Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THE AUTODIDACT

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts


Larry posted this to another of his blogs in 2007. Ellie added the picture and quotes.

At the age of six William Blake was sent to school. The first day he observed the
schoolmaster birching one of the students. Without a word he rose gathered his belongings and left. That is the history of his formal education.
 

Education as we understand it performs two functions:
 

1. to teach the elements of reading, writing and arithmetic.
 

2. to 'socialize' the pupil: train him to know and conform to the conventions of his society.

For most people the second function is by far the most significant.

William Blake taught himself the elements, but seems to have remained largely independent (and in fact innocent) of the second function.

Rather than live in the "mind forg'd manacles" as most people do, he examined every value and judged it on its own merits, which meant that he ignored many of society's dictates.

The ultimate rebel, his guidance came from what he (and his wife) called Heaven, or the Visions coming forth from the recesses of his own mind.

He deplored the tabula-rasa teaching of Locke that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. In contrast Blake believed that the child was born with adequate direction from whence he came until he made the fatal choice of 'running with the pack', with more in fact from within than he could ever hope to gain by sensory experience.

Much of Blake's wisdom is esoteric in the extreme; even completely opaque to the conventional mind. In contrast revolutionaries of every type heard it gladly.
"I must create a system or by enslaved by another man's."
 

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 46, (E 26)
LONDON    
"I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet             
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man, 
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear 
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse" 
All Religions Are One, (E 1)
 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

There is No Natural Religion, (E 3)
  "VII The desire of Man being Infinite the possession is Infinite
& himself Infinite
     Conclusion,   If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic
character. the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the
ratio of all things & stand still, unable to do other than repeat
the same dull round over again
     Application.   He who sees the Infinite in all things sees
God.  He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.

Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Milton, Plate 15 [17], (E 109)
"Thus is the heaven a vortex passd already, and the earth
A vortex not yet pass'd by the traveller thro' Eternity." 

Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 152)
"Therefore Los stands in London building Golgonooza
Compelling his Spectre to labours mighty; trembling in fear
The Spectre weeps, but Los unmovd by tears or threats remains

I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Mans           
I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create

So Los, in fury & strength: in indignation & burning wrath
Shuddring the Spectre howls. his howlings terrify the night
He stamps around the Anvil, beating blows of stern despair
He curses Heaven & Earth, Day & Night & Sun & Moon               
He curses Forest Spring & River, Desart & sandy Waste
Cities & Nations, Families & Peoples, Tongues & Laws
Driven to desperation by Los's terrors & threatning fears

Los cries, Obey my voice & never deviate from my will
And I will be merciful to thee:"

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BLAKE'S MILTON

In 2011 Larry taught a short enrichment course in Blake at the Senior Learning Institute of the College of Central Florida. He concluded the course with this precis of Blake's Milton.
Wikimedia Commons
British Museum
Milton
Copy A, Plate 1

 

The Mature Works



Milton, Blake's first overtly Christian work, is his testimony of faith. It's also his way of rehabilitating his childhood hero, John Milton. Finally it's a difficult poem; it contains unfathomable depths. This review can do no more than introduce the reader to the poem and call attention to some of the new elements in the mature development of Blake's myth.

Milton is a very autobiographical work. Blake used many of the characters that his readers might be familiar with from earlier works, but in this very personal poem they often assume other (although related) identities. Particularly we understand that Blake was Los, and Hayley was Satan (he had suborned Blake from his true work to hack work: from Eternity to Ulro.)

John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, had been a major force in Blake's life; he had been many things to Blake since his childhood. In Blake's day Milton enjoyed enormous spiritual stature among the English people. Even today the general understanding of Heaven, Hell, God and Satan (among people interested in those concepts) tends to be more often Miltonic than Biblical. All subsequent English poets lived and wrote in Milton's shadow, and the greatest ones aspired to achieve an epic comparable to Paradise Lost. In the first half of his life Blake was very much under the shadow of Milton who was respected as the great epic poet of the English people.

Although Blake had much in common with the puritan poet, he disagreed with Milton about a number of things. For example, as a young man he despised the God of Paradise Lost and admired Milton's Devil. Blake made that clear in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and tried to put Milton in his place by saying that he was of the Devil's party without knowing it. Ten years later the experience of grace empowered Blake to deal with Milton in a better way. He called him back to earth to straighten out his theology, and he identified with him and his spiritual power in a radical way. He recreated Milton as Milton had recreated the Bible.

As Blake's poem begins, Milton has been in Heaven for a hundred years, obedient although not very happy there. The 'Bard's Song' (which takes up the first third of the poem) recreates the war in Heaven of Paradise Lost. The other Eternals find the Bard's song appalling, but Milton embraces the Bard and his song. In a thrilling imaginative triumph he announces his intention of leaving Heaven to complete the work on earth that he had left undone. Although Blake doesn't say this, any Christian should recognize that Milton thus follows in the footsteps of Christ as described in the famous Kenosis passage in Philippians 2: 

Philippians 2
[5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
[7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
[8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
[9] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name

Milton, Plate 14 [15], (E 108)
"He took off the robe of the promise and ungirded himself from the oath of God.
And Milton said: "I go to Eternal Death The Nations still
Follow after the detestable Gods of Priam [king of Troy], in pomp of Warlike Selfhood."


