Saturday, February 02, 2013
The Fall (again)
On page 162ff of Percival he summarized many antecedent of The Fall, anyone
of which Blake may have used; most likely he used many or all of them.
(Remember that Blake was an omnivoros reader.)
In the Fall his primary source (or recourse) , as always, was the Bible.
Man fell before the Creation; for Blake's myth creation was an aspect of the
'Fall'. In that he stands with many of the above writers.
In Blake's myth the kernel around which everything fits is the Fall. In
developing this concept Blake had read a great many sources, but the Bible, as
usual, was the primary one. Blake's 'Fall' is actually a commentary on Genesis.
We read about the Garden; Blake called it Beulah, but unlike Isaiah's Beulah,
Blake's Beulah, (like the garden in Genesis) had two ways out, one up, one
down. one good, one evil.
In Theologia Germanica we read:
"And when the creature claims for its own anything good....like the devil who
claimed his; this 'I, me,and mine' was his error and his fall" and likewise Adam,
and Cain after him, and you and I.
Percival (163) "Eve's share in the matter is well known" Lovely nature is
seductive. and so Milton says of Adam:
"Against his better knowledge, not deceived
But fondly overcome with female charm"
Plato thought the soul made a wrong choce, mistaking evil for good.
Empedocles thought the wrong choice was turning from love to strife (Blake
wrote pages and pages illustrating that choice, as did the flower children of the
Blake saw it as a move from the inner (Spirit) to the outer (materiality).
Plotinus saw the Fall in the story of Narcissus, so in love with his own image
as to be completely unable to partake of Spirit.
Beyman (Boehme), perhaps Blake's primary source next to the Bible):
"And that is the heavy fall of Adam, that his eyes and spirit entered into the
outward, into the four elements...and into Death and there they were blind as
to the kingdom of God" a fairly traditional interpretation.
One of Blake's earliest sources was Swedenborg, who thought that eating the
forbidden fruit was equivalent to questioning God's power. (This is one of
many places where Blake disagreed with S.)
For Erigena the Fall was an irrational preference of the Creature over the
All the above writers had due influence on Blake's ideas and his writing; it was
an amalgam or a synthesis of them (and many others)
Albion was not a Creature, but an Eternal; he explained this in his Descriptive Catalogue:
"Many suppose that before the Creation all was solitude and chaos... the most
pernicious idea....it take away all the sublimity from the Bible" and condemns
the reader to a purely literalistic interpretation---which is far, far from the way
Blake saw it. As he said it in The Everlasting Gospel (not MHH as Percival
"Both read the Bible day and night
But thou reads't black where I read white."
Blake also wrote in Descriptive Catalogue: of states of the sleep which the
soul may fall into in its deadly dreams of good and evil when it leaves
paradise, following the serpent.
To understand Blake's Fall best would require an assiduous and exhaustive
study of the Nine Nights of The Four Zoas.