Blake List — Volume 1997 : Issue 17

Today's Topics:
	 Re: Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime
	 Re: The Tyger -Reply -Reply
	 RE: Altizer introduction -Reply -Reply
	 Blake and Science -Reply
	 Re: The Tyger/Lynx Connection???
	 Re: The Search for "Context" in Blake
	 Earth's Answer
	 Re: Blake and Science -Reply
	 Political Correctly WRONG


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 09:45:21 -0800 (PST)
From: Ralph Dumain 
Message-Id: <>

Pam van Shaik is becoming increasingly incoherent.  Her
endorsement of Randall Albright's gibberings and Fritjof Capra's
infantile and mechanistic yuppie mysticism in THE TAO OF PHYSICS
severely compromises her credibility.  But let's proceed directly
to the core of her latest response to me:

>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.

Already there is a contradiction here, for Jerusalem's casting out
is an act of violence on somebody else's part, not a shortcoming
of her own perception.  Yet all she has to do to restore harmony
is to cast off her mental chains and recall her immortal station.
Assuming that this even makes sense, is the only obstacle to
Earth's liberation her own mental chains?  This is the crux of the
argument and that dividing line I mentioned earlier.  Which side
are you on?

Even assuming that a mental act could eliminate one from bondage,
there is still one aspect of this act that cannot be overlooked
except by reactionary liars: that this mental act is still an act
of _resistance_, an act of overthrowing the existing order.
Blake's every poop and fart is an act of resistance against an
oppressive order, and don't you forget it.  How many prophecies
end with the freeing of slaves and the opening of prisons?

You explain realities by mythologies and I explain mythologies by
realities.  Let's see who has what it takes when it comes to
explanatory power.  We can start with a claim by Blake that most
effectively supports your case: that creation becomes burned up
when men cease to behold it: I don't recognize the outward
creation; it is an obstruction and no part of me.  Now if you can
take this at face value, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell
you, but let's examine this stance more closely.  It is an act of
psychological resistance to circumstance.  Is Blake a Dr. Chopra
who says reality is what you interpret it as and so you can become
healthy and wealthy by changing your attitude rather than the
glorious capitalist system that justly meets out its karma and
dharma?  No, here is what Blake says: "We eat little, we drink
less; this earth breeds not our happiness."  This is a recognition
of hard material reality as only a working man can understand it.
The "outer creation" can be resisted, but no single individual can
wish it into oblivion through sheer subjectivism or calling his
psychic friends, and Blake knew it.  Ceasing to behold it means
withdrawing one's allegiance from the system, and if people do
that en masse, it will fall to pieces.  As an artist/prophet,
Blake's mission is to rouse the consciousness of all people so
that they will collectively prepare themselves for this great

I stated before that Blake is well aware of the limitations of the
perspective of Experience, but he does not invalidate it as mere
illusion, as a self-induced predicament.  Blake knows that Earth's
inattention to the Bard is not an autonomous act -- only a
patriarchal Christian would be stupid enough to believe this: this
is William Bennett and Jerry Falwell, not Blake -- but is part of
the condition of her imprisonment.  Both Bard and Earth are going
to be tested in the fiery furnace of experience: nobody gets off
the hook with abstract pious pronouncements.  Blake is on Earth's
side: this is unequivocal and unmistakable; hence the passion with
which Blake infuses her plaint that still pierces the soul after
200 years:

"Break this heavy chain, / That does freeze my bones around /
Selfish! vain, / Eternal bane! / That free love with bondage


Date: 13 Feb 97 14:53:29 EST
From: Philip Benz <100575.2061@CompuServe.COM>
To: "" 
Subject: Re: Why Swedenborg is Not Sublime
Message-Id: <970213195328_100575.2061_GHW85-2@CompuServe.COM>

