blake-d Digest				Volume 1996 : Issue 81

Today's Topics:

	 New Book with Blake Prints

	 Re: Blake vs traditional Christianity

	 Re:Re: psychotic reaction, Nietzsche, &c.

	 Re: psychotic reaction, Nietzsche, &c.

	 Re: New Book with Blake Prints

	 Quest Literature, Sci-Fi, etc.

	 Re: Experiment Pictures

	 Blake sighting/citing

	 Blake and Me

	 Re: Experiment Pictures

	 Re:  psychotic reaction, Nietzsche, &c.



Date: Fri, 5 Jul 1996 13:51:12 +0200 (MSZ)

From: Michael Anderson 

To: Blake Discussion 

Subject: New Book with Blake Prints


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I'm new to this discussion group, so I'll give a bit of an introduction 

before getting to this new book.

I'm an American studying at the Universitaet Tuebingen, Germany for a 

MA.  I first read Blake in a "Romantic Poets" course at Brooklyn 

College--City University of New York and have been fascinated by him ever 

since.  My understanding of Blake is in no way near that which I see in 

the postings here.  However, I do feel like I'm getting something out of 

eavesdropping on you.

Now about this book.

Alexander Roob.  _Das hermetische Museum: Alchemie & Mystik_.  Cologne: 

Taschen, 1996. (ISBN: 3-8228-8803-6)

The book deals mostly with the symbolism of the images used in alchemical 

texts to describe the process (not the lead to gold process!).  There are 

about 40 plates from various poems (mostly the late works) and paintings 

of Blake's.  The quality is outstanding compared to the Oxford editions 

and those 1$ editions from Dover.  The better part of the plates are 

taken from _Jerusalem_ and _The Book of Urizen_, but there are a few from 

_Milton_ also.  I haven't had the time to read the book from cover to 

cover, yet (it's 702 pages of German long!) and I don't believe Roob 

intended it to be read that way.  Unfortunately, there is no index, 

so using it as a reference work is difficult.  Granted, the alchemical 

stuff is difficult to get through, but I think Roob achieves a lot with 

the simple juxtaposition of Blake works with others.  For example, The 

Arlington Court Picture (pg. 433) is next to an image on the cycle of 

reincarnation from the Bhaktivendanta Book (granted that one is much 

later than Blake's).  Also, The Frontpiece to _America: A Prophecy_ (202) 

is next to Duerer's _Melancolia_, which I find leads to some interesting,

though melachonly, thoughts.  

Roob is working on a translation of Blake's later works and started 

assembling an archive of images to aid in his translation.  I assume that 

he's in need of money, so he put this book together and Tashen, known for 

its well-made but inexpensive art books, decided to release it.  

So, if anyone out there is interesting in this Blake-Alchemy idea, this 

book may prove interesting, if not helpfull.  Naturally, knowing German 

is necessary.

That's all for now,

Michael Anderson


Date:    Fri, 5 Jul 96 17:57 EDT

From: "Elisa E. Beshero 814 862-8914" 


Subject: Re: Blake vs traditional Christianity

Message-Id: <>

I don't think the concept of Jesus meant the same thing to Blake as it does for

 traditional Christians.  I think he was appropriating Jesus for his own

purposes in his late mythology-- that he was using "Jesus" as a metaphor for

the human imagination.  Jesus as imagination can function in Blake's mythology

in the same way that Jesus works in the Christian myth:  God, the Eternal,

descends on earth to experience mortality, finiteness, limitation.  The Eternal

in human form then works in opposition to the laws that set limits on human

existence and experience by encouraging people to think in a new way about

themselves and each other. --This embodiment of the Eternal saves humanity from

 sin and death, and calls himself "The Son of Man" -- the idea is that he

is one of us -- Blake simply appropriates this concept as a trope for how the

imagination can redeem us-- give us fourfold vision, etc.  (I don't think that

Blake underwent any big conversion experience; I just think he came up with

a new way to use an old, highly respected name.)  --elisa


Date: Sat, 6 Jul 1996 03:35:42 -0400



Subject: Re:Re: psychotic reaction, Nietzsche, &c.

