[[[ Asserting intentional fallacy is a splendid excuse to impose whatever meaning one's ingenuity may tease from a text--valid or not.]]]
And asserting intention to begin with is a splendid excuse not to have to think for one's self, to simply say "well, the author intended this, so everything that's here must be expressing that, and nothing outside that." That, I think, is patently false as evidenced by the fact that these works continue to mean things to people unaffected by the socio-historical contexts that they were written in. Humanity goes deeper than any single socio-historical context, and if art is to last and continue to matter, it has to tap into that something deeper.
[[[ But to assume that the passage in which St. Peter condemns corrupt clergy refers to anything except the clergy is simply untenable... To extend the passage to be some blanket condemnation of corruption completely vitiates its plain sense and historical meaning.]]]
Untenable to you, maybe, because you refuse to see into the realm of possible meanings of texts and prefer to lock everything down to one correct meaning, treating art like a math problem to be solved. I find that attitude runs counter to the reason why art exists at all. What's more, to extend the passage to being a blanket condemnation of corruption is what artists invite when they speak in allegorical terms. It's unavoidable. It also doesn't vitiate any historical meaning because the historical meaning can still be read into it. Again, as I said before, none of the New Critics are saying that we should eliminate such historical meaning, but merely that we don't have to limit ourselves to that. You can't seem to allow for multiple readings to coincide with each other and be equally "correct" and relevant. To me, that just speaks to your critical limitations rather than the limitations of any other approaches.
[[[In particular, to assume "blind mouths" speaks of poetry makes no sense at all.]]]
I've tried to explain this several times, so either I'm failing to explain it clearly or you're failing to understand, I'm not sure which. I'm not saying the blind mouths refer to poetry, I'm saying that Milton is trying to paint a picture where the governing powers (who are called "blind mouths") are as far removed from their "flock" and from the "herdsman's trade" as possible. One way in which he's able to present that is by showing their ineptitude at poetry, since the herdsman of pastoral poetry are accomplished poets. I'm not saying that the "blind mouths" itself is a reference to poetry.
[[[ "Blind mouths", as Ruskin notes, is a telling metaphor for corrupt clergy--as pastors, or shepherds, they are responsible to watch and feed their flocks (compare John 21:15).]]]
You quote Ruskin, but seemed to have missed his most salient etymological note, that "pastor" means "to feed," and "bishop" means "to see," so the most un-pastoral quality is to want to be fed, be a mouth, and the most un-bishoply quality is to be blind.
[[[As to symbolic language: it's clear that you don't fully grasp how symbolic language in medieval and Renaissance poetry works.]]]
You don't seem to get that I'm agreeing with you that everyone in those times would understand whom and what the references were too, but what you seem to be missing is my point about why that symbolic language exists to begin with. Likewise, your appeal to tradition regarding Henry V doesn't do anything to question my point about caring whether or not the audience can imagine themselves in the setting.
[[[No narrative rhythm in Milton?]]]
You seem to keep misunderstanding me: I said if he was meticulously working out every line as he went along I don't think he could develop a narrative rhythm. If he dictated it and then went back and revised it, then, sure, he could maintain a narrative rhythm.
[[[You seem to be following a critical direction with a strongly Freudian tinge--one which denies intent and exalts the accidental. Writing is a profoundly rational activity for far more writers than not.]]]
What does "exalts the accidental" even mean? If by "accidental" you mean "intuitive" then I'd agree. Intent only gets you so far, and if you allow no room for inspirational accidents, you allow no room for any dynamic life force. Writing CAN be a profoundly rational activity, but much more so when one is engaging in analysis, criticism, or anything related to the sciences more so than creative writing.
[[[Can you honestly say that reading Davies, Austen, or Trollope is an emotive experience like reading, say, Richardson or Dickens?]]]
It seems to me like you're equating emotion with sentiment. Dickens is sentimental, Austen is not; they're both emotional. I dare you to question a Janeite on whether or not they think Austen is emotionless. Even going back to Donne, who many have criticized for being far too intellectual and unemotional, even he engages what one critic called "feeling thought," where there's a kind of emotional rush in the discovery of an intellectual idea, even if it's a sophistic one.
[[[And can you honestly say that you have never admired a novel or poem for the clarity of its discourse and the elegance of its thought?]]]
No, of course I admire these things, but I think at this point you're setting up a false dichotomy between these things and emotion where I don't think there is one. My initial point was not against clarity of discourse or elegance of thought, but against the abstraction of pure intellectual themes, as if these things don't have to be embedded in the fiction or the drama or the form of whatever medium it's being expressed in. Put it another way, I could take what knowledge I have of the mathematics behind poker and express it in a very clear language. But I if I try to present that as a poem it will have no force, because as pure numbers or explication it's science and not art. If, however, I manage to work that into the human drama behind a game of poker, maybe with interesting characters and the psychological tactics behind the game, THEN I might have something approaching art (be it drama, novel, epic, or lyric).
[[[And, frankly, your attitude does no credit to Jane. Of course she is acutely aware of social structure and mores, but not as critic, but objective observer.... And you seem to find little comedy in austen--perhaps her greatest attribute.]]]
How in the world did you jump to what I said about Austen exploring her characters' delusive subjectivity to me thinking there's no comedy in her novels? I don't know what gave you that idea... anyway, Austen was certainly a very clear-headed observer, but if she had simply wrote down her observations from her perspective, without dramatizing them in the form of characters that represented that milieu, it would not have been remotely the same experience. The fact that women today read her novels and get something out of them that has nothing to do with that milieu, but everything to do with the feeling with which she expressed the dilemmas facing women (historical contexts change, but many things remain the same).
[[[You are quite incorrect in assuming that I have any emotional reaction to anime--and please note that my scorn was directed towards Miyazawi's witless little attempts at allegory.]]]
Hmmm, I seem to recall you taking shots at NGE as well; was I mistaken?
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