Tom said:  <<  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. >>

    Gee, I thought I had said nearly as much. You're right that a even a 
quick look at Blake's annotations on Swedenborg shows a surprising 
evolution, from approbation and "mark this!" to "priestcraft!"
    Damon's cite of CR's quote of Blake's comment on Swedenborg seems to 
summ it up nicely: "he has corrected many errors of Popery and also of 
Luther and Calvin... Swedenborg was wrong in endeavoring to explain to 
the rational faculty what reason cannot comprehend" -- i.e. the 
imaginative powers, seat of the sublime.
    And of course, from MHH:
 "It is so with Swedenborg; he shews the folly of churches & exposes 
hypocrites, till he imagines that all are religious. & himself the 
single One on earth that ever broke a net.
  Now hear a plain fact: Swedenborg has not written one new truth: Now 
hear another: he has written all the old falshoods.
  And now hear the reason.  He conversed with Angels who are all 
religious, & conversed not with Devils who all hate religion, for he was 
incapable thro' his conceited notions."
    Thus Swedenborg was limited in espousing the Urizenic position of 
the Elect (the Angels of MHH), and ignoring the often erroneous but 
perfectible position of the Reprobate (the Devils of MHH). Blakean 
sublimity is linked to the *positive role of error*; it asks the reader 
to look at things (life, values, religion) from new, imaginative 
perspectives. One is never guaranteed of avoiding error, as Swedenborg 
seems to want us to do in adopting his inner revelation of the angelic 
vision. Rather the individual following the path of sublimity is asked 
to discard error time and again on the long path towards truth.
    I have the feeling I am somewhat overstating the power of Blakean 
sublimity, but so far this is what I read in it. At the very least I 
feel confident in asserting that Blake ultimately relegated Swedenborg's 
misapprehension of the sublime to the same dustbin as that of Longinus, 
Milton, Burke and the Gothics.

Cheers,   --- Phil


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 21:03:11 -0800 (PST)
From: Ralph Dumain 
Message-Id: <>

Thank you Gloudina Bouwer for your attentive reading.  In re your

>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.

Suppose I had written "questions" instead of "question"?  Then the
syntax of the English language would not have succeeded in binding
so closely the relationship between creation and creator, maybe?
I think my real ambiguity is in my two-edged evaluation of the
tyger as symbol of depredation and as revolution.  Another
ambiguity would be the linkage of the malevolent creator to the
tyger specifically.  I don't see the tyger as a straightforward
symbol of evil or of the satanic creator, and I don't think I
argue that as such.  Rather my argument went through a process
that led to a questioning of the cosmic order.  On this argument
the tyger was more an incarnation of the riddle itself than of
evil.  I don't think the malevolent creator is any mystery, for
Blake identifies the Creator as malevolent almost everywhere.  So
is there confusion in the relation between Creator and creation?
There is one matter I didn't clear up, and it has to do with my
ambiguity on the ultimate meaning of the tyger.  That is, the
creations of the malevolent creator are not all bad, for there are
limits to the Fall.  In the fallen world there are also fragments
that represent positive qualities, like sexuality.  Even the tyger
is not a symbol of evil per se: admiration of the tyger as part of
the Urizenic order is natural religion which Blake rejects, but
admiration of the tyger as an eternal quality and one which is as
necessary and even preferable to sheeplike submission is another
aspect of the tyger.  The fallen world is radically contradictory.
But it is not pure evil.

>I have a hard time accepting explanations which are premised
>on the assumption that there are these "intellectual" points
>of reference, .... 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.

Is not your complaint the same complaint I've been voicing all
along about certain approaches, esp. the spiritualist approach,
only formulated more eloquently than mine?  Have I required you to
believe in certain things before you follow my explanation?  If I
have done so, I surely have failed in my attempt to communicate.
For I attempt to ground my explanations purely on experience and
not on belief.
>What is "the world as it is"? In fact, what do you mean
>by "the world" and "the only real world we have"?

Can this really be a question?  Or is the world we all think we
are living in a mere illusion and we all really are elsewhere?
After complaining that Europe was too unsafe for a pacifist,
Aldous Huxley spent the Second World War in Hollywood studying the
Tibetan Book of the Dead and writing a philistine mystical novel
called TIME MUST HAVE A STOP in which he claims that the mass
slaughter all around him has nothing to do with the essential
nature of things.  Where did he think he was?  Aldous Huxley is
what I oppose.

>Do I remember right that you once approved of the term
>"organized innocence" (a term which I also despise.)

I don't know if I said I approved of this term, but I do, and why
do you despise it?  What do you think it means?  What is doctrinal
about it?

