Blake List — Volume 1997 : Issue 16

Today's Topics:
	 Re: Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime
	 Re: Altizer introduction -Reply
	 Re: The Tyger -Reply -Reply
	 Re: The Tyger -Reply -Reply
	 Gnosticism -Reply
	 Re: Theology vs. psychology -Reply -Reply -Reply -Reply
	 Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime -Reply
	 Blake, Bateson, and Capra -Reply
	 Re: Gnosticism
	 Re: Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime
	 Re: Theology vs. psychology -Reply -Reply -Reply -Reply
	      The Tyger/Lynx
	 Tyger, burning bright
	 RE: Altizer introduction -Reply
	 RE: Altizer introduction
	 Welburn's book
	 Re: Gnosticism/Crabbe Robinson
	 Re: Blake's designs...
	 Blake and Science


Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 22:08:20 -0800 (PST)
From: Ralph Dumain 
Message-Id: <>

The recent discussion of "The Tyger" happens to coincide with my
renewed interest in the Bard-Earth dialogue that starts off the
"Songs of Experience."  I've found a few additional articles to
the sources I found one-two years ago when I initiated a thread on
this subject.  As I recall, there are many more or less convincing
interpretations of how to evaluate the Bard -- whether to
criticize him or uphold his perspective.  In the final analysis, I
can't be sure which I accept, and now I don't even think that it
matters.  Now I'm convinced more than ever of the validity of
Earth's perspective.  Not that her viewpoint is the last word, for
clearly Blake doesn't want to be limited to the world of
experience.  But it is precisely the recognition of the need to
honestly deal with the world as it is, not as it should be, that
makes Blake's perspective so revolutionary.  The Bard's
pronouncements are a mere abstraction, until one has been tested
in the only real world we have, the contradictory world of
experience.  Experience cannot be confined to the world of mere
illusion or appearance, to be negated only through wishful
thinking or escapism.  If this were the case, Blake would just be
another reactionary philistine Hindu, Buddhist, Platonist,
Christian, or Kathleen Raine.  But Blake is not up in the sky;
he's down here below with the rest of us trying to make it from
one end of the jungle to the other without getting eaten.

Earth's perspective is revolutionary because it is a rejection of
mind-body dualism.  Earth's perception of the universe in which
she lives is not an illusion, a mental trick she plays on herself
because of her own limited perception.  It is an accurate picture
of her reality.  It really is the fallen world, and her task is
not merely to ignore it and instead to gaze upon higher Realities,
least of all to accept her lot as punishment for some  nonexistent
sin of _hers_, but to find a course to steer through it to get to
somewhere else.  She rightfully refuses to accept allegorical
riches.  She insists that the world of ideals be in accord with
her sensual instincts.  Blake takes her side in this rejection of
dualism, and that is why he is a revolutionary.

Here one must draw the clear and bounding line that separates
revolutionaries from reactionaries: it the the prerequisite to all
further explorations of the innocence-experience dialectic.

Now who is the tyger?  The tyger is the creature that gives the
lie to the limited perspective of unorganized innocence.  The
tyger calls into question the cosmic harmony of the fallen world.
Blake asks the fundamental question: "Did he who made the lamb
make thee?"  This is the revolutionary question.

Once we leave aside blaming it all on man for the Fall, there are
three possible responses.  If the answer is no, are we to assume
that in the realm of nature, the meek and gentle creatures are all
creations of a benevolent God, and the predators are creations of
a malevolent deity?  That is an absurdity, for since all natural
creatures co-exist on the same plane of reality, this would be to
deny a benevolent, all-powerful deity in favor of two co-equal,
mutually interacting deities of the same status, one good and one
evil.  In which case, the viewpoint of innocence is a mere

