Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HUMAN IMAGINATION

Kathleen Raine's segment in the book Jungian Literary Criticism edited by Richard P. Sugg, was written as she looked back on a long and productive life of studying and writing. She acknowledges that her study of Blake was enhanced by the insights developed by Jung's psychology. Her chapter, beginning on Page 167, points out several similarities between the thought of Blake and Jung. As a Blake scholar she titles her article: C. G. Jung: A Debt Acknowledged.

Raine:
Illustrations to Poems of Thomas Gray
"In  retrospect I realize that the shortcoming of my own work on Blake - the tracing of the many sources within the excluded tradition which I have called "the learning of the Imagination" - was that which is inherent in all modern scholarship I did not experience and explore that world imaginatively, as Blake did, and as Jung did, but in terms of academic 'history of ideas' and 'sources' and 'influences': in exploring the writings of Jakob Boehme, the Neoplatonists, alchemists, and the rest, I didn't enter those regions of the imagination as these were inhabited and explored by cabbalists, mystics, and visionaries themselves. True, I wrote of these with the assumption that their view of reality was really the truth itself, not an old cosmology superseded by modern science. These were regions of knowledge likely to be rediscovered with the change of premises now taking place in the West, belatedly and uneasily awakening from three centuries of domination by materialist ideologies. I was even impassioned in my advocacy of the universe of thought opening before me with every volume I studied in those happy days in the North Library, but I made little effort to live my thought. Certainly I made interesting and useful discoveries of some of Blake's sources - mainly Neoplatonic - and insofar as I did, uncovered affinities with regions of experience - I will not say 'schools of thought,' for the affinities are of a deeper and a different kind from what is comprised under the term 'history of ideas' - neglected by orthodoxy.
...
In such inner explorations I was only intermittently and superficially engaged. But Jung understood 'knowledge' - as Boehme and Blake and all mystics, cabbalists, Gnostics, holy men, and indeed true poets and musicians, and all who enter into the realms of the imagination - as the thing itself and not book-learning about those living regions. Jung placed in our hands the key that leads into Blake's 'bosom of God, the Human Imagination.' But many continue to read books and to write them about these realities rather than confronting them and themselves venturing into those regions that Jung, like Blake, invites us to explore. My own work on 'sources' and affinities, whatever its value to students, was no more than a signpost to those seeking that reality itself.
...
The transforming influence on Western Civilization of Christendom has been wonderful indeed, and the flowering of the arts that accompanied the Christian vision testifies to the reality of the vision itself. But being myself in my eightieth year, neither 'art or 'religion' any longer concerns me as ends in themselves but, like the images of dreams, I see them as traces of the passage of the sacred reality itself - of 'Thought's eternal flight.' [Shelley]
Page 176

Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147)
"Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me.
Yet they forgive my wanderings, 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        
O Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love:
Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life!
Guide thou my hand which trembles exceedingly upon the rock of ages,
While I write of the building of Golgonooza, & of the terrors of Entuthon:
Of Hand & Hyle & Coban, of Kwantok, Peachey, Brereton, Slayd & Hutton:
Of the terrible sons & daughters of Albion. and their Generations."

Jerusalem, Plate 98, (E 258)
"every Word & Every Character
Was Human according to the Expansion or Contraction, the Translucence or
Opakeness of Nervous fibres such was the variation of Time & Space
Which vary according as the Organs of Perception vary & they walked
To & fro in Eternity as One Man reflecting each in each & clearly seen
And seeing: according to fitness & order. And I heard Jehovah speak 
Terrific from his Holy Place & saw the Words of the Mutual Covenant Divine
On Chariots of gold & jewels with Living Creatures starry & flaming
With every Colour, Lion, Tyger, Horse, Elephant, Eagle Dove, Fly, Worm,
And the all wondrous Serpent clothed in gems & rich array Humanize
In the Forgiveness of Sins according to the Covenant of Jehovah."

Vision of Last Judgment,(E 560)
"If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his
Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his
Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or
into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these
Images of wonder which always intreats him to leave mortal things
as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he
meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy"  
With Illustrations to Gray's Poems, (E 483)  
"To Mrs Ann Flaxman                    
A little Flower grew in a lonely Vale
Its form was lovely but its colours. pale
One standing in the Porches of the Sun
When his Meridian Glories were begun
Leapd from the steps of fire & on the grass      
Alighted where this little flower was
With hands divine he movd the gentle Sod
And took the Flower up in its native Clod
Then planting it upon a Mountains brow
'Tis your own fault if you dont flourish now     

                           WILLIAM BLAKE" 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Notes 7

The meaning of the word 'pity' has changed radically from Blake's day. 
It was much closer to compassion than it is in our day.

According to the Blake Concordance the word is mentioned 178 times in 
Blake's Complete Works. But the poem that best defines the meaning that 
pity had for him is The Divine Image from Songs of Innocence.
.
In Plate 7 of Blake's Milton we read about the "three classes of mortal men": 
the elect (self-righteous), the redeemed (saved sinners), and the reprobate 
(prophets harried from place to place).

Tirzah is one of Blake's bad women; for a short poem where Blake vividly 
describes his use of the word look at To Tirzah.