And now a word about argument.  I don't believe in hedging and
beating around the bush and false modesty.  As Marx wrote, there
is a difference between the mode of discovery and the mode of
presentation.  In the mode of presentation one presents a
systematic view as if it were an a priori deductive construction,
whereas the starting point of the exposition is really only the
end point of a tortuous process of exploration.  I make many
summary judgements of things, but those ideas are not just
droppings from the sky like the ten commandments.  The
presuppositions are justified by the results, and we only know our
axioms after we have fully explored the structures that flow from
them.  Now I have given you a lot in my last post, much of it in
the form of asides and digressions from the main argument.
Implicit in my post is a theory of literary criticism, a theory of
the social origin of art forms and mythologies, of the motivating
factors behind Blake's symbolic moves, and even a structure for
how Blake relates the perspective of Eternity (the burning up of
Creation) to the empirical realty as everyone including Blake
lives it.  I have even provided some choice hints as to what
differentiates Blake from the mechanistic, consumerist
one-dimensional mysticism of people like Fritjof Capra, and a
faint trail toward the solution of the puzzle concerning Blake's
relationship to science.  In a few paragraphs I have given you
more than most intellectuals have to give in a lifetime.  I have
given you the end of a golden string: now where are you going to
go with it?


Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 22:13:01 -0800
From: "T.Q.Alexander" 
Subject: Re: The Tyger -Reply -Reply
Message-Id: <>
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Whoa! Blake can still stir 'em up! So much is being stated about the
Tyger and The Earth's Answer that I had to jump in. I'm just a lowly
under-grad so please bare with. I find the reference to Icarus and
Prometheus in the lines "On what wings dare he aspire?/What the hand
dare seize the fire?." Is this not the image of the Tyger? That the gift
of fire is power and that is why Zeus punished Prometheus. That
knowledge was one of many gifts that came out of that fire, one of many
powerful gifts? Like the fall of the Christian man and earth, could then
that fire be as the fruit from the tree of knowledge? Could the fire
then be symbolic of knowledge, that this line "What the hand dare seize
the fire?" is in meaning to those that dare seek knowledge out side of
the restraints of the church's theology as well as the Cultural,
Industrial, Political repression? And maybe Prometheus is the Bard? The
poet and his art gives to us the flame of knowledge, to help us see our
selves and life through their creation? Through their art we may expand
our wondering and in times question authority. 
	"On what wings dare he aspire?" The fall of Icarus was hubris. So who
could have the strength to set aside pride and arrogance, unlike the
church and others of Blake's time, and dare soar to the heights of the
imagination, to aspire or find inspiration to think freely, to create?
Could it be the Bard who could be such? Inspiration to create ones art
is creation in its self, and could that art/knowledge be capable with
the "Mind-forg'd manacles" of oppression? Is this all getting any where?
Or am I lost? It is a tough nut to crack, The Tyger. How lovely true art
is! Why do I keep flashing to the movie "Joe verses the Volcano" with
Tom Hanks? Tom Hanks broke away from the dredge of industrial labor and
found life. Kinda dumb of me adding that in, but I did like the movie!
:) Not as much as Blake though! I feel that the poet, as god or creator,
creates for us the Tygers of our life through their art, the Tyger coul
be a symbol of awakening. Not only can we draw from the strength of the
Tyger, can also die from it as well. The poem has many points to it.
This is what I get from it upon surface analysis. Yes?
The good parts of a book may be only something
a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck
of his whole damn life---and one is as good as the other.
					---Ernest Hemingway


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 11:59:55 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: RE: Altizer introduction -Reply -Reply

Dear Thomas, Thank you ... our library already has most of your books
including History as Apocalypse and I have now ordered  The
Contemporary Jesus.  .. and I shall be reading all of those which seem
relevant to my own work on Blake and the correspondences between
his ideas and those of the kabbalah.   I look forward to being able to
communicate directly with you about the ideas your work will stimulate in
me  ... .  something I've never before been able to contemplate before. 
The Department of Theology here is also intrested in your work.  Pam
van Schaik, Unisa, Pretoria, RSA


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 12:11:24 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Blake and Science -Reply

I think Blake loved Science in Eternity and was saddened to see what it
had become in the fallen world... sorry to insist on this distinction so
often, but all forms of everyhting are contracted and darkened in this
world, according to Blake's vision.
Have to disagree , too, about Orc.  Orc DOES succeed at the end of the
long prophetic poems , "Jerusalem" and "Four Zoas" in dissipating the
clouds  of the SHadowy Female with his wholesome fires, and so
redeeming Albion and all his Children from enslavement to the world of
nature.  To see Orc simply as the spirit of Revolution is a horrible
narrowing down of what he represents bad as following Damon
(?) into construing Los simply as an anagram of Sol, or Jerusalem as
Liberty. Pam 


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 12:33:28 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re:  THE EARTH & THE TYGER -Reply

