Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Faith III

      The only thing Blake really trusted was his own immediate direct vision, and he possessed his soul in varying degrees of patience until that vision clarified (and you may be sure that it was criticized, corrected and amended over and over again. The 'Felpham Moment' marks the decisive clarification of Blake's vision of God. Even then the Father remained for Blake a symbol of subjection to the other man's vision, of spiritual tyranny. His own vision came to center upon Jesus.

      Nobodaddy, Father of Jealousy, Urizen, all the creator and authority figures that filled the young Blake's mind, represented in essence his rejection of other men's images of God. The "Vision of Ahania" (4Z: chapter 3, 39.13ff) expressed Blake's dawning awareness of a fundamental spiritual truth: the transcendental image which had dominated institutional religion is most often a projection of man's primitive negativities. The ultimate negativities, repressed into the unconscious, irupt into consciousness as the ultimate positivity, a God built upon sand, a "shadow from his wearied intellect". This passage, probably as much as anything else in his experience, inspired Thomas Altizer in the sixties to launch his Death of God movement.

      Blake depreciated the God of Law and Wrath in order to exalt the God of Forgiveness. He believed that the far off, elusive, mysterious, transcendental image of God freezes man into spiritual immobility. He wanted to liberate men's minds from this imposture and put them in touch with the true source of creativity:

"Seek not thy heavenly father then beyond the skies, There Chaos dwells & ancient Night & Og & Anak old." (Milton 20:32) 

"I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend; Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me: Lo! we are One, forgiving all Evil, Not seeking recompense. Ye are my members....
      (Jerusalem 4:18-21)

      The prophetic poems which Blake wrote prior to 1800 concern his efforts to know, describe and deal with the old, jealous, wrathful, creator image; he finally dismissed it as a "shadow from his wearied intellect" (FZ3-40.3). The later, major prophecies, Milton and Jerusalem, also contain this theme, happily outweighed by the new vision. 

Prior to the Felpham Moment Blake had worshipped his own visionary endowment, his Pot on the Mantle; he called it the Poetic Genius and later the Imagination. The evolving figure of Los building Golgonooza personified what we might call a pre-Christian God. 

When grace fell upon Blake, he came to see the true embodiment of God in Jesus.  In a letter to his friend and patron, Thomas Butts, he described the experience of redemption that had come to him:

      "And now let me finish with assuring you that tho I have been very unhappy I am so no longer I am again Emerged into the light of Day I still & shall to Eternity Embrace Christianity and Adore him who is the Express image of God..."

Monday, July 30, 2012

BLAKE & DURER

Blake was fond of mentioning Albrecht Durer along with Michelangelo and Raphael as artists whom he admired.
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 529)
"Colouring does not depend on where the Colours are put, but
on where the lights and darks are put, and all depends on Form or
Out-line.  On where that is put; where that is wrong, the Colouring
never can be right; and it is always wrong in Titian and
Correggio, Rubens and Rembrandt.  Till we get rid of Titian and
Correggio, Rubens and Rembrandt, We never shall equal Rafael and
Albert Durer, Michael Angelo, and Julio Romano."
 
Durer's Melencolia I 
1514

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Blake thought so highly of Durer's engraving Melencolia I that he kept a print of it beside his workbench. Blake admired Durer's ability to use the defining line to delineate character in his designs. Blake's appreciation of Durer would not have been confined to his skill in producing engravings in which the lines were beautifully executed. That Durer produced symbolic pictures using a range of imagery which Blake incorporated in his poetry and graphic art, increased the value of Durer to Blake. 

Right click on picture and open in new window for detail.


Here is a quote from Jonathan Jones' 2002 article for the Guardian:
"The brightness of Dürer's sharp Renaissance drawing drags with it a melancholic medieval ghost. His eyes may be on the bright sights of Venice but his soul is in the northern woods. And it is in that realm of magic, the occult, apocalyptic fantasy and religious terror that Dürer finds images welling up into his brain. Melencolia is, for this artist, the condition of genius; it is what goes with thought and creativity. Only from long, lonely nights of febrile thinking - like Melencolia's - will anything new be created in the world. Out of his melancholy he brought forth miracles."

Annotations to Reynolds, page 71, (E 649)
" What does this mean "Would have been" one of the first
Painters of his Age" Albert Durer Is! Not would
have been! Besides. let them look at Gothic Figures & Gothic
Buildings, & not talk of Dark Ages or of Any Age! Ages are All
Equal.  But Genius is Always Above The Age"        
BLAKE'S CHAUCER: PROSPECTUSES, (E 567)
      "The Designer proposes to Engrave, in a correct and finished
Line manner of Engraving, similar to those original Copper Plates
of Albert Durer, Lucas, Hisben, Aldegrave and the old original
Engravers, who were great Masters in Painting and Designing,
whose method, alone, can delineate Character as it is in this
Picture, where all the Lineaments are distinct."       
Public Address, Page 62, (E 576)
     "I have heard many People say Give me the Ideas.  It is no
matter what Words you put them into & others say Give me the
Design it is no matter for the Execution.  These People know
Nothing Of Art.  Ideas cannot be Given
but in their minutely Appropriate Words nor Can a Design be made
without its minutely Appropriate Execution The unorganized
Blots & Blurs of Rubens & Titian are not Art nor can their Method
ever express Ideas or Imaginations any more than Popes
Metaphysical jargon of Rhyming Unappropriate Execution is the
Most nauseous affectation & foppery He who copies does
not Execute he only Imitates what is already Executed Execution
is only the result of Invention"

Blake saw in Durer an artist of genius who was open to inspiration. His ideas were original and penetrating and his images delineated the form which lay below the surface of precise execution.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Faith II

       Every child begins in eternity. Jesus said, "Except you become as little children...." 
Blake knew this better than anyone since Jesus, maybe anyone since Francis. 
He knew it because by a providential dispensation of grace the child in Blake remained alive throughout his life. 

