[Milton-L] Sexy David

richard strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Wed Jul 20 19:41:54 EDT 2011


And maybe David is just pretending to be unaware.



---- Original message ----
>Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 16:33:55 -0700
>From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on behalf of Brendan Prawdzik 
<brendanprawdzik at gmail.com>)
>Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Sexy David  
>To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>
>   Understood and agreed.  Yet David still seems more
>   nude than naked to me, if we accept at all the
>   distinction I suggested.  David neither knows nor
>   cares that I'm there and watching, an indifference
>   that seems essential to the viewing experience.
>    Michelangelo, however, could surely see our roving
>   eyes ...
>   BP
>   On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM, richard strier
>   <rastrier at uchicago.edu> wrote:
>
>     Michelangelo's David seems to me one of the great
>     pieces of gay erotic art in
>     world history.  Surely (!) the sculptor knew that
>     when one stands in front of the
>     thing looking up, the genitalia are (as they
>     should be) front and center in one's
>     vision.  Important that there is no fig leaf!  I
>     can easily imagine finding that
>     statue intensely erotic.  And why not?
>
>     (As a footnote, I add that when I sent a postcard
>     of the David from Florence to a
>     friend in the US, it seems to have been impounded
>     by the US Post Office.  They
>     knew it when the saw it!).
>
>     ---- Original message ----
>     >Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 15:57:21 -0700
>     >From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on
>     behalf of Brendan Prawdzik
>     <brendanprawdzik at gmail.com>)
>     >Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fallen vs. Unfallen Sex
>     >To: John Milton Discussion List
>     <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>     >
>     >   We would not call Michelangelo's David
>     "naked,"
>     >   right?  But we would call it "nude."  David
>     is a
>     >   nude.  David also appears "nude" from our
>     >   perspective, for we view him from an
>     aesthetic
>     >   distance, as art.  "Nude" (but, crucially,
>     not
>     >   "denuded") carries a sense of moral
>     indifference.  
>     >   To be "denuded" is to be discovered (both
>     senses) as
>     >   naked.  
>     >   If Michelangelo crafted a David who knew that
>     his
>     >   unclothed body was being viewed and
>     scrutinized by
>     >   us, might we not then, seeing in his face and
>     >   gestures signs of this self-consciousness,
>     call him
>     >   "naked"?  It seems that the "naked" body is
>     being
>     >   watched, and is conscious of this fact.  The
>     "nude"
>     >   body of David is but an aesthetic form.  It
>     does
>     >   not know that it is naked, that is, that we
>     are
>     >   looking at a semiotic nudity.  In this
>     sense, it is
>     >   not naked.  But Milton does not use "nude,"
>     does
>     >   he?
>     >   The key passages for this sense of nakedness
>     as
>     >   observed unclothed body would be 9.1054-59,
>     and
>     >   10.115-23, 220-23.
>     >   When the Son asks, "that thou art naked, who/
>     Hath
>     >   told thee?" we see clearly that nakedness, at
>     least
>     >   in the sense in which we typically use it,
>     entails
>     >   the sense that one is naked.
>     >   Yet "naked" appears often in Book 4, too: "in
>     naked
>     >   Majestie seemed Lords of all" (290); "So
>     passd they
>     >   naked on, nor shunned the sight/ Of God or
>     angel"
>     >   (319-20); "her swelling Breast/ Naked met his
>     under
>     >   the flowing gold of her loose tresses hid: he
>     in
>     >   delight ... smiled" (495-99); "to our Sire/
>     Brought
>     >   her in naked beauty more adorn'd/ More lovely
>     than
>     >   Pandora" (712-14); and the passage of the
>     bower
>     >   described by Michael, where the sex does not
>     have a
>     >   manifest observer, but multiple implicit
>     observers
>     >   -- God, angels, author, readers, and of
>     course,
>     >   Satan.
>     >   "Guiltie Shame" is the key culprit here, no?
>      It is
>     >   what moves "naked" from knowing oneself
>     naked, sans
>     >   anxiety (see 4.319-20), to knowing oneself
>     naked,
>     >   with debilitating anxiety.  In addition to
>     the key
>     >   passages from 9 and 10, one might
>     >   quote Animadversions:
>     >   "Oh what a death it is to the Prelates to be
>     thus
>     >   unvisarded, thus uncas'd, to have the
>     Periwigs
>     >   pluk't off that cover your baldnesse, your
>     inside
