Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Job picture 12

A new man is born; the child within comes forth (a happy child?)

Job 32:6-8:
6 So Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite said:
"I am young in years,
and you are old;
that is why I was fearful,
not daring to tell you what I know.
7 I thought, 'Age should speak;
advanced years should teach wisdom.'
8 But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.

Edinger page 47: "Elihu is the young and fresh aspect of the psyche, the undeveloped function, the child, that which is closest to the unconscious." Things are looking up for Job; he's been in the pit; he's had this pitiful nightmare (Picture 11).
If that could be called the "dark night of the soul", then Elihu presages the dawn, a new day; like the AA person he hit bottom and started coming up.

In Job 33:14-18 Elihu points out that the pitiful dream is to "turn him away from evil doing and make an end of his pride".

"[14] For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.
[15] In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
[16] Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
[17] That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
[18] He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword."

Elihu is in fact a 'Christ figure', a messenger from Heaven to welcome Job's recovery.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


An image that Blake uses for the Fall of Man (the division into duality or multiplicity), is presented in the limitation of man's sensory acuity. The senses of Eternity are flexible, expanding and contracting at will: their perceptions are infinite.

The Book of Urizen dramatizes the process of the infinite senses becoming the senses five that we recognize and enjoy today. It is not a happy sight to see the powers of Eternity being defined and limited into the narrow range of sight, sound, smell, and taste and touch to which we have access.

Book of Urizen, Plate 12, (E 76) ................Plate 13

"8. In harrowing fear rolling round;
His nervous brain shot branches
Round the branches of his heart.
On high into two little orbs
And fixed in two little eaves
Hiding carefully from the wind,
His Eyes beheld the deep,
And a third Age passed over:
And a state of dismal woe.

9. The pangs of hope began,
In heavy pain striving, struggling.
Two Ears in close volutions.
From beneath his orbs of vision
Shot spiring out and petrified
As they grew. And a fourth Age passed
And a state of dismal woe.

10. In ghastly torment sick;
Hanging upon the wind;


Two Nostrils bent down to the deep.
And a fifth Age passed over;
And a state of dismal woe.

11. In ghastly torment sick;
Within his ribs bloated round,
A craving Hungry Cavern;
Thence arose his channeld Throat,
And like a red flame a Tongue
Of thirst & of hunger appeard.
And a sixth Age passed over:
And a state of dismal woe.

PLATE 22, (E 82)
The Senses inward rush'd shrinking,
Beneath the dark net of infection.

2. Till the shrunken eyes clouded over
Discernd not the woven hipocrisy
But the streaky slime in their heavens
Brought together by narrowing perceptions
Appeard transparent air; for their eyes
Grew small like the eyes of a man
And in reptile forms shrinking together"

The inability to perceive reality shows itself in man's forgetting Eternity from which he originated. This limits his ability to discern the possibility of living as he is meant to live. His limited perceptions further cloud his mind to the distorted conditions which he becomes satisfied with living under in the world he has made for himself.

Letter to Truxler, (E 702)
"As a man is So he Sees.
As the Eye is formed such are its Powers"

We are limited in what we see by who we are; likewise we are limited in who we are by what we see. In our present circumstances the distortions of our perceptions cause us to accept war, imprisonment, impoverishment, exploitation, and destruction of the environment. Likewise we are diminished in our self-perception by what we see is happening around us. Cleansing the windows of perception is a way to alter the direction in which we are heading. Blake has the journey to regeneration begin by Los recognizing himself in his enemy Urizen. Our return journey can begin with a recognition that we are creating the self-destructing world in our own image. Healing ourselves can heal our world.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Speaking of this plate, Erdman informs us in The Illuminated Blake: "The full picture adumbrates the full plot of the poem, while illustrating the opening lines".

At the beginning of the first chapter of Jerusalem Blake sets forth a theme: he writes about the passage through Eternal Death (the inability to discern the Divine Image), and the awakening to Eternal Life (the life lived as a member of the Divine Family).

Jerusalem, Chap I, Plate 4, (E 146)

"Of the Sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through
Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life.

This theme calls me in sleep night after night, & ev'ry morn
Awakes me at sun-rise, then I see the Saviour over me
Spreading his beams of love, & dictating the words of this mild

Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.
In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of Surrey
A black water accumulates, return Albion! return!
Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,
Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughters
Weep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darkend:
Thy Emanation that was wont to play before thy face,
Beaming forth with her daughters into the Divine bosom
Where hast thou hidden thy Emanation lovely Jerusalem
From the vision and fruition of the Holy-one?
I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend;
Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:
Lo! we are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!
Ye are my members O ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades!

But the perturbed Man away turns down the valleys dark;"

Blake tells us the journey he wants us to take and the destination he wishes us to reach but his guidance is not necessarily adequate to insure our success. This website may give us some light for the dark valleys. Here we find an introduction to the book Jerusalem which can act as a primer in grasping the meaning of the book.

The author however offers this caveat: "Indeed, nearly every commentator has qualified their assessment of the poem by admitting that it is likely that no one will ever be able to explain fully the scope of Blake's poetic vision."

"Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, William Blake - Introduction." Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Lynn M. Zott. Vol. 127. Gale Cengage, 2003. 2006.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Job Picture 10

A Barrage of Accusations

Above the picture:
"But he knoweth the way that I take"
"when he hath tried me, I shall come forth like gold" (Job 23:100
"Have pity on me Have pity on me O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me" (Job 19:21)

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (13:15) (This one must have been much in Christ's mind near the end of his mortal days.)

Below the picture:
"the Just Upright Man is laughed to scorn." (Job 12:4b)
"[1] Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and
full of trouble.
[2] He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he
fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
[3] And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one,
and bringest me into judgment with thee?
[4] Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not
one. (Job 14:1-4)

Blake put a barrelful of Job quotes in this plate. The
picture would suggest that these were accusations,
but the context tells me that Job is saying most of
these things. But together we come to a logical solution; does
Job realize that he is an "unclean thing"?

Friday, June 25, 2010


Four Zoas, Page 103, (E 376)
"Enitharmon wove in tears Singing Songs of Lamentations
In Golgonoozas Furnaces among the Anvils of time & space
Thus forming a Vast family wondrous in beauty & love
And they appeard a Universal female form created
From those who were dead in Ulro from the Spectres of the dead
And Enitharmon namd the Female Jerusa[le]m the holy
Wondring she saw the Lamb of God within Jerusalems Veil
The divine Vision seen within the inmost deep recess
Of fair Jerusalems bosom in a gently beaming fire"

Jerusalem, Plate 20, (E 165)
"Wherefore hast thou shut me into the winter of human life
And clos'd up the sweet regions of youth and virgin innocence:
Where we live, forgetting error, not pondering on evil:
Among my lambs & brooks of water, among my warbling birds:
Where we delight in innocence before the face of the Lamb:
Going in and out before him in his love and sweet affection.

Vala replied weeping & trembling, hiding in her veil.

When winter rends the hungry family and the snow falls:
Upon the ways of men hiding the paths of man and beast,
Then mourns the wanderer: then he repents his wanderings & eyes
The distant forest; then the slave groans in the dungeon of stone.
The captive in the mill of the stranger, sold for scanty hire.
They view their former life: they number moments over and over;
Stringing them on their remembrance as on a thread of sorrow.
Thou art my sister and my daughter! thy shame is mine also!
Ask me not of my griefs! thou knowest all my griefs.

Jerusalem answer'd with soft tears over the valleys.

O Vala what is Sin? that thou shudderest and weepest
At sight of thy once lov'd Jerusalem! What is Sin but a little
Error & fault that is soon forgiven; but mercy is not a Sin
Nor pity nor love nor kind forgiveness! O! if I have Sinned
Forgive & pity me! O! unfold thy Veil in mercy & love!
Slay not my little ones, beloved Virgin daughter of Babylon
Slay not my infant loves & graces, beautiful daughter of Moab
I cannot put off the human form I strive but strive in vain
When Albion rent thy beautiful net of gold and silver twine;
Thou hadst woven it with art, thou hadst caught me in the bands
Of love; thou refusedst to let me go: Albion beheld thy beauty
Beautiful thro' our Love's comeliness, beautiful thro' pity.
The Veil shone with thy brightness in the eyes of Albion,
Because it inclosd pity & love; because we lov'd one-another!
Albion lov'd thee! he rent thy Veil! he embrac'd thee! he lov'd thee!
Astonish'd at his beauty & perfection, thou forgavest his furious love:
I redounded from Albions bosom in my virgin loveliness.
The Lamb of God reciev'd me in his arms he smil'd upon us:
He made me his Bride & Wife: he gave thee to Albion.
Then was a time of love: O why is it passed away!

Jerusalem asks the question, 'Why?' Why am I who lived in Eden or Eternity now locked in this body in the world of generation? Why are the ordinary pleasures of innocence and continual forgiveness in association with the Saviour shut off from me? Vala seems to know what has happened: the Eternal family has been torn apart,
Jerusalem is not in her accustomed home and the way of return is unknown. Vala explains the the usual behavior of wandering and return will instead now lead to confusion, limitations and the reasoning abstract. Man is trapped in the pattern of remembering instead of imagining. Jerusalem knows these restrictions to be 'mind forged manacles'.

Vala reminds Jerusalem that she is aware of conditions in which they now live. But Jerusalem tells Vala that what she calls sin was but error in Eternity and quickly forgiven. Jerusalem knows that her desire to love and pity and forgive is not sin. Jerusalem seeks forgiveness herself but pleads that her creative output not be destroyed. Jerusalem's involvement in the material world was not sought by her but came about through love and pity as did Vala's and Albion's. Now a new arrangement has been made (another mercy to lead to regeneration). Vala has been given to Albion: involvement in the natural to the Eternal/Fallen Man. Jerusalem has been given to Jesus: the spiritual consciousness to the Divine Body.

As one of the illustrations which Blake created for potential publication in Night Thoughts, this picture is not explicitly of Vala and Jerusalem. But as an image in which we can see the implicit as well as the explicit, they are present. The reclining woman is Vala as so portrayed in other pictures. She wears a crown and gazes into a mirror: the vegetable glass, a symbol for the material world. Cupid is her companion from the world of generation or the sexes. Sitting on the chair and playing the flute, as a symbol of imagination, is a figure not tuned to Vala's world. Her crown is not of gold but of laurel leaves. Unfortunately she cannot flee to the world which is her home because she is chained to the chair.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Job Picture 9

Eliphaz answers Job:

"12 "A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it.