Milton: plate 14 reads
"----contradicting and blaspheming.
When will the Resurrection come to deliver the sleeping body From corruptibility?
O when, Lord Jesus, wilt thou come?
Tarry no longer, for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave:
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks:
I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death, Lest the Last Judgment come and find me unannihilate
And I be seized and given into the hands of my own Selfhood"

Anyone familiar with the gospel story will see biblical allusions and references here.

In Blake's cottage he sees Milton's shadow, a horrible vision:

Milton Plate 37:
"Miltons Shadow heard & condensing all his Fibres
Into a strength impregnable of majesty & beauty infinite
I saw he was the Covering Cherub & within him Satan
And Rahab, ... in the Selfhood deadly
And he appeard the Wicker Man of Scandinavia in whom
Jerusalems children consume in flames among the Stars
Descending down into my Garden, a Human Wonder of God
Reaching from heaven to earth a Cloud & Human Form
I beheld Milton with astonishment & in him beheld
The Monstrous Churches of Beulah, the Gods of Ulro dark
Twelve monstrous dishumanizd terrors Synagogues of Satan.
...
All these are seen in Miltons Shadow who is the Covering Cherub
The Spectre of Albion"

An attempt to translate this visionary poetry into "common sense" might suggest that in Milton's shadow Blake suddenly became immediately aware of all the fallen nature of the world (and his own mind) that had consumed most of his poetry to that point. Now he became aware of all these things, but in the light of a person now full of light.

Back on earth Milton encounters many of the characters whom we met in The Four Zoas. Tirzah and Rahab tempt him; his contest with Urizen has special interest as a record of the resolution of Blake's life long struggle with the things that Urizen represented to him:

"Silent they met and silent strove among the streams of Arnon 
Even to Mahanaim, when with cold hand Urizen stoop'd down
And took up water from the river Jordan, pouring on
To Milton's brain the icy fluid from his broad cold palm.
But Milton took of the red clay of Succoth, moulding it with care
Between his palms and filling up the furrows of many years,
Beginning at the feet of Urizen, and on the bones
Creating new flesh on the Demon cold and building him
As with new clay, a Human form in the Valley of Beth Peor." 
[Milton, Plate 19 [21], (E 112)]

A Bible dictionary, or even better, Damon's Blake Dictionary, will help to clarify the associations with biblical locations. Here we see the old Urizen still trying to freeze the poet's brain, but instead he finds himself being humanized by an emissary from Heaven. Blake is vividly depicting the battle between the forces of positivism and spirit.

Milton meets other obstacles and temptations on his journey, a journey that begins to bear increasing resemblance to that of Bunyan's Pilgrim or even of Jesus himself. He unites with Los and with Blake. He finally meets Satan, confronts him and overcomes him as Jesus had done. These dramatic events give Blake ample opportunity to describe in detail the eternal and satanic dimensions of life, the conflict between the two and the inevitable victory of the eternal. For the first and perhaps the only time Blake is writing a traditional morality story.

This material is autobiographical and written in the honeymoon phase of his new spiritual life. Blake's full meanings yield only to intensive study, but from the beginning there are thrilling lines to delight and inspire the reader. In his esoteric language Blake describes for us what has happened to him, and nothing could be more engrossing for the reader interested in the life of the spirit and in Blake. The relationship of this story to the myth described above should be obvious. But Milton is more real than the previous material because Blake has lived it and writes (and sketches) with spiritual senses enlarged and tuned by his recent experience of grace.
 
A digression occurs in the second half of Book One of Milton, a detailed description of the "World of Los"; it contains much of Blake's most delightful poetry. The reader will remember that in 4Z Los had passed through several stages of development. Beginning as the primitive prophetic boy, he became first disciple and later adversary of Urizen. He bound Urizen into fallen forms of life, then 'became what he beheld'. But in Night VII of the Four Zoas we recall that he embraced his Spectre, actually the Urizen within, and thereupon Los became the hero of the epic.