The second response is yes.  Then into the ashcan goes the notion
of the mild, benevolent deity.  There is another possibility, one
that reminds me of the crap I used to endure in the days of the
counterculture.  This possibility is embodied in the notion of the
deity of Abraxas, a deity of yea and nay that both creates and
destroys, has both a positive and a negative side.  (The dark side
of the Force, Luke.)   I remember the figure of Abraxas from
Hesse's morbid novel STEPPENWOLF, harbinger of fascism following
the petty bourgeoisie's disillusionment with idealistic moralistic
pretense.  Also from the cover of one of Santana's albums.  If
there is one compensation to the counterculture being killed off,
it is that I will never have to endure such rubbish again.  The
countercultural pespective comes from a period in which the petty
bourgeois answer to the petty bourgeois problem of alienation was
to recapture one's lost harmony with nature, which is perfect in
every way were in not for man's sinful intervention in it.  This
philosophy remains with us in the upscale mysticism of the Greens
and shills of natural living.  Of course it is just another
ideology.  In Blakean terms, it means to accept the fallen world
just as it is, and to harmonize ourselves with it.  It is
nostalgia for the pre-capitalist ideological reconciliation of all
contradictions, the way of Eastern mysticism -- you can't change
the world, so change your attitude -- and you can be sure that
Blake would puke in its presence.  This is also the dialectic that
Marx rejected, hedging one's bets, being both for and against,
always seeking to reconcile opposites while leaving things just as
they are.

There is only one remaining possibility: the recognition that to
pose the very question negates the very terms in which it is
posed.  "Do what you will, this world's a fiction  / and is made
up of contradiction."  The radical contradictions are the
contradictions of the fallen world.  The fallen world is not a
mere allegory of the ideal supersensible world.  Its antagonistic
contradictions are indications of its very fallenness.  Both the
lamb and the tyger are living abstractions of divine attributes
rent asunder by the Urizenic order of creation.  One cannot create
one supervening image reconciling them, for, as Marx stated, to
annul an antagonistic contradiction is to annul simultaneously
each of its terms.  Both the lamb and the tyger are fragments of
Eternity, but Eternity is not merely the interaction of two of its
fragmented aspects in the fallen world.  The tyger hence negates
the world-picture of unorganized innocence.

Who then is this tyger?  Is the tyger merely a symbol of evil?  If
the tyger is not merely satanic, or any more satanic fundamentally
than the lamb, what is he?

"When the stars threw down their spears ..."  The stars are always
a symbol of oppression for Blake, the Urizenic order, in which
wheels without wheels churn mercilessly, the world where we are
governed by the stars and the frigid, frightful spaces in between.
"Starry jealousy does keep my den" and all that.  What is the
linkage of the tyger with the stars?  The tyger is certainly bound
up with the creation of this world, and so does not seem to be
something apart from it.  Hence as the created world is, so is the
tyger.  The tyger is created with the very properties most
advantageous in surviving in the world as it really is.  And the
tyger is not merely a negative symbol for Blake.  "The tygers of
wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."  Tygers violate
finite boundaries; they don't leave the world just as it is.  The
tyger is not meek and accepting like the lamb.  The tyger is not
merely a symbol of depredation; it can just as easily, in a
contradictory world, become a symbol of revolution, as a
self-assertive part of creation.  Ultimately, the tyger is not a
question that can be answered in itself, for the real question is
the nature of creation itself and its malevolent Creator.

"Tyger Tyger burning bright, / in the forests of the night: / What
immortal hand or eye / Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"


Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 22:42:33 -0800
From: Steve Perry 
Subject: Re: Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime
Message-Id: <>
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Philip Benz wrote:

>     For the record, David Baulch situates Blake's sublime aesthetic
> between Burke's emirical construction of sublime experience and Kant's
> idealist construction of sublime experience. He insists on the
> opposition between the Elect and the Reprobate (identified with the
> angels & devils of MHH) and the Redeemed as the site of conflict between
> these two poles. I'll have to read further in Blake before I fully
> understand this trilithonic model.

