Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Myths 4

Visions of the Daughters of Albion

Graphic Version 

Here's a Blakean twist on the ubiquitous eternal triangle of all the love stories.

   Here we see clearly the moral approach. Blake used it to express his emphatic displeasure at the notion that a raped girl is 'damaged goods' and no longer worthy of the love of her erswhile lover. He considered that a high degree of immorality, another expression of the Jealousy that was for Blake the primary sin; and to perceive a woman as property, all too prevalent in Blake's day and still quite common in ours.

"Father of jealousy. be thou accursed from the earth!"
Are not these the places of religion, the rewards of continence?A poke at conventional religion in which women are considered property!

   Otherwise the metaphysical (or mythological) 'approach' presents an early (1793) version of the myth of the Kore. Oothoon is of course Persephone":

"The Golden nymph replied; pluck thou my flower Oothoon the mild" .  Oothoon was trapped in "Pluto's realm", the material world without escape, but she never joined it. Hurrah!

   This poem has a lot to say about human sexuality, but that won't be dwelt on further here.

   Although most of us who are religious types may struggle our whole lives for those precious moments of God consciousness, William Blake had a direct pipeline to the Beyond. Heavenly visions dominated his mind in an overwhelming way. His wife had only one fault to find, "Mr. Blake spends too much time in Heaven."
   Those 'heavenly' moments he could best (or only) describe in the symbolic terms of the ages, a language that has been largely forgotten since the Enlightenment by our materialistic culture, which despises anything other than the 'hard reality' of dollars and cents.
Here are a few of the esoteric symbols:  The sun is the symbol of God and Eternity.
The moon is the symbol of mortality, the realm of the world.
Lyca is the earth. The little girl symbolizes the world. She is also a type for Leutha (sexuality), and Eve. The little girl heard the "wild bird's song" (look at Plate 6 of Songs of Experienc)e. 

Lyca here is in the form of an adult woman with a lover (which is what it means to hear the wild bird's song). She immediately desires sleep.
Blake means something other than what we mean by natural sleep; he means in fact the descent of an immortal soul into the fallen world. Coming from the South (land of the Immortals) Lyca hears the wild bird's song, and sleeps.

   Job is the Universal Man, Albion, you and me, the cosmos. In American culture Man may be thought of as getting and spending, or more comprehensively as radical materialists in the absence of any spiritual outlook. Reading The Book of Job, Blake found these same qualities in Job, particularly a legalistic religion of self satisfaction. He also found them in the zoas, fractured parts of the Universal Man when he descended from Eternity and went to sleep.
   Blake did his Job illustrations in his sixties, near the end of a long and productive life. It contains in essence, but comprehensive and succinct, the same myth as all the others. Job is the story of Albion, of Blake and his world, of you and me and ours. If you study nothing Blakean but Job, it will yield an accurate picture of Blake's system of thought, what he is about, and what he feels and believes most deeply.
   Kathleen Raine, near the end of her long and productive life published a little book called Golgoonza. It contains a very good treatment of Blake's Job. On page 127 she wrote, "It is clear that the figure of Albion is to a great extent derived from the Book of Job.
   There are many good presentations of Blake's Job on the web. The most helpful one might be in a work emanating from Boston College.
   This one has a frame with the King James Version of the Bible pointed to by Blake in his magnificent production. Remarkably the text spread around Blake's pictures appear to have almost verbatim copies of various parts of the Bible Book of Job.
   Here is the initial picture of another of the Job series. Click on the Next to see the successive pictures one by one. Here is the last picture. These pictures, like most of Blake's pictorial art are largely diagrammatic, designed to convey spiritual meaning.

Summary of Job from Raine's Golgonooza and Edinger's  Encounter with the Self.