Message-Id: <>

Of course the Splendid Troglodytes of George le Troisiemme weren't Left-Wing.

 The Subject Was Roses, er,  Nietzsche!   The subject was Nietzsche and his

treatment by the late lamented (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) Socialist Govts.

 Although I agree with Dr. Johnson about the American Revolutionaires

(Hanging was too good for them!  Lot of slave owning real estate speculators!

 Washington & Franklin and their ilk had ignited two world wars in the space

of twenty years--real world wars, with combat from the coast of Norway to the

Hindu Kush, and all points in between-- just so a consortium of  Founding

Fathers could sell land in Ohio), I will always support Napoleon. But I

digress....Digression is good for the Soul.

I've always thought that the Blake reference to the Ohio in America was at

least partly refering to the Big Land Deal that fell through--can't remember

the name of the proposed thing in Ohio, I want to say Vala (he,he) but that's

not did start with a V.

The above comments about two world wars were originally made by Gen. Gage


after the war.  A poor military commander, but an astute political analyst.

What? You think I'm making this up?  You don't think America is ruled by

slave owning real estate speculators to this day?  (Actually 92percent. of

american legislators are lawyers--something like 100percent of their spouses

have real estate licenses)  Can I show you an attractive Cape Cod? 

Hugh Walthall 


Date: Sat, 6 Jul 1996 09:33:17 -0500

From: (J. Michael)


Subject: Re: psychotic reaction, Nietzsche, &c.

Message-Id: <>

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>The Captain of the Guard of the Tower through his

>binoculars watches Blake die and turns to remark to the Lord of the Tower, Aes

>theticus, "My Lord, this one was brave and came nearer us than most." "A

>little nearer, but just as dead.  Send a patrol to strip the armor from the

>corpse, and display it in the great hall with the rest....

Why am I visualizing Darth Vader and the old wizened Emperor Whatshisname

camped out on the Death Star just before the rebels blow it up?



Date: Sat, 6 Jul 1996 14:28:07 -0400



Subject: Re: New Book with Blake Prints

Message-Id: <>

Thank you for this extremely interesting information.  Welcome to the

discussion, Michael!

--Tom Devine


Date: Sat, 6 Jul 1996 21:34:46 -0400



Subject: Quest Literature, Sci-Fi, etc.

Message-Id: <>

Excellent Jennifer!  Of course the Spencerian Landscape is identical with the

Lurid Comic Book.  The Violence is unrelenting, the Sex is indistinguishable

from the be commercially viable it must be toned done and a

good guy seen to win.  "Here comes Jesus! You'll be sorry you started this

war now, Mr. Satan!" is the whole of Milton's Overt Intention.  But of course

the poem would be unreadable if Satan did not rebel.  A moralistic veneer

must be applied --children might be watching!  There are of course rare

instances in popular entertainment where this breaks down--the Peckinpaugh

(sic?) film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.  

Blake's characters aren't any more developed than comic book oafs, which puts

him squarely in league with Ariosto & Spencer; not Chaucer or Shakespeare or

Milton.  Blake's most skillful and sustained use of the nightmare landscape

is The Mental Traveler where Blake plays to his strength--he is one of the

four or five greatest song writers in the english language.

Welcome to the Dark Side, Luke.

Hugh Walthall


Date: Sun, 7 Jul 1996 15:17:55 -0500

From: (J. Michael)


Subject: Re: Experiment Pictures

Message-Id: <>

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What do people make of the last line of _The Four Zoas_:

"The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns"


(I know what Bloom says about it in his footnote, and I know that "science"

formerly referred to "knowledge" more generally, but I thought this might

be an interesting morsel to toss into the Christianity/Experiment stew.)



Date: Sun, 7 Jul 1996 16:46:58 -0500

From: (J. Michael)


Subject: Blake sighting/citing

Message-Id: <>

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For those interested, Ellen Douglas's collection of short stories, _Black

Cloud, White Cloud_, has as its epigraph the text of "Little Black Boy" in

full.  The book was published first in the 60s and has recently been

reissued with illustrations (not by Blake).  I haven't read it.



