Thursday, July 25, 2013

MHH 16 and 17

The startling picture of Plate 16 is of a group of Giants huddled together in a small cave with ankles in chains. A lot is told about the Giants in The Unholy Bible. The Bible has this to say:

[4] There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

'Giants have a long history in the Bible and in Greek mythology and other mythologies.  In ancient Greek history began with warring Giants; the Titan Chronos ruled until dethroned by his son Zeus.

Here in Plate 16 Blake identifies the Giants are related to the Prolific and the Devourers.

The Giants who formed this world into its sensual
and now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth.
the causes
of its life & the sources of all activity, but the
chains are,
the cunning of weak and tame minds. which have power to resist
energy. according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong in cunning.
Thus one portion of being, is the Prolific. the
other, the
Devouring: to the devourer it seems as if the
producer was in
his chains, but it is not so, he only takes portions
of existence
and fancies that the whole.

   But the Prolific would cease to be Prolific unless the
Devourer as a sea recieved the excess of his delights.
   Some will say, Is not God alone the Prolific? I
answer, God only   Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men.
   These two classes of men are always upon earth, & they should
be enemies; whoever tries [PL 17] to reconcile them seeks to
destroy existence.
(Erdman 40)   

In another context the Prolific is the prophet, the poet, the leader.  The Devourer is the conventional man who does only what the crowd does. Religion wants to reconcile them, but Jesus said no, they are entirely different.  Of course you may begin as an individual, but lapse into a conventional person, or vice versa.

'Messiah or Satan or Tempter', a diabolic Trinity that Blake sees as an
'antediluvian' or Giant; one might say that the angels around God's table are

In the Memorable Fancy the angel pities the devil (recall this as an ironic satire).  At the devils suggestion the angel takes him through the various stages of a stable, a church, a church vault, a mill and finally a cave.  This is comparable to the other memorable fancy in plate 15 where the eagle  caused the inside of the cave to be infinite.

Religion is an endeavour to reconcile the two. Note. Jesus Christ did not wish to unite but to  separate them, as in the Parable of sheep and goats! & he says I came not to send Peace but a Sword.
Messiah or Satan or Tempter was formerly thought to be one of the Antediluvians who are our Energies.
                    A Memorable Fancy
An Angel came to me and said. O pitiable foolish  young man! O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to  which thou art going in such career. I said. perhaps you will be willing to shew me my  eternal lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your lot or mine is most desirable
So he took me thro' a stable & thro' a church & down into the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro' the mill we went, and came to a cave. down the winding cavern we groped our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appeard beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this immensity; but I said, if you please we will commit ourselves to this void, and see whether providence is here also, if you will not I will? but he answerd. do not presume O young-man but as we here remain behold thy lot which will soon appear when the darkness passes away So I remaind with him sitting in the twisted [PL 18] root of an oak.(Erdman 40-41)

The next plate will alaborate on the scene that leaves us here.
(Tune in again in a couple of days.)

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