Friday, March 18, 2011


Karl Kroeber's chapter in Blake's Sublime Allegory, Essays on The Four Zoas, Milton, & Jerusalem, Edited by Stuart Curran & Joseph Anthony Wittreich, Jr. is titled Delivering Jerusalem. As have many before and after him, he is conveying his understanding of Jerusalem in order to make it more accessible to the reader. His idea is that Blake attempts to lead us on a journey inward to recover our 'identity' which is hidden from us by the fall into multiplicity.

Quotes from Kroeber on Blake's Jerusalem:

"It's 'plot' is the commonplace act of falling into sleep and awakening. Sleep is our chief means of natural regeneration. Falling asleep is a process of detaching oneself from one's ordinary 'identity,' what Blake calls 'selfhood,' what today we call one's sense of one's role. In this respect, at least, sleep is a temporary 'death' containing within it the potentiality of new life." (Page 354)

"From the opening of the prophecy, Albion's death is presented as part of a process of potential regeneration, because his salvation lies within himself:..." (Page 354)

"Jerusalem records a journey, a passage from disintegration to integration. But it is a journey inward...
"The first and most important 'figure' to be separated after the original division of Albion and Jesus is Los, the artificer, the impulse of divine energy toward Regeneration which prevents Albion from slipping into annihilation, nonentity. But Los exists as a separate entity only because of Albion's fall; and all that Los does, in one sense, is the reverse of true nobility and divinity. ...what he creates is the consolidation of error. Los is creative spirit struggling in a fallen cosmos, therefore admirable; but his creativity - 'Striving with Systems to deliver Individuals from those Systems' - is almost a parody of Christ's creativity, which makes reality out of 'nothing,' truth out of delusion." (Page 355)

So the difficulty of living in this world is first the illusion that this world (which we construct) is the true world and not a mask of the Eternal world which underlies, encloses, supersedes, and permeates it. Next is the illusion that what we know as 'ourselves' is our true identity and is able to perceive what we are, what the world is and what reality is. Further we work under the illusion that we can 'fix' things by continuing to do the same things that have contributed to creating the illusions.

" Blake's limits are not impassable boundaries...but critical points, equivalent to thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit for water. Contracted to Adam, mankind attains the possibility of the redeeming Christ. Reaching the limit of 'Opakeness' which is Satan, man attains the possibility of total luminescence, Lucifer, complete emanative power, the power of giving forth light instead of casting shadows, making spectres...Only then are we freed from the inhibiting pressure of those 'systems' external to us which contract and darken individuality into Selfhood." (Page 358)

"To fall is to enslave oneself to seemings, to have one' individual identity devoured by a multiplex, illusory Selfhood." (Page 359)

"...imagination, the awakened intellect, passes beyond the limits of seeming to what truly is." (Page 363)
"The total movement of Jerusalem from division through death and sexuality to civil integration is the process of 'identifying' Albion's Emanation, Jerusalem. What the process confirms is that we CAN re-establish our true identity, attain true livingness. 'Identity' means primarily, being oneself and not another." (Page 365)

Although Kroeber never mentions psychological processes or Jungian Analysis, one may see strong parallels to the process of Indivuation (which results in the formation of the Self) in the process described by Kroeber. The liberation of the identity as in Blake, or of the Self as in Jung may be seen as the life work of each individual striving for entry into Eternity.

Jerusalem, Plate 60, (E 209)
"within the Furnaces the Divine Vision appeard

On Albions hills: often walking from the Furnaces in clouds
And flames among the Druid Temples & the Starry Wheels
Gatherd Jerusalems Children in his arms & bore them like
A Shepherd in the night of Albion which overspread all the Earth

I gave thee liberty and life O lovely Jerusalem
And thou hast bound me down upon the Stems of Vegetation"

Pictured on the final plate of Milton with the words 'To go forth to the Great Harvest & Vintage of Nations', is the image of the liberated female shedding the dark garment of Selfhood (Erdman). The 'Stems of Vegetation' on either side draw us to a culminating point in
Jerusalem where the Divine Vision has appeared in the Furnace of Los, gathered Jerusalem's children, and announced that he has given 'liberty and life' which have been bound down on 'stems of vegetation.' But the 'Great Harvest & Vintage' will be accomplished.

As Karl Kroeber says, "we CAN re-establish our true identity, attain true livingness."

Download Blake's Sublime Allegory, Essays on The Four Zoas, Milton, & Jerusalem.

No comments: