4.27.2011

Promiscuous Reading


At a time where censorship kept any juicy readings from the English, Milton was the first to take a stand for the freedom of press and thought. Can you imagine passing all writing through just 5 men who determined if it was pure enough for the public to read? Milton used Aeropagitica to argue the need for "bad" writings, knowing they would only better the good through trial and variety. 

Perhaps the only piece I have enjoyed thus far of Milton's, Aeropagitica is his plea for passionate reading and writing by everyone. He states "when a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him...he is no idiot or seducer; it cannot be but a dishonor and derogation to the author, to the book, to the privilege and dignity of learning." Although arguable for some writers today, Milton is right. Writers don't just write a book and throw it out to the public without revision or reason. And even though there are so many writers and books in today's society, I still believe each author is attached enough to their own work that they don't want to see it fail. We all put in honest and deliberative effort. Milton was most upset that the English government assumed writers were mindless and thus needed to be led  by the hand. Writers are knowledgeable. Books are final products. 

Its hard enough for a writer to get over publishing rejection in our current society. Imagine being told your writing was completely meaningless, not just a bad fit for the agency. Luckily Milton believed in humanism and the ability to improve through literature. Books provide "knowledge and survey of vice," and they implement new ideas and reflections. Finally Milton, I get you.

"And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read."