greeks have it? beautiful things are harsh [!]


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Campbell, W. Gardner" <Gardner_Campbell at baylor.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 3:30 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Beauty dissertation (was "no subject?)

> Where to look indeed! A great list from a great reader. Yet definitive 
> answers are still elusive. Take for example (as in number 3 below) the 
> famous crux toward the end of "L' Allegro." Does Milton endorse the Lydian 
> mode, following Cassiodorus, or does he exercise dramatic irony by having 
> his narrator endorse the Lydian mode that Plato condemned, thus 
> demonstrating to the alert reader the shortcomings of the "L' Allegro" 
> approach to life (assuming we can even agree on what that is, or what it 
> may be at this moment from the narrator's point of view) and the superior 
> way of life demonstrated by Il Penseroso? I've read a note somewhere that 
> insists Milton is doing both at once: endorsing the Cassiodorus position 
> "while subtly recalling the [Platonic-or is it Socratic?] condemnation." 
> There's further uncertainty here, as I recall from my own research 
> wanderings many years ago, in that the musical theorists of  Milton's day 
> were not looking only to Plato or Cassiodorus for evide!
> nce on the meaning or psychological effects of the modes.
> Of course, reading number 5 below, I wonder if Harold means to tease us 
> both into alternatives and out of them.
> My own suspicion, or slow hunch, is that Milton could profess varying and 
> contradictory esthetics, but at heart was most interested in the esthetics 
> of enormous bliss realized in relationships born of creation and creating.
> Gardner
> On 1/6/11 11:01 AM, "Harold Skulsky" <hskulsky at smith.edu> wrote:
> Miltonic Esthetics: Hints on Where to Look and How
> (1) Does M prefer French horticulture, or English, and why?
> (2) Does M prefer chiaro or chiaroscuro, and why?
> (3) Among the musical modes, which does M favor, and by what criteria?
> (4) What and where are M's (implicit) views on architectural history and 
> geography? Is M a Vitruvius man? Is M a Pliny Sr. man?
> (5) Is M a Longinus man or an Aristotle man, or both, and why?
> (6) Does M take sides in the gillyvor debate, and on what grounds? Does he 
> indicate a familiarity with it? (7) Was there, by M's guess, an aesthetic 
> ante lapsum? Irretrievable (salvo decoro) POST lapsum? Partly retrievable?
> (8) Does the world system (Galilean or Keplerian) exhibit an aesthetic in 
> M's view?
> (9) On the general theory of the thing, is Kant useful here despite the 
> lateness? Is Burke?
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