This post is a reprise of an earlier work posted on Nov 8, 1011:
The Fall and Return
Eden is the Eternal Realm prior to Creation, and Blake's garden is called Beulah, the region all around Eden. Beulah is a place for the Eternals to rest, but a dangerous place (like the Garden in Genesis). One may turn away from Eternity and choose to evaluate life in terms of good and evil (eat the apple, so to speak).The problem with good and evil is that we take as our own what belongs to God, and thereafter what we may acquire is good, and what we lack is evil. In Blake's language we have chosen the selfhood, to focus on I, me, and mine. Or in Ovid's language like Narcissus we have fallen in love with ourselves and chosen the watery materiality over the inward spiritual truth. In love with the world of things and thrills we have become ardent materialists. We fall into Ulro.
In one sense when the Fall began Albion (mankind) divided into the four Zoas, but in another, the Fall began when Luvah seized Urizen's chariot of the sun in effect blotting out the sun of Urizen. For a while (feminine) feeling ruled the world. Eventually Los, the imagination, became Urizen's chief adversary. So
- Urizen read in his book of brass in sounding tones
'Listen O Daughters to my voice. Listen to the Words of Wisdom:
shall [ye] govern over all; let Moral Duty tune your tongue;
be your hearts harder than the nether millstone;
bring the shadow of Enitharmon beneath our wondrous tree
that Los may Evaporate like smoke & be no more.
Draw down Enitharmon to the Spectre of Urthona
And let him have dominion over Los the terrible shade.'
(Four Zoas 7a:80:1-8 Erdman 355)
But a strange thing happened; the Spectre of Urthona came to a different plan. Los, empowered by love, found Urizen in his hands. So ends Night vii:
- First his immortal spirit drew Urizen's Shadow away
From out the ranks of war separating him in sunder
Leaving his Spectrous form which could not be drawn away
Then he divided Thiriel the Eldest of Urizens sons
Urizen became Rintrah Thiriel became Palamabron
Thus dividing the powers of Every Warrior
Startled was Los he found his Enemy Urizen now
In his hands. he wonderd that he felt love & not hate
His whole soul loved him he beheld him an infant.
(Four Zoas, Night 7a 59-66 Erdman 371)
In 4Z Blake tried over and over to give an account of the Fall; the one shown here is only one of many.
The fallen Albion meets Vala and hears her say:
- Know me now Albion: look upon me. I alone am Beauty
The Imaginative Human Form is but a breathing of Vala.
I breathe him forth into the Heaven from my secret Cave,
Born of the Woman to obey the Woman O Albion the mighty
For the Divine appearance is Brotherhood, but I am love.
(Jerusalem 29.49-52; E176)
And this from Los:
- What may Man be? who can tell! but what may Woman be?
To have power over Man from Cradle to corruptible Grave.
There is a Throne in every Man, it is the Throne of God
This Woman has claimd as her own & Man is no more!
Albion is the Tabernacle of Vala & her Temple
And not the Tabernacle & Temple of the Most High
O Albion why wilt thou Create a Female Will?
(Jerusalem 30:25-31; E176)
That is the experience of Ulro. (Note that Vala is not really a woman, but the outward experience of phenomena in the temporal, passive world. She calls herself love, but it is female love, domineering, 'castrating'.) In the same way those most attached to the "hard-nosed reality" of pure materialism often sneer at or ridicule any kind of spiritual idea. So female love also applies to greedy 'realistic' materialists. They live in a blind alley with no exit other than 'repentance'.
The repentance of 'lost souls' in Ulro is the preliminary to the Return, which begins with Generation. In due course this leads to regeneration, and then eventually back to Eden.Ulro and Generation exist at the same time denoting the destructive and the creative modes of human life. The first represents man's continuous drift away from Eternity with ever greater commitment to radical materialism (the female will). Generation is "man's painful and disheartening struggle to build the New Jerusalem" (per 71).
This movement began when, commissioned by Urthona's Spectre to create, Los is converted: "Los wonders to find that now he loves his enemies instead of hating them. (Creation frees one from all manner of prejudice and hate.)
Here are verses from the 2nd version of Night vii:
- Then took the tree of Mystery root in the World of Los
But then the Spectre enterd Los's bosom Every sigh & groan
Of Enitharmon bore Urthona's Spectre on its wings.
Obdurate Los felt Pity. Enitharmon told the tale
Of Urthona. Los embracd the Spectre first as a brother
Then as another Self; astonishd humanizing & in tears In Self abasement, giving up his Domineering lust.
(We might ask ourselves what kind of pity did Los feel? Was it the loving pity of Beulah and Eden? Or was it the cruel, self-righteous pity of Ulro? The last line quoted here gives a good clue.)Here is the most significant change of man (in the form of Los, the Imagination) from hate to love. This is the Return and the beginning of the journey of 1000 miles (6,000 years) from Ulro back to Eden. (Protestants consider this conversion and the beginning of the 'upward trail'.)
Los, the architect and builder of generation, builded Golgoonza, the man made Jerusalem. For 6000 years Los built it, tore it down, built it again, over and over, preparing for the parousia.
- For the Divine Lamb Even Jesus who is the Divine Vision
Permitted all lest Man should fall into Eternal Death
For when Luvah sunk down, himself put on the robes of blood
Lest the state calld Luvah should cease. The Divine Vision
Walked in robes of blood till he who slept should awake.
Thus were the stars of heaven created like a golden chain
To bind the Body of Man to heaven from failing into the Abyss
(Four Zoas Night 2 33:11-17 321f)
(The golden chain parallels a passage in Homer's Iliad, book 8:
- "Make ye fast from heaven a chain of gold, and lay ye hold thereof, all ye gods and all goddesses; yet could ye not drag to earth from out of heaven Zeus the counsellor most high, not though ye laboured sore. But whenso I were minded to draw of a ready heart, then with earth itself should I draw you and with sea withal; and the rope should I thereafter bind about a peak of Olympus and all those things should hang in space.)
But even in Ulro we find redemptive possibilities. The golden chain has deteriorated to a 'chain of iron', but it still connects the fallen zoas (and us) to the higher realm.
The Mundane Shell, built by Urizen, the 'creator' is imaged as a "chain, beginning as gold and ending as iron" (Percival, 60), but it's purpose is always redemptive.