Letters, To Flaxman, (E 707) 
"Now my lot in the Heavens is this; Milton lovd me in childhood & shewd me his face Ezra came with Isaiah the Prophet, but Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand Paracelsus & Behmen appeard to me. terrors appeard in the Heavens above And in Hell beneath & a mighty & awful change threatend the Earth The American War began All its dark horrors passed before my face" 

 Milton, Plate 28, [30], (E 126) 
"But others of the Sons of Los build Moments & Minutes & Hours
And Days & Months & Years & Ages & Periods; wondrous buildings   
And every Moment has a Couch of gold for soft repose,
(A Moment equals a pulsation of the artery)    ,
And between every two Moments stands a Daughter of Beulah
To feed the Sleepers on their Couches with maternal care.
And every Minute has an azure Tent with silken Veils.         
And every Hour has a bright golden Gate carved with skill.
And every Day & Night, has Walls of brass & Gates of adamant,
Shining like precious stones & ornamented with appropriate signs:
And every Month, a silver paved Terrace builded high:
And every Year, invulnerable Barriers with high Towers.    
And every Age is Moated deep with Bridges of silver & gold.
And every Seven Ages is Incircled with a Flaming Fire.
Now Seven Ages is amounting to Two Hundred Years
Each has its Guard. each Moment Minute Hour Day Month & Year.
All are the work of Fairy hands of the Four Elements             
The Guard are Angels of Providence on duty evermore
Every Time less than a pulsation of the artery
Is equal in its period & value to Six Thousand Years.

PLATE 29 [31]
For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all the Great
Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a Period
Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery."

Saturday, June 10, 2017

LARRY'S JOURNAL 4


Library of Congress
Milton
Plate 32, Copy D
Larry dated his first interest in Blake to 1978, two years after we moved to the house in Arlington. Five years later he had completed his Blake book and was attempting to get it published.

Thurs, Feb 1, 1984

Sitting in little park beside  the Washington Ship Channel. Lovely sunshine, not much wind. Hope for tennis this afternoon. I've put in two hours on the spreadsheet for Hannah House. Its fun. Still a few little refinements, and I can start formatting the monthly report. It's a learning experience.

'War & Hunting' could be translated as struggle and discovery. Those are certainly the things that give meaning to life; hence Blake called them the 'twin fountains of the river of life.' Eternal death, of which our political leaders are archetypes, is characterized by paranoia and deceit.

The struggle of the extrovert may be to change people's values - the 'war for men's minds.' The introvert may pit himself against impersonal problems - like mastering the computer. I'm thoroughly enjoying the struggle to master the computer, and find it glorified by the use for a worthy cause - namely succoring the homeless (by keeping books for Hannah House.) How fortunate and blessed I am.

Ellie
June 2017

It is ironic that Blake could be so opposed to corporeal war, and use the term war to symbolize the activity of life which is most appropriate to describe one of the life-giving pursuits of Eternity. But the symbol 'war' grew out of Blake own internal struggles between the forces which often raged within his brain. Just as corporeal war produced appalling suffering and destruction, the war within could lead to frightening results. Perhaps 'war' could he harnessed if its energies were applied to constructive endeavors. Paul of Tarsus wrote of the struggle to be free of the grip of his willful disobedience to the best of which he was capable. Larry found that he could use the energy of struggle to pit himself against problems which may be amenable to solutions. In directing his warlike inclinations productively he gained access to war as a 'Fountain of Life.'

The Eternal dimension is available even in this world if we seek the Brotherhood of Mankind.
 

Romans 7
[17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
[18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
[19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
[20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
[21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
[22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
[23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
[24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 

Milton, Plate 34 [35], (E 134)
"And Ololon looked down into the Heavens of Ulro in fear
They said. How are the Wars of Man which in Great Eternity    
Appear around, in the External Spheres of Visionary Life
Here renderd Deadly within the Life & Interior Vision
How are the Beasts & Birds & Fishes, & Plants & Minerals
Here fixd into a frozen bulk subject to decay & death[?]
Those Visions of Human Life & Shadows of Wisdom & Knowledge 
Plate 35 [39]
Are here frozen to unexpansive deadly destroying terrors[.]
And War & Hunting: the Two Fountains of the River of Life
Are become Fountains of bitter Death & of corroding Hell
Till Brotherhood is changd into a Curse & a Flattery
By Differences between Ideas, that Ideas themselves, (which are  
The Divine Members) may be slain in offerings for sin
O dreadful Loom of Death! O piteous Female forms compelld
To weave the Woof of Death,"

Milton, Plate 27 [29], (E 124)
"But the Wine-press of Los is eastward of Golgonooza, before the Seat
Of Satan. Luvah laid the foundation & Urizen finish'd it in howling Woe.
How red the sons & daughters of Luvah! here they tread the grapes.
Laughing & shouting drunk with odours many fall oerwearied
Drownd in the wine is many a youth &  maiden: those around 
Lay them on skins of Tygers & of the spotted Leopard & the Wild Ass
Till they revive, or bury them in cool grots, making lamentation.

This Wine-press is call'd War on Earth, it is the Printing-Press
Of Los; and here he lays his words in order above the mortal brain
As cogs are formd in a wheel to turn the cogs of the adverse wheel."