Date: Sun, 7 Jul 1996 18:23:36 -0400

From: (R.H. Albright)


Subject: Blake and Me


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Wow! I just got back from a 4th of July extravanganza and found that there

has been some interesting discussion beyond that one guy that Tom

Dillingham thought had monopolized this group!


Let me react to some of the more interesting stuff, off the top of my head:


Mark Trevor Smith made an impassioned and, I believe, flawed attempt to

defend Blake's "imagination" against the evil empiricists. For one thing,

Blake's own logic is flawed. If you look at plate a5G for "There is No

Natural Religion" in Erdman's _The Illuminated Blake_, it goes even further

in trying to insult reasoning's power by saying "Man by his reasoning power

can only compare & judge of what he has already perceiv'd." If this were

true, we'd all still be in a crib. Locke explicitly states that as we grow,

the realm of what is known increases, too. Again, I know it's "limiting"...

but it's alot better than the AbraCadabra of Christianity's nets and

snares. And it doesn't DENY imagination, either!

Then talk about "faulty reasoning".... or should I say inspired missed

connections? I have been amused to read and re-read plate 52 of "Jerusalem"

which is addressed TO THE DEISTS. I mean, really, connecting Greek

philosophy with the Druids is... creative! But the more I think about

"natural religion", the more I think people DO have it, everywhere around

the world. And despite Washington and Adams being more hush-hush, and

Jefferson more overt... as were the evil Voltaire and Rousseau (and to

think they got birds flying over their names in "The Song of Los")... what

were these people really fighting? IGNORANCE. Something that Christianity

had pulled a big dark age over the Western World and which Blake, by still

insisting that it is the "only" way, is limiting himself. His understanding

of Hindu-Buddhism is virtually non-existent... prove me wrong. His "Asia"

within "Song of Los" is largely a vehicle to talk BACK at events in his own

myopic Europe.


Elisa Beshero says it succinctly:

>I don't think the concept of Jesus meant the same thing to Blake as it does for

> traditional Christians.  I think he was appropriating Jesus for his own

>purposes in his late mythology-- that he was using "Jesus" as a metaphor for

>the human imagination.  Jesus as imagination can function in Blake's mythology

>in the same way that Jesus works in the Christian myth:  God, the Eternal,

>descends on earth to experience mortality, finiteness, limitation.>>>>>

And yet, Elisa, this to me a double bind for Blake. He's sucking in

Christianity into his own "late mythology", as you say... but he's

neglecting the Dark Ages that Christianity kept us in for centuries until

the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment movements finally started

pushing the curtain back. He's using its finger pointing to try to shoot

down the forces that are truly protecting his right of free speech, which

is funny, because he's a heretic from a Christian point of view as I've

said many times before. He uses Michelangelo-like depictions of people...

but in his writing he's saying, again from TO THE DEISTS plate (I just love

this one in "Jerusalem"):

"You O Deists profess yourselves the enemies of Christianity (really? did

Jefferson? did Paine?) and you are so: you are also the Enemies of the

Human Race & of Universal Nature (gee, Blake, there's no "natural religion"

but there IS a universal nature??? But here's a punchline:) Man is born a

Spectre or Satan & is altogether an Evil, & requires a New Selfhood


Hey, and Avery Gaskins was saying that I was using fundamentalist jive!

We're born a mere spectre or Satan and need to constantly be renewed by

Los... I mean... Jesus... thanks alot, Mr. Blake! Needless to say, I am not

a convert to your church! But I love your IMAGINATION!

This isn't a song. It's a tirade. And the "inspiration" muses are fried.


Let me try a fusion theory. Hey, it can't be any worse than Druidism being

the same as Greek philosophy... or can it?

Thank you, Tim Kitchen, for further talking about what I discussed in

"America" and "Europe". The enduring qualities of Blake, for me, are the

sealing power in his visual art for the larger, prophetic books. In his

earlier "songs" through "Marriage of Heaven and Hell", which are

ultra-genius to me, they add a power and complexity is extraordinary.