The word 'unbelief", used by Blake was much like what Jesus railed about, 
while using the positive mode. Neither of them meant by unbelief failure to 
adhere to the intellectual propositions which are supposed to define the 
Christian faith. For both men belief meant commitment to the reality of a 
loving God.

Ulro: this material world; also called the 'seat of Satan' as in 'the ruler of this 
present world". This world (in the same sense the term is used in the New 
Testament); also this vale of tears; also the seat of Satan, and a dread sleep 
(many such usages in 4Z).

Urizen The Zoa who represented Reason. In Blake's thought he became 
closely related to Nobodaddy, the unforgiving and cruel Old Testament God. 
In 'Milton' Blake describes the contest between the old god, Urizen and 'Milton' 
(a surrogate here for Christ). It's a vivid description of the humanizing of God 
that came to us with the words of Jesus, about the loving heavenly father.

Vala: the original name of the Four Zoas was Vala. In Blake's mythology she 
was the consort of Luvah (the god of love). Vala represents woman in general; 
she is also called Tirzah (purely earthly woman) and Jerusalem (heavenly 
woman).

In Jerusalem, after the Moment of Grace, Blake wrote "The Wheel of Religion". 
In it he showed once again the difference between false and true Christianity, 
using almost entirely biblical figures:

"Both read the same Bible day and night But you read black where I read white."
(from The Everlasting Gospel by William Blake)

The Covering Cherub for Blake sums up [indicated] the 27 Christian heavens 
which shut man out from Eternity (Damon 93)

In the Everlasting gospel we read " Was Jesus Born of a Virgin pure..." To 
appreciate these verses look at The Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Blake developed a vividly graphic image of the priestly cocoon in his major work 
called Milton (See plate 33). His poetry here is almost invincibly opaque, but the 
meaning has extreme significance in regard to his pscyhology, his world view, his 
religious outlook. The Mundane Shell represents fallen man, and particularly the 
worship of materiality rather than spirit. And more particularly the encrustation of 
organized religion (and law) over the spirit of humanity. Viewed individually it 
represents the psyche of a person whose consciousness has not yet evolved form 
the purely material. Or to look at this from another viewpoint: a child who has lost 
his innocence.

Science, like everything else fell and then ascended. In the fallen 80% of Blake's 
myth purely material science, ignoring any spiritual content, was denoted by Bacon, 
Newton and Locke. However it will be redeemed in the 'Last Judgment'.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

HOMER'S POETRY

Imagination in the mental realm, and art in the physical realm occupied the pinnacle of human aspiration in the view of Blake. He felt that the finest minds should be devoted to producing works which elevate humanity to achieving the maximum of his potential development. It disturbed Blake that some of the artists and authors who had received the greatest gifts for expressing themselves, had devoted their talents to lesser enterprises. Blake undoubtedly admired Homer but he missed in Homer the ability to be a vehicle through whom God spoke as he spoke through Old and New Testament prophets.

The substance for Blake was the dynamic of bringing together of portions of the psyche which had been divided. War is not only outward conflict, but also the unresolved divisions within the mind. If the Greeks elevated war as the appropriate way to resolve conflicting interests, they led mankind to a lower level of consciousness. The higher consciousness draws man into a vision of completeness within himself and with his brother who appears to be different.    

Blake showed in the Arlington Tempera the teaching of Homer which was most compatible to his own thinking. It shows how mankind progresses by going through a cycle of falling asleep as he forgets higher truth, and awakening after having learned through experiencing the world of matter. Progress is not made by defeating an enemy but by finding within oneself the ability to incorporate the not-self into the self.

Wikimedia Commons
This freestanding plate was engraved in 1822 the year after Blake painted the Arlington Tempera. Blake withheld unqualified admiration from Homer and Virgil because they did not reject aspects of their cultures which perpetrated war and empire.
ON HOMERS POETRY, (E 269)
"Every Poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why Homers is
peculiarly so, I cannot tell: he has told the story of
Bellerophon & omitted the judgment of Paris which is not only a
part, but a principal part of Homers subject
  But when a Work has Unity it is as much in a Part as in the
Whole. the Torso is as much a Unity as the Laocoon
  As Unity is the cloke of folly so Goodness is the cloke of
knavery  Those who will have Unity exclusively in Homer come out
with a Moral like a sting in the tail: Aristotle says Characters
are either Good or Bad: now Goodness or Badness has nothing to do
with Character. an Apple tree a Pear tree a Horse a Lion, are
Characters but a Good Apple tree or a Bad, is an Apple tree
still: a Horse is not more a Lion for being a Bad Horse. that is
its Character; its Goodness or Badness is another consideration.
  It is the same with the Moral of a whole Poem as with the Moral Goodness
of its parts Unity & Morality, are secondary considerations &
belong to Philosophy & not to Poetry, to Exception & not to Rule,
to Accident & not to Substance. the Ancients calld it eating of
the tree of good & evil.
  The Classics, it is the Classics! & not Goths nor Monks, that
Desolate Europe with Wars.                                                            

