[Milton-L] Milton's Deliberate Ambiguities

Arnie Perlstein arnieperlstein at gmail.com
Sun Sep 3 19:50:39 EDT 2017


Jim Rovira wrote: "For some people ambiguity and complexity provide the
pleasures of reading literature in the sense that they pose puzzles that
need to be solved. And that's the case even if they never can be."

And I suggest to you that in creating ambiguity, the author comes closest
to recreating human existence -- because our lives -- our personalities,
our motivations, our morality, are all inherently ambiguous -- none of us
walks around with an omniscient narrator perched on our shoulder whispering
the truth in our ear. We must all constantly struggle to do the best job we
can, given our human limitations (above all, our subjectivity), to solve
the puzzles of life as best we can.

And writers who recreate that ambiguous experience for us in literature do
us all a great didactic service -- that is the message of all the great
teachers -- Socrates, Buddha, Shakespeare, etc. -- teach us how to deal
with ambiguity more flexibly, and that is the equivalent of the proverbial
teaching us how to fish, rather than giving us a "fish" (the objective
truth, which is a phantom that does not exist).

So I am saying Milton wished to teach (or rather, train) his readers to
read life.

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter
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