Monday, May 03, 2010
Gates to Paradise Picture 8
This one is juicy. I immediately thought of a young man defying his father; then I thought of Absalom, the archetype of such an impulse.
But Blake had some very different ideas; here's the textual material associated with this picture:
"8. In Vain-glory hatcht and nurst,
By double Spectres, self-accurst.
.My Son! my Son! thou treatest me
But as I have instructed thee.
Digby (39-41) agrees that the picture (inscribed My Son! My Son!) is about authority, but the Father here is less about your blood father than the internal father (I think Jung referred to it as the superego; many fellow men never rise above that level; as Castaneda put it "our fellow men, the black magicians".
Blake called this the Spectre (Selfhood) (Satan) standing over Blake and you and me. It's the third part of the human being; it abides in everyone to lead us astray into pure materialism and the denial that there's anything else.
The second couplet says
"My Son! my Son! thou treatest me
But as I have instructed thee."
The sorrowful father admits that the son has come by his vanity and arrogance honestly (from the father!) The Absalom story must have meant a lot to Blake.
Digby also suggested another picture (at Plate Six of Jerusalem) which shows the (flying?) Spectre standing over Los. Notice the chain coming up from the lower right hand; it appears again above Los and obvious belonging to the bat like figure (the Spectre, Selfhood, Satan). Flying though he may be the Spectre is locked up in the chains of the mind; he's the one in Plato's cave faithfully watching the shadows and oblivious to the sunlight outside. Is that a true image of you and me?