I would tend to think he leans a little heavier towards Kant.  The story
Kant tells of standing on a prcipice over looking the infinite, starry
filled night sky and the vast expanse of boundless sea below, and then
realising that this was not the sublime itself, but rather the sublime
is the consciousness that can take in all of that sublimity.  Reminds me
of "Infinity in a grain of sand, etrinity in an hour".


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 11:53:23 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: Altizer introduction -Reply

Dear Thomas Altizer, I shall be trying to order your books on Jesus and
the Apocalypse, and would like to ask you , please, to give my love to
David and Virgie Erdman whom I remember fondly often as they were
very gracious host and hostess to me while I visited  with them  several
years ago.   Thanks, Pam van Schaik


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 12:53:47 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: The Tyger -Reply -Reply

Ralph, the benevolent divinity in Blake is the Eternal Great Humanity
Divine  who presides over Eternity and whose Mercy ensures that the
Empire of Mystery and Nature in the fallen  world will ultimately be cast
off when all the scattered divine sparks of Albion are gathered up again
so that he can rise from Sleep and near-Death and walk again in eternal
fields.  Blake takes up the whole question of how a good God could
create a fallen world (the one raised in "Tyger" ) and seems to agree
with the Lurianic vision in Kabbalah that evil and the Fall commenced
when there was a contraction in the Godhead.  He goes into more detail
here than the kabbalah, however, by specifying that it took place in
Urizen within Albion, whereas in Kabbalah, the contraction happens in
the root of Din ( the `root' or `radiance' of God's rigour and judgement). 
Blake thus further distances guilt from the loving God of Eternity than
Kabbalah, though following the idea of a contraction within the divinity. 
Can't expatiate too fully as have work waiting. .. but hope this makes
sense to you in the light of your reading of the longer poems.  Pam  


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 13:03:46 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: The Tyger -Reply -Reply

Could  be that Blake had not seen a real tiger, but he certainly did have a
sense of humour, despite being a prophet  The interpretation I gave fits in
with his seeing Satan as a `Dunce' , ultimately.  Pam


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 13:06:35 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Gnosticism -Reply

Thanks for the references Edward,  which I'll explore ... I have already
read what I could get hold of of Priestley's work and did, indeed, find this
pertinent to Blake's thought. Stuart Curran read my ms on Blake and
Kabbalah while visiting South Africa for a Shelley conference, and liked
it... am interested to see that he has been exploring Gnosticism.  Pam


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 12:57:52 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: Theology vs. psychology -Reply -Reply -Reply -Reply

I don't think Blake was against Science at all!  What gives you this idea?
In Eternity, Los forges the `golden aromour' of Science at his Furnaces. 
The science of the fallen world which insists that only what is
demonstrable exists - or, that which can be ascertained by the 5 senses
- this science is what Blake sees as misleading since it teaches that
what is as yet invisible to the scientist does not exist.  Pam 


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 13:19:13 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
To:, 100575.2061@CompuServe.COM
Subject: Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime -Reply

Phil, Thanks for the feesback on the Sublime.  I fully endorse your view
of Blake's desire to uplit his readers  so that they can perceive the
infinite, and indeed, agree with all you say.  Re Kant and Baulch etc, I'm
not sufficiently versed in this lot to comment, but have printed out your
reply and will bear it in mind when debates arise on my Spiritual QUest 
Course for 4th year students.  Pam


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 13:25:57 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Blake, Bateson, and Capra -Reply

Hi, there, Randall,  and thanks for the  note on Capra whom I also admire
very much .. I found his diagram of the forward and backward movement
of time in the Tao of Physics extremely helpful in understanding my own
psychic ability. Pame


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 15:41:06 +100
From: "Vladimir Georgiev" 
Subject: Re: Gnosticism
Message-Id: <>

Dear Edward,

Thanks for the interesing information but would you please tell me 
who Henry Crabbe Robinson was and in which work of his he mentioned 
first the Gnostic traits in Blake. Please quote fully.