At the age of 34 he wrote those beautiful 'Songs of Innocence', his "happy songs Every child may joy to hear". 'Songs of Innocence' hooked a great many people on Blake originally: transparent goodness transcribed into black type on white paper--somewhat beyond Locke's tabula rasa.

       If life were only like that. If Blake were only like that, he'd have an assured place as one of England's best loved poets, a beloved impractical idealist and a threat to no one. But in 'Songs of Experience' he began to express a more complex reality. 

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth 'represents a healthy beginning in working out the complexities. They have to be worked out, every minute particular in the corrosive burning flame of thought, etching away the surfaces, getting down to bedrock. 

Most of us have refused Blake and his Eternal because we don't want to be bothered with reality; we don't want to take the trouble. We're content with the little sub-realities that inform our lives and values, the simple half truths and prejudices which we call the real world.

       Blake wrote, etched, painted, sang his visions of Eternity throughout a long life time. This chapter systematizes his visions as they address and relate to the general constructs of Christian theology. That enterprise of course violates the spirit of his creative genius, which refused systematization. Nevertheless we systematize in the hope that a coherent picture of his faith may emerge and lead the faithful reader to an encounter with the original, organized in Blake's own inimitable style.

"that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them
and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one."
(John 17)
"Jesus is the only God, and so am I and so are you.
(Blake)
      The theologues of the forties and fifties learned from Paul Tillich that everyone has an ultimate concern, his God. People in Alcoholics Anonymous have told some of their theologically confused members that, lacking any better God, they may worship a 'pot on the mantle', anything at all to break that devotion to the bottle which is actually the worship of a lower form of the self. To remain sober one must believe in a Higher Power of some sort.
      The important thing is that one's Higher Power be not a projection of some lower form of self; that's idolatry. The person seriously interested in ultimate reality engages in a life long search for the most real image he can discover, the image of his God. A person's best image of God nurtures his spirit as he goes through life.
      The Bible contains a multiplicity of images of God. For example we read about the finger of God, the nostrils of God, even the backside of God. All his life Blake maintained a high level of respect for the Bible as vision. Nevertheless he refused to worship other men's visions of God: "I (you!) must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's (Jerusalem, 10.20; E153)". He's saying that we have a choice to adhere to the conventions (whatever conventions may be for us) or to create our own values from our own experience. Blake did this for a lifetime, creating his own myth of meaning, and with his creative works he expressed it over and over again.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

AGONY IN THE GARDEN

Luke 22
[39] And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
[40] And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
[41] And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
[42] Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
[43] And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
[44] And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
[45] And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
[46] And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
[47] And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.

Agony in the Garden
Art Resource
In Blake's image called 'Agony in the Garden' the two central figures, Jesus and the comforter, are in the light. The disciples who accompanied Jesus are barely visible in the surrounding shadows. The title of the picture aptly describes the state of mind of Jesus as he struggles to understand and accept the role he is to play in the redemption of humanity. But the figure reaching down to support Jesus is portrayed as equally central to the dynamic event. We may name this figure, who is in the human form although reaching out of a cloud and the source of radiating  energy and light, the Holy Spirit.

Many times Blake reiterated the theme that man is not alone in his situation no matter how bleak the circumstances look. God has made provisions for the return of man to the eternal condition of unity, forgiveness and brotherhood.


Four Zoas, Page 56, (E 338)
"And first he found the Limit of Opacity & namd it Satan
In Albions bosom for in every human bosom these limits stand
And next he found the Limit of Contraction & namd it Adam
While yet those beings were not born nor knew of good or Evil

Then wondrously the Starry Wheels felt the divine hand. Limit
Was put to Eternal Death
Los felt the Limit & saw
The Finger of God touch the Seventh furnace in terror
And Los beheld the hand of God over his furnaces
Beneath the Deeps in dismal Darkness beneath immensity
And he who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence;"



Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 213)
"Jesus replied. I am the Resurrection & the Life.
I Die & pass the limits of possibility, as it appears
To individual perception. Luvah must be Created                  
And Vala; for I cannot leave them in the gnawing Grave.
But will prepare a way for my banished-ones to return
Come now with me into the villages. walk thro all the cities.
Tho thou art taken to prison & judgment, starved in the streets
I will command the cloud to give thee food & the hard rock       
To flow with milk & wine, tho thou seest me not a season
Even a long season & a hard journey & a howling wilderness!
Tho Valas cloud hide thee & Luvahs fires follow thee!
Only believe & trust in me, Lo. I am always with thee!"
 
