Monday, May 15, 2017


Wikipedia Commons
Sistine Chapel - Eleazar and Mathan

The number of figures which Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel is said to be 343. In our post about the Reposing Traveller we focused on an image identified as Aminidab, an ancestor of Jesus. Michelangelo painted 22 pictures bearing names of individuals in Matthew's list of the ancestor's of Jesus. The individuals are identifiable only because Michelangelo supplied names. The pictures consistently show men, women and children in situations which may involve tensions among family members. "In them Michelangelo has portrayed the anger and unhappiness of the human condition."(wiki) The impression conveyed is that the generations leading up to the birth of Jesus suffered hardships related to unredeemed humanity. 

British Museum
Copy after Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling
A picture which Blake sketched when he was young was that of Mathan. He was named in Matthew's book of generation of Jesus Christ among the 42 individuals - some famous and powerful, others little known and humble. Perhaps Blake thought of states when he considered the generations which preceded Jesus. Blake promulgated the idea that we necessarily should distinguish men from the states in which they temporarily find themselves. Although individuals go from state to state, there is consistency in the available states through which they travel. Blake could see that Michelangelo's representations of the ancestors of Jesus were not individuals but states which led to the possibility of the state 'savior' eventually entering into the generated world.



[1] The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Jerusalem, Plate 25, (E 170)
"Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin
By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals
     Evermore Amen"

Jerusalem, Plate 73, (E 228)
"Which Los with his mighty Hammer demolishes time on time
In miracles & wonders in the Four-fold Desart of Albion
Permanently Creating to be in Time Reveald & Demolishd
Satan Cain Tubal Nimrod Pharoh Priam Bladud Belin                
Arthur Alfred the Norman Conqueror Richard John
[Edward Henry Elizabeth James Charles William George] 
And all the Kings & Nobles of the Earth & all their Glories
These are Created by Rahab & Tirzah in Ulro: but around
These, to preserve them from Eternal Death Los Creates           
Adam Noah Abraham Moses Samuel David Ezekiel
[Pythagoras Socrates Euripedes Virgil Dante Milton] 
Dissipating the rocky forms of Death, by his thunderous Hammer
As the Pilgrim passes while the Country permanent remains
So Men pass on: but States remain permanent for ever" 
Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 132)
"Distinguish therefore States from Individuals in those States.
States Change: but Individual Identities never change nor cease:
You cannot go to Eternal Death in that which can never Die.
Satan & Adam are States Created into Twenty-seven Churches       
And thou O Milton art a State about to be Created
Called Eternal Annihilation that none but the Living shall
Dare to enter: & they shall enter triumphant over Death
And Hell & the Grave! States that are not, but ah! Seem to be.

Judge then of thy Own Self: thy Eternal Lineaments explore       
What is Eternal & what Changeable? & what Annihilable!"

Jerusalem, Plate 31 [35], (E 177)
"Albion goes to Eternal Death: In Me all Eternity.
Must pass thro' condemnation, and awake beyond the Grave!
No individual can keep these Laws, for they are death
To every energy of man, and forbid the springs of life;
Albion hath enterd the State Satan! Be permanent O State!
And be thou for ever accursed! that Albion may arise again:
And be thou created into a State! I go forth to Create           
States: to deliver Individuals evermore! Amen.

So spoke the voice from the Furnaces, descending into Non-Entity"
Descriptive Catalogue, (E 536)
"Thus the reader will observe, that
Chaucer makes every one of his characters perfect in his kind,
every one is an Antique Statue; the image of a class, and not of
an imperfect individual."

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 556)
"it ought to be understood that the Persons
Moses & Abraham are not here meant but the States Signified by
those Names the Individuals being representatives or Visions of
those States as they were reveald to Mortal Man in the Series of
Divine Revelations. as they are written in the Bible these
various States I have seen in my Imagination when distant they
appear as One Man but as you approach they appear
Multitudes of Nations.  Abraham hovers above his posterity which
appear as Multitudes of Children ascending from the Earth
surrounded by Stars as it was said As the Stars of Heaven for
Multitude Jacob & his Twelve Sons hover beneath
the feet of Abraham & recieve their children from the Earth" 

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