This armor insulating us from threat may be called the Selfhood, the false reasoning power. We learn to build ourselves up by tearing others down; we learn to blame others for our shortcomings; we learn to claim as our own what we have been freely given by God. A Selfhood grows within us and distorts our ability to perceive clearly or allow the imagination to be expressed in us and through us.
New York Public Library Milton Copy C, Plate 44
Through his struggles with understanding the internal facets of himself and how they inhibited his ability to maintain a clear channel for the expression of the Imagination, Blake learned that he could not use force to free himself to write. He needed to open pathways by being receptive to the positive contributions which could came to him even from the least promising sources.
Blake developed the realization that to rid himself of the inhibitions that his Selfhood presented he had to befriend it. He had to invite it into consciousness and determine what it said to him. He found that the power the Selfhood exercised over him was removed when he brought the Selfhood in, rather than giving it an external existence.
Annihilation of the Selfhood is a recurring process because the Selfhood grows again as the psyche accumulates more injuries and sees more choas around him. The solution is always to annihilate it by incorporating it. This process may seem simple and straightforward but Blake presents the challenge and terror which he found it to be.
Jerusalem, Plate 5, (E 147) "Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me. Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task! To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination O Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love: Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life! Guide thou my hand which trembles exceedingly upon the rock of ages," Milton, Plate 14 , (E 108) "When will the Resurrection come; to deliver the sleeping body From corruptibility: O when Lord Jesus wilt thou come? Tarry no longer; for my soul lies at the gates of death. I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave. I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks! I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death, Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate And I be siez'd & giv'n into the hands of my own Selfhood" Milton, Plate 32 , (E 135) "Judge then of thy Own Self: thy Eternal Lineaments explore What is Eternal & what Changeable? & what Annihilable! The Imagination is not a State: it is the Human Existence itself Affection or Love becomes a State, when divided from Imagination The Memory is a State always, & the Reason is a State Created to be Annihilated & a new Ratio Created Whatever can be Created can be Annihilated Forms cannot" Milton, Plate 38 , (E 139) "In the Eastern porch of Satans Universe Milton stood & said Satan! my Spectre! I know my power thee to annihilate And be a greater in thy place, & be thy Tabernacle A covering for thee to do thy will, till one greater comes And smites me as I smote thee & becomes my covering. Such are the Laws of thy false Heavns! but Laws of Eternity Are not such: know thou: I come to Self Annihilation Such are the Laws of Eternity that each shall mutually Annihilate himself for others good, as I for thee[.] Thy purpose & the purpose of thy Priests & of thy Churches Is to impress on men the fear of death; to teach Trembling & fear, terror, constriction; abject selfishness Mine is to teach Men to despise death & to go on In fearless majesty annihilating Self, laughing to scorn Thy Laws & terrors, shaking down thy Synagogues as webs I come to discover before Heavn & Hell the Self righteousness In all its Hypocritic turpitude, opening to every eye These wonders of Satans holiness shewing to the Earth The Idol Virtues of the Natural Heart, & Satans Seat Explore in all its Selfish Natural Virtue & put off In Self annihilation all that is not of God alone: To put off Self & all I have ever & ever Amen" Milton, Plate 40 , (E 141) "I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon. there a dread And awful Man I see, oercoverd with the mantle of years. I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas; The Four Zoa's of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies Are those who contemn Religion & seek to annihilate it Become in their Femin[in]e portions the causes & promoters Of these Religions, how is this thing? this Newtonian Phantasm This Voltaire & Rousseau: this Hume & Gibbon & Bolingbroke This Natural Religion! this impossible absurdity Is Ololon the cause of this? O where shall I hide my face These tears fall for the little-ones: the Children of Jerusalem Lest they be annihilated in thy annihilation." Milton, Plate 40 , (E 142) "Obey thou the Words of the Inspired Man All that can be annihilated must be annihilated That the Children of Jerusalem may be saved from slavery There is a Negation, & there is a Contrary The Negation must be destroyd to redeem the Contraries The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examination." Jerusalem, Plate 7, (E 150) "Los answer'd. Altho' I know not this! I know far worse than this: I know that Albion hath divided me, and that thou O my Spectre, Hast just cause to be irritated: but look stedfastly upon me: Comfort thyself in my strength the time will arrive, When all Albions injuries shall cease, and when we shall Embrace him tenfold bright, rising from his tomb in immortality. They have divided themselves by Wrath. they must be united by Pity: let us therefore take example & warning O my Spectre, O that I could abstain from wrath! O that the Lamb Of God would look upon me and pity me in my fury. In anguish of regeneration! in terrors of self annihilation: Pity must join together those whom wrath has torn in sunder, And the Religion of Generation which was meant for the destruction Of Jerusalem, become her covering, till the time of the End. O holy Generation! [Image] of regeneration! O point of mutual forgiveness between Enemies! Birthplace of the Lamb of God incomprehensible!"