Your fellow-Blakian:

vladimir Georgiev


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 13:31:41 -0600
Subject: Re: Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime
Message-Id: <>

Phil--I may have entirely missed the point of your question, but if I
understand where you are going, it seems to me that you need to look at
Blake's annotations to Swedenborg's works, since he is quite explicit
there about his objections to Swedenborg's ideas (after an initial
enthusiasm); he finds Swedenborg insufficiently dialectical in his
understanding of the role of inspiration and imagination, and finally
accuses him of "priestcraft"--easily one of the most damning
epithets in Blake's vocabulary.  I don't think Blake shares 
Swedenborg's views either politically or socially, and he finally
suspects that Swedenborg has no access to the sublime as he understands
it, but merely uses the word without understanding it.
(If you were talking fresh from a reading of the annotations, then
I have misunderstood your question and apologize.)  Tom Dillingham


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 13:50:46 -0600
From: (J. Michael)
Subject: Re: Theology vs. psychology -Reply -Reply -Reply -Reply
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>I don't think Blake was against Science at all!  What gives you this idea?
>In Eternity, Los forges the `golden aromour' of Science at his Furnaces.
>The science of the fallen world which insists that only what is
>demonstrable exists - or, that which can be ascertained by the 5 senses
>- this science is what Blake sees as misleading since it teaches that
>what is as yet invisible to the scientist does not exist.  Pam

Ah, yes:  "The dark Religions have departed and sweet Science reigns."
(last line of _The Four Zoas_).  There's also the interesting passage in
_Milton_ where Architecture is identified with Science.

Jennifer Michael


Date:         Wed, 12 Feb 97 15:56:45 CST
From: Mark Trevor Smith 
Subject:      The Tyger/Lynx
Message-Id: <>

In a sky much richer in constellations than our own, Blake was able to
see the Lynx, also know as the Tyger.  For an illustration from a
starchart of 1801, go to the bottom of my Web page at  The details
of the creature with an amiable expression on his face show up pretty
well in my Netscape 3.  Do you not find that this Lynx bears a
striking resemblance to Blake's Tyger, for which he had no live


Date: Wed, 12 Feb 1997 18:34:48 -0500 (EST)
From: bouwer 
Subject: Tyger, burning bright
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

   Ralph Dumain, thank you for taking the time to write at
length again. I have a few questions for you. You end the
piece by saying: "..for the real question is the nature of
creation itself and its malevolent creator." If you had said
"the real question is the nature of creation itself" and
stopped there, I would have agreed with you totally. That is
the crux of the matter indeed. But when you say "... and its
malevolent creator"  then you lose me again.
  I have a hard time accepting explanations which are premised
on the assumption that there are these "intellectual" points
of reference, like "the created world" or "malevolent creators"
or "Satan" or "Eternity" (except in context in Blake, where I
can try and figure out what he means when he uses the word or
phrase.) That is one reason why I find it so hard to follow
Pam van Schaik's explanations, because I seem to need a set of
specific reference points before I can relate to what she is
saying.( I keep  telling myself the Kabbalah is a description
of the geography of Consciousness and the dynamics of the 
Imagination, but I find it hard not to feel sometimes that I
am required to "believe" certain things, before I can begin
to understand what she is trying to explain.
   Now I want to tell you I think you sin a little bit in that
direction too. Even when you say "the world as it is" you sin
in my eyes. What is "the world as it is"? In fact, what do you mean
by "the world" and "the only real world we have"? And then, you
keep talking about "unorganized innocence" ( a term which I despise
as much as you, but why even bother to refer to it, and so give it
credence?) Do I remember right that you once approved of the term
"organized innocence" (a term which I also despise.) Tell me I am
wrong. I do not like these cast-in-stone expressions, fascistic
in their demand that you believe and adhere and basta.
   That is why I like Hugh Walthall's all too infrequent posts
about the nature of things. Nothing is ever cast in stone there.
And I liked what Steve Perry said about Kant realising that the
mountains and starry night and the sea were nog the sublime, but
that the Sublime is rather  Consciousness itself.
   I found the post of Philip Benz on 11 February quite exciting.
He pointed out the danger of being "trapped in empirical construc-
tions" and he said for him the key to understanding Blake is that
he is a prophet, wanting to help us understand the infinite within
ourselves. Thomas Altizer, if you are out there reading the Blake
list: will you come in please; we need you.

