Monday, March 23, 2015

Notes 4


A quick summary of the political import of Visions of the Daughters of Albion came in a letter from Scholar James Rovira: 
"I read VDA (only in part) as a critique of US democracy in the light of its violation of democratic ideals (personified by Oothoon) by its legalization of slavery. The forces that would combat slavery are overly passive (Theotormon, God-tormented, conscience in the light of democratic ideals) while the forces of market capitalism that benefit from slavery (Bromion) actively rape/violate these ideals. But, these democratic ideals are still in charge, yet unable to fully give themselves to their ideals, so that the most seriously damaged victim of Bromion's rape was Theotormon, not Oothoon, who is still at least capable of selfless love and who is going to bring forth life."
Blake defined the poetic genius as Principle 1 in All Religions are One:
    That the Poetic Genius is the true Man. and that
    the body or outward form of Man is derived from
    the Poetic Genius. Likewise that the forms of all
    things are derived from their Genius. which by the Ancients was call'd an Angel and Spirit and Demon.
    PINCIPLE 2d As all men are alike in outward
    form, So (and with the same infinite variety) b all are alike in the Poetic Genius.
    PRINCIPLE 3d No man can think write or speak
    from his heart, but he must intend truth.
    Thus all sects of Philosophy are from the Poetic
    Genius adapted to the weaknesses of every individual.
    PRINCIPLE 4. As none by traveling over known
    lands can find out the unknown. So from already
    acquired knowledge Man could not acquire more.
    therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists
    PRINCIPLE. 5. The Religions of all Nations are derived from each Nations different reception of
    the Poetic Genius which is every where call'd
    the Spirit of Prophecy.
    PRINCIPLE 6 The Jewish and Christian
    Testaments are An original derivation from the
    Poetic Genius. this is necessary from the
    confined nature of bodily sensation.
       He originally ascribed this to Jesus, but then added Urthona and Los (the Lord's representatives in his system).

       Rahab: the name Blake applied to the Whore of Babylon of Revelation. However the Bible, and Blake as well, used the name for some more honorable women.

       In Blake's conception (as in the Bible) we come into the world with innocence, lose it (See 'Songs of Experience') and hopefully evolve to a higher level of consciousness. Blake and the Bible refer to these two developments as falland return.

       The mundane shell and the 'covering cherub' are two ways Blake described the fallen condition, and organized religion has a prominent place in both myths.

       Two (relatively) contemporary authors deserve mention:
Joseph Chilton Pearce's Crack in the Cosmic Egg deserves study. It looks like an elaborate expansion of Blake's ideas here. I haven't recently determined what if any recognition he gave to Blake, although I found the mundane shell mentioned on page xiv of the 1988 edition.

Marcus Borg, on page 114 of his The God We Never Knew, speaks of 'the hatching of the heart', i.e. the conversion of the hard heart to the open heart: "If what is within is to live, the egg must hatch, the shell must break, the heart must open." And he refers us to Jeremiah's New Covenant.
In Blake's long poem, Milton, the older poet, Milton, imitating his friend, Jesus, comes down from Heaven, and cracks the mundane egg on his way to the center.

       Marriage is a sacrament in Christian thought, and for many of us it's the primary sacrament of life. But in 19th century British society, we may get the idea (from Dickens or Trollope) that matrimony served commercial rather than religious purposes. Blake violently objected to that (obviously objectionable) custom; it led him to use such phrases as the  marriage hearse.

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