Without the visuals, you lose ALOT. The fact is, he's one of the greatest

imaginative VISUAL artists of all time as well as VERBALLY. Particularly

amazing for me are how he can take prints and imply so many different

meanings on them with his watercolors. Also, the difference between a color

copy of Blake and a black and white is night and day, even if you know it's

only "one" of the ways he would have done it.

As Hugh Walthall notes, Blake's strength is as a songwriter. I particularly

loved this quote, Hugh:

>Blake's characters aren't any more developed than comic book oafs, which puts

>him squarely in league with Ariosto & Spencer; not Chaucer or Shakespeare or

>Milton.  Blake's most skillful and sustained use of the nightmare landscape

>is The Mental Traveler where Blake plays to his strength--he is one of the

>four or five greatest song writers in the english language.

Absolutely. Orc in "America" and "Europe"? A well-developed mythological

figure that can stand up next to Pandora or Prometheus? Oh yeah... right...

he's like a fireball and once he's out of the box, it doesn't matter how

many IDEAS or even personality development are necessary down in our mortal

land! And Enitharmon? Cartoon character is the right word. What IS the

connection between her sleeping when Christ died and this "new" Christ that

has as much brain as... (Orc)... nothing! He's simply fire. More cartoon

book characters: Washington et al, merely looking sternly east! And the

dragon that the Prince of Albion sends! Perfect description, Hugh. Now the

omens in the Plates of starvation/plague of Europe stand better to me,

maybe because they're left SIMPLY as visual images for me to ponder.


What about Nietzsche and... Albert Camus? _The Plague_ is a novel about

people helping people in the face of great adversity. When Blake in

"Jerusalem" says that we shouldn't need to wait for Christ, that we have

Christ within us to act, isn't he sending a similar message out that Camus

gives in _The Plague_?

Camus died with a copy of Nietzsche's _The Gay Science_ in his crashed

automobile. Nietzsche has inspired ANTI-totalitarian thought as much as

Blake. As seen in the reading list from DW Doerrbecker, many HAVE drawn a

connection between the two.

Both Blake and Nietzsche are flawed. But both exalt the imagination and

defend freedom, if you read the sunny sides to their views.

On the other hand, if you want to simply dismiss Nietzsche as a mysoginist,

right-wing pig, talk about someone else and Blake. Make your own

connections, Mr. Dumain and indeed to all members of this group. I

personally was thinking of Blake's free love doctrine today as I played

dear Trent Reznor's song, "Closer":

"You let me penetrate you...

Help me!

You bring me closer to God!"


How much did Blake keep the veneer of Christianity to satisfy his few

patrons, who loved the Christian stuff? I think he enjoyed the mythology. I

think it went to his head. But a problem that occurs around this time

period is... patrons. Who supports your art?

Keep up the fireworks, my friends.

I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your

right to say it!

Long live the American Revolution et vive La Revolution Francaise! (Despite

its excesses, Roland Barthes sometimes says things like, "Before the

Revolution, this never could have happened..." I'm sure he's just

romanticizing things, but hey... this is a group about a premier romantic,

am I not correct?)

-Randall Albright


Date:    Sun, 7 Jul 96 19:36 EDT

From: "Elisa E. Beshero 814 862-8914" 


Subject: Re: Experiment Pictures

Message-Id: <>

Blake must have some ideas about the scientific method-- Wonder if we can

uncover from his poetry and pictures what constitutes good, sweet science, and

what constitutes tyrannical malpractice?  As with the religion issue, Blake

doesn't throw out the idea of Eternity or of Jesus; yet he doesn't approve of

priests.  I don't think Blake was confused; I think he saw Newton and Locke as

Urizenic priests, priests who exalted reason inappropriately and marginalized

the possibilities offered by the imagination.  What kind of science does Blake

advocate instead?  About what in particular did Blake think Newton and Locke

were wrong?  (I think priests/religion/churches in Blake's work always

represent distorted thinking.  In representing "sweet science" as _different_

from "dark religion," Blake reveals that science to him does NOT necessarily

indicate close-mindedness -- so I'll close by again asking, what kind of

science would Blake advocate?  Can we uncover it from his work?