Ralph... I do not endorse all that Randall says.  Very little of it, usually..  I
did find the diagram re time in the Tao of Physics relevant to trying to
understand how clairvoyance may work.  I did not say that Jerusalem is
responsible for her own plight. I did intimate that Blake's figure of  Earth
represents all of us who persist in strengthening, rather than weakening,
the mental fetters which  keep us in bondage.  For me, the implications of
this are that many of us persist in believing in a vengeful, cruel God,
rather than a forgiving and merciful one.... what Blake calls  the Accuser
or Nobodaddy, rather than the Forgiver, Christ.   Also, that many of us
will not accept that there are realities beyond  those  science can
demonstrate ... Blake evokes this in his lovely image of the infinite worlds
within a bird in MHH and within a wild flower, and the image  of holding
eternity in the palm of your hand in ' Auguries of Innocence". This 
interest in the sublime  does not mean that I don't also see  that Blake  
believed that oppressors should cease to oppress.  I see perfectly well
that his work gives readers the courage to resist tyranny and
oppression of all sorts in whatever forms they appear in every age and
country.   I dislike intensely having restrictive and misleading labels
attached to my views and to Blake's vision.  A man of such integrity as
Blake could perfectly consistently espouse views derived from Plato and
still be passionately a champion for social reform.  Blake goes far beyond
all of this though  ... he sees , with exceptional clarity, that the powers
which try to retrain, contain, limit and confine our own individual access
to inspiration should be resisted, ... indefatigably and continually.  Now,
that is probably what you think you are doing in resisting my
interpretations, and I certainly find your insulting remarks something to
resist since they diminsih me in order to advance your own status.  True
debate is surely a different matter.  Are you not being very politically
correct in your stance? And is this toing of the new lines prescribed by
others not more fascistic than what you attribute to me.  We've been
through all this here, in situ, and those who take a PC line seem to me to
be the aspiring tyrants of a new age. Pam


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 12:43:09 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re:  THE EARTH & THE TYGER -Reply

Have you see the film, "The Last Supper" in which a group of
intellectuals think they know better than all the , admittedly,
arch-conservative and variously  obnoxious,  people they invite to
supper ... and, ultimately think they are justified in killing those guests
with whom they disagree? I think that critiques of society are good and
necessary, but it gets scary when people get angry at others who
espouse different value systems.   I  find the rancour on this list rather
off-putting. .. to use polite British understatement.  Pam


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:20:46 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Re: The Tyger/Lynx Connection???
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Interesting conjecture, Mark. Of course, Blake also had "models" of tygers
looking ferocious as well as, perhaps, something like this starchart of
1801. For example, the title page of  "Europe, A Prophecy" (1794, roughly
same time as _Songs of Experience_) could perhaps be modelled on the "Don't
Tread on Me" flag in the United States. It certainly shows, however, that
Blake had a wide range of models of things he had not seen, yet wanted to
communicate, and that the standard "tyger" as described in his poem could
have been evoked by someone of his skill.

Or perhaps he didn't want to scare the little kids anymore than the poem
itself already does? And yet he has "The Poison Tree" illustration in that
_Experience_ collection. What could be more scary than that?

        -Randall Albright

There is no answer to the question, in Blake's poem. And there is no
"answer" to the illustration, only conjecture, too, wouldn't you agree?

>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: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:20:55 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Re: The Search for "Context" in Blake
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>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.>>>


Many of your assertions seem to be imposing a system on Blake's ouevre,
when in fact his view was constantly evolving. If a poem can't stand on its
own, but must be examined in the context of a man who moved from strong
embrace of overt Revolution to a despair that was only turned around by
belief that internal Revolution (better yet, "renewal" is the word for
which I'm grasping), then you're trying to systematize a man who changed--
not as dramatically as an Orc to a Urizen, of course, or the boy/man in
"Mental Traveller"-- but from one who saw things differently when he was
young than when he was old, arent' you?

I recently re-read _The Rainbow_ with my D.H. Lawrence discussion group,
and found that my opinions on a book that I had first read, loved, and
written on extensively when I was 20 years old were in many ways quite
different from the way I read it now, with the experience of a 40 year old.
And I'm reading a 30 year old's creation, by the way, both times.

-R.H. Albright

Where the water is never still.


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:21:07 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>Pam van Shaik is becoming increasingly incoherent.>>>

I disagree. You are continuing to be bombastic, though, Mr. Dumain.