Milton, Plate 31 [34], (E 130)
"The Fairies, Nymphs, Gnomes & Genii of the Four Elements         
Unforgiving & unalterable: these cannot be Regenerated
But must be Created, for they know only of Generation
These are the Gods of the Kingdoms of the Earth: in contrarious
And cruel opposition: Element against Element, opposed in War
Not Mental, as the Wars of Eternity, but a Corporeal Strife      
In Los's Halls continual labouring in the Furnaces of Golgonooza
Orc howls on the Atlantic: Enitharmon trembles: All Beulah weeps"     

Jerusalem, Plate 38 [43], (E 185)
"And the soft smile of friendship & the open dawn of benevolence  
Become a net & a trap, & every energy renderd cruel,
Till the existence of friendship & benevolence is denied:
The wine of the Spirit & the vineyards of the Holy-One.
Here: turn into poisonous stupor & deadly intoxication:
That they may be condemnd by Law & the Lamb of God be slain!   
And the two Sources of Life in Eternity, Hunting and War,
Are become the Sources of dark & bitter Death & of corroding Hell:
The open heart is shut up in integuments of frozen silence
That the spear that lights it forth may shatter the ribs & bosom
A pretence of Art, to destroy Art: a pretence of Liberty      
To destroy Liberty. a pretence of Religion to destroy Religion

Annotations to Reynolds, (E 635)
 "Degrade first the Arts if you'd Mankind degrade,
     Hire Idiots to Paint with cold light & hot shade:
     Give high Price for the worst, leave the best in disgrace,
     And with Labours of Ignorance fill every place."

Song of Los, Plate 3, (E 67)
"(Night spoke to the Cloud!
Lo these Human form'd spirits in smiling hipocrisy War
Against one another; so let them War on; slaves to the eternal Elements)"
 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

LARRY'S JOURNAL 3


Yale Center for British Art
America, Plate 10

Larry's Journal

Thurs Oct 25, 1984
 
Reading a few verses of Milton, it occurs to me that Blake is the preeminent commentator on scripture. He thought more deeply about scripture than anyone else I know. He inhabited a world of eternity that we in the present age desperately need. Whenever I go back to him he moves me deeply - much more than the Bible. He enriches the Biblical truths.
Praise God.
 
The tragedy of life stems from our inability to express this truth and meaning in worldly realms. I suppose that's what Blake means in part about the inseparable barrier between Eternity and Ulro. Maybe its what Jesus meant too in his story about Lazarus and Dives.

[Luke 16:26
Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.']

Fri Oct 26
...
Life seems very good this morning. It's wonderful to be well rested.
 
Europe, Plate 3, 'the crystal house' - the illusive human dream of heaven. Oh, I've been in many of its rooms - Rayne Memorial, the churches I served, the alcoholism programs, CofS, Hannah House, Cutting Edge, Gateway, 2nd Step - all rooms of the crystal house - as well as other things - also earthen vessels of the eternal Spirit.
Europe, Plate 3, (E 61)
                    "A PROPHECY
     The deep of winter came;                                    
     What time the secret child,
Descended thro' the orient gates of the eternal day:
War ceas'd, & all the troops like shadows fled to their abodes.

Then Enitharmon saw her sons & daughters rise around.            
Like pearly clouds they meet together in the crystal house:
And Los, possessor of the moon, joy'd in the peaceful night:
Thus speaking while his num'rous sons shook their bright fiery wings

Again the night is come               
That strong Urthona takes his rest,                              
And Urizen unloos'd from chains                                  
Glows like a meteor in the distant north
Stretch forth your hands and strike the elemental strings!
Awake the thunders of the deep."

Milton, Plate 27 [28], (E 125)
"But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,          
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions
Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery:

That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men.
And Science is divided into Bowlahoola & Allamanda.
Plate 28 [30]
Some Sons of Los surround the Passions with porches of iron & silver
Creating form & beauty around the dark regions of sorrow,
Giving to airy nothing a name and a habitation
Delightful! with bounds to the Infinite putting off the Indefinite
Into most holy forms of Thought: (such is the power of inspiration)
They labour incessant; with many tears & afflictions:
Creating the beautiful House for the piteous sufferer.

Others; Cabinets richly fabricate of gold & ivory;
For Doubts & fears unform'd & wretched & melancholy
The little weeping Spectre stands on the threshold of Death      
Eternal; and sometimes two Spectres like lamps quivering
And often malignant they combat (heart-breaking sorrowful & piteous)
Antamon takes them into his beautiful flexible hands,
As the Sower takes the seed, or as the Artist his clay
Or fine wax, to mould artful a model for golden ornaments,      
The soft hands of Antamon draw the indelible line:
Form immortal with golden pen; such as the Spectre admiring
Puts on the sweet form; then smiles Antamon bright thro his windows
The Daughters of beauty look up from their Loom & prepare.
The integument soft for its clothing with joy & delight."