ON VIRGIL                                      
Sacred Truth has pronounced that Greece & Rome as Babylon &
Egypt: so far from being parents of Arts & Sciences as they
pretend: were destroyers of all Art.  Homer Virgil & Ovid confirm
this opinion & make us reverence The Word of God, the only light
of antiquity that remains unperverted by War.  Virgil in the
Eneid Book VI. line 848 says Let others study Art: Rome has
somewhat better to do, namely War & Dominion
  Rome & Greece swept Art into their maw & destroyd it     a
Warlike State never can produce Art.  It will Rob & Plunder &
accumulate into one place, & Translate & Copy & Buy & Sell &
Criticise, but not Make.
  Mathematic Form is Eternal in the Reasoning Memory.  Living
Form is Eternal Existence.
  Grecian is Mathematic Form
  Gothic is Living Form" 
Our blog has 23 posts labeled Arlington Tempera. Here is one which may shed some light.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Notes 6


(For an introduction to Self-Annilation look at Plate 40 of Milton. To read this is a difficult assignment, but it abounds in the particular Blake ideas that will help you understand the whole bit.)

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 
 (Four Zoas, Night 4 56:20 Erdman 338)

         ************************************************************************
"Each man is in his Spectre's power until the arrival of that hour when his Humanity awake and cast his Spectre in the lake." (Jerusalem, plate 37 E184) 

"I stood among my valleys of the south,
And saw a flame of fire, even as a Wheel
Of fire surrounding all the heavens: it went
From west to east against the current of
Creation, and devour'd all things in its loud
Fury and thundering course round heaven and earth
By it the Sun was rolled into an orb;
By it the Moon faded into a globe,
Travelling thro' the night; for from its dire
And restless fury Man himself shrunk up
Into a little root a fathom long.
And I asked a Watcher and a Holy One
Its name. He answer'd: "It is the Wheel of Religion."
I wept and said: "Is this the law of Jesus,
This terrible devouring sword turning every way?"
He answer'd: "Jesus died because He strove
Against the current of this Wheel: its name
Is Caiaphas, the dark Preacher of Death, 
Of sin, of sorrow, and of punishment,
Opposing Nature. It is Natural Religion.
"But Jesus is the bright Preacher of Life,
Creating Nature from this fiery Law
By self-denial and Forgiveness of Sin.
Go, therefore, cast out devils in Christ's name,
Heal thou the sick of spiritual disease,
Pity the evil; for thou art not sent
To smite with terror and with punishments
Those that are sick, like to the Pharisees,
Crucifying, and encompassing sea and land,
For proselytes to tyranny and wrath.
"But to the Publicans and Harlots go:
Teach them true happiness, but let no curse
Go forth out of thy mouth to blight their peace.
For Hell is open'd to Heaven; thine eyes beheld
The dungeons burst, and the prisoners set free."
(Jerusalem, 77)

Urthona rises from the ruinous walls In all his ancient strength 
to form the golden armour of science For intellectual War, 
the war of swords is departed now,the dark Religions are departed 
and sweet Science reigns. (Four Zoas Night ix 139:8-10 407)

For Blake (and before him for Swedenborg) states are the stages or conditions through which we pass in our journey through life. Blake had colorful designations for the various states. For example Satan is the state of Death, Adam, Abraham, and many other biblical figures serve to designate various states we may pass through in time. Jesus was the Divine Humanity, the final and perfect state that we achieve.

According to Damon (page 386) "States are stages of error, which the Divine Mercy creates so that the State and not the individual in it shall be blamed."

Once you realize that a person is not a state, but in a state, it becomes possible to forgive. 
Forgiving is the characteristic of the Divine Humanity (Jesus), the one state that is not error.

Blake did not consider Adam, Abraham, Moses, etc. to be merely individuals in history. No, they were types of states through which we may pass in our journey upward or downward. Christ is the ultimate state toward which we aspire, a state of forgiveness rather than judgment.

The states represent "all that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years" 
(Jer 16:67 E161).

Satan has varying identities in Blake's poems, but Friedlander, describing Blake's Milton indicated Satan was "any person who thinks himself "righteous in his vegetated spectre, holy by following the laws of conventional piety". (Thus he is very close to Jesus and Paul, both of whom considered self-righteous judgment as the Ultimate human evil.)

Another word for this is the limit of opacity.

(From Damon, page 386): "the stars symbolize Reason"; they belong to Urizen; in Eternity they were part of Albion, but with the Fall they fled, and formed the Mundane Shell. Blake also provided a redemptive dimension to stars.

Time and Space are creatures like Adam and Eve. Blake tells us that Los created time and Enitharmon space. The magnificent Arlington Tempera is often called the Sea of Time and Space.

Water symbolizes matter or the material world. In Genesis God moved over the face of the waters. Here it stands for chaos. Creation was made out of chaos, but in Blake's myth water continuously symbolizes the fall from Eternity into materiality. Narciss fell in love with his watery shadow-- and chose it for his life. Albion did the same in his descent from Eternity into the water of material life.

Notes on Thel: Har is the place of primeval innocence where Thel lived until her unhappy journey into time and space. (Damon p. 174) (Har has an entirely different meaning in the poem, Tiriel.)

the Cave of the Nymphs, used by Blake in the Arlington Tempera, a painting portraying man's descent into the Sea of Time and Space (by the "northern bar"). This reference in Thel is an early example of a mythological figure much more extravagantly elaborated at a later date with the painting. (Kathleen Raines' book Blake and Tradition gives a good source for interpretation of the Cave of the Nymphs as used by Blake.)

