In what furnace was thy brain?
First posted in February 2013.
Is an individual capable of exercising control over what goes on in his mind? Some would argue that he is not; that his thoughts are simply reactions to his memories or to external activity. Others observe an ability to decide what response is made by the psyche to the ever changing panorama of sensation and thought to which one is subject. Blake fell into the second category. Blake had developed his image of the furnaces as a means of gaining the ability to alter the 'mind forged manacles.' The difficulty in altering the way the mind perceives is that the mind is subject to the very strictures which it projects onto the outside world. In his four chapters of Jerusalem Blake explores both the outward and inward manifestations of a mind which has lost its unity and its ability to view ultimate reality.
The final reference in Jerusalem to the furnaces of Los is on plate 91. Here the furnaces succeeded in amalgamating the nations into one because Los had succeeded in in altering his Spectre. The Spectre was no longer able to take control of Los' mind. Los no longer saw his Spectre as good or evil, he could now serve Los as intellect because Los no longer expects him to make him holy.
The work of the furnaces, the inner work, was over but the final achievement of Los' furnaces had begun a chain reaction of reassembling Albion. The process of disintegration was reversed. Reintegration took place in multiple stages involving Los, Enitharmon, Britannia, Albion, Jesus and Jerusalem. The final appearance of a furnace was the 'Furnace of Affliction' into which Albion threw himself as an 'Offering of Self for Another'. By this act there was a transformation of the furnaces into 'Fountains of Living Waters' which initiated the final universal awakening.
Yale Center for British Art
Yale Center for British Art
Jerusalem, Plate 91, (E 251) "Thus Los alterd his Spectre & every Ratio of his Reason He alterd time after time, with dire pain & many tears Till he had completely divided him into a separate space. Terrified Los sat to behold trembling & weeping & howling I care not whether a Man is Good or Evil; all that I care Is whether he is a Wise Man or a Fool. Go! put off Holiness And put on Intellect: or my thundrous Hammer shall drive thee To wrath which thou condemnest: till thou obey my voice So Los terrified cries: trembling & weeping & howling! Beholding PLATE 92 What do I see? The Briton Saxon Roman Norman amalgamating In my Furnaces into One Nation the English: & taking refuge In the Loins of Albion. The Canaanite united with the fugitive Hebrew, whom she divided into Twelve, & sold into Egypt Then scatterd the Egyptian & Hebrew to the four Winds! This sinful Nation Created in our Furnaces & Looms is Albion So Los spoke. Enitharmon answerd in great terror in Lambeths Vale The Poets Song draws to its period & Enitharmon is no more." Jerusalem, Plate 96, (E 256) "Albion replyd. Cannot Man exist without Mysterious Offering of Self for Another, is this Friendship & Brotherhood I see thee in the likeness & similitude of Los my Friend Jesus said. Wouldest thou love one who never died For thee or ever die for one who had not died for thee And if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love: As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood So saying. the Cloud overshadowing divided them asunder Albion stood in terror: not for himself but for his Friend Divine, & Self was lost in the contemplation of faith And wonder at the Divine Mercy & at Los's sublime honour Do I sleep amidst danger to Friends! O my Cities & Counties Do you sleep! rouze up! rouze up. Eternal Death is abroad So Albion spoke & threw himself into the Furnaces of affliction All was a Vision, all a Dream: the Furnaces became Fountains of Living Waters Flowing from the Humanity Divine And all the Cities of Albion rose from their Slumbers, and All The Sons & Daughters of Albion on soft clouds Waking from Sleep Soon all around remote the Heavens burnt with flaming fires And Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona arose into Albions Bosom: Then Albion stood before Jesus in the Clouds Of Heaven Fourfold among the Visions of God in Eternity PLATE 97 Awake! Awake Jerusalem! O lovely Emanation of Albion Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time For lo! the Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day Appears upon our Hills: Awake Jerusalem, and come away"