Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sexuality 3

According to Blake's myth sexes began in the moony night of
Beulah where the Eternals  came to rest from the arduous wars of 
intellect that have filled their sunny days in Eden:

"There is from Great Eternity a mild and pleasant rest
Named Beulah, a Soft Moony Universe, feminine, lovely,
Pure, mild and Gentle, given in Mercy to those who sleep.."
(The Four Zoas [Nt 1], 5.29; E303)

       Beulah, one of Blake's most ambiguous images, is a way station 
between Eden and Ulro. The Eternal, sleeping in Beulah, may rise from 
his sexual dreams and return to the activity of Eden, or he may fall 
further into Death Eternal, which is exactly what happened to Albion. 
Unable to find his way back to Heaven he lapsed into a deeper form of 
sleep where the female develops a will of her own and lures the male 
into the "torments of love and Jealousy". Late in 'Jerusalem' the 
warrior, speaking for Albion, gives a glimpse of his true (fallen) 
situation and laments":

"Once Man was occupied in intellectual pleasures and Energies,
But now my Soul is harrow'd with grief and fear & love & desire,
And now I hate, & now I love, and Intellect is no more.
There is no time for any thing but the torments of love and desire."
(Jerusalem, 68.65; E222)

(There are four worlds in Blake's psychic universe;






      Generation or the 'sexual' symbolizes for Blake this 
unfortunate materialization of spirit manifested in the Fall and in a 
fallen Creation. He also used the term 'vegetable'.

       Man in Eternity is androgynous. In Beulah, which means 
Married, the sexes are divided into loving and restful contraries. 
With the Fall the Female Will becomes dominant; the Human Form 
deteriorates to the sexual in which male and female, spirit and 
matter, exist in a state of constant warfare. Man has fallen into the
fourth world of Ulro. But whatever falls may rise again.

       The third world, Generation, is the world of Los, fallen man's 
imaginative faculty. Los generates or brings forth artistic 
creations, structures of thought, myths of meaning, much as a woman 
brings forth children. These creations always turn bad (or perhaps 
just moldy) and are broken up and cast into Los's furnace for 
renewal. The process of generation and destruction would go on 
indefinitely, like the cycle of Nature, but the Moment of Grace 
breaks in upon it. Los learns to forgive. His emanation, Enitharmon, 
now joins him as an instrument of a regeneration offering redemptive 
promise. Blake proclaims, "0 holy generation, image of regeneration".
(See also Blake's biography and Notes.)

       The change in Los and Enitharmon, who together make up fallen 
man's imaginative faculty, prepares the ground for the generation of 
Jesus. The Sons of Eden announce this event in Night viii of 4Z with 
a paean of praise. Careful study of the entire song will cast more 
light on the meaning of Blake's symbolism of sex and generation; here 
are the final seven lines:

"we now behold the Ends of Beulah, and we now behold
Where death Eternal is put off Eternally.
Assume the dark Satanic body in the Virgin's womb,
0 Lamb Divine! it cannot thee annoy. 0 pitying one,
Thy pity is from the foundation of the world, & thy Redemption
Begun already in Eternity. Come then, 0 Lamb of God,
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

       What Blake reports next should be a welcome change for the by 
now outraged feminist. With his usual consistency he follows the 
divine annunciation with the appearance of Satan, and the worst thing 
he can say about Satan is to call him a "male without a female":

"The war roar'd round Jerusalem's Gates; it took a hideous form
Seen in the aggregate, a Vast Hermaphroditic form
Heav'd like an Earthquake lab'ring with convulsive groans
Intolerable; at length an awful wonder burst
From the Hermaphroditic bosom. Satan he was nam'd,
Son of Perdition, terrible his form, dishumaniz'd, monstrous,
A male without a female counterpart, a howling fiend
Forlorn of Eden, repugnant to the forms of life,
Yet hiding the shadowy female Vala as in an ark & Curtains,
Abhorr'd, accursed, ever dying an Eternal death,
Being multitudes of tyrant Men in union blasphemous
Against the Divine Image, Congregated assemblies of wicked men."
(The Four Zoas [Nt 8], 104[2nd].30; E378)

An earlier version of this material may be found at Chapter Eight of the Blake Primer.

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