Friday, February 13, 2009

"an uncultured fop, a boob, an imbecile!!!"

An Honest-to-God Fop
Colley Cibber as Lord Foppington
(Image from Wikipedia)

Some mornings bring us a gift. This morning, mine arrived in the comments section of a blog entry from two years ago: "Milton Inciting Violence?"

In that blog entry, I ask, "Should we ban Milton's Paradise Lost?"

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am utterly serious about this. At the time, I was reporting on a pipebomb terrorist who called himself "The Bishop" and made threats in at least one 2006 letter that he concluded with the line: "IT IS BETTER TO REIGN IN HELL, THAN TO SERVE IN HEAVEN." This statement has "John Milton" written all over it, though I grant that one has to be a scholar like me to recognize this obscure fact. Indeed, were he not some 335 years dead, I'd suspect Milton himself as the culprit.

Anyway, the quote is quite enough. Milton himself is implicated in these terrorist acts, and his epic poem Paradise Lost should be banned. Why just a few blog entries back, I cited Milton himself on the necessity of banning books that have evil effects:
I'm no expert on Areopagitica, which is usually cited by defenders of free speech, but I find intriguing that Milton does not deny the right to control 'speech':
I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how Bookes demeane themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors....
And he gives as reason: "For Books are not absolutely dead things."
So far as I can see, we have an absolute right to ban Paradise Lost, for it has motivated "The Bishop" to his terrorist actions.

Not everyone agrees with me, as the comments section to that two-year-old blog entry demonstrates:
this is absolutely ridiculous!!! this is the same scenario as the gun laws and various other suggestions that we should ban useful things... this is a F**KING BOOK!!!!!! and a good one at that! some guy got mad and shot some one else.. now the gun laws, some a** hole knocked over some ones mail box with a bat . . . outlaw all bats! some kid hit some other kid with a metal lunch box now they cant have those any more!!! dont you see!? its the people who interpret their own actions, not the objects . . . you can show a crazy man a picture of a house and he will go and set one on fire. why? well because hes crazy and its what he interprets the picture as depicting! who ever wrote this article is an uncultured fop, a boob, an imbecile!!! your words fall on def ears. milton inciting violence!! HA, we should all hope! maybe people who actually read the materiel and comprehend ist meaning and message for the time it was written will incite violence on who ever published this article! i bet your the same f**k thats trying to take music out of school!? "Oh, we cant have that! Its the devils tool!" you puritan c**ts!
I had to re-read this comment several times, for I initially found it contradictory. Generally, the anonymous writer sounded angry at my views, but he sometimes appeared to be agreeing with me on the necessity of outlawing things that incite violence: "some a** hole knocked over some ones mail box with a bat . . . outlaw all bats!" I agree with this statement -- and would add that we ought also to outlaw mailboxes, especially the rural ones with their foppish little red flags inciting testosterone-ridden teenagers to charge them like a red cape incites a bull (and, by the bye, red capes should also be outlawed). But after a few re-readings, I began to realize that my anonymous friend was being ironic. In fact, the statements were very close to sarcasm, so I suppose that I should have caught the tone immediately . . . as, for example, when Anonymous called me "an uncultured fop, a boob, an imbecile!!!"

Seventeen minutes later, Anonymous had more to say to me:
and further more its is quite obvious this pretend bomber villain is an idiot!!! very poor spelling and a plagiarist!!! hes just a moron with a grudge and your going to blame milton!? please! absolutely preposterous!!!! oh, and for the record for you bible thumping, holly rolling, puritan, holier than thou f**ks can sit on the fact that it WILL be better to rein in hell than to serve eternity away to a god that is so selfish and closed minded...

promote free thinking...

free thinkers do NOT make good slaves especially to a god that is so eager to have them....
Again, I find points of agreement with Anonymous, and I don't think that he's being ironic this time when he says "that it WILL be better to rein in hell." I, too, am all for reining in Hell. The place is disorderly and ought to be reined in. We could start by outlawing some of the incitements to violence down there. I believe that there are pitchforks, supposedly used for tossing pitch onto the flames (hence the name "pitchfork"), but a pitchfork is obviously unfit for the task (wouldn't shovels work better?) and surely has no function other than to torment the damned. We could rein in some of Hell's violence by outlawing pitchforks. I could go on, but you see my point.

In another follow-up comment, after five long minutes of intensive research, Anonymous began to understand me better:
after reading up a bit on who you are Gypsy Scholar i retract my statement on you being "and uncultured fop"... but your theory is still bogus . . . just like your god.
My professional credentials have finally stood me in good stead. Thank Berkeley for giving me its street-cred reputation! And thank Anonymous for his generous gift in recognizing my borrowed street-cred. Gifts do go around, and spread cred as they circulate (cf. Marcel Mauss). But still not quite cred enough to fully convince Anonymous, who continues to reject my 'theory' as 'bogus'. I suppose that he means to say that he still opposes my argument that Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost ought to be banned.

Well, I guess that I can't convince everyone, though I hate to miss out on the support of a stallwart fellow like Anonymous, whose vigorous language would certainly prove useful if he were, like me, working to perfect this fallen world.

Meanwhile, I'll continue tilting the windmills of my mind as I call on my partron saint, Don Quixote, that great knight beatified for ultimately recognizing the danger of unregulated books.

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23 Comments:

At 7:14 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

A delightful post, Jeffery. How you can create such toothsome confections at five in the morning is quite beyond me.

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, in this instance, Malcolm, I had the wonderful assistance of Mr. Anonymous, whom I gratefully thank.

Besides, such a blog entry as this morning's "toothesome confection" is the most satisfying way to deal with such anonymous comments, or so I've found.