   Plate 0  (Title Page) shows a circle of seven winged angels, to evoke the seven eyes of God and the seven eyes of the lamb. They are said to go to and fro in the earth and to walk up and down in it (Job 1:7). We may suppose that the one on the far left is Satan; his back is turned, and he's striving upward.
   From  Plate 1: Musical instruments (for spiritual activity) are hanging unused in the tree. Job and wife sit there, each with a book on their lap indicating that they live by the law: We see a verse of scripture "the Letter Killeth, the Spirit giveth life" ( Corinthians 3:6)
   Above the picture Blake put the beginning of The Lord's Prayer, and in the upper left below the rising Sun we see a cathedral. All of this significies that Job and family are resting here in the arms of the conventional church- the institution where people go to feel. good. They have fallen from Beulah to the land of space and time and pure materialism, making way for Satan to enter their lives.
   In Plate 2 The Angel of the Presence (a name for the Prince of this World disguised as  an angel of light) presides over the scene (his short hair distinguishes him from more creditable images that Blake drew of God). He's accusing Job, who attempts to defend (justify) himself. The God figure here is as always the God within Job's mind. (The only God we know is the one in our mind.)
   This picture like many of the others portrays a three story universe. At the upper Spirit, where the God figure resides; the middle level contains the principalities, and at the bottom we have creatures of time and space.
   In Plate 3, receiving permission from the Lord, Satan proceeds to all sorts of havoc including killing Job's children.
   Plate 4 shows the messenger bringing this sad news to Job and wife. Raine (127) also pointed to verses in 4Z Night 1: (Raine 127)
His inward eyes closing from the divine vision, & all
his children wandering outside, from his bosom fleeing away.
      (the last two verses of the first Night)    In Plate 5 we have an example of self-righteous charity; at least that was Blake's intention: "Was not my soul grieved for the poor?" (Job xxx:25)
   Plate 6: In the face of his "charity" Job comes down with boils from head to toe. Blake used this figure in Plate 21 of Jerusalem when Albion speaks to the Emanation (Vala! Jerusalem):
"O lovely forms (of female love), you have prepared my death cup.
The disease of Shame covers me from head to feet.
I have no hope; every boil upon my body is a separate and deadly Sin.
Doubt first assailed me, then Shame took possession of me
(Continue to read this passage in the
 Blake text.)
      (Jerusalem plate 21 K643)    In Plate 7 Job's friends, using the most common (calvinistic) excuse for great wealth, inform Job that his prosperity is gone because he has not been righteous. Such were Job's comforters
Job 2:11.
   In Plate 8 Job complains to God and protests, as Raine wrote "the great protest of man against the human lot" (page 131): like the holocaust: what is God doing??? Job says here: "Let the Day perish wherein I was Born" (Job 3:3).
   In Plate 9 Eliphaz, one of Job's three friends describes a dream that takes us out of the purely material where we've been up to now. Dreams occur frequently in the Bible and always represent the eruption of the non material on the scene. Eliphaz pointed upward, and Job and wife and other two friends look into Heaven.
   In Plate 10, in spite of that epiphany, Job's three friends accuse him, causing his response "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job xiii:15)." Job's wife joins in the accusation: Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die" (2:9).
   Plate 11: Wife gone, friends gone; Job is all alone, haunted by shadows in his dream and under the dominion of his false God. A very fearful 'God', entwined by a snake, torments Job in his sleep while inhabitants from Hell are trying to drag him down.
   This is a terrible picture: with his right hand Yahweh points up to the Book of Law while his left hand points down to Hell.
   Plate 12: A vivid contrast to the darkness of Plate 11! After the pit of darkness comes the morning, the New Birth! Elihu appears and seems to have set Job straight. (A copy of this picture is said to have been on Raine's desk for years.)
   Elihu, the young man speaks for God; he brings good news, the new wine after the dire warnings of Blake 'three friends' Elihu is the Spirit of Prophecy, Los, the zoa that Blake most identified with. Elihu is a type of Christ.
   In plate 13 God speaks to Job "out of the whirlwind",. Throughout the Bible the wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (note the still small voice out of the whirlwind that came to Elijah (I Kings 19:11-13), the wind that shook Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), Jesus' statement about the wind (John 3:8). Job and his wife  see God face to face, the most blessed thing that can happen to anyone. Job got new flocks and new children, but seeing God was the real blessing of the experience. The first is material; the other Eternal; God had tested Job and had found him pure in heart.
   Plate 14: "When the morning stars sang together & all the sons of God shouted for joy". We see here the clearest picture of the three story universe which has pervaded the Illustrations to Job. Under the foundation of God sit the characters of this drama in the material realm. God occupies the psychological realm, the vision of God that we carry through life; above are the Eternals.
   The borders of Plate 14 depict the seven days of Creation; Job has created a new world through the travail of his experiences. (Blake set much of his story before the creation; he believed in fact that Creation Continues).
   In Plate 15 Blake shows God pointing to  Behemoth and  Leviathan in a sphere according to Raine (140) the time-world. They are said to represent duality, a problem for Job, Blake, and many others of us; "Unity is only in God". Job comes to understand that God is something beyond the "God of Goodness" (See also Jung's Answer to Job.)
   In Plate 16 we see "Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke 10:17-18). Blake has revealed to us over and over who Satan is: he is the Selfhood, and most particularly the Accuser. When we judge we accuse; it is Satan in us. This is the Last Judgment, not a moment of time, but an eternal change that Job and wife are priviledged here to witness.
Whenever any individual rejects error and embraces truth, a last judgment passes upon that individual.

       In Plate 17 God blesses Job, which inspires him to say, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5). In the margin are quotations from the Book of John, a veritable cornucopia of verses describing this moment in everyone's life.

       Raine, a Blakean and Jungian scholar, feels that this is the best evidence of individuation, but that Jung missed it (Golgonooze 141). Did he?

       In Plate 18 God accepts Job and tells him to pray for his friends. The Plate includes a portion of the  Sermon on the Mount where we're told to love our enemies.

       In Plate 19 Job is giving a feast out of his new munificence. The guests arrive bringing presents to Job, in contrast to Plate 5, where the wealthy man, Job gives a crust of bread to a beggar.

       Plate 20 shows Job sitting in peace and comfort with his daughters. Raine (142) understands this to mean that Blake has transcended his fear of woman's love, which he had formerly associated with fallenness; I can't agree with Raine about this; he wrote too many glowing love poems. But in the term female love, as in My Spectre Round Me Night and Day , (especially in Verse xi), he's in the midst of another myth, the myth of the fallen emanation of Albion.

       The last plate (21) shows Blake gathered around his family and flock. Recall that Plate 1 had a very similar picture, but with some notable exceptions. The cathedral is no longer in the background (Job [Blake] emancipated from the law), nor is the book of law. Instead the musical instruments, hanging idle in Plate 1, is now in use by Job and family, so they are engaged in creative activity instead of attachment to the law. In both Plates they are gathering at the foot of the Tree of Life.

       The uncanny thing about Blake's Illustrations to Job is that each picture illustrates a stage of his own life. (Everything he wrote was autobiographical!!)

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