The northern and southern gates symbolize the descent of human beings from the Eternal into the material via the northern gate and the return to the Eternal via the southern. The Book of Thel amply demonstrates that where "The eternal gates' terrific Porter lifted the northern bar", and Thel, an eternal being "entered the land of sorrows".

Thursday, March 26, 2015

ANCIENT MODELS

Blake's attitude toward Greek and Roman literature and culture was ambivalent. Kathleen Raine tells us in Blake and Antiquity:
"The first evidence of Blake's reading of Porphyry appears in the Book of Thel, written in 1787, thirty -two years before he painted the Arlington Tempera... But once Blake had set his soul to study in a learned school, with Thomas Taylor and the Platonic philosophers, he quickly became master of a coherent symbolic system which he handled with ever-increasing scope and freedom.
 

Not only did neo-Platonism give him a vocabulary and grammar of symbolic terms; it placed him in the mainstream of European poetic and pictorial symbolism. From his reading of Porphyry and Plotinus he came to recognize in the works of poets already known to him the same symbols, endlessly recreated and re-clothed in beautiful forms. Thus he was able to extend his field of allusion and to introduce themes and images taken from many sources, without destroying the unity of his symbolic structure." (Page 17)
Illustrations to Pilgrim's Progress
Christian and Hopeful Escape Giant Despair

In 1809, describing his large painting of the Ancient Britons which was included his Exhibition at his brother's shop, Blake indicates that his three principle figures are recreations of characters portrayed by the ancients. Although the painting to which Blake referred is lost, we can see how Blake portrayed Apollo, Hercules and the Dancing Fawn by looking at images from antiquity. He referred back to portrayals of Greek gods with which he was familiar and later he projected forward when illustrating authors whom he admired.
 

Blake sees the characters who people myths as archetypal. His aim is to represent the same archetypal truth which the masters of antiquity displayed. When he places images from the pictorial vocabulary of Greece in his illustrations to Milton's Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity, illustrations to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress or to Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, he connects his reader/viewer to a more complete context. However Blake's attitudes to the values demonstrated by the Greek gods and heroes changed over time: his Dancing Fawn (as Puck) doesn't resemble the Ugly Man he described in his Catalogue; his Hercules (as the Giant Despair) is not the Strong Man of his earlier description.
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 544)
 "His opinions, who does not see spiritual agency, is
not worth any man's reading; he who rejects a fact because it is
improbable, must reject all History and retain doubts only.
  It has been said to the Artist, take the Apollo for the
model of your beautiful Man and the Hercules for your strong Man,
and the Dancing Fawn for your Ugly Man.  Now he comes to his
trial.  He knows that what he does is not inferior to the
grandest Antiques.  Superior they cannot be, for human power
cannot go beyond either what he does, or what they have done, it
is the gift of God, it is inspiration and vision.  He had
resolved to emulate those precious remains of antiquity,
he has done so and the result you behold; his ideas of strength
and beauty have not been greatly different.  Poetry as it exists
now on earth, in the various remains of ancient authors, Music as
it exists in old tunes or melodies, Painting and Sculpture as it
exists in the remains of Antiquity and in the works of more
modern genius, is Inspiration, and cannot be surpassed; it is
perfect and eternal.  Milton, Shakspeare, Michael Angelo, Rafael,
the finest specimens of Ancient Sculpture and Painting, and
Architecture, Gothic, Grecian, Hindoo and Egyptian, are the
extent of the human mind.  The human mind cannot go beyond the
gift of God, the Holy Ghost.  To suppose that Art can go beyond
the finest specimens of Art that are now in the world, is not
knowing what Art is; it is being blind to the gifts of the
spirit.
  It will be necessary for the Painter to say
something concerning his ideas of Beauty, Strength and Ugliness.
  The Beauty that is annexed and appended to folly, is a
lamentable accident and error of the mortal and perishing life;
it does but seldom happen; but with this unnatural mixture the
sublime Artist can have nothing to do; it is fit for the
burlesque.  The Beauty proper for sublime art, is lineaments, or
forms and features that are capable of being the receptacles of
intellect; accordingly the Painter has given in his beautiful
man, his own idea of intellectual Beauty.  The face and limbs
that deviates or alters least, from infancy to old age, is the
face and limbs of greatest Beauty and perfection.
  The Ugly likewise, when accompanied and annexed to
imbecility and disease, is a subject for burlesque and not for
historical grandeur; the Artist has imagined his Ugly man; one 
approaching to the
beast in features and form, his forehead small, without frontals; 
his jaws large; his nose high on the ridge, and narrow; his chest 
and the stamina of his make, comparatively little, and his joints 
and his extremities large; his eyes with scarce any whites, 
narrow and cunning, and every thing tending toward what is truly 
Ugly; the incapability of intellect.
  The Artist has considered his strong Man as a receptacle of
Wisdom, a sublime energizer; his features and limbs do not
spindle out into length, without strength, nor are they too large
and unwieldy for his brain and bosom.  Strength consists in
accumulation of power to the principal seat, and from thence a
regular gradation and subordination; strength is compactness, not
extent nor bulk.
  The strong Man acts from conscious superiority, and marches
on in fearless dependance on the divine decrees, raging with the
inspirations of a prophetic mind.  The Beautiful Man acts
from duty, and anxious solicitude for the fates of those for whom
he combats.  The Ugly Man acts from love of carnage, and delight
in the savage barbarities of war, rushing with sportive 
precipitation into the very teeth of the affrighted enemy.
  The Roman Soldiers rolled together in a heap before them:
"Like the rolling thing before the whirlwind;" each shew a
different character, and a different expression of fear, or
revenge, or envy, or blank horror, or amazement, or devout wonder
and unresisting awe.
  The dead and the dying, Britons naked, mingled with armed
Romans, strew the field beneath.  Among these, the last of the
Bards who were capable of attending warlike deeds, is seen
falling, outstretched among the dead and the dying; singing to
his harp in the pains of death."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Notes 5