>     >   nakedness thrown open to publick view."
>     >   On this note, may I propose two things?
>      First,
>     >   that pornography is infused with the sense
>     that it
>     >   is being watched, and plays to the emotive
>     effect
>     >   (as others have said) that comes with
>     watching sex
>     >   that knows it is being watched, without the
>     >   spectator having his (pardon the gendering)
>     own
>     >   nakedness, own gaze, "thrown open to publick
>     view."
>     >    It plays to being mastered as an object
>     that is a
>     >   subject aware of its objectification.  (Upon
>     this
>     >   consciousness comes "Guiltie Shame," without
>     which
>     >   pornography merely becomes aesthetic, erotic.
>      On
>     >   this note, the meaning of "pornography" is
>     bound not
>     >   to the form but to the eyes and culture of
>     eyes that
>     >   views the form.  Yet the form also responds
>     to the
>     >   culture of eyes.)  Second, that both
>     unfallen and
>     >   fallen sex is sex that knows that it is being
>     >   viewed.  However, after the fall, guilty
>     shame
>     >   enters the scene as the eyes that observe now
>     have
>     >   an intense, painful, withering power in the
>     >   imagination.  (Do Adam and Eve know the
>     *word*
>     >   "naked" before the Fall?!)  Even if the sex
>     scenes
>     >   were physically identical (the possibility of
>     which
>     >   I must doubt), the psychological experience
>     of the
>     >   sex would be -- and clearly is, with a view
>     to the
>     >   evidence -- essentially different. The best
>     evidence
>     >   for this, in my view, is the phrase "[Eve's]
>     Eye
>     >   darted contagious fire."  I believe that
>     darting
>     >   eyes, as appear also in 8.62-63, evince a
>     gradual
>     >   transformation of subjectivity, from "naked"
>     (as
>     >   nude) to "naked" (as painfully knowing
>     oneself to be
>     >   naked).  I believe that the seduction scene,
>     where
>     >   the use of "gaze" becomes abundant and
>     exceedingly
>     >   complex, shows the culmination and fruition
>     of this
>     >   process.  
>     >   It is also here where Eve first raises the
>     >   hypothesis of her secrecy, of being "secret"
>     >   (9.811).  
>     >   Brendan Prawdzik
>     >
>     >   On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 3:00 PM, richard
>     strier
>     >   <rastrier at uchicago.edu> wrote:
>     >
>     >     But how can sex between A and E be
>     "casual," and
>     >     it's certainly not "retail."  I
>     >     don''t see how any of this is relevant to
>     PL --
>     >     though I must say that, even to a
>     >     mere male, the distinctions you note seem
>     pretty
>     >     obvious.
>     >
>     >     ---- Original message ----
>     >     >Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:39:28 -0400
>     >     >From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>     (on
>     >     behalf of "Carol Barton"
>     >     <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>)
>     >     >Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Fallen vs.
>     Unfallen Sex
>     >     >To: "John Milton Discussion List"
>     >     <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>     >     >
>     >     >I think the distinction between fallen
>     and
>     >     unfallen sex might be
>     >     >easier for women to comprehend, Richard
>     (and
>     >     that's
>     >     >not--intentionally--a sexist comment).
>     There is a
>     >     real distinction for
>     >     >most women between making love (unfallen
>     sex, if
>     >     you will) and the
>     >     >sort of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am
>     engagement that
>     >     occurs between
>     >     casual
>     >     >partners (or those involved in a retail
>     >     relationship).
>     >     >
>     >     >Nudity and nakedness are different? I had
>     no idea
>     >     . . . but with a
>     >     >heat index of 102F and climbing (around
>     35C for
>     >     those who don't
>     >     >Fahrenheit) I think I'd welcome being
>     either one
>     >     . . .
>     >     >
>     >     >Best to all,
>     >     >
>     >     >Carol Barton
>     >     >
>     >     >
>     >     >----- Original Message -----
>     >     >From: "richard strier"
>     <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
>     >     >To: "John Milton Discussion List"
>     >     <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>     >     >Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 3:51 PM
>     >     >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!).
>     >     >
>     >     >
>     >     >
>     >    
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