Jerusalem, Plate 82, (E 241)
"Los saw & was comforted at his Furnaces uttering thus his voice. 
I know I am Urthona keeper of the Gates of Heaven,
And that I can at will expatiate in the Gardens of bliss;
But pangs of love draw me down to my loins which are
Become a fountain of veiny pipes: O Albion! my brother!
Plate 83
Corruptibility appears upon thy limbs, and never more 
Can I arise and leave thy side, but labour here incessant
Till thy awaking! yet alas I shall forget Eternity!
Against the Patriarchal pomp and cruelty, labouring incessant
I shall become an Infant horror. Enion! Tharmas! friends      
Absorb me not in such dire grief: O Albion, my brother!
Jerusalem hungers in the desart! affection to her children!
The scorn'd and contemnd youthful girl, where shall she fly?
Sussex shuts up her Villages. Hants, Devon & Wilts
Surrounded with masses of stone in orderd forms, determine then 
A form for Vala and a form for Luvah, here on the Thames
Where the Victim nightly howls beneath the Druids knife:
A Form of Vegetation, nail them down on the stems of Mystery:
O when shall the Saxon return with the English his redeemed brother!
O when shall the Lamb of God descend among the Reprobate!"

Much of Blake's vision is the ability to recognize and understand the 'ways of God' as he provides the means that man may perceive his own Divine Humanity. For Blake the spirit is always reaching down and lifting up and becoming one with his beloved mankind.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Faith I



Everything that lives is holy (end of MHH)

             "...I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought, into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination."
(Jerusalem Plate 5: line 17ff)
      The most striking tenet of Blake's faith was his vision of the Eternal;
it was also his primary gift to mankind.
Blake lived in an age when the realm of spirit had virtually disappeared
from the intellectual horizon.
This single fact explains why he stood out like a sore thumb
in late 18th Century England and why for most of his contemporaries
he could never be more than an irritant, an eccentric, a madman;
their most common term of depreciation was 'enthusiast'.
His primary concern was a world whose existence they not only denied,
but held in derision.

       The task of the Enlightenment had been to emancipate man from 
superstition, and Voltaire, Gibbon, and their associates had done this with great distinction.
Blake was born emancipated, but he knew that closed off from vision,
from the individuality of genius, from the spontaneous spiritual dimension,
from what Jesus had called the kingdom of God,
mankind will regress to a level beneath the human.
In his prophetic writings Blake predicted 1940 and its aftermath.
Where there is no vision, the people perish.

       Blake was blessed with vision from his earliest days;
his visions were immediate and concrete.
He found the eternal inward worlds of thought more real
than the objective nature exalted by John Locke and Joshua Reynolds.
Their depreciation of vision, genius, the eternal never failed to infuriate Blake.
This fury strongly colored his work and often threatened to overwhelm it.
It also led to his deprecatory view of nature, which was their God.

       Blake perceived the five senses as "the chief inlets of Soul in this age"
 (MHH Plate 4)
The rationalists had imposed upon their world the view that life consists
exclusively of the five senses. Blake knew better:

       "How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?" (MHH Plate 7)

       Blake was keenly alive to another world, a world of vision, of imagination,
of God, which he called the eternal; it was a world that most of his contemporaries
had deliberately closed their minds to.
He spent his life furiously trying to strike off their mind forged manacles.

The man of faith believes some things; other things he knows by experience.
Blake had experienced the eternal from earliest childhood.
At times the vision clouded, but its reality remained
the one unshakeable tenet of his faith.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

BECOMES A WOMB






On a proof print for the frontispiece of Jerusalem, there is text which does not appear on other known copies. The reason Blake deleted the text before making further prints is not known. Erdman includes the deleted text in the Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake:
 
 
 
  
 
 Jerusalem, Plate 1, (E 144)
[Above the archway:]

"There is a Void, outside of Existence, which if enterd into
Englobes itself & becomes a Womb, such was Albions Couch
A pleasant Shadow of Repose calld Albions lovely Land

His Sublime & Pathos become Two Rocks fixd in the Earth
His Reason his Spectrous Power, covers them above                
Jerusalem his Emanation is a Stone laying beneath
O [Albion behold Pitying] behold the Vision of Albion 

[On right side of archway:]
"Half Friendship is the bitterest Enmity said Los
As he enterd the Door of Death for Albions sake Inspired
The long sufferings of God are not for ever there is a Judgment 

[On left side, in reversed writing:]
"Every Thing has its Vermin O Spectre of the Sleeping Dead!" 
 
Right click on image and select open in new window; click on image.
You will be able to read text.
 
From Fearful Symmetry by Northrop Frye:
"But as Milton and Jerusalem constitute a single epic, it is unlikely that any long interval separates the end of Milton from the beginning of Jerusalem. The same symbolism runs through both poems, the same methods ... Milton describes the attainment by the poet of the vision that Jerusalem expounds for all humanity." (Page 356)


Part of the text on Jerusalem's frontispiece is included in Milton as a question asked by Ololon:

Milton, Plate 41 [48], (E 143)
"Then trembled the Virgin Ololon & replyd in clouds of despair

Is this our Femin[in]e Portion the Six-fold Miltonic Female      
Terribly this Portion trembles before thee O awful Man
Altho' our Human Power can sustain the severe contentions
Of Friendship, our Sexual cannot: but flies into the Ulro.
Hence arose all our terrors in Eternity! & now remembrance
Returns upon us! are we Contraries O Milton, Thou & I            
O Immortal! how were we led to War the Wars of Death
Is this the Void Outside of Existence, which if enterd into

Plate 42 [49]                                      
Becomes a Womb? & is this the Death Couch of Albion
Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee

So saying, the Virgin divided Six-fold & with a shriek
Dolorous that ran thro all Creation a Double Six-fold Wonder!
Away from Ololon she divided & fled into the depths              
Of Miltons Shadow as a Dove upon the stormy Sea."

