Friday, January 07, 2011


Read the first post on BLAKE & 'DEAD MAN'.

These are some Blake quotes which were used in the movie Dead Man.

Auguries of Innocence (E 492)
"Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night"

Marriage of Heaven and Hell , Plate 8, (E 37)
"The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn
of the crow."

Marriage of Heaven and Hell , Plate 5, (E 35)
"Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead."

Everlasting Gospel, (E 525)
"The Vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my Visions Greatest Enemy"

Innocence is the state in which the character William Blake begins his journey in the movie Dead Man. The destination to which he is traveling is the end of the railroad line - a town named Machine. The optimistic innocence of William Blake has been disrupted even before he disembarks from the train. The disappointment of finding the promised employment unavailable leaves him destitute of hope and resources. Another innocent crosses his path: Thel, who makes and sells paper flowers. The two are outcasts who find each other. William Blake, the poet wrote a short book about Thel - the lovely innocent who refused to enter the world of generation and embark on the path of experience. In the scenario of the movie Thel is killed by the same bullet which lodges in the dead or dying William Blake. Her innocence is preserved but he proceeds along the road of experience.

A Native American who has been trained in white man's ways assumes the care of William Blake because he has read the poet Blake and found his writing the only thing he understood in the white culture. Blake is a hunted man, fleeing from the law, hired killers and the vengeance of the father of the man he shot. The Native American, who calls himself Nobody, acts as guide and protector of William Blake supplying wisdom from the poet Blake along with tribal insights as the pair head for completion of William Blake's return to his origin.

We can look at William Blake's journey in the movie in the light of the journey Milton took to redeem the errors of his life in Blake's Milton .

Milton, PLATE 14 [15], (E 108)
[Milton speaking]
"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"

One haunting image from the film pictures William Blake whose 'life' is slowly draining from his body lying beside a dead fawn. It is easy to see the fawn as a reminder of the 'Lamb of God', a term which occurs frequently in Jerusalem and the Four Zoas. The appearance of the Lamb of God in Blake's poetry is a portent of redemption.
Picture by William James Linton after William Blake from Gilchrist's Life,

Watch images from the movie along with the soundtrack by Neil Young.


Susan J. said...

OK -- I just ordered the movie online... usually takes a week or two to receive such... looking forward to it! I used to be a big Johnny Depp fan, back in the days of 21 Jump Street and Bennie & Joon & Edward Scissorhands.... :-)

Will come back and read your 2 posts more carefully, once I have the DVD in hand, since my poor brain can't hold much these days...

Susan J. said...

for some reason, I only get the box to request "Email follow-up comments" on my *second* post... that's what this one is for.... :-)

ellie said...

I am not sure which computer mystery you are referring to.

However our son showed me that to make the comments show up with the post, you can click on the post title to choose that post exclusively.

I look forward to reading your comments on Dead Man. Some things must be overlooked to reach the buried substance. The Blake association were only a small part of what was going on. Like Blake Jarmusch wants to change the way you think more that the contents of your thinking.

Susan J. said...

here's the computer mystery. When I go to your blog on any given day, and go to "Leave your comment" it makes me "Choose an identity" so I type in my Google username and password. There is no box to check to request that I be emailed when you folks respond. I click on "Publish your comment" and get an error message about my account info being wrong. Then I type in the exact same username and password, and this time it takes it OK and my comment gets posted. But if you reply I don't get an email. So then I post another comment on the same page, but this time it offers me a place to check "email update" or some such, and the comment gets posted immediately, with no error messages. This is why, when I post a comment on a new thread, I usually post a second comment. Because that way I can get email comments. Sorry this is so long-winded....