Here you may meet William Blake, join hands in a discussion, ask questions. This is your Blake Commentary. Please visit Larry's Blake Primer
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Every (male) character in Blake has an emanation; this conforms to Heraclitus' doctrine of contraries, and indicates the ultimate duality. The (male) character represents active energy (especially in Great Eternity), which the (female) emanation represents passive repose. (when Albion fell things changed!)
[Blake thereby unfortunately and unwittingly insulted in a deadly way many if not all 'women's libbers'. But Blake had simply followed the virtually universal principle of mythopoetic sex. Some very secure women find it possible to excuse this violation of 'pc' from one born two centuries ago, just as they excuse the apostle Paul for a few of his unfortunate remarks. We all have failings, and Blake taught above all forgiveness.]
Albion's emanation, Jerusalem, remains eternal through all the Wheel of Destiny; Blake gave her fallen component other names, particularly Vala, Tirzah, and Rahab.
The Four Zoas and their Emanations
When I began to attempt The Four Zoas, I soon realized that Blake saw much more than I can possibly see. Reading it is always an adventure: how much can you grasp? There will always be more to strive for. What follows is an initial attempt to describe the ten primary characters who appear in The Four Zoas.
No matter how much you study Blake much will always remains opaque to many (or most) of us. In that respect he's very like the Bible. In fact he began the poem with a verse from St. Paul, which tell us what he means to do with the poem:
4 lines of Greek text; Ephesians 6: 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.
(King James version)]>
Although we hear of the birth of these characters, some from others, they are actually manifestations of the four functions of the Eternal Man (later celebrated by Carl Jung).
The word strongly suggests reason, the primary quality of Urizen. Blake felt that the hegemony of rational thinking since The Enlightmenthad had a stultifying and destructive influence on the British culture. He chose Bacon, Newton and Locketo epitomize that destructive influence. He chose Urizen to exemplify it in his myth.
At the final consummation Blake rehabilitated Bacon, Newton and Locke. They appeared counterbalancing Blake's three great poets.
The Druid Spectre was Annihilate loud thundring rejoicing terrific vanishing J98.7; E257| Fourfold Annihilation & at the clangor of the Arrows of Intellect J98.8; E257| The innumerable Chariots of the Almighty appeard in Heaven J98.9; E257| And Bacon & Newton & Locke, & Milton & Shakspear & Chaucer (Jerusalem 98: 6-9 )
In Night II of The Four Zoas Urizen lost his faith and in vision saw the world collapsing into darkness:
Urizen rose from the bright Feast like a star thro' the evening sky.
First he beheld the body of Man pale, cold; the horrors of death
Beneath his feet shot thro' him as he stood in the Human Brain,
Pale he beheld futurity; pale he beheld the Abyss
Build we a Bower for heavens darling in the grizzly deep,
Build we the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion. FZ2: 23:9-24.8; (314)
The Mundane Shell thus represents the world as we know it with the two contraries, darkness and light competing for priority. (For example after WWII with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Germany and Japan light came relatively to the fore, to be succeeded by the terrible darkness and chaos of the Vietnam disaster.)
The darkness led Urizen to this confession.
O Fool could I forget the light that filled my bright spheres
Was a reflection of his face who calld me from the deep? I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice saying
'O light spring up and shine' and I sprang up from the deep
He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown
and said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean.
I went not forth. I hid myself in black clouds of my wrath
I calld the stars around my feet in the night of councils dark
The stars threw down their spears and fled naked away.