Ololon represents a potential for redemption provided by Eternity. Several of her forms are presented by Blake. When Milton goes to annihilation Ololon is transformed. As stated by Damon: "The Starry Eight become Jesus; Ololon's clouds are his wedding garment; and Jesus becomes one with mankind (42:19). The mystical union has been achieved, and Blake falls fainting on his garden path."

The text on the frontispiece of Jerusalem served as a link to Milton and as a preview to the tensions and themes which would be developed in Jerusalem. Apparently Blake decided to let the image speak for itself and deleted the text. But the single copy was not destroyed and it comes to us through many hands to be a puzzle for us to solve.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Introduction

all interpreters of Blake have their own viewpoint about his work:
       The graphically inclined of course tend to focus on that facet.
       Politically conscious students of Blake may likely come up with something like Prophet Against Empire.
       A specialist in literature might write something in the vein of Fearful Symmetry.
       Then we have biographers:
       and encylopedists.
       Spiritually minded folk may see something in Blake that the materially minded are apt to miss. John Middleton Murry's  William Blake belongs to the first group; his book had a great influence on the writing of Ram Horn'd with Gold.
**************************************************       

This website introduces Blake's thought with primary emphasis on its spiritual and psychological dimensions Recent Blake literature has come largely from secular interpreters. The religious community for the most part have totally ignored Blake. Nevertheless he was a profoundly spiritual man.       This introduction to Blake focuses on his spiritual life as expressed in his aesthetics, politics, and psychology.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

IMMORTAL LINES


Kathleen Raine's biography titled William Blake was published in 1970, two years after her masterwork, Blake and Tradition, which exhaustively connects Blake's thought with sources within the perennial philosophy. On Page 109 of the biography, Raine begins her exploration of the significance of line to Blake:  

"Line was, for Blake, above all an expression of energy. Every solid form can be seen as the imprint and product of a flow of energy, and it is certain that Blake saw line as energy, as the signature of life."


She continues with this quote from Blake's Exhibition and Catalogue of 1809 (E 550):

"  The great and golden rule of art, as well as of life, is
this: That the more distinct, sharp, [P 64] and wirey the
bounding line, the more perfect the work of art; and the less
keen and sharp, the greater is the evidence of weak imitation,
plagiarism, and bungling.  Great inventors, in all ages, knew
this: Protogenes and Apelles knew each other by this line.
Rafael and Michael Angelo, and Albert Durer, are known by this
and this alone.  The want of this determinate and bounding form
evidences the want of idea in the artist's mind, and the  
pretence of the plagiary in all its branches.  How do we 
distinguish the oak from the beech, the horse from the ox, but 
by the bounding outline? How do we distinguish one face or 
countenance from another, but by the bounding line and its 
infinite inflexions and movements? What is it that builds a house 
and plants a garden, but the definite and determinate? What is it 
that distinguishes honesty from knavery, but the hard and wirey 
line of rectitude and certainty [P 65] in the actions and 
intentions.  Leave out this l[i]ne and you leave out life itself; 
all is chaos again, and the line of the almighty must be drawn 
out upon it before man or beast can exist.

British Museum 
Young's Night Thoughts
Raine states on page 111:
"...For Blake , volume and weight belonged to the mechanistic concept of a natural world subject to the quantitative 'laws of nature' as these operate in time and space; the universe of 'Bacon, Newton and Locke', of the 'Satanic mills' of natural causality - to all that he himself opposed with all the energy of his prophetic mission. Against the mechanistic view of nature, product of the rational mind of Urizen, Blake proclaimed life. Life is non-spatial and non-temporal; gravity does not weigh it down, nor bulk contain it. There are, for Blake's human figures, essentially two conditions - the unconfined freedom of unimpeded energy; and the constricted, fettered, weighted and cramped state of the prisoners of Urizen's universe of mechanized nature. Michelangelo's prisoners, struggling from their rocky confinement, would have signified, for Blake, life freeing itself from the oppression of matter, like the figure of Earth in his own Gates of Paradise."    

In the Four Zoas we find this passage in which giving life and drawing a line are equated. The Spectres of the Dead are embodied as the living through the process of drawing the line. Los drew the line; Enitharmon breathed forth upon the wind. Blake was giving life or body to his images through applying his pen to paper or his graver to copper.   



Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 98, (E 370) 
"So Enitharmon spoke & Los his hands divine inspired began 
To modulate his fires studious the loud roaring flames
He vanquishd with the strength of Art bending their iron points
And drawing them forth delighted upon the winds of Golgonooza 
>From out the ranks of Urizens war & from the fiery lake
Of Orc bending down as the binder of the Sheaves follows   
The reaper in both arms embracing the furious raging flames
Los drew them forth out of the deeps planting his right foot firm
Upon the Iron crag of Urizen thence springing up aloft
Into the heavens of Enitharmon in a mighty circle

And first he drew a line upon the walls of shining heaven    
And Enitharmon tincturd it with beams of blushing love

It remaind permanent a lovely form inspird divinely human
Dividing into just proportions Los unwearied labourd
The immortal lines upon the heavens till with sighs of love
Sweet Enitharmon mild Entrancd breathd forth upon the wind   
The spectrous dead Weeping the Spectres viewd the immortal works
Of Los Assimilating to those forms Embodied & Lovely
In youth & beauty in the arms of Enitharmon mild reposing"

Blake amplifies this concept on the Laocoon Engraving (E 273):

"The Eternal Body of Man is The IMAGINATION.
          God himself  |
that is                |[Yeshua] JESUS We are his Members
        The Divine Body|

It manifests itself in his Works of Art (In Eternity All is
     Vision)"      

Monday, July 23, 2012

Plate Chapter One





Chapter One of Jerusalem


To understand Jerusalem is the summum bonum of every Blake scholar, but rarely achieved in the full.

Blake formally started Jerusalem in 1804 and (perhaps) finished it in 1818.
During his stay in Felpham under the tutelage of William Hayley the substance of Jerusalem and Milton was much in his mind.  Released from his uncreative relationship with Hayley he went full bore at his two prophetic works.

During his last decades he became more engrossed in the pictorial dimension than the textual one.  But Jerusalem is a happy marriage of both of them.

Chapter One is addressed to the public.
Chapter Two is addressed to the Jews.
Chapter Three is addressed to the Deists.
Chapter Four is addressed to the Christians.


Plate 1: the Frontspiece has little text, but considerable description of the Picture:

Plate 2 is the Title page.

Plate 3
is a kind of introduction including an appeal to Christ:
"The Spirit of Jesus is continual forgiveness of Sin"            

Plate 4
starts Chapter with more of the same.

Plate 5
is an initial description of fallenness (Ulro).

Plate 6
shows Los at his furnace looking up at the batlike spectre hovering above.

Plate 7
includes a conversation between Los and the Spectre.


Plate 8
continues the conversation between Los and the Spectre.

Plate 9
more Ulro.

Plate 10
Los: "I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Mans". 

Plate 11
Los labored mightily and created leading to 'exceeding joy"

Plate 12
Blake explains to us what he's doing and why.

Plate 13
introduces Golgonooza.

Plate 14
Los continues his work while Enitharmon weaves the 'garments'.

Plate 15

Chaos of Satan & the World of Adam


Plate 16

Bromion, Theotormon, Palamabron and Rintrah


Plate 17
His Spectre divides & Los in fury compells it to divide.

Plate 18
For Vala produc'd the Bodies. Jerusalem gave the Souls

Plate 19
This plate is an example of Albion's fundamental fallenness.

Plate 20
primarily a statement that Jerusalem made to Vala

Plate 21
primarily a statement that Jerusalem made to Vala

Plate 22
Vala and Jerusalem answer Albion

Plate 23
Dialogue between Albion and Jerusalem

Plate 24
a vivid contrast between the 'earthy' and eternal lives

This is a first draft; it will be expanded and improved as time permits.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

DIVINE FAMILY

British Museum
Illustrations to
Edward Young's Night Thoughts

Matthew 18
[1] At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
[2] And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
[3] And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
[4] Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
[5] And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.


Matthew 25
[38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
[39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
[40] And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


Jerusalem, Plate 34 [38], E 180)
"We live as One Man; for contracting our infinite senses
We behold multitude; or expanding: we behold as one,
As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man
We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him,        
Live in perfect harmony in Eden the land of life,
Giving, recieving, and forgiving each others trespasses.
He is the Good shepherd, he is the Lord and master:
He is the Shepherd of Albion, he is all in all,
In Eden: in the garden of God: and in heavenly Jerusalem.        
If we have offended, forgive us, take not vengeance against us."
 
Jerusalem, Plate 3, (E 145)
"I also hope the Reader will
be with me, wholly One in Jesus our Lord, who is the God [of
Fire] and Lord [of Love] to whom the Ancients
look'd and saw his day afar off, with trembling & amazement.
     The Spirit of Jesus is continual forgiveness of Sin: he who
waits to be righteous before he enters into the Saviours kingdom,
the Divine Body; will never enter there.  I am perhaps the most
sinful of men! I pretend not to holiness! yet I pretend to love,
to see, to converse with daily, as man with man, & the more to
have an interest in the Friend of Sinners.  Therefore
[Dear] Reader, [forgive] what you do not
approve, & [love] me for this energetic exertion of my
talent."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Plate 100

Plate 100 has no text. This is the 'curtain call' of Los, the central one of three figures.

  In Los' right hand he has the blacksmith's hammer and in his left the tongs. He's rightly proud of the work he's done creating Golgoloosa, a world transcending Ulro.
Erdman refers to 'compass-like tongs' including a redeemed Urizen in the work. The compass was the instrument of the fallen Urizen's false creation, but now (in Blake's Heaven) Urizen's creation was also redeemed. remember from Plate 97:
"the innumerable chariots of the Amighty appeared in Heaven
And Bacon, Newton, and Locke and Milton, Shakespeare, and Chaucer"


(Re Northrup Frye wrote on page 91 of Fearful Symmetry:
"All imaginative and creative acts, being eternal, go to build up a permanent structure, which Blake calls 'Golgonooza, above time, and when this structure is finished, nature, its scaffolding, will be knocked away and man will live in it. Golgonooza will then be the city of God, the New Jerusalem.")