Songs and Ballads, (E 488)
 "The Crystal Cabinet

The Maiden caught me in the Wild
Where I was dancing merrily
She put me into her Cabinet
And Lockd me up with a golden Key

This Cabinet is formd of Gold 
And Pearl & Crystal shining bright
And within it opens into a World
And a little lovely Moony Night  

Another England there I saw
Another London with its Tower 
Another Thames & other Hills
And another pleasant Surrey Bower

Another Maiden like herself
Translucent lovely shining clear
Threefold each in the other closd 
O what a pleasant trembling fear

O what a smile a threefold Smile
Filld me that like a flame I burnd
I bent to Kiss the lovely Maid
And found a Threefold Kiss returnd 

I strove to sieze the inmost Form
With ardor fierce & hands of flame
But burst the Crystal Cabinet
And like a Weeping Babe became

A weeping Babe upon the wild 
And Weeping Woman pale reclind
And in the outward air again
I filld with woes the passing Wind"
Ellie 
June 2017

What might have been Blake's Crystal Houses - social acceptance, the Royal Academy, publishing independently, Hayley's patronage? They all proved to be 'illusive human dreams of heaven' which were unnecessary when he focused only on his Art as the expression of the Holy Spirit through him.

In Milton, Blake does have his hero bridge the gap between the man who has accepted a lessor vision, and the one who 'sells all he has' to pursue a vision that comes from his internal awareness of the Truth. Blake's Milton descended from heaven, naked and unprotected by the constructs of his intellect, to experience the immediate, essential confrontation with the numinous that awakens the Soul which may have remained asleep.

Jerusalem, Plate 62, (E 213)
"Shall Albion arise? I know he shall arise at the Last Day!
I know that in my flesh I shall see God: but Emanations
Are weak. they know not whence they are, nor whither tend.

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"

Matthew 6
[28] And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
[29] And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
[30] Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
[31] Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
[32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
[33] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
[34] Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Monday, June 05, 2017

PAN TEACHING BOY

British Museum
Pan teaching a boy to play on the pipes
c.1785



The satyr Pan is not an innocent character. The pipe which bears his name was contrived in a moment of anger when the Nymph he hoped to possess was turned into a reed. He repented of his wrath at having broken the reed into segments by constructing the pieces into a pipe for making music. The young Blake's picture, however, captured the innocent side of Pan, the patron of shepherds, instructing a boy in the art of playing the Pan Pipe by blowing over the openings of the reeds.
 
Blake began the Songs of Innocence by adopting the role of the shepherd teaching a song to a child and preparing to write his songs with a makeshift reed pen. 

Songs of Innocence, Plate 4, (E 7)
"Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child.
And he laughing said to me.

Pipe a song about a Lamb;    
So I piped with merry chear,
Piper pipe that song again--
So I piped, he wept to hear.

Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe
Sing thy songs of happy chear,        
So I sung the same again
While he wept with joy to hear

Piper sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read--
So he vanish'd from my sight.
And I pluck'd a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear       

Plate 5  
The Shepherd. 
How sweet is the Shepherds sweet lot,
Yale Center for British Art
America
Plate 7
From the morn to the evening he strays:
He shall follow his sheep all the day
And his tongue shall be filled with praise. 
For he hears the lambs innocent call,
And he hears the ewes tender reply,
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh."


Near the end of Four Zoas the peace of innocence was returned. Mankind had learned through experience to re-assimilate the broken pieces of his psyche and live in harmony recognizing that everything that lives is holy.
 
Four Zoas, Night IX,Page ( E 403)  
"The song arose to the Golden feast the 
Eternal Man rejoicd 
Then the Eternal Man said Luvah the Vintage 
is ripe arise 
The sons of Urizen shall gather the vintage 
with sharp hooks 
And all thy sons O Luvah bear away the 
families of Earth 
I hear the flail of Urizen his barns are full 
no room 
Remains & in the Vineyards stand 
the abounding sheaves beneath 
The falling Grapes that odorous burst upon the winds. 
Arise My flocks & herds trample the Corn my cattle browze upon 
The ripe Clusters The shepherds shout for Luvah prince of Love 
Let the Bulls of Luvah tread the Corn & draw the loaded waggon 
Into the Barn while children glean the Ears around the door 
Then shall they lift their innocent hands & stroke his furious nose 
And he shall lick the little girls white neck & on her head
Scatter the perfume of his breath while from his mountains high
The lion of terror shall come down & bending his bright mane
And couching at their side shall eat from the curld boys white lap
His golden food and in the evening sleep before the Door"

Friday, June 02, 2017

THE GARMENT

Wikimedia Commons
Detail from Jerusalem Plate 59

Northrop Frey's Fearful Symmetry never fails to yield insight into the intricacies of Blake complex imagery. On Page 381, he states:

"Most of the references to clothing in the Bible represent the transparent 'net' which the fallen world flings around us, woven by Vala, who also weaves armor of conflict, shells of stupidity, or coverings of concealment and shame like the fig-leaves of Adam and Eve. 
...
On the other hand, the 'seamless garment' of the cross and the linen clothes abandoned by Jesus in his tomb represent the imagination's escape from this through another power, of which Blake gives us a glimpse in his remarkable picture of the solicitous Fates in Plate 59. This is the power of seeing the physical appearance as the covering of the mental reality, yet not so much concealing its shape so much as revealing it in a fallen aspect, and so not the clothing but the body or form of the mental world, through a physical and therefore fallen body or form. If we try to visualize this development of the 'clothing' symbol, we get something more like a mirror, a surface which reveals reality in fewer dimensions that it actually has.
...
The world in which we live therefore contains a 'heaven' or imaginative world in which all natural objects have a mental significance, and a 'hell' or Ulro in which the same natural objects have an opposite significance. The latter is thus a parody or mirror-image, a Vegetable Glass as Blake calls it, of the world of mental reality."