13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on men,

14 fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.

15 A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end.

16 It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice:

17 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?" (Job 4:12-17)

Is 'Eliphaz' one of Job's buddies or something that came up out of his unconscious? Is it an outward or an inner experience; you can play it either way.

Edinger (41) calls it "a numinous dream of Job's, which is being recalled in his active imagination. It is a kind of dream prelude to the later full encounter with Yahweh."

So what does that mean to the ordinary lowbrow? Edinger is suggesting that something is going on in Job's mind (although it's ostensibly an event in neighbor Eliphaz's life).

Look at the Book of Job as a whole, and this obviously portends the appearance of the Eternal in Job's life.

"Was ever any man found blameless in the presence of God, or faultless in the presence of his maker." (Job 12:16 in the Jerusalem Bible) The writer of Job may have had in mind this verse from Psalm 14 (or any one of several passages with a similar sense): "1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."

The 'voice' Eliphaz heard leads Job to a comprehension that he is not as righteous as he thought he was; I wonder if that doesn't happen to all of us sooner or later.

The O.T., especially the Book of Psalms reiterates the idea that if you obey God and keep his commandments, all will go well. Job through painful experience found that that isn't necessarily true, as do we all sooner or later. So what was the outcome? Read on!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Wrath and Pity were two central facets of Blake's theology, and both words meant to him something very different from the common connotations. Re his reading of them we may exhibit one or the others of these two contraries, the critical faculty and the affirmative one.

Wrath and pity are two aspects of prophetic activity. Wrath personified by Rintrah is the energetic destructive phase. Palamabron epitomizes the gentler constructive expressions.These are the threat and promise of the Old Testament prophets. To make a difference in a world embroiled in exploitation and oppression and tyranny, the first impulse is to express anger and attempt to break down the instruments of oppression. The extreme example is to participate in riot and revolution, but there are milder forms of subversion and non-cooperation all aimed at destroying the structure that perpetuates a system of masters and slaves.

Wrath is motivated by anger at seeing injustice, pity is motivated by compassion at seeing suffering. Pity seeks to comfort and heal, to alleviate the pain of those wounded by the system. Wrath and Pity are contraries not enemies. Their activities supplement each other in fostering change but their functions are incompatible if exercised simultaneously. In a world distorted by misapprehension, wrath may fall on the oppressed and pity on the oppressor.

Wrath and pity can also be viewed in terms of punishment and forgiveness. In comparing Old and New Testament theology, wrath characterizes an aspect of the an Old Testament God who expects obedience to the law and punishes infractions. Jesus teaches in the New Testament that our relationship with the God of mercy, pity, peace and love may be renewed by forgiveness.

Wrath and pity both have creative and destructive aspects. Pity becomes destructive in the hand of Vala who uses the passive emotions as a weapon of control in her outward, feminine, material agenda.

This section from Percival explains how the feminine emotions can be used to build up or tear down; the active masculine could be used to build up as in exposing abuse or to tear down as in promoting war.

Milton O Percival, William Blake's Circle of Destiny, Page 45:
"...Blake has several sets of composite characters. Foremost among them are the Daughters of Beulah and the Daughters of Albion. They are man's feminine powers in two antithetical attitudes. In the Daughters of Beulah we have these powers devoted to the well-being of man; in the Daughters of Albion we have them, in obedience to reason, weaving the "natural" world of spiritual depravity. The one is Jerusalem seen in multiple, the other is Vala-Rahab. The Daughters of Beulah are said to guard the body of Albion during his mortal sleep on the rock of Ages; the Daughters of Albion, to bind down his perceptive powers and submit him to the corporeal illusion. The Daughters of Beulah personify a mercy and pity that is spontaneous and genuine; the Daughters of Albion, a spiritual hate masquerading as mercy and pity in the cruel and spurious forms of the moral law. The Daughters of Beulah, who by their selflessness keep man's senses open, prepare the conditions for a visionary life and are called Daughters of Inspiration. The Daughters of Albion, who in their selfishness bind down man's immortal senses, are called Daughters of Memory."

These passages will give a flavor of Blake's use of wrath and pity in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, PLATE 88, (E 247)
"The blow of his Hammer is Justice. the swing of his Hammer:
The force of Los's Hammer is eternal Forgiveness;"

Jerusalem, PLATE 65, (E 216)
"To decide Two Worlds with a great decision: a World of Mercy, and
A World of justice: the World of Mercy for Salvation
To cast Luvah into the Wrath, and Albion into the Pity
In the Two Contraries of Humanity & in the Four Regions."

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 232)
"But Jesus is the bright Preacher of Life
Creating Nature from this fiery Law,
By self-denial & forgiveness of Sin."

Jerusalem, Plate 79, (E 236)
"For in our battles we the Slain men view with pity and love:
We soon revive them in the secret of our tabernacles
But I Vala, Luvahs daughter, keep his body embalmd in moral laws
With spices of sweet odours of lovely jealous stupefaction:
Within my bosom, lest he arise to life & slay my Luvah
Pity me then O Lamb of God! O Jesus pity me!
Come into Luvahs Tents, and seek not to revive the Dead!"

