[Milton-L] fallacious=false=deceptive=misleading=delusive

Uzakova, Oydin Yashinova oydin.uzakova at okstate.edu
Wed Apr 16 13:06:58 EDT 2014

Greg Machacek asked: "I'm undecided on the pun, but I have this question.  Is "fallacious" sufficiently motivated here if not for the pun?  In what sense is the fruit fallacious, and why is that the feature of it that one would mention here, as its force is being exhaled?"

I believe that Milton used the word "fallacious" simply as a synonymic variation of the word "false"--he used the adjective "false" 21 times in the poem, but the adjective "fallacious" only 2 times: "fallacious hope" (2.568) and "that fallacious fruit" (9.1046).  However, in Milton's use of these synonyms, they seem to be perfectly interchangeable, because he also uses "that false fruit" 2 times in the poem (9.1011 and 11.413), referring to the same forbidden fruit as in "that fallacious fruit" (9.1046).

Likewise, Milton uses "false hope" in the same sense as "fallacious hope" just 47 lines earlier in the same Book 2 and even with the same reference to the fallen angels: "Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised/By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers/Disband" (2.521-23).  In my mind, these identical examples of MiIton's use of these two adjectives prove their interchangeable nature and their purely synonymic value to Milton-the-poet, unless one is also willing to accept my earlier claim that there may be an additional pun on "fall" (as in "fallen") here, emphasizing the fallen angels' and the fallen Adam and Eve's postlapsarian delusion.

The forbidden fruit is "false" or "fallacious" because it allegedly promised "clearer sight," but instead it breeds the cataract-like "film" in Adam and Eve's eyes that Michael has to remove in order to show postlapsarian Adam "nobler sights" in Book 11 (11.412-14).  The fruit is also "false" or "fallacious" because it allegedly promised "divinity," but instead it "far other operation first displayed," making Adam and Eve feel "intoxicated" and inflamed with "carnal desire" (1008-13).  The forbidden fruit is also "fallacious" because it deceives with fallacious reasoning, with false logic via Satan, as well as "excites" false/fallacious hope in the fallen angels in Book 2 and in the fallen Adam and Eve in Book 9 as a result of their "vain wisdom" and "false philosophy" (2.565).

The postlapsarian delusion resembles the intoxicated state, full of wishful thinking, that can temporarily numb the actual mental and physical pain or "anguish" like "a pleasing sorcery" (2.566):

The fallen angels "in wandering mazes lost" delude themselves with the charm of "fallacious hope" in Hell in Book 2 (lines 566-69):
Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm

Pain for a while or anguish, and excite

Fallacious hope, or arm the obdured breast

With stubborn patience as with triple steel.

Likewise, Adam and Eve experience "the exhilarating vapor" of "that fallacious fruit" that makes their "inmost powers" err in their postlapsarian sex (9.1046-49):

Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,

That with exhilarating vapor bland

About their spirits had played, and inmost powers

Made err, was now exhaled;

I believe that in both of these instances, Milton chose the adjective "fallacious" instead of its synonym "false" to stress the lapsarian effect of fallacious reasoning even more, as well as to reinforce it with the possible pun on "fall/fallen."  Thus, in my eyes, Milton's use of "the force of that fallacious fruit" as emphasizing the intoxicating quality of fallacious reasoning and postlapsarian delusion is "sufficiently motivated" without any need for potential sexual punning.


From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:31 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] fellatious and coarticulation

I can't believe I'm getting sucked into another thread.

I had resolved to give you all a break from hearing from me after the whole the-fruit's-not-an-apple trudge.

But in addition to what John Savoie says here, that all a pun needs is a rough similarity, we must remember what he established in his MQ article, and what Salwa shows:  English had no word for fellatio evidenced before 1887.  So if we're going to hear a pun at all it will be through the Latin.  I think the e in fellare is a short e, so if "that" nudges "fallacious" toward "fellacious," all we would need to do is start hearing fell-ay and then the "t" part of "ch" to have the pun start to register.  "All that fall" is not a valid analog, although on the surface, nothing could seem to be closer.  In that phrase, coarticulation would operate through the rhyme.  The "all" and "fall" would fix each other in their normal pronunciation, and together they would turn "that" into "th't"  ("th't" is one of the first words through which I started noticing what I later learned linguists had a name for).

Please, please remember, though, that I wasn't primarily trying to add evidence for John's article; I'm using this whole case as a pretext for asking a question as to whether a even poet as skilled as Milton could use coarticulation meaningfully, or whether that is too hyper-subtle an aspect of language to be deliberately employed.

I'm undecided on the pun, but I have this question.  Is "fallacious" sufficiently motivated here if not for the pun?  In what sense is the fruit fallacious, and why is that the feature of it that one would mention here, as its force is being exhaled?

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>, John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>
From: jsavoie at siue.edu
Sent by: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
Date: 04/15/2014 09:54PM
Cc: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] lapsarian sex, fallacious, milton's verbal skill (and blake's fruit)

A pun need not utilize a precise homophone to be effective; it merely needs to
be close enough to be suggestive.

John Savoie

Quoting John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>:

> On 04/15/14, Gregory Machacek <Gregory.Machacek at marist.edu> wrote:
> >   On different sides of the fallacious/fellatio debate:
> >
> >
> >
> >
>  Greg goes on to  offer some ingenious ruminations on the "coarticulation" of
> "that" and "fall" to produce "fell", but to my ears it is the last (not the
> first) syllable of "fallacious" that presents the biggest obstacle to the
> obscene pun that John Savoie has proposed. So far as I am aware, there is not
> (and has never been) an English word "fellatious." If our ears are to be as
> finely attuned as Greg asks them to be, this  matters. I remain open to
> persuasion, but I have not yet heard any argument compelling enough to woo me
> from my initial response, which was  "I too am sceptical." I recognize that
> Greg was  weighing options, not taking a side in "the . . . debate", but the
> "coarticulation" evidence carries little weight with me. My point in quoting
> the Carew poem was not (as Carol Barton seems to infer)  that Milton was
> similarly rakish; my point was to refute Richard Strier's claim that  "even
> pornographic poetry [was] remarkably genitally oriented." I do not think that
> Milton was a pornographic poet (though he did have a taste for bawdy puns, as
> we know from the prose).
> Greg's conjecture (I recognize it was nothing more) that "that" might turn
> "fall" into "fell" encounters another obstacle, it seems to me, in Psalm 145:
> "the Lord upholdeth all that fall." This biblical verse gave Beckett the
> title of his radio play All That Fall. Does anyone really hear that as "All
> that Fell"?
> John Leonard
> >
> >
> >

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