[Milton-L] Appropriation of Areopagitica

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Thu Aug 2 14:17:17 EDT 2018

Thanks to Carol for her good sense. America is awash not only in less than coherent reasoning but in guns. All kinds of guns. And not just 'Assault rifles' and machine guns.

I've been (never mind how I was led to it) researching fifty calibre sniper rifles. It looks like there are, AT LEAST, 30,000 in private hands in the United States of America.

These things can hit targets three quarters of a mile away with remarkable accuracy. But they're not for shooting game, the bullet makes a mess of whatever it strikes.

Maybe the President's recent suspension of his invitation to the Russian leader has something to do with his aides reminding him of this fact.

Cody Wilson's so-called 'argument' is a wonderfully twisted inversion of Raphael's "lik'ning spiritual to corporeal forms" in Book V, line 573 and makes his speculation "...what if Earth/ Be but the shadow of Hea'n"? a terrifying prospect.

jim watt

From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on behalf of Carol Barton, PhD, CPCM <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>
Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2018 11:50:28 AM
To: milton-l at richmond.edu
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Appropriation of Areopagitica

Which just goes to prove that even lunatics (mis)read Milton, Kevin. Except, perhaps, when a massive tome has been catapulted at someone’s head, no book has ever been used to commit murder; and Milton’s stance on pre-publication censorship at a time when most idiots like Wilson couldn’t read was contingent upon the moral character and intelligence of the consumer, who, he was sure, would self-censor anything that was objectionable—not on the warped value systems of homicidal lunatics and terrorists who will jump at the chance to produce untraceable weapons. The most ludicrous argument of all is the one that says “3-D printers are expensive”—as if that ever stopped the mob, or the terrorists. “Spiritual analogue” indeed: we know what abiding respect our boy had for the mob.

I’m glad David Harper took Wilson’s psychotic diatribe on, and will be interested to see what he has to say. Thanks for letting us know about this.

Best to all,

Carol Barton

Carol Barton, PhD, CPCM

On Aug 2, 2018, at 1:01 PM, Kevin Donovan <Kevin.Donovan at mtsu.edu<mailto:Kevin.Donovan at mtsu.edu>> wrote:

Members of this list may be interested to know that the current furore over proposals to allow 3D printing of firearms in the U.S. surprisingly intersects with Milton studies. David Harper’s essay “The Scanning of Error” in the collection Milton, Materialism, and Embodiment (Duquesne UP, 2017) examines the “political appropriation” of Areopagitica in a manifesto by the gun activist Cody Wilson, who cited Milton’s tract in defense of his disseminating free designs for a fully functional, print-at-home gun.  Areopagitica’s argument against the law passed in 1644 requiring that books be licensed before publication apparently was deemed by Wilson to provide an intellectual precedent and justification–or, as Wilson called it, a “spiritual analogue”–for his project of facilitating “the endless, unregulated production of guns.” Harper demonstrates various ways in which Milton’s protest against a particular kind of regulation of printed books is ill suited to a defense of unregulated “printing” of firearms.

Here’s a link to a description of Milton, Materialism, and Embodiment at Penn State UP’s website:

Kevin J. Donovan
Professor and Graduate Program Director
English Department, Peck Hall 316
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 70
Murfreesboro TN 37132
Ph: 615-898-2665

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