   Rintrah

In Blake's poetry Rintrah is mentioned 48 times, first
in MHH, then in Europe, the Four Zoas, Milton, and
Jerusalem.  He obviously had a special meaning to
Blake, but shades and nuances of the meaning occurred
throughout.

1, At the beginning (and end) of MHH Rintrah roared;
perhaps in his mind at that moment Rintrah represented
the angry young man who would write the revolutionary
material just ahead.  

2. In plates 5 and 8 of Europe Rintrah is pictured as a
mailed knight of the queens of England and France,
daughters of Enitharmon, who entice Rintrah into the
hideous war between the two countries.

3. Rintrah's identity is best seen in The Four Zoas:

And these are the Sons of Los & Enitharmon. Rintrah Palamabron
Theotormon Bromion Antamon Ananton Ozoth Ohana
Sotha Mydon Ellayol Natho Gon Harhath Satan
Har Ochim Ijim Adam Reuben Simeon Levi Judah Dan Naphtali
Gad Asher Issachar Zebulun Joseph Benjamin David Solomon
Paul Constantine Charlemaine Luther Milton
       (FZ8-107.6 Erdman 380) 


4. At the beginning of Milton (Plates 3-7)  we have The Bard's 
Song.  Rintrah has a prominent place here.  Enitharmon - The 
Shadowy Female - has brought forth all Los's Family: Orc, Rintrah,
Palamabron, and finally Satan.  We see these last three in 
Plate 10. Satan is the fiery one; Rintrah is next, and behind
Rintrah is his peaceable brother, Palamabron.

(Elsewhere Blake referred to Satan as a state, not an
individal.  He is the 'state of Error'.) 
       The Selfhood is one of many super complex metaphors that fill Blake's works. We can see three different levels in which he used it:
       1. At the moral level it represents the egocentricity, the term Blake gave for the fallen man, He also calls it the Spectre and Satan. In modern psychological parlance it has the meaning of the egocentric self as opposed to the Self, which Jung equated with Christ- the Divine Image.
       2. The blindness to the spiritual (Eternal) shown by the person (or culture) who depends exclusively upon the material, the life that one lives in the Sea of Time and Space.
       3. A necessity to act in the material world. This led to Blake's understanding of the necessity to continually annihilate and continually regenerate the Selfhood. The Selfhood acts in the light of good and evil, chooses good to adhere to and evil to abhor or confront. In Eternity this is no longer necessary, but in this vale of tears there's no other way to interact.
       Christ gives the Christian work to do, and it must be done in the realm of materiality. Mortal life means materiality (among other things of course).
       (For an introduction to Self-Annilation look at Plate 40 of Milton. To read this is a difficult assignment, but it abounds in the particular Blake ideas that will help you understand the whole bit.)

       For Blake (and before him for Swedenborg) states are the stages or conditions through which we pass in our journey through life. Blake had colorful designations for the various states. For example Satan is the state of Death, Adam, Abraham, and many other biblical figures serve to designate various states we may pass through in time. Jesus was the Divine Humanity, the final and perfect state that we achieve.
       According to Damon (page 386) "States are stages of error, which the Divine Mercy creates so that the State and not the individual in it shall be blamed."
       Once you realize that a person is not a state, but in a state, it becomes possible to forgive. Forgiving is the characteristic of the Divine Humanity (Jesus), the one state that is not error.
       Blake did not consider Adam, Abraham, Moses, etc. to be merely individuals in history. No, they were types of states through which we may pass in our journey upward or downward. Christ is the ultimate state toward which we aspire, a state of forgiveness rather than judgment.
       The states represent "all that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years" (Jer 16:67 E161).

Satan has varying identities in Blake's poems, but Friedlander, describing Blake's Milton indicated Satan was "any person who thinks himself "righteous in his vegetated spectre, holy by following the laws of conventional piety". (Thus he is very close to Jesus and Paul, both of whom considered self-righteous judgment as the Ultimate human evil.)
       Another word for this is the limit of opacity.
    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
                  (Four Zoas, Night 4 56:20 Erdman 338)

(From Damon, page 386): "the stars symbolize Reason"; they belong to Urizen; in Eternity they were part of Albion, but with the Fall they fled, and formed the Mundane Shell. Blake also provided a redemptive dimension to stars.

