Thursday, March 07, 2019

Larry's Dream

British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts

On plate 12 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake relates what he calls a Memorable Fancy. The passage has proven to be memorable because it tells a story, contains significant truth and is amusing. Larry was so impressed with Blake's interaction with Isaiah and Ezekiel that he posted an account of his own experience in Heaven with William Blake.   

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 12, (E 38)
"                    A Memorable Fancy.                            
   The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked
them how they dared so roundly to assert. that God spake to them; 
and  whether they did not think at the time, that they would be 
misunderstood, & so be the cause of imposition.
   Isaiah answer'd. I saw no God. nor heard any, in a finite
organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in
every thing, and as  I was then perswaded. & remain confirm'd;
that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared
not for consequences but  wrote.
   Then I asked: does a firm perswasion that a thing is so, make it so?
   He replied.  All poets believe that it does, & in ages of imagination
this firm perswasion removed mountains; but many are not capable
of a firm perswasion of any thing.
   Then Ezekiel said. The philosophy of the east taught the first 
principles of human perception     some nations held one
principle for  the origin & some another, we of Israel taught
that the Poetic Genius (as  you now call it) was the first
principle and all the others merely  derivative, which was the
cause of our despising the Priests & Philosophers  of other
countries, and prophecying that all Gods [PL 13] would at last be
proved. to originate in ours & to be the tributaries of the
Poetic  Genius, it was this. that our great poet King David
desired so fervently  & invokes so patheticly, saying by this he
conquers enemies & governs kingdoms; and we so loved our God.
that we cursed in his name all  the deities of surrounding
nations, and asserted that they had rebelled; from these opinions
the vulgar came to think that all nations would at last be
subject to the jews.
   This said he, like all firm perswasions, is come to pass, for all 
nations believe the jews code and worship the jews god, and what
greater subjection can be
   I heard this with some wonder, & must confess my own
conviction.  After dinner I ask'd Isaiah to favour the world with
his lost works, he said none of equal value was lost.  Ezekiel
said the same of his.
   I also asked Isaiah what made him go naked and barefoot three
years? he answerd, the same that made our friend Diogenes the
   I then asked Ezekiel. why he eat dung, & lay so long on his
right  & left side? he answerd. the desire of raising other men
into a  perception of the infinite this the North American tribes
practise. & is he honest who resists his genius or conscience.
only for the sake of present  ease or gratification?"          

Larry's post from September 23, 2010:

A Dream
Catherine Blake said her only problem with her husband was that he spent too much time in Heaven. In our dreams we may be closer to Blake's Heaven than is possible in our waking hours. Some day we may realize that where we live now is largely vaporous.

Larry's dream: The other day I had dinner with Blake, and I asked him if he had said all he had to say by 1828. He said "'pretty much', 'pretty much', especially if you've experienced all the words and pictures that I left behind."

I asked him if there was anything more he would like to tell us now from his present life. He said, "Oh yes, a great deal; but I've experienced nothing that your corporeal mind would find meaningful." he went on to say that where he now lived and what he now knew was separated from me by a great chasm, much like the one between Lazarus in Abraham's bosom and Dives.

He reminded me of Paul's experience in the Third Heaven where "He heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter".

I asked Blake if he had recently come in contact with Isaiah or Ezekiel. He said that Ezekiel and he had become bosom buddies, "we laughed together over the peculiar directive that Ezekiel had received from God". He also told Ezekiel that that affair had meant a lot to him and given him a vivid awareness of the "perception of the infinite" (MHH13, E39)

Blake went on to say that in due course, at the acceptable time, he would be glad to introduce me to Ezekiel or to anyone else I desired to meet. He also arranged a tennis match for me with Kenny Rosewall.
I asked Blake how his Spectre had been most hurtful to him. He promptly replied as follows: in my Revolutionary zeal for Liberty I bad mouthed a fair number of people who seemed to be against it. I've now met these people one by one and come with them to good accord, I include Bacon, Newton, Locke, and a host of others" (It was too many for me to remember, even in that rapturous state.)

I was just about to make further requests when the alarm clock sounded, and I was aroused from my Heavenly Vision or perhaps I went back to the corporeal sleep.

Larry did not often engage in such fanciful thinking but I can remember another time when he set up an imagined situation to illustrate a point. In the old days when segregation was practiced throughout much of the United States, there was a question among some as to whether blacks and whites would associate with one another when they got to heaven. Larry's answer was that in heaven all sang together in the celestial choir under the direction of a black choirmaster. People who found it unacceptable could withdrew and find themselves a segregated corner of hell. Larry, like Blake, was not very careful about saying things that could get him into trouble.

Ezekiel 4
[4] Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity.
[5] For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.
[6] And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.
[7] Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it.
[8] And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.
[9] Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.
[10] And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it.
[11] Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink.
[12] And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.
[13] And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.
[14] Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth.
[15] Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.
[16] Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment:
[17] That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity.

No comments: