[Milton-L] disobedience of our members

JD Fleming jfleming at sfu.ca
Wed Jul 20 18:06:26 EDT 2011


Indeed -- CS Lewis via Augustine. For whom (as James Grantham Turner, I think, puts it), pre-lapsarian sex was just a kind of "erotic peeing." Which would, no doubt, seem far preferable to what we've got, were we not all so terribly fallen.

This whole business, vis-a-vis PL, always makes me think of the great late (I assume he's gone) Irish comedian Dave Allen, whose smoky swinging variety show re-ran on PBS during my formative years. He did a monologue once -- riffing, I suspect, on Shaw rather than on Milton -- in which he suggested that while Heaven would be all clean cotton sheets and mandolins and prayer meetings, Hell would be strippers 24/7, booze galore, fast cars, and all the wicked spicy food you could eat. That, Dave Allen said, was God's sense of humor. Then he leaned in close to the camera, on his little mod white bar stool, and added grimly: "I don't like God's sense of humor."

JD Fleming

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hannibal Hamlin" <hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 2:45:06 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!



Surely the story of Pygmalion is all about the impossibility of neatly separating the aesthetic and erotic? Given the broad range of human sexual desires (I'll forgo details), I doubt there is any image or narrative that someone couldn't find sexually arousing. Many English (and other) Bibles included among their illustrations Bathsheba bathing naked. Perhaps this was intended to teach a lesson about the dangers of looking into other people's houses (though she's often, as in the Great Bible, outside), but I bet many readers looked at it rather differently. The story of Susanna and the Elders (naked bathing again) was another very popular subject for illustrations, including, I gather, on painted wall cloths. Were such images always viewed chastely? 

As for the scene in PL, surely we're in the position of Satan, viewing Adam and Eve from his perspective? Perhaps we can recognize that we oughtn't to have any kind of sexual response to their innocent nudity, but in our fallen state can we help it? Isn't there also something somewhere about the involuntary nature of (especially male) sexual arousal being a product of the Fall? 

Hannibal 





On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 5:15 PM, Michael Gillum < mgillum at unca.edu > wrote: 


Stephen Dedalus defines pornography as something that makes you want to masturbate--at least that's what I think he meant about kinesis . Obviously this is not a rigorous critical theory, but maybe it makes sense to define pornography in terms of how it affects typical readers and viewers, allowing for differences of sexual orientation. Thus, "I know it when I see it." 


Milton's description of Adam and Eve asleep, naked and entangled under the shower of rose petals, is deliciously erotic but not pornographic, and it's one of the poem's greatest moments. The whole bliss of prelapsarian life is right there. And then the narrator complicates it with a dark foreshadowing. 
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-- 

Hannibal Hamlin 
Associate Professor of English 
Editor, Reformation 
Co-curator, Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible 
http://www.manifoldgreatness.org/ 
The Ohio State University 
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James Dougal Fleming
Associate Professor
Department of English
Simon Fraser University

"to see what is questionable"


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