Gloudina Bouwer


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 97 01:15:16 UT
Subject: RE: Altizer introduction -Reply

_P Van Schaik,

I am now retired in the Poconos so I no longer see the Erdmans.  And if you 
really become interested in my theology let me know and give me your address 
so that I can send you something.

Tom Altizer

From: 	P Van Schaik
Sent: 	Wednesday, February 12, 1997 1:53 AM
Subject: 	Re: Altizer introduction -Reply

Dear Thomas Altizer, I shall be trying to order your books on Jesus and
the Apocalypse, and would like to ask you , please, to give my love to
David and Virgie Erdman whom I remember fondly often as they were
very gracious host and hostess to me while I visited  with them  several
years ago.   Thanks, Pam van Schaik


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 09:31:50 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: THE EARTH & THE TYGER -Reply

Ralph, Many of your assertions  would perhaps need to be re-examined
if you tried to see how well your interpretations fit into the whole of
Blake's ouevre.  The plight of Earth, evoked in Earth's lament is closely
related to  `the primeval Priest's assum'd power' of the First Book of
Urizen and it is Urizen's mistaken laws of moral chastity which separated
Jerusalem from the bosoms of all the males in Eternity.  When Jerusalem
is cast out, then all the females fless into the dark abyss below Eternity
and the harmony which existed between the contrary aspects of the
godhead is breached -- until such time as Earth casts off her `mental
chains' and recalls her immortal happiness.  This is the essential
narrative behind Blake's vision, and you may not like this Blake, but to
ignore this fact is to appropriate him for your own vision  -as many have.
 Blake saw Plato and MIlton as being in earnest in believing that `God did
Visit Man Really & Truly' (Discourse VII, Annotations to Reynolds) and
Blake's outlook is stated in clear prose in `Man is Born like a Garden
ready Planted & SOwn.  This World is too poor to produce one Seed.'
(Discourse VI).  If your views are to be seen as valid, then how can they
be reconciled with all the other `stuff' in Blake which deals similarly with
the Sublime as opposed to the State of Experience?   Pam


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 97 01:26:09 UT
Subject: RE: Altizer introduction

Vladimir Georgiev,

My e-mail address is   and my postal address is P.O. 
Box 331, Buck Hill Falls, Pa. 18323.  Have you really been interested in my 
work?  This is rare.  I did just publish a book which has a good deal on 
Gnosticism: The Contemporary Jesus (State University of New york Press) and 
there is a paperbound version.

Tom Altizer

From: 	Vladimir Georgiev
Sent: 	Tuesday, February 11, 1997 2:46 PM
Subject: 	Re: Altizer introduction

Prof. Altizer,

Please send me privately your E-mail and postal address. I am 
interested in modern Gnosticism and I have been looking for you for 
ages. Thanks in advance.

Yours truly,

vladimir Georgiev


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 15:18:18 +100
From: "Vladimir Georgiev" 
Subject: Welburn's book
Message-Id: <>

Dear one and all:

A friend just told me that someone called Andrew Welburn has 
published a book via Cambridge on the Gnostic imagination in Blake. 
Since Hungarian libraries are notoriously poor and librarians hate 
speaking other languages, it is impossible to obtain such a book 
here. Would anybody quote the full title, year of publication etc.?
Thank you a lot in advance.


vladimir Georgiev


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 13:43:29 +0000 (GMT)
From: Edward Larrissy 
Subject: Re: Gnosticism/Crabbe Robinson

On Wed, 12 Feb 1997 15:41:06 +100 Vladimir Georgiev 
>Dear Edward,
>Thanks for the interesing information but would you please tell me 
>who Henry Crabbe Robinson was and in which work of his he 
>first the Gnostic traits in Blake. Please quote fully.
>Your fellow-Blakian:
>vladimir Georgiev

Dear Vlado,
He was a diarist who knew quite a number of writers and artists of the 
period. He had a few fascinating and quite detailed conversations with 
Blake. The edition I've always used is -Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, 
Lamb, Etc: Being Selections from the Remains of Henry Crabbe 
Robinson-, ed Edith J. Morley (Manchester, 1922). The specific 
reference is at p.23. Good luck.