  - - The original note follows - -

Date: Sun, 7 Jul 1996 15:17:55 -0500


From: (J. Michael)

Subject: Re: Experiment Pictures



What do people make of the last line of _The Four Zoas_:

"The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns"


(I know what Bloom says about it in his footnote, and I know that "science"

formerly referred to "knowledge" more generally, but I thought this might

be an interesting morsel to toss into the Christianity/Experiment stew.)



Date: Sun, 7 Jul 1996 17:37:58 -0700 (PDT)

From: Ralph Dumain 



Subject: Re:  psychotic reaction, Nietzsche, &c.

Message-Id: <>

I find anger to be a most salubrious stimulant to my impetus to

write, and so Avery Gaskins' feeble whining in response to my

nasty remarks about Nietzsche and postmodern professors (I am

neither a student nor faculty member of any academic department,

thank you) riled me enough to begin to set down some of my

thoughts.  Sorry for confusing people about my affiliations due to

my past cross-postings, but I must continue to cross-post, as my

harangues concern a number of online constituencies.

To set the stage, I will first upload a post on reflexivity, which

does not directly address Blake, but it is related to my ultimate

goals in comparing Blake to various German and other thinkers.

Then I shall rewrite for public consumption one or two of my

private postings on the tradition of petty bourgeois

self-consciousness (taking Bruno Bauer as a convenient starting

point), of which Nietzsche is only one manifestation.  Finally, I

shall suggest that any formal similarities between this malodorous

tradition and Blake's project are outweighed by their differences.

I will begin to explore the implications of these differences if I

get a sufficiently intelligent response to make it worth the

bother to continue.


Date: Sun, 7 Jul 1996 17:41:46 -0700 (PDT)

From: Ralph Dumain 




Message-Id: <>



The following academic exercise gives me the pretext to begin to

summarize many of the ideas I have been working on for the past

few years.  One must have some raw material to digest, however

unedifying, and the following book proves as good as any:


Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1985.  132 pp.

It would seem this book exists to justify the ways of Nietzsche,

Heidegger, and Derrida to analytical philosophers.  The author

recounts familiar logical paradoxes and the ways analytical

philosophers have attempted to deal with them, through the banning

of self-reference, metalevels of logical types, restrictions on

the extension of (anti-)metaphysical claims, etc.  Philosophers

such as the three who form the subject of this book, however, not

only do not attempt to avoid the negative consequences of

self-referential paradoxes, but embrace and revel in them.  In

what ways, then, do these philosophers manage to still make sense

and keep their own philosophies from becoming self-refuting or

meaningless?  The central role reflexivity plays in the

philosophies of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida is what this

book is about.

What is not addressed, however, is why the project of opposing

metaphysics and avoiding any affirmative statement about reality

is a worthwhile one, or in fact, why historically it exists at

all.  Thus the anti-metaphysical project of the three philosophers

becomes as formalist as any logic-chopping analytical philosopher

could be.  The only alternative presented to the various views in

the book, that the relativization of knowledge claims implied by

reflexivity could be incorporated into theory itself as a moment

in a historically evolving grasp of objective truth, a la Hegel

and Marx, is considered only in passing (p. 21).  On the other

hand, as we "progress" from Nietzsche to the other two, the

philosophies presented become ever more obscure, incomprehensible,

claustrophilic, and ultimately pointless.

What is most ironic in all this folderol about reflexivity is how

limited in scope and character this precious self-consciousness of

the petty bourgeois is, and how unconscious it is of so many

things.  One would never know, in a world where we know more about

the natural world, the nature of society, human psychology and the

workings of our own minds than our forbears could ever have

imagined possible, that our precious reflexive philosophers become

more and more convinced that affirmative knowledge is impossible,

that we are imprisoned behind a wall of language, unable to make

contact with anything outside.  That thousands of so-called

intellectuals could convince themselves that such a paltry,

narcissistic view of the world shows any common capacity of

intellect at all, let alone genius -- the apotheosis of all of

reflective thought -- should tip us off that something has gone

terribly wrong.