       Time and Space are creatures like Adam and Eve. Blake tells us that Los created time and Enitharmon space. The magnificent Arlington Tempera is often called the Sea of Time and Space.
**************************************
       Water symbolizes matter or the material world. In Genesis God moved over the face of the waters. Here it stands for chaos. Creation was made out of chaos, but in Blake's myth water continuously symbolizes the fall from Eternity into materiality. Narciss fell in love with his watery shadow-- and chose it for his life. Albion did the same in his descent from Eternity into the water of material life.

*************************************************

Notes on Thel: Har is the place of primeval innocence where Thel lived until her unhappy journey into time and space. (Damon p. 174) (Har has an entirely different meaning in the poem, Tiriel.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BEAUTIFUL FEET

Recently we heard a friend sing How Beautiful are the Feet from Handel's Messiah. The text is drawn from Isaiah 52 and Romans 10. Handel's text is: "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
 

Isaiah 52
[1] Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
[2] Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
[3] For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.
[4] For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.
[5] Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.
[6] Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
[7] How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
[8] Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
[9] Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

 

Romans 10
[14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
[15] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
[16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
[17] So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


British Museum
  Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Plate 2, Copy A

These biblical passages would have carried great significance for Blake as he developed the themes which are prominent in them in his own poetry. Notice that Isaiah speaks of Jerusalem as a city and a woman just as Blake does. Blake seems to have associated the feet mentioned in these passages with the good tidings themselves and with the word of God which became known through the gospel of peace.
 

Blake often uses hands and feet to symbolize conditions which would exist if man were able to see the Divine Vision and place himself in service to the Lord. Like the prophet Isaiah and the Apostle Paul, he sees the feet as instruments which allow man to enact in the world the compassionate love which he may feel in his heart, know in his mind and experience as a presence.
 

It would be difficult not to notice that Blake uses feet as visual symbols as well. Rarely does he picture shoes even when his figures are wearing other garments. We get the impression that the Human Form Divine requires the inclusion of naked feet to represent it: feet on which to travel; feet on which man, like his Lord, may walk for a while touching this earth.    
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 10, (E 37)
"The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the
     hands & feet Proportion." 

Milton, Plate 1, (E 96)
"We do not 
want either Greek or Roman Models if we are but just & true to
our own Imaginations, those Worlds of Eternity in which we shall
live for ever; in Jesus our Lord.

     And did those feet in ancient time,
     Walk upon Englands mountains green:
     And was the holy Lamb of God,
     On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

     And did the Countenance Divine,             
     Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
     And was Jerusalem builded here,
     Among these dark Satanic Mills?

     Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
     Bring me my Arrows of desire:                      
     Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
     Bring me my Chariot of fire!

     I will not cease from Mental Fight,
     Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
     Till we have built Jerusalem,                     
     In Englands green & pleasant Land."

Jerusalem, Plate 24, (E 170)
"Yet thou wast lovely as the summer cloud upon my hills
When Jerusalem was thy hearts desire in times of youth & love.
Thy Sons came to Jerusalem with gifts, she sent them away
With blessings on their hands & on their feet, blessings of gold,
And pearl & diamond: thy Daughters sang in her Courts:           
They came up to Jerusalem; they walked before Albion
In the Exchanges of London every Nation walkd
And London walkd in every Nation mutual in love & harmony
Albion coverd the whole Earth, England encompassd the Nations,
Mutual each within others bosom in Visions of Regeneration;      
Jerusalem coverd the Atlantic Mountains & the Erythrean,
From bright Japan & China to Hesperia France & England.
Mount Zion lifted his head in every Nation under heaven:
And the Mount of Olives was beheld over the whole Earth:
The footsteps of the Lamb of God were there: but now no more     
No more shall I behold him, he is closd in Luvahs Sepulcher."

Jerusalem, Plate 27, (E 173)
"O Jesus still the Form was thine.      

  And thine the Human Face & thine
The Human Hands & Feet & Breath
  Entering thro' the Gates of Birth
And passing thro' the Gates of Death"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Notes 4

Oothoon

A quick summary of the political import of Visions of the Daughters of Albion came in a letter from Scholar James Rovira: 
"I read VDA (only in part) as a critique of US democracy in the light of its violation of democratic ideals (personified by Oothoon) by its legalization of slavery. The forces that would combat slavery are overly passive (Theotormon, God-tormented, conscience in the light of democratic ideals) while the forces of market capitalism that benefit from slavery (Bromion) actively rape/violate these ideals. But, these democratic ideals are still in charge, yet unable to fully give themselves to their ideals, so that the most seriously damaged victim of Bromion's rape was Theotormon, not Oothoon, who is still at least capable of selfless love and who is going to bring forth life."
______________________________________________________________
Blake defined the poetic genius as Principle 1 in All Religions are One:
    That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that
    the body or outward form of Man is derived from
    the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the forms of all
    things are derived from their Genius. which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel and Spirit and Demon.
    PINCIPLE 2d As all men are alike in outward
    form, So (and with the same infinite variety) b all are alike in the Poetic Genius.
    PRINCIPLE 3d No man can think write or speak
    from his heart, but he must intend truth.
    Thus all sects of Philosophy are from the Poetic
    Genius adapted to the weaknesses of every individual.
    PRINCIPLE 4. As none by traveling over known
    lands can find out the unknown. So from already
    acquired knowledge Man could not acquire more.
    therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists
    PRINCIPLE. 5. The Religions of all Nations are derived from each Nations different reception of
    the Poetic Genius which is every where call'd
    the Spirit of Prophecy.
    PRINCIPLE 6 The Jewish and Christian
    Testaments are An original derivation from the
    Poetic Genius. this is necessary from the
    confined nature of bodily sensation.
       He originally ascribed this to Jesus, but then added Urthona and Los (the Lord's representatives in his system).