How can I do this at five in the morning? It's like that old joke.

A man says: "Doctor, every morning, I get up and for thirty minutes, I feel dizzy. What should I do?"

The doctor replies: "Get up thirty minutes later."

Except in my case, the prescription is just the opposite: "Get up even earlier."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone wondering, I am not the anonymous author of the response of "Man of many asterisks."
Cran

 
At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nb.

And, favorite Nephew, I do not consider you in any way "uncultured," and even though you sometimes make (shall we say..."hurtful digs?") at your poor, crippled uncle's writing endeavors, you are still on my list.
Cram

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Ah, Uncle . . . uh, 'Cram', you have finally re-emerged from the woodwork only to -- once again -- cram your words down our collective throats.

As for your being Mr. Anonymous, I confess that the suspicion never occurred to me . . . until now, and methinks thou dost protest too much, Uncle 'Cram'.

You are, after all, a man of many names . . . though like Mr. Anonymous, you also post your comments under "Anonymous."

Mere coincidence? I think not.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:39 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

Oh my. Laughing still...

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger tomasball said...

I recall a letter to the editor at Baylor decades ago, to which you...I think it was you...wrote a concise reply: "Idiot! Dolt! Fool!"

 
At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beloved Jeffery:

Your other favorite uncle Woodrow did a lot of work for an elderly fellow for years, and would never take any money, since the jobs were usually minor and seldom took much time. But the old fellow would always say, "Woodrow, you're on my list!"
Eventually the man passed on to his reward. The man's family, who never checked on him, came and took all his property and money for themselves, never offering to reimburse Woodrow for his work.
Woodrow told his wife Pauline, "Well, now I know what list I was on.
And rest assured, nephew, you are on my list also.
Cran

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Written Wyrdd, thanks. I do try.

By the way, had you noticed that your name is written weird?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Tom, I've always feared that somebody would one day bring that up.

Ah, the follies of youth, which I've ever regretted. I would apologize to the fellow if I were to meet him. His letter was actually moderate and rational. I was just trying to be funny . . . without success.

At least I was concise.

By the way, what are you doing here? Are you a lurker?

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Why, thank you Uncle 'Cram'. That's right thoughtful of you.

And I can assure you that you need not concern yourself about me, for I am on many such lists.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 11:04 PM, Blogger Tom Ball said...

Actually, as I recall, the fellow quite had it coming, having completely missed the point of a very clever earlier letter by some forgotten third party, and mistakenly railing against biting satire he took for hatemongering.

Lurking? I didn't know that was really possible on someone else's blog. Is it a function of how often I post criticisms? Actually I religiously follow all the Korean-expat-Miltonian blogs out there.

 
At 4:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To fellow bloggers:

Nephew Jeffery and I are actually on good terms.

Our good natured zingers at one another have been misunderstood on occasion, and fellow bloggers will take issue and defend one of the other of us.

As Jeffery says, "Friends, h...l, we are relatives, I can pick my friends." (Notice I used periods, not asterisks, hence eliminating myself from the mysterious author of the blog).

I portray myself as the senile, bumbling, crippled, pathetic uncle, and Jeffery portrays himself as the self-important, erudite, cynical and all knowing scholar.
Both of us know that neither portrayal is totally accurate, and there is the distinct possibility that the descriptions could be reversed quite easily. Except the titles "Uncle and Nephew." He will always be one of my favorite nephews.
This is all done to obfuscate the uninitiated, and any comment by nephew Jeffery will simply confirm my previous statements.
Cran

 
At 7:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Tom, I'm glad to hear that you remember the exchange of letters to the editor that way, for it helps to exculpate me . . . but I think that I am more blameworthy than you recall.

I am, by the way, amazed to hear that you "religiously follow all the Korean-expat-Miltonian blogs" over here, for there must be so many to keep up with!

Thanks for lurking.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 7:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, thanks for clarifying things for any newcomers . . . and for oldtimers like me:

"Jeffery portrays himself as the self-important, erudite, cynical and all knowing scholar."

I wasn't even aware that I was doing that! I guess that I must be a natural.

As for Mr. Anonymous, he didn't use any asterisks either. I had to supply those for him. Otherwise, his comments would have been unprintable (and did get him deleted on that two-year-old blog entry).

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may have missed "the descriptions could be reversed quite easily."
Actually, I am very proud of my humble, even if quite erudite and widely versed nephew.
And also, please note the phrase, "and any comment by nephew Jeffery will simply confirm my previous statements."
I leave that for anyone reading this to decipher.
Cran

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, I've certainly proven that I'm not all-knowing...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

"had you noticed that your name is written weird"

Why, no, not a clue! Actually there's a long story I won't bore you with, but it's basically due to my writing science fiction and fantasy, which is sort of weird.

 
At 11:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The word "weird" is apt with respect to sci-fi, for etymologically, it refers to the future, meant "fate" even in early modern English, and has a cognate in the German word "werden."

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger MKM said...

I'm for reining in hell too! And raining as well. They could do with some rain down there.

This post made me laugh a lot - thanks!

~Melissa

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Melissa, I quite agree. Rain is needed. Hell, it could use an ice storm or two, for that matter!

If Hell does get any precipitation, I hope that somebody sends pictures.

Like this one...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger Al-Ozarka said...

"Nephew Jeffery and I are actually on good terms." - Cran

LOL!

I got yer back, Cran! When cuz Bill comes around and they gang-up on you...give me a holler!

 
At 6:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the warning, Daddio. Cousin Bill and I will now be well-prepared.

Jeffery Hodges

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