Blake List — Volume 1997 : Issue 27

Today's Topics:
	 Re: lists
	 Ralph Dumain
	 Re: eternal urizen
	 Re: lists
	 Re: lists
	 Re: Raine?
	 Cromwell and Blake
	 more on eternity
	 Re: Raine?
	 Re: Cromwell and Blake
	 Ollie Cromwell?
	 forwarded at Susan's request
	 for clarification
	 Re: Cromwell and Blake


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 09:33:36 +0000
From: Michael Asch 
Subject: Re: lists
Message-Id: <>
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Tim Linnell wrote:
> >> lists
> >>
> >>
> >
> >What does that word mean???
> The question is not what it means, but whether you instinctively
> like it....

Not even "if you intuitively" like it? 	I mean doo you think WB would
want you to merely rely on yooour instincts?


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 12:48:10 -0500 (EST)
From: bouwer 
Subject: Ralph Dumain
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

  I want to add my voice to the growing chorus. Ralph,
where are you when we need you?  Many of the totally 
new insights I have gained on this list have come by
trying to understand what Blake means to you,a Marxist.
Just the other day I read this in the first article in
the latest Blake Quarterly. Talking of Blake's poem
"Jerusalem" Marc Kaplan says: "..Jerusalem..avowedly
mythic and even anti-empirical in its construction of
history, IS OPENLY POLEMICAL. Blake's epics retain an
engagement with literal history by virtue of the poet's
implicit belief that utopian fantasy, by the suggestion
of unrealized human possibilities, can provoke real
change in the social/political world (in this respect, 
the poet's strategy remains unchanged since the "Songs
of Innocence.")  Then it dawned on me: maybe this is what 
Ralph meant, in a post a while ago, when he said :"As
Marx wrote, there is a difference between the mode of
discovery and the mode of presentation." At this moment,
the question in my mind is: must all Blake's works be
considered polemical? Or is Jerusalem, and Four Zoas 
   To the other active members of this list I am going 
to say something that might get me a lot of flack, but 
I must take the chance. It is time that we talk openly. 
I consider myself a bottomfeeder on this list, looking
for new insights on Blake. But when the larger part of
the list is filled with garbled meanderings, and some
of the list members are responding to  those meanderings, 
letting themselves be manipulated into discussing matters
not even vaguely related to Blake's poetry itself, then
I, a lowly bottomfeeder, am wondering whether I should
not also leave the list. To give you a concrete example:
This morning there was a post of Jeffrey Skoblow that 
on the whole gladdened my heart, because he is asking for
a discussion of Urizen, something I have needed and asked
for for a long time. BUT, he starts with these sentences:
"can somebody help me with eternity? i'm thinking of randall's
comment that "there was no one around in urizen's world until
his emanation broke off - los." Now Jeffrey, why on earth did
you post that sentence? I hope you were trying to be deeply
sarcastic. But I nearly flicked away your (otherwise beauti-
fully and intelligently written) post. I will respond to your
post in due course. I would like to hear more of what you
have to say. Thank you for starting such a thread.

Gloudina Bouwer


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 13:39:58 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Re: eternal urizen
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Jeffrey Skoblow:

First, I notice that the Reply was set to you individually. If you want to
discuss this further privately with me... or.... anyone... I'd be happy to
oblige. But since this was not a private e-mail to me, and since I thought
you brought up important issues for the group, I'm sending this both to you
and to them, for you to take it either way with... whomever.

Damon could maybe help you with "eternity". I like the first paragraph, at
least. But the problem is that Blake uses it in many different meanings of
the word; hence the need for Damon to give it a few columns of explanation.
Interesting that I can't find, offhand at least, how Damon would define it
in this, the first book of The Bible from Hell.

>as i understand the term, is unbound by time-- i.e. it is
>not simply a very very very long time, but rather no-time at all.>>>

Or how about ALL time? No! According to Damon, it's "The reality underlying
all termoral phenomena, the _nunc stans_ of St. Thomas Aquinas... the
annihilation of Time... in short, Eternity is the real Now." Well, if it's
the REAL NOW, why isn't it part of time? I mean, it's 12pm on February
28th, and I know this is a moment in eternity. And if I look at what a
modern definition of eternity is, its first definition is:
        1. Time without beginning or end; infinite time.
                ---source, American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd edition

Now I DO notice that in this definition, not Blake's mind or Christian
mythology, there is the use of the word "time", _not annihilated_, without
beginning or end, and infinite. In other words, when the clock STOPS
clicking, we're DEAD. And eternity is OVER. At least... until the next
rubber band bounces out somewhere.

You speak of being "hopelessly framed  by temporality-- it's part of the
vegetable ratio", and yet in "Urizen" we see a primordial stew of things
stirring around, like what will turn into the vegetables of the future. So
that stew is a temporal product of or in eternity, mutating...

I think there's a big danger in throwing out sequence, both in Blake's
imaginative thought and as a TRUTH. Dinosaurs, people, Industrial
Revolution, Internet. We can't go back. Not that it couldn't happen, given
slightly different circumstances, in an entirely different way.