       Rahab: the name Blake applied to the Whore of Babylon of Revelation. However the Bible, and Blake as well, used the name for some more honorable women.

       In Blake's conception (as in the Bible) we come into the world with innocence, lose it (See 'Songs of Experience') and hopefully evolve to a higher level of consciousness. Blake and the Bible refer to these two developments as falland return.

       The mundane shell and the 'covering cherub' are two ways Blake described the fallen condition, and organized religion has a prominent place in both myths.

       Two (relatively) contemporary authors deserve mention:
Joseph Chilton Pearce's Crack in the Cosmic Egg deserves study. It looks like an elaborate expansion of Blake's ideas here. I haven't recently determined what if any recognition he gave to Blake, although I found the mundane shell mentioned on page xiv of the 1988 edition.

Marcus Borg, on page 114 of his The God We Never Knew, speaks of 'the hatching of the heart', i.e. the conversion of the hard heart to the open heart: "If what is within is to live, the egg must hatch, the shell must break, the heart must open." And he refers us to Jeremiah's New Covenant.
In Blake's long poem, Milton, the older poet, Milton, imitating his friend, Jesus, comes down from Heaven, and cracks the mundane egg on his way to the center.

       Marriage is a sacrament in Christian thought, and for many of us it's the primary sacrament of life. But in 19th century British society, we may get the idea (from Dickens or Trollope) that matrimony served commercial rather than religious purposes. Blake violently objected to that (obviously objectionable) custom; it led him to use such phrases as the  marriage hearse.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

TROJAN WAR 2

Found on Internet Philoctetes and Neoptolemus at Lemnos
Philoctetes had been abandoned to the desolate island of Lemnos by Ulysses on his way to the war against Troy. Philoctetes was useless as a warrior because of a festering, stinking sore on his leg as a result of a snake bite. Ten years later with the war still in progress Ulysses was warned that the Trojan War would not end without the bow of Heracles which was the possession of of Philoctetes. To retrieve the bow Ulysses took Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, to Lemnos to negotiate with Philoctetes for the use of the bow to bring the Trojan War to a close.
 

The details of the situation were dramatized by Sophocles in his play Philoctetes. Blake's choose to illustrate the dilemma posed by the difficulties of obtaining the instrument which Ulysses believed could put an end to the slaughter which had been going on for a decade.
 

In The Judgement of Paris discord had been introduced by Eris. The Greeks attributed the course of human events to be under the direction of their panoply of Gods and Goddesses. The situation in Philoctetes and Neoptolemus at Lemnos is resolved by the intervention on Heracles to whom the bow had belonged when he enjoyed an earthly life. The reconciliation brought about at Lemnos can be seen as symbolic of the efforts necessary to end not only the Trojan War but all wars.
 

If wars were begun and ended by the intervention of Gods, man would be absolved of responsibility. But if the Gods do not decree wars, perhaps they could be avoided by not allowing ourselves to be drawn into dissension and conflict as were the Greeks and Trojans over who should possess the Golden Apple. And perhaps wars could be ended by self-sacrifice, forgiveness, unselfishness and reconciliation, if vengeance were not sought. In the drama of Sophocles, the bow of Heracles was sought not to win the war but to end the war.   
 

This is the resolution of the tensions over the possession of Heracles' bow and arrows in the play by Sophocles:
 

Perseus Digital Library
Sophocles, Philoctetes
Robert Torrance, Ed

 
Heracles
"Not yet, until you have heard the words
which I will speak to you, son of Poeas.
Be certain that you are hearing the voice
and beholding the presence of Heracles.
For your sake I have departed from
my heavenly home,
to tell you the counsels of Zeus on high,
...
and now it is ordained for you as well
to build from suffering a noble life.
First you will travel with this man to Troy
and there will find release from your disease;
and then, foremost among the ranks in courage,
you will slay Paris with that bow of mine,
Paris, who was the cause of all these hardships,
and conquer Troy, and choose the prize of valor
...
You too, son of Achilles,
must listen: for without him you cannot
take Troy, nor he apart from you.
...
chorus
Come let us go now all together,
and pray to the nymphs of the sea
to grant us a prosperous voyage."

