Sunday, February 16, 2014


There are two titles to this picture: God Speaking to Adam and God Judging Adam. After Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil they knew that they had separated themselves from the Unified Presence. With the knowledge they had gained they had removed themselves from the ability to remain in Eden. A world would be created for them reflecting the divided state of mind which they had achieved. This picture depicts the awful moment for God and man when that aspect of God who is represented by man, goes forth to seek his path through a perilous experience.

In this picture in the Large Color Prints Blake created an image whose meaning is not easy to penetrate. For years the title given to this picture was Elijah in the Fiery Chariot. When we see the two figures as God and Adam rather than Elijah, we look for Biblical encounters between God and man to shed light on its meaning. Adam comes before God in the garden after the encounter with the serpent. The consciousness of Adam and Eve have been altered and their relationship to God disturbed.

Genesis 3
[7] Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
[8] And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
[9] But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"

In the Book of Exodus a later stage of the interaction between God and man in the Old
Testament was told as Moses was invited to meet God in the cloud on the top of the mountain. On this occasion Moses received from God the law which would guide man as a substitute for the direct guidance of the inner spirit. Notice the book in the lap of God in Blake's picture.

Exodus 24
[12] The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tables of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction."
[13] So Moses rose with his servant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.
[14] And he said to the elders, "Tarry here for us, until we come to you again; and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a cause, let him go to them." [15] Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.
[16] The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
[17] Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.
[18] And Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Large Color Prints
God Judging Adam 
In this image Blake reveals several aspects of encounters between God and man. We see God in a circle of fire suggesting that God is that energetic force which brings about change when change has been made possible through openings (Kairos). Some of God's energy seems to have flowed to man because the horses which pull God's chariot appear beside Adam. In Blake's myth the horses of Urizen (reason) fell into the control of Luvah (emotion) and dislocated the whole psychic structure. A similar exchange is implied in this picture: the horses of a Urizenic God are released to man who wears 'Luvah's Robes of Blood.' 

We further notice in the picture that Adam and God have the same appearance. Adam was made in God's image; as man is changed by the Fall, God is changed too. Man has been broken by the divisions: between man and God, between man and woman, and through knowledge of good and evil. God has been broken by the retreat of man from Eden, by man's continual disobedience, and by the necessity of issuing the law to limit man's fall.

Blake tells us of the journey undertaken by man and woman in the world of time and space when their undifferentiated minds were fractured by divisions. 

Milton, Plate 18 [20], (E 111)                                            
"And Tharmas Demon of the Waters, & Orc, who is Luvah

The Shadowy Female seeing Milton, howl'd in her lamentation
Over the Deeps. outstretching her Twenty seven Heavens over Albion

And thus the Shadowy Female howls in articulate howlings
For I will put on the Human Form & take the Image of God
Even Pity & Humanity but my Clothing shall be Cruelty    
And I will put on Holiness as a breastplate & as a helmet
And all my ornaments shall be of the gold of broken hearts
And the precious stones of anxiety & care & desperation & death
And repentance for sin & sorrow & punishment & fear
To defend me from thy terrors O Orc! my only beloved!            

Orc answerd. Take not the Human Form O loveliest. Take not
Terror upon thee! Behold how I am & tremble lest thou also
Consume in my Consummation; but thou maist take a Form
Female & lovely, that cannot consume in Mans consummation
Wherefore dost thou Create & Weave this Satan for a Covering[?]  
When thou attemptest to put on the Human Form, my wrath  

Burns to the top of heaven against thee in Jealousy & Fear.
Then I rend thee asunder, then I howl over thy clay & ashes
When wilt thou put on the Female Form as in times of old
With a Garment of Pity & Compassion like the Garment of God      
His garments are long sufferings for the Children of Men
Jerusalem is his Garment & not thy Covering Cherub O lovely
Shadow of my delight who wanderest seeking for the prey."

Jerusalem, Plate 8, (E 151)
"Hand has absorbd all his Brethren in his might
All the infant Loves & Graces were lost, for the mighty Hand
Plate 9
Condens'd his Emanations into hard opake substances;
And his infant thoughts & desires, into cold, dark, cliffs of death.
His hammer of gold he siezd; and his anvil of adamant.
He siez'd the bars of condens'd thoughts, to forge them:
Into the sword of war: into the bow and arrow:                   
Into the thundering cannon and into the murdering gun
I saw the limbs form'd for exercise, contemn'd: & the beauty of
Eternity, look'd upon as deformity & loveliness as a dry tree:
I saw disease forming a Body of Death around the Lamb
Of God, to destroy Jerusalem, & to devour the body of Albion     
By war and stratagem to win the labour of the husbandman:
Awkwardness arm'd in steel: folly in a helmet of gold:
Weakness with horns & talons: ignorance with a rav'ning beak!
Every Emanative joy forbidden as a Crime:
And the Emanations buried alive in the earth with pomp of religion:          
Inspiration deny'd; Genius forbidden by laws of punishment:
I saw terrified; I took the sighs & tears, & bitter groans:
I lifted them into my Furnaces; to form the spiritual sword.
That lays open the hidden heart: I drew forth the pang
Of sorrow red hot: I workd it on my resolute anvil:              
I heated it in the flames of Hand, & Hyle, & Coban
Nine times; Gwendolen & Cambel & Gwineverra
Are melted into the gold, the silver, the liquid ruby,
The crysolite, the topaz, the jacinth, & every precious stone,
Loud roar my Furnaces and loud my hammer is heard:               
I labour day and night, I behold the soft affections
Condense beneath my hammer into forms of cruelty
But still I labour in hope, tho' still my tears flow down.
That he who will not defend Truth, may be compelld to defend
A Lie: that he may be snared and caught and snared and taken     
That Enthusiasm and Life may not cease: arise Spectre arise!" 
There are unintended consequences to the small steps toward a higher consciousness which man took in the garden. The work on the inner being will go through outer trials. Northrop Frye reminds us of how the process takes place:
"...once a man takes his mind off his own eternal Being and begins to concentrate on the world of time he is instantly kidnapped by his natural death-impulses.
...once separated from creative and imaginative ends, the instrumental becomes an end in itself, its criteria for use and value are make absolute principles, its media such as money, become more important than the things they circulate, and vast complications of tools and machines are produced out of the sheer automatic compulsion to produce them.
...What begins as a pursuit of the instrumental and mechanical for its  own sake ends in war and in a overproduction of luxurious and dangerous toys; and what begins as an intensification of moral virtue of temporal activity ends as a natural beehive society of unthinking workers, unworking drones and periodic massacres." (Fearful Symmetry, Page 294-5)

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