[Milton-L] No antidote
Uzakova, Oydin Yashinova
oydin.uzakova at okstate.edu
Sun Apr 20 14:44:33 EDT 2014
Dear Professor Leonard,
I just want to clarify that my post was in response to Professor Strier's reply to my earlier post--I actually composed and sent it yesterday afternoon (before your long post), but it kept bouncing from the listserv allegedly due to its large size, so I finally gave up on resending it and decided to wait for our moderator's decision until today, hoping that he would post it eventually. However, my reply had not been posted by this morning, so I decreased my font and successfully resubmitted it earlier this afternoon. So, my post was not intended to "chime in" with any additional dismissal of your suggestion of Milton's sexual pun on "seal"--it was merely an unfortunate coincidence in timing.
I thought that my position on the issue of "seal/solace" had been misunderstood by Professor Strier since I had included other passages on love, sex, lust, women, and "roving," so I was attempting to set the record straight. While I am not fully convinced of Milton's sexual punning on "seal" in the poem (considering his other uses of this word that I have already examined), I do find it much more plausible than his alleged pun on "fallacious." I simply wanted to clarify my position on this topic, which is still the same: "I was not convinced of the alleged sexual pun on "fallacious" and did not insist on the potentially more plausible sexual pun on "seal." There is simply no conclusive textual evidence in the poem to prove such usage by Milton in both cases."
As I have indicated earlier, Milton uses the word "seal" in its negative connotations (Satan's being sealed in Hell against his will by Gabriel; Hell's jaws being sealed by the Son), so I believe that Adam and Eve are also being sealed in their postlapsarian condition against their will, which explains Milton's use of this term here. I also forgot to mention in my previous posts that sex becomes Adam and Eve's "solace" because it is the only thing they get to take with them from Eden into their postlapsarian exile--the only relic and reminder of their Edenic bliss.
I do respect your position and find it much more plausible than that of the "fallacious" team. I certainly do not attribute your position to a "gender" issue--I fully agree that impure semen does infect us all. :)
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>
Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2014 12:44 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] No antidote
Dismissing my case for a 'seal' pun, Carol Barton writes 'It must be a guy thing, John'. Oydin Uzakova then chimes in:
I consider the word "seal" here as a legal term of their being mutually bound in the original sin
Of course 'seal' is a legal term. I stated explicitly that the legal sense is primary. The question is whether there is a sexual sense in addition to the legal one (in a context that is clearly sexual). Several posters seem to assume that my point in arguing for a pun is to bring the tone down to a gutter level ('a guy thing, John'). The assumption behind such comments is that the legal and sexual spheres are entirely distinct and can never meet in wordplay that accords with epic decorum. I would certainly agree that the tone of Milton's lines is very different from Donne's elegies (at least the narrator's tone is different). But this moment in the poem is still a meeting of the legal and the sexual. Saint Augustine held that original sin passed from parent to child through the father's semen (a sexually transmitted disease). 'The seal / The solace' occurs at the legally and sexually sealing moment of first transmission. Adam seeks solace with Eve in the very moment that he imprints and oppresses all his future descendants. As he says in the next book:
All that I . . . shall beget
Is propagated curse. O voice once heard
Delightfully, Increase and multiply,
Now death to hear! For what can I increase
Or multiply, but curses on my head?
Who of all ages to succeed, but feeling
The evil on him brought by me, will curse
My head, Ill fare our ancestor impure.
Impure semen is 'a guy thing', but it infects the daughters too.
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