[Milton-L] Debbie does Eden

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Wed Jul 27 13:11:59 EDT 2011

Thank you for the response, Richard (and yes you may).

The key term for me in this discussion has always been the apellation
"pornography," which at earlier times in our argument you happily
embraced as a descriptive term to apply to PL.  In fact, at one point
you seemed to be seeking to undermine the elitism inherent in
distinguishing between "a serious work of art" and lesser works,
criticizing those who made such distinctions as being artificially
"high-minded" (I believe that was the term you used in an earlier

The term "pornography," as I defined it for you, strictly had to do
with the purpose that the erotic serves when it is present.  So I
would have said that the erotic is present in rare moments in PL, but
not the pornographic, because pornography is almost never serious in
its attempt at art and almost always, as I said earlier, "seeking only
or primarily to create sexual stimulation."   The erotic in PL,
however, as we've both seen in the very interesting discussion that
you prompted, is quite complex.  I'm not sure that I'm ever aroused by
Eve, and I'm not sure that Milton intended his readers to be aroused
by Eve.

I think Milton was aroused by the idea of Eve, but that's another discussion.

I distinguished between the pornographic and the artistically erotic
in that the erotic, when present in a work of art, communicates much
more than pornography.  At one point, earlier in the discussion, you
seemed to embrace this distinction and still seemed to claim that PL,
by this definition, was still pornography.

If I misunderstood or misrepresented you by taking hyperbole a bit too
literally, though, I apologize.  I will say your earlier claims, as I
understood them, were quite bold and provocative and merited the
argument and attention that ensued.

Jim R

On Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 11:36 AM, richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu> wrote:
> Dear James (if I may),
> You are fighting a straw person.  No one thinks that PL and Debbie are the same
> sort of work.  Debbie (which I think I once saw) is, if I recall correctly, a comic
> treatment with a fair amount of rather soft-core porno.  But I may be mis-
> remembering it, nor not remembering it at all.  I believe that it is not a serious
> work of art of any kind, nor intended to be (though might be a sort of classic in
> its genre).
> The point, for me, is that there are places in PL where M creates the effect of
> pornography, and knows he is doing it.  I believe you basically concede this in
> the phrase, "except at rare moments."  The point, as I see it, is not to deny that
> there are such moments, but to think about why they are there.

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