Ed Larrissy


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 08:58:48 -0600
From: (J. Michael)
Subject: Re: Blake's designs...
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>Tirzah is rich with symbolism.  The two women are important because of
>their contrasting dresses and contrasting hairstyles.

Sharon, thanks for your detailed comments on these designs.  Who do you
think those two women are in "To Tirzah"?  Geoffrey Keynes glosses them as
"Mother-love and Sex-love, who failed to save [the man]."  Yet the "mother"
addressed in the poem is singular.  What do you think?

Jennifer Michael


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 11:03:34 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Blake and Science
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Hi, Pam! Glad to know that you're familiar with Capra's work and how, in
the scientific world, things are catching up with visions that Blake had
two centuries ago.

I do have to disagree with you on the point of Blake and his attitude
toward science. True, in that *masterpiece* of his, "Jerusalem", he has the
Evil Triad (Newton, Locke, Bacon) flying in as... whatever... but there is
far more in his canon which is critical of them than positive, including
the very early "There Is No Natural Religion" and his complaints therein
with Locke, in many ways the Father of the Enlightenment.

Also, I would refer people to the late "Everlasting Gospel" and what it has
to say about experimentation (a la Bacon's scientific method) and lines
like "clouds of reason LEFT" in "Voice of the Ancient Bard" from _Songs_ to
reinforce his skepticism of what one might call our science and rational

And who is Orc, in "America" and "Europe", other than a fiery anarchist,
the kind which Ralph Dumain wants to forever forget in the counter-culture
of the 1960s with such great musicians as Carlos Santana, who, like Blake,
was and IS often *inspired*? Orc is not the Locke who inspired Voltaire and
Rousseau that really propelled the American Revolution. He would not
understand nor appreciate the tick-tock scientific tone of the Declaration
of Independence nor the Constitution; that sort of rigidity is Urizen's,
isn't it? Orc, precursor of... what? Dionysos? Again, Orc too points back
to that counter-culture which Mr. Dumain wants to dismiss forever. (Nothing
of worth "dies", Mr. Dumain.) So Orc wakes up after 2,000 years, like an
angry Christ, perhaps?... and tries to save the world but fails. But
scientific reasoning as it was then applied, and still WORKS, in
Enlightenment-style structure for protection of government? That is not
Orc's domain.

Rather, Orc descends into The Terror, burnt out, blinded, a shell of
himself, not knowing what went wrong perhaps, as we see in "The Good and
Evil Angels" on display at the Tate. Again, perhaps using the
counter-culture analogy, into heroin addiction and sex diseases from an age
of excess...

If you don't bother to read the picture at the Tate as simply a picture,
but know the historical context of Orc's visual devolution from the joyful
"The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" visual depiction, through one mid-way
down, shown in my _William Wordsworth and the Age of English Romanticism_
(Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford), to this state that the Tate depiction
shows... You can still see him blinded, out of touch with the self-evident
truths, as Thomas Jefferson said, from which his fire originally came.

The portrait of Newton in the National Portrait Gallery is not a flattering
one, either. It's a joke on the guy's myopia.Through other writings by
Blake about Newton, you can discover that he respected him in many ways,
but that painting itself is highly sarcastic about science versus the
beauty of the rock/nature all around him. And it has a point!

But these are all just starters.

In the spirit of friendly disagreement--

And, for those of us who love "science", just look at how emotional things
like "economics" can be during stock market crashes.................

Randall Albright

End of blake-d Digest V1997 Issue #16