Sunday, March 11, 2012
FRYE ON SATAN
The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child
From a Private Collection
Available at Complete Works
Blake knew that the evil angel is Satan. But Satan is not what the conventional image shows him to be. He is not outside of us at all but is the state of mind within each human being which through its selfish greed allows evil to thrive in the world.
To identify the internal Selfhood and integrate it into one's self image (Identity), is the way that Satan is cast out. The struggle of the 'Good and Evil Angels' is never completed. The process of annihilating the Selfhood is an Eternal process. Although it may be accomplished in Eternity, the necessity to repeat it will recur in time.
In this image of the Good and Evil angels struggling for the possession of the child, there is not a great contrast between the two angels (as there is in some other copies). Perhaps the struggle is close to being resolved. Then the child would be shared and good would overcome evil. The struggle itself is an expression of Selfhood.
In Fearful Symmetry, Northrop Frye writes of Blake's use of Satan to represent the force that opposes Imagination:
"When Milton reincarnates himself as Blake and Blake's imagination is purified, Satan is cast out of both of them at once and revealed for what he is. He is a lot of things, but fundamentally moral virtue, the alternative 'good' of passive conformity, which the world offers the imagination...If bad men could not get along in this world Satan would not be the prince of it. Blake clarifying this point still further, sees that evil is dangerous in proportion as it is protected and concealed by society. Hypocrisy is more dangerous than crime; self-deception is more dangerous than hypocrisy. The reason why society pays so little attention to its wise men is not that society consists of criminals or hypocrites, but that it consists of 'normal' people who sincerely believe in the superiority of common to uncommon sense." (Page 331)
"But it is not in the grandiose but in the petty events of life, where the issues involved seem of too trifling importance to be worth making principles of, that tyranny and repression of genius achieve their really significant triumphs." (Page 332)
Milton, Plate 38 , (E 139)
"In the Eastern porch of Satans Universe Milton stood & said
Thy purpose & the purpose of thy Priests & of thy Churches
Is to impress on men the fear of death; to teach
Trembling & fear, terror, constriction; abject selfishness
Mine is to teach Men to despise death & to go on
In fearless majesty annihilating Self, laughing to scorn
Thy Laws & terrors, shaking down thy Synagogues as webs
I come to discover before Heavn & Hell the Self righteousness
In all its Hypocritic turpitude, opening to every eye
These wonders of Satans holiness shewing to the Earth
The Idol Virtues of the Natural Heart, & Satans Seat
Explore in all its Selfish Natural Virtue & put off
In Self annihilation all that is not of God alone:
To put off Self & all I have ever & ever Amen"
 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.