Wednesday, June 08, 2016

ADAM, EVE & SATAN

Genesis 2
[21] And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
[22] And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
[23] And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

University of Adalaide
The Drawings and Engravings of William Blake
by Laurence Binyan
Looking at this picture through the natural eye we see a loving couple in an idyllic setting separated from outside influences by a flowery bower. Floating above them is a menacing figure of whom they are unaware.

We supply the identifications of Adam, Eve and Satan because we are familiar with the the story in Genesis of the first man and woman who were tempted by Satan to disobey the creator. So we see the figures as Adam, the first man; Eve the woman who was taken form the side of Adam; and Satan, or the tempter, who destroyed the tranquility of Eden.

We can also look at the figures in the picture in the light of the understanding of cosmology which Blake developed through his mythical experience. In the created world man is not unified but divided into male and female, inner and outer, spirit and body, himself and his emanation. Creation itself is the origin of this division of original unity. If man retained the ability (or desire) to return to the pleroma there would be no disunity, for he would be capable of reuniting his disparate functions. However if he forgot the condition of blissful wholeness he would relinquish the ability to return.

Now we see that man does lose his way back because when the Emanation acquires a separate existence, a third being is generated whom Blake speaks of as a Spectre. Adam's Spectre is Satan, the generate form of Urizen, who resists the return of Adam to a condition of unity. The Spectre is able to manipulate the Emanation with the promise that she may gain dominance over Adam. The Specter and the Emanation gain control of the psyche of the man causing him to lose the ability to envision perfect wholeness.

Being cast out of the Garden of Eden meant to Blake this state of alienation from the infinite, eternal reality which gradually destroyed the bonds holding together the created world.

The temporary answer to this conundrum is the limits which are set to the fall by Los. Adam and Satan are these limits: Adam of contraction; Satan of opacity. Eve provides the avenue through which experience is gained. Through her brokenness she bears a son who incarnates the completed man who transcends the constraints which prevent man from seeing within his own soul. 

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 24, (E 314)
"Mighty was the draught of Voidness to draw Existence in

Terrific Urizen strode above, in fear & pale dismay
He saw the indefinite space beneath & his soul shrunk with horror
His feet upon the verge of Non Existence; his voice went forth 

Luvah & Vala trembling & shrinking, beheld the great Work master    
And heard his Word! Divide ye bands influence by influence
Build we a Bower for heavens darling in the grizly deep
Build we the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion
...
Their eyes their ears nostrils & tongues roll outward   they behold
What is within now seen without they are raw to the hungry wind"

Jerusalem, Plate 42, 189
[Los to Albion]
"Thou wast the Image of God surrounded by the Four Zoa's
Mighty was the draught of Voidness to draw Existence in

Terrific Urizen strode above, in fear & pale dismay
He saw the indefinite space beneath & his soul shrunk with horror
His feet upon the verge of Non Existence; his voice went forth 

Luvah & Vala trembling & shrinking, beheld the great Work master    
And heard his Word! Divide ye bands influence by influence
Build we a Bower for heavens darling in the grizly deep
Build we the Mundane Shell around the Rock of Albion
...
Their eyes their ears nostrils & tongues roll outward   they behold
What is within now seen without they are raw to the hungry wind

Three thou hast slain! I am the Fourth: thou canst not destroy me.
Thou art in Error; trouble me not with thy righteousness.      
I have innocence to defend and ignorance to instruct:
I have no time for seeming; and little arts of compliment,
In morality and virtue: in self-glorying and pride.
There is a limit of Opakeness, and a limit of Contraction;
In every Individual Man, and the limit of Opakeness,             
Is named Satan: and the limit of Contraction is named Adam.
But when Man sleeps in Beulah, the Saviour in mercy takes
Contractions Limit, and of the Limit he forms Woman: That
Himself may in process of time be born Man to redeem
But there is no Limit of Expansion! there is no Limit of Translucence.   
In the bosom of Man for ever from eternity to eternity."

Milton, Plate 23 [25], (E 119)
"But Los dispersd the clouds even as the strong winds of Jehovah, 

And Los thus spoke. O noble Sons, be patient yet a little
I have embracd the falling Death, he is become One with me
O Sons we live not by wrath. by mercy alone we live!
I recollect an old Prophecy in Eden recorded in gold; and oft
Sung to the harp: That Milton of the land of Albion.
Should up ascend forward from Felphams Vale & break the Chain
Of jealousy from all its roots; be patient therefore O my Sons
These lovely Females form sweet night and silence and secret
Obscurities to hide from Satans Watch-Fiends. Human loves        
And graces; lest they write them in their Books, & in the Scroll
Of mortal life, to condemn the accused: who at Satans Bar
Tremble in Spectrous Bodies continually day and night
While on the Earth they live in sorrowful Vegetations
O when shall we tread our Wine-presses in heaven; and Reap      
Our wheat with shoutings of joy, and leave the Earth in peace"
.

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