[Milton-L] Milton's Deliberate Ambiguities

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Sun Sep 3 21:42:18 EDT 2017

Thanks very much for the elaboration, Michael. I've become dissatisfied with the eisegesis versus exegesis model. It seems to treat literary texts like buckets of meaning in which authors put meaning in and readers are obligated to take only the same meaning out. 

I prefer to think in terms of pattern recognition. In this practice, the reader is applying different filters, so to speak, to look for different kinds of patterns of meaning in the text. The author or his or her immediate historical context is maybe one filter that we use to examine a text, but it doesn't have to be the only one. Any conceivable pattern is legitimate so long as it's supported by evidence provided by the text. 

Of course, when you think that way, you have to carefully distinguish between the patterns that you're using and the author himself (in this case). We can ascribe patterns to the text that don't necessarily reflect on the person who wrote it. This isn't an arbitrary practice, as a filter looks for specific things, should set the terms of its own practice of pattern recognition, and then follow them.

Jim R

PS If Milton had an iPhone, Steve Jobs would be Satan.
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