Larry's annotation on this passage - "For now we look through a glass darkly."

First Corinthians 13
[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
[9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
[10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
[11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
[12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
[13] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Hebrews 4
JB Phillips Translation
12-13
For the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man's being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man's heart. No creature has any cover from the sight of God; everything lies naked and exposed before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Methodist Communion Liturgy

“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”


Library of Congress
Milton 
Plate 16
The interior world of Imagination displays reality as it really is. However for those confined to the lower worlds it is possible to see a reflected image of the mental visions of the Eternal. In contemporary terminology the natural world may be thought of as a virtual image of the everlasting dimension. If an individual can learn to see through the virtual image to the content of the permanent originals he will drink of the waters of life and be satisfied.

Unfortunately mankind seems to see the turmoil around him as real, and the world of peace, joy, faith, love and hope as an illusion beyond his grasp. One of Blake's great gifts to us is his images, visual and verbal, of a world more sharp, well defined and inviting than the blurry world mediated to us by our five senses.


In this image we see Milton removing the garment which obscures his ability to see in order that he may enter the world of Vision.      


Jerusalem, Plate 16, (E 161)
"In Enitharmons Halls builded by Los & his mighty Children        

All things acted on Earth are seen in the bright Sculptures of
Los's Halls & every Age renews its powers from these Works
With every pathetic story possible to happen from Hate or
Wayward Love & every sorrow & distress is carved here
Every Affinity of Parents Marriages & Friendships are here       
In all their various combinations wrought with wondrous Art
All that can happen to Man in his pilgrimage of seventy years
Such is the Divine Written Law of Horeb & Sinai:
And such the Holy Gospel of Mount Olivet & Calvary:" 
Jerusalem, Plate 59, (E 209) 
"in the midst of these              
Is Built eternally the sublime Universe of Los & Enitharmon

And in the North Gate, in the West of the North. toward Beulah
Cathedrons Looms are builded. and Los's Furnaces in the South
A wondrous golden Building immense with ornaments sublime
Is bright Cathedrons golden Hall, its Courts Towers & Pinnacles  

And one Daughter of Los sat at the fiery Reel & another
Sat at the shining Loom with her Sisters attending round
Terrible their distress & their sorrow cannot be utterd
And another Daughter of Los sat at the Spinning Wheel
Endless their labour, with bitter food. void of sleep,           
Tho hungry they labour: they rouze themselves anxious
Hour after hour labouring at the whirling Wheel
Many Wheels & as many lovely Daughters sit weeping

Yet the intoxicating delight that they take in their work
Obliterates every other evil; none pities their tears            
Yet they regard not pity & they expect no one to pity
For they labour for life & love, regardless of any one
But the poor Spectres that they work for, always incessantly

They are mockd, by every one that passes by. they regard not
They labour; & when their Wheels are broken by scorn & malice    
They mend them sorrowing with many tears & afflictions.

Other Daughters Weave on the Cushion & Pillow, Network fine
That Rahab & Tirzah may exist & live & breathe & love
Ah, that it could be as the Daughters of Beulah wish!

Other Daughters of Los, labouring at Looms less fine             
Create the Silk-worm & the Spider & the Catterpiller
To assist in their most grievous work of pity & compassion
And others Create the wooly Lamb & the downy Fowl
To assist in the work: the Lamb bleats: the Sea-fowl cries
Men understand not the distress & the labour & sorrow            
That in the Interior Worlds is carried on in fear & trembling
Weaving the shuddring fears & loves of Albions Families
Thunderous rage the Spindles of iron. & the iron Distaff
Maddens in the fury of their hands, Weaving in bitter tears
The Veil of Goats-hair & Purple & Scarlet & fine twined Linen"
 
Blake also provided images of the self-destructive world, enamored with its own Selfhood, opposed to receiving Imaginative Vision, it sees with astonishment the consequences of the failures of consciousness in which it engages.

Visions of Last Judgment, (E 558)
"beneath these is the Seat of the Harlot namd
Mystery in the Revelations.  She is [bound] siezed by
Two Beings each with three heads they Represent Vegetative
Existence. as it is written in Revelations they strip her naked
& burn her with fire it represents the Eternal Consummation of
Vegetable Life & Death with its Lusts The wreathed Torches in
their hands represents Eternal Fire which is the fire of
Generation or Vegetation it is an Eternal Consummation Those who
are blessed with Imaginative Vision see This Eternal Female &
tremble at what others fear not  while they laugh at
what others fear Her Kings & Councellors & Warriors descend in
Flames Lamenting & looking upon her in astonishment & Terror. &
Hell is opend beneath her Seat on the Left hand. beneath her
feet is a flaming Cavern in which is seen the Great Red Dragon
with Seven heads & ten Horns   he has Satans book
of Accusations lying on the rock open before him"


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

LARRY'S JOURNAL 2

British Museum
Song of Los
Copy a, Page 2

Larry's Journal 

Tues Dec 27, 1984

"Thanks for everything.

