Thursday, March 28, 2013


The Eternal purpose of Science is stated in the final lines of the Four Zoas:

Four Zoas, Night IX, PAGE 139, (E 407) 
The Sun arises from his dewy bed & the fresh air, 
Play in his smiling beams giving the seeds of life to grow
And the fresh Earth beams forth ten thousand thousand springs of life
Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now
Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los                
Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom
Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls
In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science
For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns"  
Blake begins the Four Zoas by quoting on Page 3, Ephesians 6:12 in Greek.

Ephesians 6
[10] Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
[11] Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
[12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
[13] Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
[14] Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
[15] And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
[16] Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
[17] And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
[18] Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints

Ackland Art Museum
University of North Carolina
A Breach in a City, the Morning After the Battle
The armour of God which man wears to protect himself from the 'rulers of the darkness of this world' is called by Blake: Science. 

Science is the outer garment formed by the imagination to conduct the intellectual war. 'Nature is a Vision of the Science of the Elohim' (Milton, Plate 29).  The Elohim to Blake can represent the creative aspect of God as in the creation of Adam by the Elohim. So Science gives the material form to images which arise in the imagination. Art and Science are both present in the Eternal world as well as on the Earth, but the Earthly form may be degraded into what may seem to be a parody of  the  Heavenly original.   

Milton, Plate 29 [31], (E 128)
"But Rahab & Tirzah pervert
Their mild influences, therefore the Seven Eyes of God walk round
The Three Heavens of Ulro, where Tirzah & her Sisters            
Weave the black Woof of Death upon Entuthon Benython
In the Vale of Surrey where Horeb terminates in Rephaim
The stamping feet of Zelophehads Daughters are coverd with Human gore
Upon the treddles of the Loom, they sing to the winged shuttle:
The River rises above his banks to wash the Woof:                
He takes it in his arms: be passes it in strength thro his current
The veil of human miseries is woven over the Ocean
From the Atlantic to the Great South Sea, the Erythrean.

Such is the World of Los the labour of six thousand years.
Thus Nature is a Vision of the Science of the Elohim.            

                 End of the First Book."


Vincent said...

I still don't understand what Blake means by science, and what his attitude to it is.

I checked the Oxford English Dictionary to see if it might give a clue to how Blake's contemporaries might have understood the word, but it wasn't very clear either in the examples of usage it provided.

To play safe, I assume that Blake understands science as any kind of specialised or definite knowledge.

I also assume that science as we call it today was still called natural philosophy, and that Blake was not in any way referring to the work of men such as Galileo, Newton, Hooke or Boyle?

But the OED provides a useful gloss on distinctions made between art & science, which were certainly discussed before, during & after Blake's time:

"The distinction as commonly apprehended is that a science (= ἐπιστήμη) is concerned with theoretic truth, and an art (= τέχνη) with methods for effecting certain results. Sometimes, however, the term science is extended to denote a department of practical work which depends on the knowledge and conscious application of principles; an art, on the other hand, being understood to require merely knowledge of traditional rules and skill acquired by habit."

But my main comment is to request further clarification, in simpler terms if possible, of the points made in your post.

ellie said...

Pretty much everything I write in our Blake blog is my attempt to understand things that are puzzling to me.

By now I realize that Blake is trying to make his readers think, but not in the way they have been accustomed to thinking. He tends to scatter clues throughout his work which provide tidbits of information essential for discerning patterns. I think he was enormously skillful at picking up patterns from his experience, his reading, his observation of humanity, the panoply of history, and the operation of his own mind. He writes and creates visual images to demonstrate the ability to perceive the infinite, while most of us, perhaps especially scientists, confine ourselves to the finite.

We know that Blake was critical of Bacon and Newton, two influential scientists in his day. He used them as symbols for the way of thinking which encouraged a reductionist dependence on sense-based reasoning. By encouraging abstract theorizing he felt that they discouraged the development of the human dimension which is Fourfold - intellect, imagination, emotion and sensation.

But he could be critical of what he considered to be the misuse of science, and hold science itself in the highest esteem. This post presents his elevation of science to functioning in the material world as a means through which the divine intention becomes expressed. To the man of imagination living in the world of time and space, art and science are the instrumentalities available to maintain the vision of the Eternal.

I'll have more about Blake's science in future posts, but his science is not the science of weights and measures, of theories and proofs.

Thanks for your comment!