Jerusalem, Plate 80, (E 237)
"The Spindle turnd in blood & fire: loud sound the trumpets
Of war: the cymbals play loud before the Captains
With Cambel & Gwendolen in dance and solemn song
The Cloud of Rahab vibrating with the Daughters of Albion
Los saw terrified, melted with pity & divided in wrath
He sent them over the narrow seas in pity and love
Among the Four Forests of Albion which overspread all the Earth
They go forth & return swift as a flash of lightning.
Among the tribes of warriors: among the Stones of power!
Against Jerusalem they rage thro all the Nations of Europe
Thro Italy & Grecia, to Lebanon & Persia & India.
The dungeons burst & the Prisoners set free."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Job Picture 8

For the caption Blake put phrases from Job 3:7

"Lo let that night be solitary
And let no joyful voice come therein"

And beneath Blake put

"Let the day perish wherein I was born" (Job :3:7)

Under that Blake put descriptively the last verse of Job 2:

13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word unto him, for they saw that his grief was very great."

Job 3:3-23 (Job's big speech):

Edinger in explanatory notes on page 37 selected these verses:

3 "May the day of my birth perish,and the night it was said, 'A boy is born!'
4 That day—may it turn to darkness;
may God above not care about it;
may no light shine upon it.
11 "Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?
12 Why were there knees to receive me
and breasts that I might be nursed?
13 For now I would be lying down in peace;
I would be asleep and at rest
14 with kings and counselors of the earth,
who built for themselves places now lying in ruins,
15 with rulers who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
20 "Why is light given to those in misery,
and life to the bitter of soul,
21 to those who long for death that does not come,
23 Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?"

Job posed the $64,000 question. With When Bad Things Happen to Good People, a book by Harold Kushner, a progressive rabbi, we have a modern attempt to deal with the issue, well nigh universal among people of faith. "Into every life some rain must fall" and similar truisms express a common response; those afflicted severely (like Job was) may say why, God? why did you let this happen. We all understand that God is all-power and all-knowing, so why? Perhaps it's the primary problem of religion, and Job virtually between the two testaments (chronologically) presents it here.

Blake had an earlier (caustic) response to the issue: "first God Almighty comes with a thump on the head; then Jesus Christ comes with a balm to heal"

Jesus is known to 'sit at the right hand of God'; some people say that Satan sat at the left hand of God-- until he fell--which is a poetic way of saying that God includes good and evil, the discovery that the good man, Job, made.

Edinger refers to Job's "ultimate metaphysical question of existence", and he goes on to offer one of three responses:
1. "in despair at finding himself an orphan in the cosmos [a person may] commit suicide either literally or psychologically, for example by succumbing to cynicism."
2. He may find a community or a creed with a religious myth that silences the question.
3 "a numinous encounter with the Self may occur.....such an event answers experientially the urgent question", which should satisfy the psychology adepts.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Milton O Percival's William Blake's Circle of Destiny clarifies many of the mysteries in reading Blake. Percival includes chapters on The Seven Eyes, Sex Symbolism, Astrological Symbolism, and Alchemical Symbolism as well as less specialized subjects which characterize Blake's work. In this passage from his introduction he speaks of many familiar concepts of Blake's which contribute to the movement of fall and return which comprise the Circle of Destiny. Perhaps reading this will help you fit together some of the terms and ideas which form a thread through the maze of Blake's poetry.

Quoting from Percival:
"Even on the supernal level there is a rise and fall, a constant interchange of contraries, a
wheel of departure and return. The exchange of Eden for Beulah involves descent; but so long as Beulah retains its faith in the values of Eden, the fall is not deep or severe, and the return is easy. But if in Beulah the error deepens and the circuit of return is closed, then the wheel has to swing "downwards and outwards," over a greatly expanded periphery, into the worlds of Ulro and Generation. For the punishment for error in Blake's system as in life itself lies in the bitter experience of error. When man decides, as he does in Beulah, without yet realizing the import of his decision, to live the outward, the passive, the feminine, the selfish, and the rational, he must be delivered over into the reality of his dream world in order that he may know it and renounce it. For experience, in Blake's system is remedial. Error runs its course. The spiritual body, like the natural body, labors to throw off infection and in the end succeeds. The path of experience is therefore circular. When the error which may be described as Nature or Natural Religion becomes formulated in man's mind, the cycle over which it is destined to run takes shape and begins to move. This cycle, which descends from Beulah into Ulro and ascends from Ulro by way of Generation into Beulah, where it joins the supernal cycle, is the Circle of Destiny."

Milton, Plate 30, (E130)
"Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity; appearing
To the Inhabitants of Eden, around them on all sides.
But Beulah to its Inhabitants appears within each district
As the beloved infant in his mothers bosom round incircled
With arms of love & pity & sweet compassion. But to
The Sons of Eden the moony habitations of Beulah,
Are from Great Eternity a mild & pleasant Rest.