To Los' right we see the Spectre; with his errors now gone he has the visage of an athlete about to throw the discus, or is it the solar globe that he carries day to day?

The first two pictures are in the light (the eternal light), but the one on the right (Enitharmon?) is of the world.  The 'world' contains the starry host and the moon and at the bottom a cracked stonehenge, while at the central bottom  the  figure shows a Druid temple in a perfect circle suitable to the City of Golgonoza.

(The picture has already been treated in Jerusalem Finale.)


Friday, July 20, 2012

DANTE'S SPHERES

Dante, Canto XXVII, Translated by A. S. Kline:
"So my Lady spoke, and said: ‘If you wish to be satisfied on this, take what I tell you, and wrap your mind around it.
      The earth-centred circles are wide or narrow, according to how much virtue spreads through their region. Greater excellence has power to work greater benefit: and greater benefit is conferred, by the largest sphere, if all parts of it are equally perfect. So the sphere, that sweeps with it all the rest of the universe, corresponds to the circle that loves and knows most. Therefore, if you take your measure from the virtue, not the appearance, of the substances which appear to you in these circles, you will see a marvellous correspondence between greater and more, smaller and less, between every Heaven and its angelic Intelligence.’"

I think that Blake would have agreed with the above statement by Dante's Lady. However the Correspondence that Blake saw in Dante's nine spheres led him to believe that Dante's God was the God of this World: the God who supported war, empire, vengeance and oppression.   

Another representation of a Urizenic God is on Plate 2, where a confused, disorganised cloven-footed God presides over sending Dante on his mission of exploring hell. Above the image on that plate Blake wrote: 'The Angry God of This World & his Throne in Purgatory'.

Blake's Plate 100 represents the idea that as the spheres grew closer to Dante's God they became progressively more rephensible. As Blake indicated on Plate 7, the center was occupied by a vacuum not a living God who interacted with his creation.

Martin Klonsky comments in Blake's Dante:
"In his illustration of the nine concentric circles of the celestial orders - Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels - whirling about the 'pure spark' of God, Blake reverted to the diagram he drew in Plate 7. Upon it he wrote 'Every thing in Dantes Comedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost .' Accordingly, at the bottom of the design he has depicted the world (or is it Purgatory?) as an island in the Sea of Time and Space. Above this 'Foundation', The celestial spheres appear as an 'image of infinite / shut up in finite revolutions' with 'Heaven a mighty circle turning, God a tyrant crown'd' (Europe 10: 21-23)." (Page 161)
Plate 100
The Deity, from whom Proceed the Nine Sphere

The Nine Spheres from Blake's Dante:
Reading bottom to top -

First - two Angels and moon
Second -
two male Archangels and Mercury
Third - two beauteous Principalities with Venus
Fourth - two matronly Powers with the sun
Fifth - two helmeted Virtues with Mars
Sixth - two statesmen as Dominions with Jupiter
Seventh - two weary Thrones and Saturn
Eighth - six young females in sphere of Cherubim or fixed stars

Ninth - labelled vacuum on Plate 7, in place of the Seraphim is Blake's representation of Urizen as a tired, feeble old man gesturing helplessly.




Continuing Klonsky's comment:
"The clouds drawn around the astronomical symbols henceforth become progressively thicker, indicating that the more elevated the spheres in Blake' inverse hierarchy, the more occluded they are spiritually."  

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
" Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God. 
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name   Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart. 
This was the Religion of the Pharisees who murderd Jesus.  Deism
is the same & ends in the same."      

Gates of Paradise, Keys to the Gates (E268)
"5    Blind in Fire with shield & spear 
     Two Horn'd Reasoning Cloven Fiction 
     In Doubt which is Self contradiction
     A dark Hermaphrodite We stood             
     Rational Truth Root of Evil & Good
     Round me flew the Flaming Sword
     Round her snowy Whirlwinds roard
     Freezing her Veil the Mundane Shell"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Plate 99


    '          PLATE 99                                                     
All Human Forms identified even Tree Metal Earth & Stone. all
Human Forms identified, living going forth & returning wearied
Into the Planetary lives of Years Months Days & Hours reposing
And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality.

And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem

                 The End of The Song
                    of Jerusalem
(Erdman 258-9)
Plate 99
For another image look at Blake Archives


Notes:

Plate 96 showed the embrace of an old man named Albion with England.
It was said to be  ‘in pity and mercy’.  This Plate between Albion and Jerusalem is made ‘in joy and giving’ (Erdman Illuminated p. 378)

Albion is wearing what is said to be a round traveler’s hat.

The picture is filled with flames, the same flames that “one like a Son of Man” (in Daniel) walked through with the three prophets.

This fire became “Fountains of Living Waters” (from Plate 96).

Although the young person is said to be Jerusalem, the picture is also expressive of the Prodigal Son and his father, united when he “came to himself”. When we ‘come to ourselves’, we leave the world and enter Paradise. 

(Copy E in Works seems to make both people male, which brings up the suggestion that in Eternity all of us are ‘male’.)
  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Plate 12


From the former plate:
But when the joy of meeting was exhausted in loving embrace;
........

