Cable 1995

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Cable, Lana. Carnal Rhetoric: Milton's Iconoclasm and the Poetics of Desire. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.

Milton is "perpetually contriving with language to invent Truth while at the same time demonstrating that Truth lies ever beyond the powers of mortal invention" (4)

  • "creative truth-seeking as necessarily, and by definition, an iconoclastic activity" (4)
"Through the ruling metaphor of the book that is our life, the iconoclastic activity of Areopagitica's imagery provides a model for the individual imaginative progressivism that is required for our own independent self-authorship." (7)

"The Image of God in the Eye: Areopagitica's Truth

search for truth -- "this activity is a transformative and re-creative impetus that depends on affective indeterminacy, that anarchic element in the imaginative process that links writer to reader through metaphor's iconoclasm." (118)

  • truth as process and activity rather than objective that can be had/found
"To use images rightly is to have recourse to them, not depend on them. Should we depend on Areopagitica's images, expecting analysis of the images themselves to yield light, they will disappoint us. As instruments of analysis, they serve the flow of ideas about truth; their presence makes no guarantee for a truth of their own." (124)
"The books-as-nourishment metaphor in and of itself neither provides insight nor offers answers. Rather, it facilitates an exploratory and analytical process that requires us ultimately to make our own determinations regarding food for the mind." (125)
"To institutionalize truth is to contradict the vital principle on which he believes truth depends; it is to nail truth down, to convert it into a mere sign of itself, like a crucifix" (134)
"The society of readers and writers that Milton envisions in his portrait of London is markedly a collective of individuals. These are individuals engaged in the common eterprise of reform, but they are necessarily sequestered in their activities, separated fro mone another by the processes they are engaged in, processes which must be carried out, not in public, but in the private arena of the imagination." (135)
"the materials of reading and writing in Areopagitica reach infinitely beyond such accidental effects as books, pen, and paper." (136) -- i.e., beyond material effects -- "Integral to the tract's argumentative process is the evolution 'books' into a metaphor for the entire spectrum of sensory experience -- the same spectrum that conventional metaphor theory, as I suggested at the beginning of this study, has erroneously neglected. Areopagitica's imagerial reconfiguration of 'books' enacst the sensory inclusiveness of iconoclastic metaphor theory in such a way as to claim for carnal rhetoric not just the written word but every form of imaginative expression. Finally, as it breaks down the barriers between ideas and their manifestations, between words and things, the carnal rhetoric of Areopagitica invests not books but the individual imagination with a primacy that it would be unwilling to accord either ideology or any other reified form of the idea, regardless of how it might be manifested to the senses." (136)
"Through our reasoned choices and our imaginative responses to "what ever thing we hear or see," we not only read but simultaneously write the lively text of our being." (137)
"the underlying thesis of the tract: As our daily lives are the books that we read, we ourselves are the books that we write." (137)

complex richness of sensory experience doesn't allow one sense to be isolated (138-9)

"Areopagitica's image constructs work to liberate, rather than prescribe to, individual imagination." (140)