|Yale Center for British Art|
Plate 10, Copy M
Blake's thesis was that reason had been elevated to a place of dominance over the other aspects of man's psyche. Reason then built a world where men were valued as instruments of production not compassion, where children were not nurtured or protected from exploitation, and where women were forced into defensiveness. The observation that reason imposed one view onto all, without variation or exception, caused Blake to react against the position he saw reason carving out for itself.
Quoting from an earlier post:
"Urizen wanders about the world spinning the web of religion, carving the laws of God and unable any longer to see into the closed tents of the Eternals. Urizen, the Superego, has created a dilemma; he can say 'Thou shalt not,' but he can't say 'Thou shalt.' (“Without a vision the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18.) Urizen is at an impasse from which he cannot extricate himself. The divided self, without the Spirit or Imagination lacks the ability to live the life of joy, peace, forgiveness and brotherhood."
America, Plate 7, (E 53) "Lover of wild rebellion, and transgresser of Gods Law; Why dost thou come to Angels eyes in this terrific form? Plate 8 The terror answerd: I am Orc, wreath'd round the accursed tree: The times are ended; shadows pass the morning gins to break; The fiery joy, that Urizen perverted to ten commands, What night he led the starry hosts thro' the wide wilderness: That stony law I stamp to dust: and scatter religion abroad To the four winds as a torn book, & none shall gather the leaves; But they shall rot on desart sands, & consume in bottomless deeps; To make the desarts blossom, & the deeps shrink to their fountains, And to renew the fiery joy, and burst the stony roof." Song of Los, (E 68) "Thus the terrible race of Los & Enitharmon gave Laws & Religions to the sons of Har binding them more And more to Earth: closing and restraining: Till a Philosophy of Five Senses was complete Urizen wept & gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke"
Book of Urizen, Plate 4, (E 72) "6. Here alone I in books formd of metals Have written the secrets of wisdom The secrets of dark contemplation By fightings and conflicts dire, With terrible monsters Sin-bred: Which the bosoms of all inhabit; Seven deadly Sins of the soul. 7. Lo! I unfold my darkness: and on This rock, place with strong hand the Book Of eternal brass, written in my solitude. 8. Laws of peace, of love, of unity: Of pity, compassion, forgiveness. Let each chuse one habitation: His ancient infinite mansion: One command, one joy, one desire, One curse, one weight, one measure One King, one God, one Law."
Four Zoas, Night VII, PAGE 80, (E 355) "And Urizen Read in his book of brass in sounding tones Listen O Daughters to my voice Listen to the Words of Wisdom So shall [ye] govern over all let Moral Duty tune your tongue But be your hearts harder than the nether millstone To 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 Compell the poor to live upon a Crust of bread by soft mild arts Smile when they frown frown when they smile & when a man looks pale With labour & abstinence say he looks healthy & happy And when his children Sicken let them die there are enough Born even too many & our Earth will be overrun Without these arts If you would make the poor live with temper With pomp give every crust of bread you give with gracious cunning Magnify small gifts reduce the man to want a gift & then give with pomp Say he smiles if you hear him sigh If pale say he is ruddy Preach temperance say he is overgorgd & drowns his wit In strong drink tho you know that bread & water are all He can afford Flatter his wife pity his children till we can Reduce all to our will as spaniels are taught with art"