PLATE 12
Why wilt thou give to her a Body whose life is but a Shade?.
Her joy and love, a shade: a shade of sweet repose:
But animated and vegetated, she is a devouring worm:
What shall we do for thee O lovely mild Jerusalem?

And Los said. I behold the finger of God in terrors!        
Albion is dead! his Emanation is divided from him!
But I am living! yet I feel my Emanation also dividing
Such thing was never known! O pity me, thou all-piteous-one!
What shall I do! or how exist, divided from Enitharmon?
Yet why despair! I saw the finger of God go forth             
Upon my Furnaces, from within the Wheels of Albions Sons:
Fixing their Systems, permanent: by mathematic power
Giving a body to Falshood that it may be cast off for ever.
With Demonstrative Science piercing Apollyon with his own bow!
God is within, & without! he is even in the depths of Hell!   

Such were the lamentations of the Labourers in the Furnaces!

And they appeard within & without incircling on both sides
The Starry Wheels of Albions Sons, with Spaces for Jerusalem:
And for Vala the shadow of Jerusalem: the ever mourning shade:
On both sides, within & without beaming gloriously!           

Terrified at the sublime Wonder, Los stood before his Furnaces.
And they stood around, terrified with admiration at Erins Spaces
For the Spaces reachd from the starry heighth, to the starry
    depth;
And they builded Golgonooza: terrible eternal labour!

What are those golden builders doing? where was the burying-place
Of soft Ethinthus? near Tyburns fatal Tree? is that
Mild Zions hills most ancient promontory; near mournful
Ever weeping Paddington? is that Calvary and Golgotha?
Becoming a building of pity and compassion? Lo!
The stones are pity, and the bricks, well wrought affections:
Enameld with love & kindness, & the tiles engraven gold
Labour of merciful hands: the beams & rafters are forgiveness:
The mortar & cement of the work, tears of honesty: the nails,
And the screws & iron braces, are well wrought blandishments,
And well contrived words, firm fixing, never forgotten,      
Always comforting the remembrance: the floors, humility,
The cielings, devotion: the hearths, thanksgiving:
Prepare the furniture O Lambeth in thy pitying looms!
The curtains, woven tears & sighs, wrought into lovely forms
For comfort. there the secret furniture of Jerusalems chamber
Is wrought: Lambeth! the Bride the Lambs Wife loveth thee:
Thou art one with her & knowest not of self in thy supreme joy.

Go on, builders in hope: tho Jerusalem wanders far away,
Without the gate of Los: among the dark Satanic wheels.

Fourfold the Sons of Los in their divisions: and fourfold,    
The great City of Golgonooza: fourfold toward the north
And toward the south fourfold, & fourfold toward the east & west
Each within other toward the four points: that toward
Eden, and that toward the World of Generation,
And that toward Beulah, and that toward Ulro:                 
Ulro is the space of the terrible starry wheels of Albions sons:
But that toward Eden is walled up, till time of renovation:
Yet it is perfect in its building, ornaments & perfection.

And the Four Points are thus beheld in Great Eternity
West, the Circumference: South, the Zenith: North,            
The Nadir: East, the Center, unapproachable for ever.
These are the four Faces towards the Four Worlds of Humanity
In every Man. Ezekiel saw them by Chebars flood.
And the Eyes are the South, and the Nostrils are the East.
And the Tongue is the West, and the Ear is the North.         

And the North Gate of Golgonooza toward Generation;
Has four sculpturd Bulls terrible before the Gate of iron.
And iron, the Bulls: and that which looks toward Ulro,
Clay bak'd & enamel'd, eternal glowing as four furnaces:
Turning upon the Wheels of Albions sons with enormous power.  
And that toward Beulah four, gold, silver, brass, & iron:
(Erdman 155-6)
Plate 12

Notes:

After happy Plate 11 the daughters of Albion ask:
Why wilt thou give to her a Body whose life is but a Shade?.
That may well be the question of many students of Blake; the
labor of Los and Enitharmon does not seem creative; in Eternity
we don’t need physical bodies. If we started in Heaven, why go
down to physical bodies?

Los expresses dismay that Albion is divided from his emanation
and that he is divided also.  That’s a step down from what he once was!
But he has seen the finger of God in his furnaces (where bodies were
made). Los was obedient; God had told him to produce bodies from innocent babes.


(Here Los speaks for Blake himself; no doubt people had expressed misgiving at
what he was doing.)
God is within, & without! he is even in the depths of Hell!   
Such were the lamentations of the Labourers in the Furnaces!


(Blake understood what the Son of God had done.  He didn’t mind
going down into Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace to taught to Daniels
condemned friends.)

Erins Spaces refers to the happy Plate 11.
And they builded Golgonooza: terrible eternal labour!

Blake had seen Calvary and Golgotha right in his backyard.

DANTE'S CIRCLES

Note: For clearer view of image, right click on image, select open link in new window, click on image for enlargement.

These are the Dante's circles of hell in descending order as indicated in the Wikipedia website.
First Circle - Limbo
Second Circle - Lust
Third Circle - Gluttony
Forth Circle - Greed
Fifth Circle - Anger
Sixth Circle - Heresy
Seventh Circle - Violence
Eighth Circle - Fraud
Ninth Circle - Treachery

In the British Museum is a pencil sketch which is said to be Blake's diagram of Dante's Hell-Circles.

