1. souse, n.5: 3. A drunkard. slang (chiefly U.S.). (OED)
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Disharmony of the Spheres

Stanley Fish has an op-ed today, which he compares the rhetoric of McCain and Obama to two surprising antecedents:

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that McCain is the devil or that Obama is the Messiah (although some of his supporters think of him that way), just that the rhetorical strategies the two literary figures employ match up with the strategies employed by the two candidates. What Satan wants to do is draw Jesus out, provoke him to an unwisely exasperated response, get him to claim too much for his own powers. What Jesus does is reply with an equanimity conveyed by the adjectives and adverbs that preface his words: “unaltered,” “temperately,” “patiently,” “calmly,” “unmoved,” “sagely,” “in brief.”

Of course, he's not going to the original source here; he's drawing from Milton's Paradise Regained. But the famous Milton scholar doesn't say so. I wonder why not? Maybe he thinks those who know him will know this, or perhaps he figures that it broadens the demographic accessibility of his point. But how often do you have the opportunity to plug Milton in the NYTimes? I would think this grounds for expulsion from the Secret Milton Society.

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