And it is thus Created. Lo the Eternal Great Humanity
To whom be Glory & Dominion Evermore Amen
Walks among all his awful Family seen in every face
As the breath of the Almighty. such are the words of man to man
In the great Wars of Eternity, in fury of Poetic Inspiration,
To build the Universe stupendous: Mental forms Creating"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Job Picture 7

Picture 7 celebrates the arrival of Job's friends, referred to with some irony as his three comforters.
Job 2:  

11 "When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.  
13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was."

You may discern two ways of looking at this scene: the first (as above) shows three of Job 's buddies (business associates?) who heard he was sick and decided to pay him a visit (as we may often do under similar circumstances). In the second interpretation Job's three friends represent elements of his shadow side, objectionable facets of his psyche ordinarily confined to his Unconscious; they basically represent what Blake called his Spectre.

We all have attitudes, past actions, tendencies that we choose not to own (like 'I''m not prejudiced'). In the 'dark night of the soul' these things intrude into our minds willing or not. This is what Blake meant in his Vision of the Last Judgment ; this was Job's 'last judgment: "whenever any Individual Rejects Error & Embraces Truth a Last Judgment passes upon that Individual Over the Head of the Saviour & Redeemer" (VLJ; Erdman 562).

Blake had more than one such event; we may have many such events in our lives, the more the better; each one represents a rejection of evil (what Blake called error) and an embrace of Truth (the higher path, the better course); this is the stuff of Redemption.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Job Picture 6

Picture 6:
Above the top of the picture read:
"Naked came I out of my mothers womb
Naked shall I return thither"
"The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away
Blessd be the name of the Lord"

Above the pic you may see three bat wings; outside the two upper corners there are two figures (male and female?) holding the ends of a long web string and at the bottom of the strings two spiders.

The sun is going down in the West and it won't be seen again until it rises in the East in Picture 21.

"and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head" (this below the bottom of the pic)

With his left hand Satan pours a stream of poison on a prone Job and with his right hand he's about to pierce him with four arrows:
"This means that Job is being attacked by the Quaternity, the wholeness of the Self" (Edinger 29) (everything in Blake is fourfold), analogous to Christ being nailed to the cross or "Cupid's arrows of passion". (page 31)

Look at the broken pitcher beneath the picture. Edinger says it "suggests that the ego as a container may break if more is poured into it than it can stand" (Page 31). Most of us know people who have been shattered by some event: death of a child or spouse (sometimes of a parent); the person is so discombobulated that anything may happen; he/she may simply lose their faith. Some people in the hospital tell me they're just hanging on. Job hung on; he held fast his integrity.

Edinger went on to say that the "broken shepherd's crook in the lower left corner" indicates Job's dawning awareness that God is certainly no 'good shepherd'.

Here's the Biblical source for this picture at Job 2:
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD.

2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.
4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD,----" and what follows will be revealed in the next Picture. Very obviously Satan is on a downward path.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


'If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.' (Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 15) Among the doors of perception are the senses and cleaning them means learning to use them to see not only the finite but the infinite - the finite world is the world of matter the infinite is Eternity. Limiting ourselves to a perception of only the natural world forces to 'believe a lie'.

A dear friend, who spent a lot of time working with underprivileged girls once told us of a revealing dream. She found herself on a stage in a theater and discovered that she was not earthbound but could fly. To the rear of the stage was a scrim and she learned the she could pass through the scrim at will and experience the delights on the other side. She wanted to share the experience with her young friends who were on the stage with her, but found that although they could with effort become airborne, the scrim was a barrier through which they could not pass.

The experience of becoming able to see the Eternal in every event in our lives is analogous to becoming able to pass through the scrim. It is a skill to be recognized, sought, learned and practiced. It is also a gift which can't be mastered by the will. God seeks to give this gift to all who open themselves in receptiveness.

The Genius of Shakespeare

Blake has said the 'Imagination' is 'Spiritual Sensation': a sense like seeing or hearing, formed instead to perceive the non-material. The exercise of the Imagination is the 'perception of the infinite.' If we 'use our imagination' as a tool for our natural sensation directing it toward enhancing material experience, this is not the Imagination of which Blake spoke. 'Seek first the Kingdom of God' as Jesus says. Look for the Eternal Truth revealed within the external world and become a 'Man of Imagination.'

MHH, Plate 14, (E 39)
"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would
appear to man as it is: infinite."

Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)

"We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye"

MHH, Plate 13, (E 39)
"I then asked Ezekiel. why he eat dung, & lay so long on his
right & left side? he answerd. the desire of raising other men
into a perception of the infinite"

Letter to Truxler, (E 702)
"But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination Nature is Imagination itself. As a man is So he Sees. As the Eye is formed such are its Powers You certainly Mistake when you say that the Visions of Fancy are not be found in This World. To Me This World is all One continued Vision of Fancy or Imagination & I feel Flatterd when I am told So. What is it sets Homer Virgil & Milton in so high a rank of Art. Why is the Bible more Entertaining & Instructive than any other book. Is it not because they are addressed to the Imagination which is Spiritual Sensation & but mediately to the Understanding or Reason Such is True Painting and such alone valued by the Greeks & the best modern Artists."