Reflections about computing. I have transferred much of my idealism to it. I see it as an instrument for democratization.  At least it invites a meritocracy. I would like to make it available to all possible. I see it as a possible escape from various forms of poverty, providing new opportunities for many people in many ways. Praise the Lord.

In Night 9 of 4Z Blake put on the mantle of John and allowed himself the luxury of letting his imagination soar with the visions of the apocalyptic future. All Mystery's tyrants are drown'd in a torrent of black blood. The symbol suggests the essential meaninglessness of their endeavors."
 
Ellie
May 2017

In 1984 Larry was still intoxicated with his Blake studies but he had transferred much of his interest to the developing field of personal computing for exhilarating  stimulation.

Having learned from William Blake and John of Patmos that the two dimensions of apocalypse are the death of the diseased body of the old dispensation and the birth of the glorious freshly minted coin of the New Jerusalem, his hope was that mankind would be able to use the new gift of expanded mental capabilities embodied in computers to overcome his blindness and to open his doors of perception.
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
 "The Last Judgment is an Overwhelming of Bad Art & Science. 
Mental Things are alone Real what is Calld Corporeal Nobody Knows
of its Dwelling Place it is in Fallacy & its Existence an
Imposture  Where is the Existence Out of Mind or Thought Where is
it but in the Mind of a Fool.  Some People flatter themselves
that there will be No Last Judgment & that Bad Art will be
adopted & mixed with Good Art That Error or Experiment will make
a Part of Truth & they Boast that it is its Foundation these
People flatter themselves   I will not Flatter them Error is
Created Truth is Eternal Error or Creation will be Burned Up &
then & not till then Truth or Eternity will appear It is Burnt up
the Moment Men cease to behold it I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me. What it
will be Questiond When the Sun rises  do  you  not  see  a  round 
Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable
company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord
God Almighty"  
Four Zoas, Night VI, Page 69, (E 346)
"art thou Urizen
Art thou like me risen again from death or art thou deathless
If thou art he my desperate purpose hear & give me death
For death to me is better far than life. death my desire
That I in vain in various paths have sought but still I live     
The Body of Man is given to me I seek in vain to destroy
For still it surges forth in fish & monsters of the deeps
And in these monstrous forms I Live in an Eternal woe
And thou O Urizen art falln never to be deliverd
Withhold thy light from me for ever & I will withhold            
From thee thy food so shall we cease to be & all our sorrows
End & the Eternal Man no more renew beneath our power  
If thou refusest in eternal flight thy beams in vain
Shall pursue Tharmas & in vain shalt crave for food I will
Pour down my flight thro dark immensity Eternal falling         
Thou shalt pursue me but in vain till starvd upon the void
Thou hangst a dried skin shrunk up weak wailing in the wind

So Tharmas spoke but Urizen replied not. On his way
He took. high bounding over hills & desarts floods & horrible chasms
Infinite was his labour without end his travel   he strove       
In vain for hideous monsters of the deeps annoyd him sore
Scaled & finnd with iron & brass they devourd the path before him
Incessant was the conflict. On he bent his weary steps
Making a path toward the dark world of Urthona. he rose
With pain upon the dreary mountains & with pain descended   
And saw their grizly fears & his eyes sickend at the sight
The howlings gnashings groanings shriekings shudderings sobbings burstings
Mingle together to create a world for Los. In cruel delight"

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 121, (E 391)
"And the Eternal Man Said Hear my words O Prince of Light   
PAGE 122 
Behold Jerusalem in whose bosom the Lamb of God
Is seen tho slain before her Gates he self renewd remains
Eternal & I thro him awake to life from deaths dark vale
The times revolve the time is coming when all these delights
Shall be renewd & all these Elements that now consume            
Shall reflourish. Then bright Ahania shall awake from death
A glorious Vision to thine Eyes a Self renewing Vision  
The spring. the summer to be thine then Sleep the wintry days
In silken garments spun by her own hands against her funeral
The winter thou shalt plow & lay thy stores into thy barns       
Expecting to recieve Ahania in the spring with joy
Immortal thou. Regenerate She & all the lovely Sex
From her shall learn obedience & prepare for a wintry grave
That spring may see them rise in tenfold joy & sweet delight
Thus shall the male & female live the life of Eternity           
Because the Lamb of God Creates himself a bride & wife
That we his Children evermore may live in Jerusalem
Which now descendeth out of heaven a City yet a Woman
Mother of myriads redeemd & born in her spiritual palaces
By a New Spiritual birth Regenerated from Death" 

Revelation 21
[1] And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
[2] And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
[3] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
[4] And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

                 

Monday, May 29, 2017

RECOGNIZE ERROR

Wiki Art
Michelangelo
Sistine Chapel - Ezekias, Manasses, Amon

Three generations in the line of Jesus' ancestors are represented in a single tempera of Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling: Hezekiah, Manasseh and Amon.

