[Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 20 18:35:11 EDT 2011


My wife and I translate Korean literature into English -- she handles the Korean 
to English, I handle her English -- and a couple of years ago, we translated 
Jang Jung-il's book When Adam's Eyes Opened.

One of the stories in that book was very disturbing to translate, and if I had 
known in advance, I would have declined.

In describing my reaction to that story -- in which an unnamed man and an 
unnamed woman meet and engage in sexual intercourse for a week at an obscure 
beach -- I told an acquaintance, "The sex in the story wasn't erotic, but it 
wasn't pornographic, either. It was, however, explicit."

Jang's intention was for the story to serve as some sort of social criticism, as 
were all of the stories in the book, and for the most part, the book succeeds as 
a work of art that critiques Korean mores of the 1980s and 1990s.

In the sex-on-the-beach story, the man and woman kill each other in the end, 
and I have to say, as I told my wife when I'd finished that particular story, 
"I'm glad they killed each other!"

She laughed, but I meant it.

I think that sex in writing can play any number of roles -- erotic, 
pornographic, social-critical, and so on. Roles can even be mixed. Pornography 
is often used as lampoon (I almost want to pun and say 'lampoontang', but my 
puns often get me in trouble, so I'll refrain), so even that isn't 
entirely without socially redeeming value.

Anyway, my query was motivated by a desire for clarification in the definitions 
of the terms "erotic," "pornographic," and so on.

Jeffery Hodges



________________________________
From: richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wed, July 20, 2011 1:19:12 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!

Not really-- one is suppose to be "highminded" and the other not.  

Great art can be pornographic in my view, but, of course, lots of pornography 
doesn't even aspire to be art.



---- Original message ----
>Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 12:55:41 -0700 (PDT)
>From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on behalf of Horace Jeffery 
Hodges <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com>)
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!  
>To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>
>  Would you see any distinction between erotic and
>  pornographic?
>    
>  Jeffery Hodges
>
>    ------------------------------------------------
>
>  From: richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
>  To: John Milton Discussion List
>  <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>  Sent: Thu, July 21, 2011 4:51:06 AM
>  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed!
>  Well, I don't hold the view (which some
>  philosophers--e.g. Roger Scruton) hold
>  that great art can't be erotically stimulating. 
>  Seems like a silly view.  Lots of
>  great Renaissance art is very sexy.  MIlton insists
>  -- surely with his male readers
>  in mind (but not only, of course) -- on Eve's
>  gorgeousness and her absolute
>  nakedness. No reason for us, or her, to feel
>  ashamed, and no reason for us (or
>  her, or Adam) not to feel erotically aroused.
>
>  And, to say something that will surely invite/incite
>  some responses, I think the
>  supposed contrast between the fallen and unfallen
>  sex of A and E to be quite
>  unconvincing.
>
>  And, finally, I think the supposed distinction
>  between nudity and nakedness
>  (Kenneth Clark) also to be bogus (let's all pretend
>  to be very high-minded!).
>
>  ---- Original message ----
>  >Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 14:36:25 -0500
>  >From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on
>  behalf of "Mitchell M. Harris"
>  <mitchell.harris at augie.edu>)
>  >Subject: Re: [Milton-L] It's Confirmed! 
>  >To: John Milton Discussion List
>  <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>  >
>  >Dr. Strier, would you argue that PL is pornographic
>  before the fall? 
>  >I've always thought that Milton was following a
>  conventional patristic 
>  >argument that Augustine made against Jerome in
>  defending the notion of 
>  >prelapsarian sex--thus drawing a middle line
>  between Jerome and 
>  >Jovinian in debates on the role of human sexuality
>  in prelapsarian 
>  >Eden. I would certainly see the sex scene after the
>  fall as being 
>  >pornographic--Milton goes out of his way to make us
>  feel as 
>  >uncomfortable as Adam and Eve feel about the act.
>  But I've always 
>  >thought that the prelapsarian scenes are natural
>  and untitillating, 
>  >which, paradoxically, is provocative in its own
>  right.
>  >
>  >Best,
>  >    Mitch Harris
>  >
>  >
>  >On Jul 20, 2011, at 2:13 PM, richard strier wrote:
>  >
>  >> Absolutely right about the necessity for
>  non-self-conscious 
>  >> nakedness.  After
>  >> all, PL is one of the great pornographic works of
>  all time.  The 
>  >> audience might
>  >> begin by leering and tittering, but, as at nude
>  beaches, the lack of 
>  >> pretense
>  >> would affect the experience after a while.  And
>  if we titter, so 
>  >> what?  We're fallen,
>  >> they're not (for most of the Eden scenes).  And
>  sometimes, as Milton 
>  >> thought, we
>  >> can transcend our fallenness.
>  >>
>  >>
>  >
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