Blake List — Volume 1995 : Issue 1

Today's Topics:
	 Blake Online back online
	 Hello from new subscriber
	 Re: address change
	 Re[2]: Will the real truth please stand up!
	 call for papers for NEMLA conference, 1996, Montreal, Canada
	 Greetings, fellow Blakeans!
	 Re: address change
	 Hello from new subscriber
	 Re: FORWARDING: Blake posts from June 27, 1995 to July 6, 1995
	 Straw men?


Date: Fri,  7 Jul 95 17:06:46 -0700
From: Seth Ross 
To: blake
Subject: Blake Online back online
Message-Id: <>

Dear Blakeans:

The Blake list has been down for the last week while I updated the albion mail server. My apologies for bringing down the system without any warning.  
I'll collect all the posts that came in during this time and post them all at once. I'll also honor the "unsubscribe" requests that came in.

As part of the update I've created a "digest" version of the list. Once I've tested it, I'll post instructions on how to receive digests of Blake posts  
every few days rather than single items.

As always, you can leave the list by sending an email to with the word "unsubscribe" as the SUBJECT of the message. Please send all administrative requests to  and not to the entire list at

Hope you're all having some fun this summer.


    A\  Seth T. Ross \ Publisher \ Albion Books \ Context provider
   A A\ \ \
  A   A\  +1 415-752-7666 \ 4547 Calif. St., San Francisco, CA USA


Date: Sat, 8 Jul 1995 00:12:32 -0400

Hello!  Thanks for welcoming me to Blake Online.  I am a writer with degrees
both in English Lit and Psychology.  I am obviously inspired by Blake and
always looking for new perspectives on his works.  I am keeping this short
tonight because I've been online for too long and I NEED to go outside and
read under the beautiful half-trying-very-hard-to-be-full-moon.  "I think I
can.  I think I can."

I do plan to be active in Blake Online and I look forward to hearing from all of you! See you online.



Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 15:27:46 MST
From: "Chad E. Rackowitz" 
Subject: Hello from new subscriber
Message-Id: <>

Hello all!

Glad to be aboard.  My name is Chad Rackowitz.  I'll soon be starting 
in the graduate program at the University of Texas at Austin where I 
intend to study Blake.  Right now my chief interest is in Blake's 
relation to science, not only of his own time, but also his relation 
to sciences of the 20th-century, particularly fractal geometry, 
chaos theory, and complexity.  I'm also fascinated in CyberTheory, 
though I've done virtually nothing with it yet.  But CyberTheory and 
Blake studies seem like a marriage made in Heaven (or Hell, for that 
matter).  I'm deeply struck by the way in which both hypertext media 
and Blake's illuminated works break down boundaries of text and 
illustration.  Where does one end and the other begin?  That's where 
my interest has been developing so far.

I hope to hear from y'all soon.

Chad E. Rackowitz
Santa Fe, NM (soon to be Austin, TX)


Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 09:00:57 -0400
Subject: Re: address change
Message-Id: <>

would someone please tell me how to change my address for this list.  I am
changing on-line services and want to close this address.  thank you,
christine gray


Date: Mon, 10 Jul 95 07:23:21 pdt
Subject: Re[2]: Will the real truth please stand up!
Message-Id: <>


          I don't think there is any problem with understanding the
          "object" of the forgiveness Blake insists upon.  It is the
          same as that which Jesus insisted upon: forgiving each other
          for what appears to us to be the transgressions we inflict
          upon each other.  Aren't you glad to hear this, Tom?

          Do I quote from memory incorrectly?

          "Mutual Forgiveness of Each Vice
          "Opens the Gates of Paradise."

          Paul H. Dillon


Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 12:39:52 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: call for papers for NEMLA conference, 1996, Montreal, Canada
Message-Id: <>

Hello, Blakeans, I am writing to solicit papers on Blake (open topic) to
be presented at the Northeast Modern Language Association conference April
19-20 in Montreal, Canada.  Please do not submit papers unless you think you
can actually attend the conference.  

Prospective panelists are expected to send their abstracts or papers to me
(hard copies; do not send on e-mail) postmarked by SEPT. 10. 1995.  Please
state whether you will need audio-visual equipment.

All selected panel members must be members of NEMLA by November 1, 1995 to
have their names included in the convention program.  If all panel members
are not NEMLA members by that time the panel may be cancelled.  A $10
surcharge will be levided to membership fees after Nov. 1.  A conference
registration fee will also be charged.

This year the Blake panel has been reinstated after being allowed to lapse
in 1995.  Please show by your submissions that there is an interest in Blake!

Thank you.

Josie McQuail
Box 5053
English Department
Tennessee Technological University
Cookeville TN  38505
(615) 520-0449
FAX:  615,372-6142
e-mail  (for inquiries, not submissions) IN%""


Date:    Mon, 10 Jul 95 14:04 EDT
From: "Elisa E. Beshero 814 862-8914" 
Subject: Greetings, fellow Blakeans!
Message-Id: <>

Hi! I'm Elisa Beshero, a first-year Ph.D. student in English at Penn State.
At the moment I'm a kind of an apprentice scholar of the English Romantics--
and if I pass my comps (pray! pray!) I'll be doing my dissertation on Blake -- or maybe Blake and Shelley. . . well--i need a couple of years to think this over!