Matthew 6:33
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Job Picture 5

Above the picture we read:
"Did I not weep for him who was in trouble"
"Was not my God afflicted for the poor"
"Behold he is in thy hands but save his life"

His faith threatened by what the messenger had told him, Job attempts to demonstrate what a good Jew he is , pouring money into the hands of a less wealthy brother.

Meanwhile the middle layer of the picture shows Satan about to pour fire upon Job and 'get serious'-- the misfortunes to his children was one thing, bodily harm to himself is something else again.

In this picture Job (at the bottom) and God (at the top) bear a close resemblance. (Blake said something here of real significance: our image of God may be closer to our self image than to any objective idea of God ["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?" From VLJ (Erdman 565)]
(You might remember the same tired looking old man in the sky in Blake's masterwork called the Sea of Time and Space.)
The middle section of the picture shows a fiery Satan headed downward, about to rain fire upon the Earth. Edinger (p.27) points out that the two old men "have fallen into a neurasthenic state while Satan is in command of intense energies" (can you recall a moment when you might have been in a similar situation?). This indicates the fluctuating balance between psychic energy in the conscious and unconscious states-- like a pendulum swinging back and forth.
Under the influence of an explosion of the Unconscious we, like Blake's Job, may resort to illusory conventional activities. In just that manner we may ward off the Creative impulses coming to us from God, often thought to be from Old Harry, and we rest in the manacles of conventional mediocrity.
The captions under the picture read:"Then went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord." (Job 2:7)
"And it grieved him at his heart" (Psalm 78:40?)

"Who maketh his Angels Spirits and his Mininsters a flaming fire" (Lamentations 2:3)

And below everything else can be seen a monstrous and evil-looking snake.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Northrup Frye has a good bit to say that adds to the picture of Golgoonoza which we have been developing. Here is a paragraph which clarifies the purpose and the eventual outcome for Blake's City of Imagination. Notice that he emphasizes that Golgonooza as it becomes the New Jerusalem, 'the total form of all culture and civilization', will make permanent (but not static) all the imaginative work which has been contributed to its building. It reminds me of a phrase which I picked up somewhere along the way: nothing lost, nothing wasted.

This is from page 91 of Fearful Symmetry:

"Inspiration is the artist's empirical proof of the divinity of his imagination; and all inspiration is divine in origin whether used, perverted, hidden or frittered away in reverie. All imaginative and creative arts, being eternal, go to build up a permanent structure, which Blake called Golgonooza, above time, and, when this structure is finished, nature, its scaffolding, will be knocked away and man will live in it. Golgonooza will be the city of God, the New Jerusalem which is the total form of all culture and civilization. Nothing that the heroes, martyrs, prophets and poets of the past have done for it has been wasted; no anonymous and unrecognized contribution to it has been overlooked. In it is conserved all the good man has done, and in it is completed all he hoped and intended to do. And the artist who uses the same energy and genius that Homer and Isaiah had will find that he not only lives in the same palace of art as Homer and Isaiah, but lives at the same time."
Perhaps Blake is even more inclusive in this passage about Los' work:

Jerusalem, Plate 13,(E 157)
"Golgonooza: Los walks round the walls night and day.    

He views the City of Golgonooza, & its smaller Cities:
The Looms & Mills & Prisons & Work-houses of Og & Anak:
The Amalekite: the Canaanite: the Moabite: the Egyptian:
And all that has existed in the space of six thousand years:
Permanent, & not lost not lost nor vanishd, & every little act,
Word, work, & wish, that has existed, all remaining still
In those Churches ever consuming & ever building by the Spectres
Of all the inhabitants of Earth wailing to be Created:
Shadowy to those who dwell not in them, meer possibilities:
But to those who enter into them they seem the only substances
For every thing exists & not one sigh nor smile nor tear,
Plate 14
One hair nor particle of dust, not one can pass away." 
Satan's Watch-fiends Never Find the Gate of Los

Jerusalem, Plate 35 [39], (E 181)
"this gate cannot be found
By Satans Watch-fiends tho' they search numbering every grain
Of sand on Earth every night, they never find this Gate.
It is the Gate of Los.
Withoutside is the Mill, intricate,  dreadful
And fill'd with cruel tortures; but no mortal man can find the Mill
Of Satan, in his mortal pilgrimage of seventy years" 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Job: Picture 4

This picture shows the arrival of the first of three messengers; Another one shows up in the background. They're coming from the cathedral area in the lower left corner of the picture; this suggests that the destruction envisioned here concerns the established religious values. The fact that we're finding so many religious people who have left the church today suggests that the Job scene is being reenacted right now. In Job's day the three 'friends' who came to comfort Job certainly represented conventional religious values.

Job and his wife are sitting under a megalithic shelter, which also enacts the primitive nature of Job's faith. More than once Blake referred to conventional religion as druidic.

Reading the text in the Bible- Job 1:
'8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied.
10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  
11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."
12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."
Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
13 One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house,
14 a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,  
15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house,
19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing."

Sunday, June 13, 2010


, Number 16, (E 11)

"Sweet dreams form a shade,
O'er my lovely infants head.
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams,
By happy silent moony beams.

Sweet sleep with soft down,
Weave thy brows an infant crown.
Sweet sleep Angel mild,
Hover o'er my happy child.

Sweet smiles in the night,
Hover over my delight.
Sweet smiles Mothers smiles
All the livelong night beguiles.

Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes.
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.

Sleep sleep happy child.
All creation slept and smil'd.
Sleep sleep, happy sleep,
While o'er thee thy mother weep.

Sweet babe in thy face,
Holy image I can trace.
Sweet babe once like thee,
Thy maker lay and wept for me

Wept for me for thee for all,
When he was an infant small.
Thou his image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee.

Smiles on thee on me on all,
Who became an infant small,
Infant smiles are his own smiles.
Heaven & earth to peace beguiles."
Blake has a way of setting the stage for the development of his future complex system in his early works. Looking at A Cradle Song from the perspective of Jerusalem we see both the intimation of his process of speaking through images and the particular images which came to speak volumes in his mature works. The word 'image' appears twice in this double poem.

First the mother is able to see the creator in the countenance of he child:

"Sweet babe in thy face,
Holy image I can trace."

Later she prays that the child himself may ever see the image of the creator:

"Thou his image ever see,
Heavenly face that smiles on thee."

So the child is in the image of God, and the God whom the child may see is an image also. Blake consistently presents the world of matter as the reflection of another world, the Eternal, more real than this one but which we see through images not through our senses. Throughout his art and poetry Blake is presenting us with images of the Eternal for us to integrate into our mental processing.

Among the words in this poem which will frequently appear as images as we continue to read Blake are dream, shade, infant, moon, sleep, weave, Angel, child, night, delight, mother, weep, babe, face, maker, holy, see, heaven, earth, peace. As images the words point to configurations of associated ideas drawn from our own experience and from the experience of those who influence us. Blake builds his image vocabulary in this poem and in whatever he writes or pictures. We are assisted in building our vocabularies of images through Blake's vast assimilation of ideas from past thinkers and through his gift for seeing through images to the Eternal realities beyond.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Job Picture 3

Picture 3: Job appears to be absent here. And God is absent, to be replaced by one of Blake's most repulsive figures (it appears in several of the prophecies; for example look at the Epilogue to the Gates of Paradise.)

The scene is havoc! the primitive pillars of a primitive (Druidic) religion come crashing down. It also represents the children's house (their garments), their death.

The sons and daughters of Job, making merry, are visited by the most virulent destruction; their house has collapsed, their bodies been killed. The scene is reminiscent of the horrors of Dante's Inferno.

Perhaps the prone figure still in one piece at the bottom of the picture might represent Job in a nightmare.

The text above the Picture say, "the Fire of God is fallen from Heaven", and we're reminded of Hebrews 12:29 Job's Unconscious has burst into his mind, which is a fearful thing; it's not for nothing that it's unconscious!

Here's the Bible text for this Picture in Job 1:
"13 One day when Job's sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house,
14 a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,  
15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house,
19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"

Friday, June 11, 2010


William Blake: poet and mystic

By Pierre Berger, Daniel Henry Conner

Page 221
"Blake's symbolic language is perhaps even more largely responsible than his want of logic for the obscurity of his writings. His use of this symbolic language was a natural result of his views upon the nature of the world and upon art. To him, the spiritual world revealed itself not in abstract terms, but in concrete symbols, which were the visible things of this world. He saw the supernatural, instead of imagining it. The living spirit was symbolised and made visible to men by lifeless matter. The created world was an expression of the Divine Humanity in all its forms.
"But the artist's creation should be an analogous kind or expression. His abstract ideas ought only to be represented by words which designate concrete things. A thought can only be expressed by a symbol. The artist must therefore create a symbol for every thought, and must speak always in metaphors. He will learn to live in the symbolic world created by his own mind, as we live in this vast, composite symbol which is the universe. And just as we see concrete objects without thinking of the metaphysical ideas they represent, so Blake, having created his symbols, proceeds to use them as living personages without regarding the idea that underlay them and had brought them into existence. He comes to feel, think and speak in symbols. Urizen and Los cease to be allegorical figures, and become actual persons, like Hamlet or Polonius, like Milton or Blake himself. This process takes place in the mind of every poet, but Blake carried it further than others."

So Berger's idea is that Blake lived in the symbolic world which he created and that we understand Blake by learning to live in his symbolic world.

Leaving the Cosmic Egg

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Stuart Curran in his chapter in Sublime Allegory (page 341) says, "Except for the apocalyptic concluding plates there are few distinct events in Jerusalem, which is why the reader feels himself caught in a labyrinth, fated to return again and again to the same land marks without discovering an egress." It is not about truth and falsehood, good and evil, consistency and confusion. Curran states that, "Los's striving is for comprehension, and progression in Blake's epic derives from the slowly maturing consolidation of error by which Los defines the logic of man's fallen state. What Los consolidates, significantly enough, is archetypes, and the underlying structure of Jerusalem is a single archetypal pattern successively repeated until Los can fathom the symbolic meaning of its 'Universal Attributes' (90:32) and use it to transfigure the fallen into the regenerated. The mind expands within like a spiral that at last encompasses the universe."