Martin Klonsky, in Blake's Dante, remarks on page 142:

"This drawing has been given no canto number, but it is evidently meant to illustrate Canto XI. At the beginning of this canto Dante and Virgil are compelled to pause on the brink of the seventh circle because of the overpowering stench arising from the abyss (lines 10-15). Virgil uses the occasion to explain the kinds and degrees of torment inflicted upon the sinners in the three remaining circles. His rationale follows Cicero's in distinguishing between sins committed as a result of human frailty and sins that are willed, but it is based chiefly on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Physics." 
British Museum
Plate 22: Diagram for Hell-Circles
Dante, Plate 101
Here is the text written by Blake as scholars have made out the indistinct writing (E 690): 
 
"This is Upside Down When viewd from Hells Gate But right When Viewd from Purgatory after they have passed the Center In Equivocal Worlds Up & Down are Equivocal Limbo 

9 Lucifer Containing 9 Rounds 
8 Geryon Malebolge Containing 10 Gulphs 
7 Centaurs Most likely Dante describes the 7 8 & 9 Circles  in Canto XI v 18 3 Compartments Dante calls them Cerchietti 
6 Minotaur The City of Dis seems to occupy the Space between the Fifth & Sixth Circles or perhaps it occupies both Circles with its Environs 
5 City of Dis furies & Queen of Endless Woe Lesser Circle Point of the Universe Canto Eleventh line 68 
4 Plutus & Phlegyas 3 
Cerberus 
2 Minos 
1 Charon  

It seems as if Dantes supreme Good was something Superior to the Father or Jesus if he gives his rain to the Evil & the Good & his Sun to the just & the Unjust He could never have Builded Dantes Hell nor the Hell of the Bible neither in the way our Parsons explain it It must have been originally Formed by the Devil Himself & So I understand it to have been Whatever Book is for Vengeance for Sin & whatever Book is Against the Forgiveness of Sins is not of the Father but of Satan the Accuser & Father of Hell"  

Blake is emphatically unwilling to follow the system of Aristotle, Cicero or Dante. 

The God of Jesus is not the accuser and punisher of sin but the forgiver. 
 Satan creates sin, laws and punishments to serve his own purposes. 

   Milton, Plate 9, (E 103)
"For Satan flaming with Rintrahs fury hidden beneath his own mildness
Accus'd Palamabron before the Assembly of ingratitude! of malice:
He created Seven deadly Sins drawing out his infernal scroll,
Of Moral laws and cruel punishments upon the clouds of Jehovah
To pervert the Divine voice in its entrance to the earth
With thunder of war & trumpets sound, with armies of disease
Punisbments & deaths musterd & number'd; 
    Saying I am God alone   
There is no other! let all obey my principles of moral individuality
I have brought them from the uppermost innermost recesses
Of my Eternal Mind, transgressors I will rend off for ever,
As now I rend this accursed Family from my covering."
Enitharmon 'Created a New Space to protect Satan from punishment'. 
Even Satan is not to be the object of vengeance. 

Milton, Plate 13 [14], (E 106)
"Now Leutha ceas'd: tears flow'd: but the Divine Pity), supported her.

All is my fault! We are the Spectre of Luvah the murderer.
Of Albion: O Vala! O Luvah! O Albion! O lovely Jerusalem

The Sin was begun in Eternity, and will not rest to Eternity     
Till two Eternitys meet together, Ah! lost! lost! lost! for ever!

So Leutha spoke. But when she saw that Enitharmon had
Created a New Space to protect Satan from punishment;
She fled to Enitharmons Tent & hid herself." 
 Saving those who have sinned and keeping them from sin through 
love is accomplished through the creation of states. 

Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
"And the Divine voice came from the Furnaces, as multitudes without
Number! the voices of the innumerable multitudes of Eternity.
And the appearance of a Man was seen in the Furnaces;            
Saving those who have sinned from the punishment of the Law,
(In pity of the punisher whose state is eternal death,)
And keeping them from Sin by the mild counsels of his love.

Albion goes to Eternal Death: In Me all Eternity.
Must pass thro' condemnation, and awake beyond the Grave!
No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death
To every energy of man, and forbid the springs of life;
Albion hath enterd the State Satan! Be permanent O State!
And be thou for ever accursed! that Albion may arise again:
And be thou created into a State! I go forth to Create           
States: to deliver Individuals evermore! Amen.

So spoke the voice from the Furnaces, descending into Non-Entity
[To Govern the Evil by Good: and States abolish
     Systems.]"

The cycle of vengeance must be broken to arrest the fall into the abyss. 

Jerusalem, Plate 45 [31], (E 194)
"And he who takes vengeance alone is the criminal of Providence;
If I should dare to lay my finger on a grain of sand
In way of vengeance; I punish the already punishd: O whom
Should I pity if I pity not the sinner who is gone astray!       
O Albion, if thou takest vengeance; if thou revengest thy wrongs
Thou art for ever lost! What can I do to hinder the Sons
Of Albion from taking vengeance? or how shall I them perswade.
So spoke Los, travelling thro darkness & horrid solitude:"

Forgiveness is the mercy which reverses the direction in which
the wheels are turning.

Jerusalem, Plate 22, (E 168)
"Why should Punishment Weave the Veil with Iron Wheels of War
When Forgiveness might it Weave with Wings of Cherubim"