     At the moment I'm working on two projects involving Blake. One is from a conference paper I gave last October here at Penn State at the American
Conference on Romanticism: "The Battle of Female Wills in Blake's Late Myth"
Here I'm basically defending Blake from the feminist critical consensus that
Blake was a misogynist creep by demonstrating some powerful females whose
action is necessary to rescue   humanity from its fallen state and bring
about Blake's famous Edenic state at the end of the _Four Zoas_, _Milton_,
and _Jerusalem_. I'm still working on this--contemplating the implications of Blake's representation of women and historically contextualizing it with some other thinkers of the 18th century. . .

      Here's the other project which is turning me hair grey: Remember all
those passages in Blake where Los is beating up on Urizen--binding him down?
Often when Los is busy doing this, he undergoes a kind of identity crisis:
"As he beat round the hurtling Demon./ terrified at the Shapes/ Enslavd
humanity put on he became what he beheld" (_Four Zoas_ 4:202-3).  I found a
bunch of other Blake passages in which a character or characters occupied in
binding and torturing another character suddenly and painfully become what they behold!  Well, I always thought this was just Blake's way of showing Los or the Sons of Albion tumbling into the fallen state. . .

     Except--I found a similar passage in Shelley's _Prometheus Unbound_: As
Prometheus, bound down, is being tormented by the Furies, he claims, "Whilst
I behold such execrable shapes/ Methinks I grow like what I contemplate/ and
laugh and stare in loathsome sympathy" (_PU_ I:449-451)  Now, Shelley didn't
read Blake--it's been pretty well established that there was no interaction btw the two poets.  Shelley couldn't have read Blake, and Blake had already
come up with the becoming and beholding stuff before Shelley's poem was

      One critic, Melanie Bandy, noticed the same similarity in Blake's and
Shelley's lines that I did.  She claims the similarity is simply due to
Blake's and Shelley's similar ideas about man and the universe: neither Blake nor Shelley think there's a real division between subject and object--the mind projects the universe it perceives beyond itself and --well--becomes what it beholds. . . This makes sense to me, but I think there's probably a 17th or 18th century idea floating around in Locke or Hume which both Blake and Shelley were aware of and reacting to. . . I think I've found a source in Locke's _Essay on Human Understanding_ in a chapter where Locke tries to define the self.   Am currently looking around in Hume and Kant and some other philosophers Basically, I'm trying to get a feel for the ideas of subject, the self, that were floating around in the 18th century, and see if Blake and/or Shelley were reacting to those ideas.

      Here's the passage from Locke I found:

 "That which the _consciousness_ of the present thinking thing can join itself makes the same _person_ and is one _self_ with it, and with nothing else, and so attributes to _itself_ and owns all the actions of that thing as its own, as far as that consciousness reaches, and no further. . . (2.27.17)

       Any thoughts on identification, or the self, or basically on becoming
like what you're looking at or thinking about that any of you have out there
would be really helpful! I'm not _too_ interested in late 19th and 20th century ideas on this--because I'm trying to place Blake's and Shelley's ideas in context with the 17th and 18th centuries. . .

      Anyhow, that's me and a history of my turbulent relationship with William Blake! I'm glad to be on board, and look forward to reading and contributing posts here! :-)

                 Like Blake, I am "one who is very much delighted with being
                                      in good Company" !

                                     Elisa ;-)


Date: Mon, 10 Jul 95 14:42:46 -0700
From: Seth Ross 
Subject: Re: address change
Message-Id: <>

> would someone please tell me how to change my address for
> this list.  I am changing on-line services and want to close
> this address.  thank you, christine gray

If your address is going to change, unsubscribe from the old address first,  and then resubscribe with your new address (there's no automatic way to change addresses). If you have any problems, send a note to

Seth Ross
Blake List-maintainer


Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 19:39:27 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Michelle L. Gompf" 
Subject:  Hello from new subscriber
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

I am in the doctoral program at UNC- Greensboro.  I've almost completed 
my course work and it seems like I've been doing preliminary reading for 
my dissertation forever.  My dissertation will concern the images of 
women (the Emanations mainly) in -Milton- and -Jerusalem-.  I am very 
interested in the complexity of Blake, what I've been calling 
"co-existing contraries."  I'm looking forward to participating in this 
group.  By the way, has anyone read the novel -Vindication-?  I just 
finished it and I was wondering what people thought of the portrayal of 
Blake in it.


Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 20:39:27 -0500
Subject: Re: FORWARDING: Blake posts from June 27, 1995 to July 6, 1995
Message-Id: <>

Dana Harden asks about the post referring to the Blake Society at
St. James.  That referred to the publication of the first issue of
*The Journal of the Blake Society at St. James* and included news
of an exhibition held at The House of William Blake last August
(that's at 17 South Molton St., London WIY 1DE.  The journal
is available from Jim Dewhurst, Broomey Leys, 20 Stoneleigh Close,
Stoneleigh, Coventry, CV8 3DE.  The issue costs $10 and includes
articles about the exhibition and a Blake conference and "The
Tyger," as well as reviews and other materials.  It is informal
and pleasantly diverse in style; definitely worth the money.
Tom Dillingham ( 


Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 20:39:41 -0500
Subject: Straw men?
Message-Id: <>

My reference to "straw men" was neither elliptical nor, I would have
thought, confusing, though it was a rhetorical question.  I shall
answer it myself.  Straw men are often used to perpetuate disagreements
unnecessarily when the "right answer" has not been achieved by on e
side or the other.  Continued disagreements are asserted and often
views not held by the one side are nonetheless projected onto that
side in order to force continuation of an "issue" that has no further
purpose.  I have never denied that "forgiveness of sins" is an 
important (perhaps even a dominant) theme in late Blake, yet I am
accused of denying it.  I have never suggested that Blake is not a
radical religious poet, yet I am accused of denying it.  I have
suggested and would maintain that there is much more to Blake than
either of these "facts" (neither of which can be read simplistically
as in any way self-evident) can account for.  The suggestion (presumptuous
in the extreme) that I am somehow "uncomfortable" with religious poetry
or with religion itself is equally presumptuous and nonsensical.  My
primary subjects of study as well as the poets I most admire include
John Milton, Christopher Smart (the most ecstatic of all British 
religious poets), and my secondary interests embrace Henry Vaughan
and Thomas Traherne.  Would that be evidence of "discomfort" with
religious poetry or art?  Could we add, in modern times, David Jones
and C.S. Lewis?  The rhetorical function of "straw men," to return to
that tidbit, is to force the other discussant into a defensive position,
requiring him to repeat "that's not what I said
" or "that's not what I meant."  It simply forces tiresome backing an d
filling while the creator of the straw men imagines some sort of 
rhetorical advantage (which is merely time-wasting).

Further presumptions include the indefensible assertion that "interpretation
and either0or acceptance or rejection of his values are part of the 
sifting-out process" suggesting that a "both-and" Blake is an 
impossibility or a perversion.  Those are not supported and cannot be
by Blake's own words.  Further, while we might think we agre that
Blake was a "radical religious poet", the meaning of the suggestion that
he accepted "the biblical understanding of" anything at all is certainly
open to dispute.  Blake is distinguished by a very uncommon reading 
of the Bible, if his own words are any evidence.  I doubt that his
reading of the Bible would be consistent with any of the common usage
versions of the phrase "the biblical understanding of it" that have
prevailed for the past 200 years, and I am quite confident that in 
today's American uses of that kind of terminology, most commonly 
bandied about by the likes of Pat Robertson, Randall Terry, 
William Bennett and Jesse Helms, there can be no consistency whatever
with what Blake probably would have "understood" by the Bible.

On the matter of forgiveness of sins, let's get specific.  Are we 
to "forgive" the spoliation of rain forests and old growth timer
timber (pardon) in the name of corporate profits?; are we to "forgive"
the extinction of various animal and plant species in the name of
keeping "jobs"?; are we to "forgive" the Christian efforts at 
obliterating the Muslim presence in Bosnia?; are we to "forgive"
the Nazi holocaust, the My Lai massacre, POW tiger cages, etc.?
Who are we to "forgive" these things; where do we get the moral
authority to do so, and finally, what damn good would it do?
What is the arena for this forgiveness?  What is to be the effect
of it?  Of course if each individual in the world were to cleanse
the doors of perception and see everything as it is, infinite, and 
in the process learn to forgive all transgressions, then perhaps 
we would enter another realm.  I don't think the value of Blake to
us is dependent on acceptance of that kind of visionary apocalypse,
though we understand its function in a "radical religious" poet's

On the subject of my disagreement with Kevin--look back at it
again.  He alluded to a passage in Jerusalem as indicating that
Los appeared to take on the features of Jesus.  I pointed out
that the text seems rather to say that the newly illumined
Albion saw the "Divine Presence" in the shape and appearance
of Los, which seems to me to make a considerable difference.
At that point, Paul Yoder (I think) corrected my overstatement
of the identification of Jesus and Los, but I don't think he
challenged the view that it was the Divine Presence (Jesus) who
appeared in the guise of Los.  That was a textual disagreement
and it was resolved by appealing to the text.  And that is 
my final observation about this matter--Blake's ideas *do not
exist* as independent entities floating about the world.  WE 
have no access to Blake's thought except through the wonderful
works that he labored mightily to indite with his graver and to
illuminate with words, images, colors.  To "agree" or "disagree"
with Blake's "ideas" as though they were independent entities is to live in a fantasy world of one's own making, even if one rips bits and pieces
of his phrasing from their contexts in order to "illustrate" one's
points.  "Forgiveness of sins" by itself is an interesting idea; 
it is also interesting in relation to the words of Jesus in the
New Testament, but the phrase does not exist in isolation from the
rest of the gospels; the same is true of its use in Blake.  That has
been my position from the beginning of this discussion--not the
fabrications attributed to me.  And yes, there is no doubt about it--
"Pity divides the soul."
Tom Dillingham ( persisting in my 

End of blake-d Digest V1995 Issue #1