Two men who bore the name Manasseh figured prominently in Old Testament history. The first was one of the two sons of Joseph born before the Israelites were delivered from Egypt. He and his brother Ephraim were said to be children of an Egyptian woman, and were given half-shares when the land was distributed among the tribes in the land on Canaan.
British Museum
Manasseh
Copy after Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

Later a boy only twelve years old, became king of Israel. His reign was long, corrupt and bloody. He departed from the religion of the Israelites and worshiped the gods of the enemies of Israel. This Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah and the father of Amon.  

Athough Hezekiah had followed Yahweh's command to destroy the altars to Baal, his son and grandson rebuilt them and worshiped and served Baal instead the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This is the irony of the ancestry of Jesus: it includes both the most admirable and the most despicable characters. We cannot eradicate individuals from the genetic material we receive from our ancestors. Nor can we eliminate the mistakes we make as we travel our journeys through life. But we can learn to recognize error when we see it distorting our ability to engage in creative relationships and activities. It is the repetition of the same errors which stymies development .

In Milton, Blake had his hero recognize his error and set about rebuilding his psyche in accordance with the vision which was given to him.

Kay Parkhurst Easson and Roger Easson, in their book Milton, describe the dramatic reconstruction of the personality required to get past the erroneous thinking which inhibits growth:

"Like Milton in Blake's poem, the loving reader of Blake journeys into recognition of his selfhood, that error of perception which limits imagination and spiritual growth. Reading Milton is like a journey of unlearning. Blake describes his task in Milton as displaying 'Nature's cruel holiness, the deceits of Natural Religion.' In other words, one of the basic tasks of Blake's poem is to expose the false reality of the so called 'natural world' and its assertion that it is the only reality. This 'false reality' is the result of the selfhood of each reader; it is the world we naturally perceive as 'without,' the world we externalize and desire to control and which in turn controls us. Consequently, Blake's vision of the world is so dissonant with our usual understanding that we must 'unlearn'; we must give up our preconceptions about the world and about ourselves with that world." (Page 138)    

Milton, Plate 14 [15], (E 108)
"Then Milton rose up from the heavens of Albion ardorous!         
The whole Assembly wept prophetic, seeing in Miltons face
And in his lineaments divine the shades of Death & Ulro
He took off the robe of the promise, & ungirded himself from the oath of God

And Milton said, I go to Eternal Death! The Nations still
Follow after the detestable Gods of Priam; in pomp               
Of warlike selfhood, contradicting and blaspheming.
When will the Resurrection come; to deliver the sleeping body
From corruptibility: O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come?
Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death.
I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave.       
I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks!
I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death,
Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate
And I be siez'd & giv'n into the hands of my own Selfhood
The Lamb of God is seen thro' mists & shadows, hov'ring          
Over the sepulchers in clouds of Jehovah & winds of Elohim
A disk of blood, distant; & heav'ns & earth's roll dark between
What do I here before the Judgment? without my Emanation?
With the daughters of memory, & not with the daughters of inspiration[?]
I in my Selfhood am that Satan: I am that Evil One!              
He is my Spectre! in my obedience to loose him from my Hells
To claim the Hells, my Furnaces, I go to Eternal Death.

And Milton said. I go to Eternal Death! Eternity shudder'd
For he took the outside course, among the graves of the dead
A mournful shade. Eternity shudderd at the image of eternal death

Then on the verge of Beulah he beheld his own Shadow;
A mournful form double; hermaphroditic: male & female
In one wonderful body. and he enterd into it
In direful pain for the dread shadow, twenty-seven-fold 

Reachd to the depths of direst Hell, & thence to Albions land:  
Which is this earth of vegetation on which now I write,"

Matthew 1
[9] And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;
[10] And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;
[11] And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon

Genesis 48
[1] And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
[5] And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
[13] And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him.
[14] And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
[17] And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head.
[20] And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

Second Kings 21
[1] Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hephzi-bah.
[2] And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
[3] For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
[4] And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name.
[5] And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.
[6] And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
[7] And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever:
[8] Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.
[9] But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.
[10] And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying,
[11] Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:
[12] Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.
[13] And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.
[14] And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies;
[15] Because they have done that which was evil in my sight,and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.
[16] Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
[17] Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and all that he did, and his sin that he sinned, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
[18] And Manasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.
[19] Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.

[20] And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh did.
[21] And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them:

[22] And he forsook the LORD God of his fathers, and walked not in the way of the LORD.
[23] And the servants of Amon conspired against him, and slew the king in his own house.
[24] And the people of the land slew all them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead.
[25] Now the rest of the acts of Amon which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
[26] And he was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead.