[Milton-L] on not imagining in paradise lost

Horace Jeffery Hodges horacejeffery at gmail.com
Wed Apr 2 14:39:52 EDT 2014


In that case, better overcome the temptation to click on my links . . .

Jeffery Hodges

Ewha Womans University
Seoul, South Korea


Novella: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KW0K (*The Bottomless Bottle of
Beer*)


Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bottomless-Bottle-of-Beer/204064649770035
 (*The Bottomless Bottle of Beer*)

Blog: http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ (*Gypsy Scholar*)


Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
Texts"


Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University


Home Address:


Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
Sangbong-dong 1
Jungnang-gu
Seoul 131-771
South Korea


On Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 11:18 PM, Gregory Machacek <
Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote:

> Yes, Jim, I feel that that is in accord with what I am asking/proposing.
>  Except that I think I going this degree further:  Not Milton "believed the
> type of fruit was either unknown [or] irrelevant," but that Milton believed
> we should *exercise the mental discipline to know about it that it
> variety is irrelevant*.  Does the poem call on us steadily to say to
> ourselves "though I am curious as to the variety of this fruit, I will
> fight that curiosity and remember that the only thing important about it is
> its being forbidden".  If that kind of determined and sustained
> anti-curiosity is a mode of ambiguity (I'll have to go reread Empson), then
> yes, ambiguity.  But I'm thinking something that *depends* on
> "registering ambiguity to get Milton's point," but goes beyond that.
>
>
>
> Greg Machacek
> Professor of English
> Marist College
>
>
> -----milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu wrote: -----
> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> From: James Rovira
> Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
> Date: 04/02/2014 10:04AM
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] oops, "proud" not "vain"
>
> It could be that Milton deliberately used a less than precise term to
> describe the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil because he
> himself believed the type of fruit was either unknown, irrelevant, or both.
> In this case, the ambiguity is the point, and registering ambiguity is to
> get Milton's point.
>
> Saying that the nature or type of the fruit is irrelevant existentializes
> the act of eating rather than attributes some kind of magical property to
> the fruit itself, which I think is more consistent with Milton's
> presentation of and emphasis upon character. Satan's physical appearance
> certainly isn't trustworthy, and where he goes is hell, as he himself is
> hell, regardless of his physical nature.
>
> Jim R
>
>
> On Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Gregory Machacek <
> Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote:
>
>> (I'm prepping the Limbo of Vanities for class and got a wire crossed.
>>  Here's the correct version of my reply to Salwa)
>>
>> Salwa, you claim that "we have to imagine it as readers before we can
>> picture the action involved with it" and in the next breath tell us that
>> the poem prevents us from being able to imagine it to the degree we "have
>> to" do: "the 'apple' was a generic term for a group of fruits," and
>> therefore could be a peach.  If the most precise term Milton gives us for
>> imagining the variety of what he elsewhere calls just a "fruit" is itself a
>> category word, how do we then do this imagining that we "have to" do?
>>
>> And do we have to do it?  *Must* "poems as poems" prioritize imagination
>> in this way?  I know that presupposition is plausible and deeply ingrained
>> in us.  But might a given poem challenge us to adopt the "rational
>> viewpoint of God" over the imagination that other poems (and even it
>> itself) do routinely expect us to exercise?  Particularly a poem that
>> explicitly states that fancy serves "reason as chief," a poem that links
>> "imagination" with "aery things," not to mention "*proud*" Satanic
>> ambitions (2.10).
>>
>> The only "actions involved with"  the fruit that I can remember being
>> called on to imagine are plucking and eating (and avoiding), I can picture
>> those actions relative to a generic "fruit" as easily as to a generic
>> "apple."  (The rapidity of 9.781, "she pluckt, she eat" does seem to me to
>> rule out fruits that would need to be peeled, but still rules in many other
>> kinds of fruit.)
>>
>> That is all to say, might the poem be calling on us to check our natural
>> desire to know what variety of fruit this is and instead regard it as (as
>> God calls it) a fruit, and "know to know no more"?  All in service of
>> sustaining the view/resolution that the*only* important thing about it
>> is that it has been forbidden.
>>
>> These may sound like rhetorical questions, but I'm in fact genuinely
>> asking them, because, while I do believe what I say about the fruit, I've
>> never realized what a profound ramification that has for the operation of
>> our imaginations in reading this poem.  So I'd like the list members' help
>> in working these thoughts out, even if it means that we're back to one of
>> those questions that, as John Leonard pointed out, refuse to stay settled
>> and periodically re-emerge on this list.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Greg Machacek
>> Professor of English
>> Marist College
>>
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>
>
>
> --
> Dr. James Rovira
> Associate Professor of English
> Tiffin University
> http://www.jamesrovira.com
> Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety
> Continuum 2010
> http://jamesrovira.com/blake-and-kierkegaard-creation-and-anxiety/
> Text, Identity, Subjectivity
> http://scalar.usc.edu/works/text-identity-subjectivity/index
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