-Randall Albright


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:21:33 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Earth's Answer
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Again, I am amused by Mr. Dumain's pronouncements. Santana and the
counter-culture can be wholly dismissed. Fritjof Capra is some sort of
yuppie lightweight. Pam Van Schaik is getting incoherent. His own bombastic
pronouncements should be enough to scare off "weak and timid minds", too, I

But getting back to "Earth's Answer", Mr. Dumain:

I would argue that is is indeed the wake-up cry that the counter-culture
which you wish you never would have to see again used, and which continues
to have truth to it. Excessive imprisonment. Sexism. Locked-up shame of
sex. A call for liberation.

"Sunrise. Surprise, civilized man. You were keeper to me. Now your animal
is free, and you're free to die. Die. You're old and your hands are gray.
You're old. Go home and stay. We've all heard your dirty stories. Two
thousand years... of your Christian glory." - Grace Slick, 1970, "Sunrise"
from _Blows Against the Empire_

And of course there is a counter-dialectic to Slick's and Earth's Answer
call for liberation. Too much, and Genies get out of the bottle that can
kill you. Soon you may have... oh, let's say, doctors in China scrubbing
toilet seats instead of seeing patients as part of their cultural
"re-education" because they were just dirty, bourgeois jerks.

-Randall Albright


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:21:41 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Re: Blake and Science -Reply
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Oh. Science in Eternity. But not in any life like we'll know? Not like in
the discovery of penicillin? Not like in the scientific application,
technology, and production, as seen in the creation and use of bicycles???

>I think Blake loved Science in Eternity and was saddened to see what it
>had become in the fallen world...>>>

 sorry to insist on this distinction so
>often, but all forms of everyhting are contracted and darkened in this
>world, according to Blake's vision.>>>

But he believed that they could become opened, expanded, WITHIN this life,
too, Pam.

>Have to disagree , too, about Orc.>>>

And I notice how, in your defense of Orc, you do not mention the two poems
to which I was referring: "America" and "Europe".

> Orc DOES succeed at the end of the
>long prophetic poems , "Jerusalem" and "Four Zoas"...>>>


Randall Albright


Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:22:03 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Political Correctly WRONG
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>Ralph... I do not endorse all that Randall says.  Very little of it,

And vice versa, Pam!

>did find the diagram re time in the Tao of Physics relevant to trying to
>understand how clairvoyance may work.>>>

I also found it to be helpful in understanding how reductionist any "view"
or literary interpretation could be. What is left out, when you view things
from a certain perspective? Historically, what point of view is the reader
coming from? Subjectivity was a hallmark of Nietzsche's career, and it's
true that when you get an Apollonian/Dionysian view like Paglia brilliantly
uses in _Sexual Personae_, it will illuminate some, and darken other
aspects. Same with Marxists or post-Marxist thought. Or Freudian or
post-Freudian (Bloom believes, for example, that we still live under the
ghost of Freud, whether we like it or not, in _Ruin the Sacred Truths_. Do
you believe that?) Can some of Blake's ambivalence on women be tied to his
own, complicated bisexual orientation? Or when you look at things from a
biographical perspective... Whose view of the biography? What resources
were used, what neglected? That is the truth of _The Tao of Physics_. You
can't have it all. It's impossible. And the new Capra effort, _Web of
Life_, shows how "moody" biology is compared to physics, and in it he
argues that biology is going to be the moving science for the next century,
because beyond simply knowing that Halley's Comet is going to reappear
every X years like clockwork, there are things to be considered, like will
the human race still be around to see it? Will the imbalance in wealth
between rich and poor (both within a country and between countries)
continue to grow, or will capitalism be used as both Blake and Emerson
wanted, at their highest use, as a way to interchange ideas as well as the
art that symbolizes those ideas?

>...We've been
>through all this here, in situ, and those who take a PC line seem to me to
>be the aspiring tyrants of a new age. Pam>>>

Hear, hear! The joke about political correctness is the rigidity, the
anti-acceptance of fluidity, of "allotropic states" as both Lawrence and
Blake would say, that people go through. The ability to CHANGE means you
have to be able to go out on limbs, test boundaries, take roads of excess
at times or go down crooked, unused roads, while others are saying, "No!
Take the superhighway!" Bulldoze it through. My way, and smash the little
"ants" (who are really HUMAN, growing, and often STRIVING for better
understanding, not just of Blake, but of the human condition and how to
leave something better for posterity than the junkpile we can complain
about today...) who don't see things "correctly".

-Randall Albright

End of blake-d Digest V1997 Issue #17