Another striking feature is how thin and pale the abstractions

employed by these philosophers are to explain their predicament

and the society that produces them.  For out of the dense, complex

interweaving of the social, economic, political, and other

historical factors that have created our lives as well as our

thoughts, we see our precious reflexive philosophers engaging only

the most isolated and idealized of abstractions -- the genealogy

of morals, the alleged metaphysical biases of language, the

uniform, underlying assumptions of all of "western thought," or,

when it finally comes to something material, the influence of

"technology" (as an impersonal, abstracted entity) on our life and

thought.  That our most educated intellectuals should take such

infantile, naive, and limited intellectual rubbish seriously,

shows how serious the debilitating influences of alienation are on

the human mind, how crippling alienated existence is on the most

refined intellects as on the average Janes and Joes who plod

mechanically through the dull, mind-numbing routine of each day.

In fact, the debilitation comes from one and the same source,

meaning that the professional intellectual can no longer pose as

the repository of universality.

What is most galling is how old all this is.  For Marx (with the

assistance of Engels) disposed of the precious self-consciousness

of the petty bourgeois intellectual in THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY in

1845-1846, his biggest mistake being in not getting this work

published in his lifetime.  For in disposing of the pretensions of

Bruno Bauer and especially Max Stirner, Marx pointed out that

reflexive consciousness can only be the result of objective

circumstances, which lie in a many-sided engagement with the wide

world under material conditions that encourage the drive toward

universality, and not with formalistic declarations that one is

too self-aware and sophisticated to be taken in by anything.  In

fact, such individualistic world-beaters always prove, in the

final analysis, to be the most gullible individuals of all.

Another sad observation that can be made by anyone who chooses to

actually think through the history of thought in social

development, is how utterly counterrevolutionary the development

from Nietzsche to Derrida is.  For the expose of the alienated,

religious character of "philosophy" came not from Nietzsche but

from Ludwig Feuerbach, representing a moment in the progressive

and affirmative development of a social and intellectual project.

That the philosopher could finally come to know the

extra-philosophical preconditions and determinants of his own

thoughts was not the end of affirmative intellectual engagement

with the objective world but the beginning.  Feuerbach initiated

but could not follow through on a new conception and new social

role for the philosopher, rusticating himself in a _social world_

as well as a world-view that remained abstract and one-sided,

unable to progress beyond the formalities of philosophical


Ultimately, it was Marx who pulled together the various threads of

philosophical, economic, and sociological knowledge to create a

total picture of the development and maldevelopment of human

powers under the hierarchical organization of society and the

division of labor.  The culmination of this process was the

now-famous economic-philosophical manuscripts of 1844, beside

which the philosophical droppings of Derrida, Heidegger, and

Nietzsche, lie upon on the historical highway of thought as

dried-up dog turds whose monumental significance in the vast

scheme of things is minuscule in the extreme.

Marx's 1844 manuscripts themselves were not published for decades

and decades, and were not available in English for even longer.

Nonetheless, now that we have had them for a few decades, we ought

to conceive of the place of intellectual life in social life in a

different manner.  Sadly, none of the proper lessons have been

learned, because the work of that period has been misinterpreted

as a call to abandon thought for political practice or to narrow

theoretical activity to the scope of "political" tasks.  Rather

than the end of an intellectual adventure, it could and should be

the beginning, for our relationships with our material world, with

each other, and even with our own selves are manifold, and the

unity of theory and practice involves every sphere and endeavor of

human existence, and the prospects for de-alienating every aspect

of our existence is what ought to interest us, and has in certain

times and places proceeded in actuality with or without the

participation of this or any other philosophies or philosophers.

The possibility for the human race to become more and more

conscious of itself, of its fundamental assumptions and

presuppositions of existence and thought, has grown, not because

of formalistic gimmicks, but because of objective processes in

social life that have enabled greater self-consciousness, if so

far only for those who have been able and/or willing to take

advantage of such increased possibilities.  The adventure of human

thought is not at an end, but has only begun to come into its own,

espcially for those who see both the possibility and desperate

need for same instead of contenting themselves with wallowing in

their own boredom and moral exhaustion.

(Ralph Dumain, 7 July 1996)


End of blake-d Digest V1996 Issue #81