Jerusalem, Chapter 1, Plate 5, (E 148)
"For the Male is a Furnace of beryll: the Female is a golden Loom

Los cries: No Individual ought to appropriate to Himself
Or to his Emanation, any of the Universal Characteristics
Of David or of Eve, of the Woman, or of the Lord.
Of Reuben or of Benjamin, of Joseph or Judah or Levi
Those who dare appropriate to themselves Universal Attributes
Are the Blasphemous Selfhoods & must be broken asunder
A Vegetated Christ & a Virgin Eve, are the Hermaphroditic
Blasphemy, by his Maternal Birth he is that Evil-One
And his Maternal Humanity must be put off Eternally
Lest the Sexual Generation swallow up Regeneration
Come Lord Jesus take on thee the Satanic Body of Holiness

So Los cried in the Valleys of Middlesex in the Spirit of
While in Selfhood Hand & Hyle & Bowen & Skofeld appropriate
The Divine Names: seeking to Vegetate the Divine Vision
In a corporeal & ever dying Vegetation & Corruption
Mingling with Luvah in One. they become One Great Satan

Loud scream the Daughters of Albion beneath the Tongs & Hammer
Dolorous are their lamentations in the burning Forge
They drink Reuben & Benjamin as the iron drinks the fire
They are red hot with cruelty: raving along the Banks of Thames
And on Tyburns Brook among the howling Victims in loveliness
While Hand & Hyle condense the Little-ones & erect them into
A mighty Temple even to the stars: but they Vegetate
Beneath Los's Hammer, that Life may not be blotted out.

For Los said: When the Individual appropriates Universality
He divides into Male & Female: & when the Male & Female,
Appropriate Individuality, they become an Eternal Death.
Hermaphroditic worshippers of a God of cruelty & law!
Your Slaves & Captives; you compell to worship a God of Mercy.
These are the Demonstrations of Los, & the blows of my mighty

Blake's goal was to transform the world and he relentlessly pursued that goal. He knew that he could not impose his vision on the world or reach enough ears with his message to convince mankind of his truth. He knew that man will transform his world through transforming himself. So Blake left his testimony of what went on is his own soul as he was transformed through the Imagination within him.

Blake invites us to enter the struggle he underwent knowing that each individual will undergo his own struggle not a repeat of that of Blake. That is why Blake left no recipe or set of instruction for developing spiritually. What ever speaks to your inner being from Blake's accounts is what Blake has to provide for your development. What can any of us do but be a witness to the truth that became manifest through our experience? Blake was gifted in seeing into his own depths, and in communicating in images. His message has been broadcast, we have receivers to acquire the signal and put it to use.

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts

Looking Down or Looking Up

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Job: Picture 1

To get an expanded version click on the picture, and then raise font size with the Ctrl +.

To return to the post move back with left arrow.

Picture 1 seems right out of the Bible: we see Job with his family (all musicians) gathered around while he and his wife read from the good book and he prays to them. In the top left the sun sets over the cathedral, a symbol of organized religion (of organzied society, government, commerce, and the whole bit). The sun is not to rise again until the end of this dark night.

Such was Job: "blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil."

Click on the picture, and then enlarge your font, and you can read the legend(s), of which there are many:

Above the picture you may find the beginning of the Lord's Prayer suggesting an "innocent trusting attitude toward God", an innocence about to be sacrificed.

Beneath the picture proper you may imagine an altar with four animals (perhaps an ox, two lambs, and a ram), where Job offered the sacrifice for possible sins of his children. (This O.T. idea has a parallel in the gospels, where God sacrificed his Son for our sins.)

Edinger p. 17: "Inscribed on the altar are the words, The Letter Killeth. The Spirit giveth Life, indicating that it is the word and Job's reliance on it which are to be sacrificed."

As a fairly young man Blake wrote The Four Zoas, a voluminous work in Nine Nights. Now at 65 he illustrated the Book of Job with a one composite Night. Both works tell the same story.

The text from Job 1:

" In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 
2 He had seven sons and three daughters,  
3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five  
4 hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East."
5 His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them.  
6 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom."

Monday, June 07, 2010


We are fortunate to have Northrup Frye's Fearful Symmetry as a Google book even though we are not able to read all the pages there. Click here to go to Chapter 5 of Fearful Symmetry.

In the first paragraph of Chapter 5, Frye delineates the relationship between the individual mind and mind of God. He refers to fallen man as the ego which perceives the general. As a part of the Universal Creator, man perceives or creates as a mental form. It is in the mind of the totality of creative power that we are able to perceive the particular. If we see through that seed of truth planted within us, we perceive this world as a 'single creature' fallen and redeemed. Frye states, 'This is the vision of God (subjective genitive: the vision which God in us has).'

This is the fourfold vision of which Blake speaks in a Letter to Thomas Butts, (E 722):

"Now I a fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep"

Blake's idea that we must see not with but through the eye, is true at the level of vision as well; we are not to see the vision, or with the vision but through the vision to the transcendent reality which provides the vision and the means of apprehending it.

Auguries of Innocence, (E 520)
"This Lifes dim Windows of the Soul
Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole
And leads you to Believe a Lie
When you see with not thro the Eye
That was born in a night to perish in a night
When the Soul slept in the beams of Light."