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Book of Urizen
Copy G, Plate 4
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The struggle between Los and the Spectre is set forth in the following passage from Plate 8 of Jerusalem. Blake sees the false reasoning represented by the Spectre as an aspect of his mind and a controlling power in the world. Blake portrays Los engaging the Spectre in direct confrontation. Damon (Page 381) tells us that: 'anything in which reason and heart are separated' has its own Spectre.' The divisions which first took place in Urizen and which we read about in the Book of Urizen, were repeated in Los.
Los proposed to cast the Spectre into the furnace and use the false reasoning to break itself down. Los himself had become 'cruel' and a 'horror' in the struggle to resolve internal conflicts and to make his way in the fallen, unforgiving world.
The Spectre is not inclined to gently cooperate with Los but he makes a pretence at obedience. Los changes the perspective of the Spectre from within to without. He shows the Spectre 'the tortures of the victims' which had spread 'Across all Europe & Asia' as a result of the unfortunate internal reasoning which controlled the psyche. The Spectre sees that it is Los, not himself who is meant to be in charge of sorting, sifting, melting and hammering that take place in the furnace of the brain, but he will not concede.
But the nature of the Spectre has been revealed: he is Los' 'Pride & Self-righteousness'. Los knows the nature of the enemy; he is no longer fighting the unknown darkness.
In the Book of Urizen it was Los who created Time and Space so that Urizen might have a dwelling place; now Los threatens the false reasoning with being consigned to a different place which he will create for him. Unless the Spectre cooperates in reshaping himself he will lose his place in the outer created world of Time and Space and in the inner furnaces of the brain. In the isolation of Hell he will dwell.
The text has been divided into sections for easier commenting.
Jerusalem, Plate 8, (E 151) "Be attentive! be obedient! Lo the Furnaces are ready to recieve thee. I will break thee into shivers! & melt thee in the furnaces of death; I will cast thee into forms of abhorrence & torment if thou Desist not from thine own will, & obey not my stern command! I am closd up from my children: my Emanation is dividing And thou my Spectre art divided against me. But mark I will compell thee to assist me in my terrible labours. To beat These hypocritic Selfhoods on the Anvils of bitter Death I am inspired: I act not for myself: for Albions sake I now am what I am: a horror and an astonishment Shuddring the heavens to look upon me: Behold what cruelties Are practised in Babel & Shinar, & have approachd to Zions Hill While Los spoke, the terrible Spectre fell shuddring before him Watching his time with glowing eyes to leap upon his prey Los opend the Furnaces in fear. the Spectre saw to Babel & Shinar Across all Europe & Asia. he saw the tortures of the Victims. He saw now from the ou[t]side what he before saw & felt from within He saw that Los was the sole, uncontrolld Lord of the Furnaces Groaning he kneeld before Los's iron-shod feet on London Stone, Hungring & thirsting for Los's life yet pretending obedience. While Los pursud his speech in threatnings loud & fierce. Thou art my Pride & Self-righteousness: I have found thee out: Thou art reveald before me in all thy magnitude & power Thy Uncircumcised pretences to Chastity must be cut in sunder! Thy holy wrath & deep deceit cannot avail against me Nor shalt thou ever assume the triple-form of Albions Spectre For I am one of the living: dare not to mock my inspired fury If thou wast cast forth from my life! if I was dead upon the mountains Thou mightest be pitied & lovd: but now I am living; unless Thou abstain ravening I will create an eternal Hell for thee. Take thou this Hammer & in patience heave the thundering Bellows Take thou these Tongs: strike thou alternate with me: labour obedient"