Blake's awareness of the depravations of war is evident in this passage. Blake's answer to this alarming situation is the birth of Los and Enitharmon, through whom regeneration will gain a foothold.
Four Zoas, Night I, Page 14, (E 309)
"The Cities send to one another saying My sons are Mad
With wine of cruelty. Let us plat a Scourge O Sister City 
Children are nourishd for the Slaughter; once the Child was fed
With Milk; but wherefore now are Children fed with blood  
PAGE 15 
The Horse is of more value than the Man. The Tyger fierce
Laughs at the Human form. the Lion mocks & thirsts for blood
They cry O Spider spread thy web! Enlarge thy bones & fill'd
With marrow. sinews & flesh Exalt thyself attain a voice

Call to thy dark armd hosts, for all the sons of Men muster together       
To desolate their cities! Man shall be no more! Awake O Hosts
The bow string sang upon the hills! Luvah & Vala ride
Triumphant in the bloody sky. & the Human form is no more   

The listning Stars heard, & the first beam of the morning started back
He cried out to his Father, depart! depart! but sudden Siez'd 
And clad in steel. & his Horse proudly neighd; he smelt the battle    
Afar off, Rushing back, reddning with rage the Mighty Father

Siezd his bright Sheephook studded with gems & gold, he Swung it round
His head shrill sounding in the sky, down rushd the Sun with noise
Of war, The Mountains fled away they sought a place beneath      
Vala remaind in desarts of dark solitude. nor Sun nor Moon

By night nor day to comfort her, she labourd in thick smoke 
Tharmas endurd not, he fled howling. then a barren waste sunk
Conglobing in the dark confusion, Mean time Los was born
And Thou O Enitharmon! Hark I hear the hammers of Los"

In this book, Sophocles II: Ajax, The Women of Trachis, Electra, Philoctetes, The Trackers edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, is this comment summarizing some of the virtues of the play Philoctests, all of which would have made it attractive to Blake:

"Less musical and less full of action than many Greek tragedies, Philoctests none the less engages its audience deeply in problems of ethics, politics, loyalty, and male ideals of virtue and achievement, as well as in the possibility of redemption, forgiveness, and healing miraculously granted after years of unmerited suffering."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Notes 3

Golgonooza
    Here on the banks of the Thames, Los builded Golgonooza,
    In the midst of the rocks of the Altars of Albion. In fears
    He builded it, in rage and in fury. It is the Spiritual Fourfold
    London: continually building and continually decaying desolate!
    In eternal labours: loud the Furnaces and loud the Anvils
    Of Death.
           (Jerusalem 53:16-22 203)
       Golgonooza appears a number of times in Blake's works: 17 times in 4Z; 22 times in Milton, and 22 times in Jerusalem. Interpretations of the term are quite varied, depending to a large degree on the interpreter's spiritual orientation: "Los builded Golgonooza": Los represents the fallen imagination, ie the creative builder of the material realm. Eventually Jerusalem takes the place of Golgonooza.


       More blood has been shed in the name of Christ than almost any other source.


Good and Evil

       The Creation Story in the Bible ascribes man's fall to eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Blake made this a touchstone of his metaphysical system. Look at what Blake said in his Design of the Last Judgment.


       Good and evil might be considered the fallen equivalent of truth and error.

       The trouble with good and evil is that you value your attitudes, actions, etc. as good and the others' as evil. This has motivated wars through the ages.

       Blake believed that in Eternity there is no good and evil. Instead truth and error are resolved with "intellectual spears, and long winged arrows of thought" (Jerusalem 34:15 E180)

       In Milton 'Eternal Death' meant leaving Heaven (as Jesus is reported to have done) to improve the sad situation on Earth.

       In Blake's 'Milton' the poet, Milton, "goes to Eternal Death" from his home in heaven, like Jesus had done or Buddha, to rescue "the nations" from the toils of the God of this World (Milton Plate 14:14).

In 1800 at the invitation of the famous poet William Hayley, the Blakes moved to Felpham in Sussex, near the sea. By 1803 they were back in London.


Blake used "the God of this world" 7 times according to the Blake concordance. Two of them occur near the end of The Everlasting Gospel (page 523)


mind forg'd manacles:
Blake found people, then (and now) uniformly blind to the mental chains that sentenced them to a mediocre existence. He used this famous term in his Songs of Experience.
       The term is used in this work repeatedly explaining Blake's approach to his prophetic poetry.

Moment of Grace: The Moment of Grace or the Felpham Moment in this work represents the turning point in Blake's life when he awakened to the riches of Christ. He commemorated it with the poem he called the First Vision of Light.

       As per Friedlander: The young Blake had thought the great struggle in human life was between Luvah and Urizen, energy and its boundaries. By the end of the Felpham period, Blake had come to view the great struggle as being between the visionaries, who saw all men as part of the divine family, and the rationalizing masses, concerned only with personal security.


Mystery
       The exploitative use of superstition by religious authorities concerned Blake greatly. He called it Mystery Religion. 
    Thus was the Lamb of God condemnd to Death
    They naild him upon the tree of Mystery weeping over him
    And then mocking and then worshipping calling him Lord and King
           (Four Zoas 8-110[106][1st].3; E379)
       Blake found much use of mystery in the Bible in both positive and negative forms. In Revelation the chief enemy is called the Great Whore, Babylon, and Mystery (17:5 (taken from Frye, The Bible as Literature, page 136).

       The Four Zoas: a long poem that served as a kind of first draft to 'Milton' and 'Jerusalem'. Reading this closely one may discern the spiritual growth which Blake went through culminating in the Moment of Grace .
Plato's Myth of the Cave had a big influence on Blake's understanding.


       With the "narrow chinks of his cavern" found in Plate 11 of the Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake of course had an obvious source.

The Couches of the Dead is a universal symbol representing those who have died to Eternity in order to be born into our fallen world.

The 'main chance' is a term Blake referred to for using his art (without integrity) for commercial purposes.