>now this makes for a problem-- blake's books are
>temporal artifacts (among other things), words follow other words,
>plates follow plates, events follow events: so enitharmon emanating
>from los seems to come after los emerging to shackle urizen which
>seems to happen after urizen separates himself from the other
>eternals, etc.>>>

God I'm glad someone else saw the same pattern that I saw in that book.....
Thought it was relatively straightforward, in a way!

>-- but this, i'm thinking, is just an illusion of our
>temporal mode.>>>

Well, if it is, I think it makes for a good case why it's best to keep with
our illusions. Clean the doors of perception and see things as they really
are, infinite? It's like staring at the face of Medusa. Bad idea, in my
opinion. That's why I insist that there is sequence, there is time. It's
not just a big WHOOSH! There are unfoldings and unfoldings, even if it's as
cryptic as Origami.

I swear to God, how else would we do it? Roll on the floor and speak in
tongues? The problem with speaking in tongues is that people can't
UNDERSTAND you! It's some pre-tower-of-Babel language that they can PRETEND
to understand. But do they? How much is hocus-pocus with that stuff? And
what's the difference between speaking in tongues and speaking in a
post-tower-of-Babel language where we have symbols that are actually,
perhaps, BETTER than the romanticism of that lost, mythical world?

On demonizing Urizen and the need to live with Urizen:
I think Blake makes a classically ambivalent view on Urizen, visually,
don't you, in that book? I see him jumping around on plate 3, or oppressed,
himself, on plate 9, or freed up on plate 12, or another athletic image,
which Erdman only *asks* "Is this Urizen seeking solid and perhaps finding
it another cloud?" on plate 14.

>urizen is bad, so let's eradicate him... something like that.>>>

Well, if one does see this recurring pattern in Blake of not like the
Jehovah of the Old Testament, preferring the Rebel Son who then became God
himself... I fear there's a part of Blake that WISHES he could. Which is
why I align him with Orc in "America" and "Europe". But, yes, he knows it

>there's no eradication in eternity.  there's no getting back before.>>>

You said it! You push Satan out the front door, and he comes right back in
through the side. This has deep ramifications for scientists trying to
track and stop diseases like cancer and AIDS, which mutate. Not that we
can't TRY. But Urizen... Urizen is given a bad rap, verbally in this book,
a great deal of the time (tyrant, enslaver), but visually it's quite a
contrary image that Blake gives, a great deal of the time.

>urizen is forever, as is los, as is all.  the struggles of these
>figures are not struggles to resolve but struggles to honor (for lack
>of a better word).>>>

As Pam Van Schaik said to me privately the other day (yes, she's still
subscribing), Jerusalem must continually be re-built. You can't rest on
your laurels. There are new crises that come up. Hence the need for
temporal people like Schindler, who will go down, in my opinion, in
ETERNITY, for the good deeds he did. But it's a constant struggle. I'd say
it's deeper than honor. It's the desire to make the world a better place
for our children, for posterity, for our own conscience, even as we are
aware that plagues/Satans (like Camus described so eloquently in his novel,
_The Plague_) will always be with us, lurking. Demonizing Urizen is wrong,
for example. There's a need for the 10 Commandments-- for the rule of law,
as well as for rebel artists like Blake.

And, to Blake On-Line, I want to add this: I AM interested in your other
views on this complicated subject that Jeffrey has brought up, as well as
anything that pertains to the wide world of Blake. I'm just me. You're you.
I don't tolerate personal insult well. And I see through veiled personal
insult easily, too. But I respect DIFFERENCES OF OPINION, DIFFERENCES OF
APPROACH, and think that we can learn from each other. Many of you are
aspiring or current Blake "scholars". I'm not. I'm an artist, and a lover
of *some* of Blake's work. That, too, is a process, for me. To me, there's
more to this group than the sum of its parts. And with that, I say,
"Enough! Or too much!"

-Randall Albright


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 14:55:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: lists
Message-Id: <>

>> The question is not what it means, but whether you instinctively
>> like it....
>Not even "if you intuitively" like it? 	I mean doo you think WB would
>want you to merely rely on yooour instincts?

If you are opposing intuition to instinct, you may have a point.  But if 
you're opposing "yooour instincts" to someone else's, then Blake would 
always counsel you to follow your own.  It's Carlyle, in his later 
hero-worshipping phase, who would counsel you to follow someone else's 
(presumably superior) instincts, and that way Fascism lies.

Or was "yooour" just a typo?  If so, please repost your question.
-Tom Devine


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 15:25:20 +0000
From: Michael Asch 
Subject: Re: lists
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
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> >> The question is not what it means, but whether you instinctively
> >> like it....
> >Really???????
> >
> >Not even "if you intuitively" like it?         I mean doo you think WB would
> >want you to merely rely on yooour instincts?
> Michael-
> If you are opposing intuition to instinct, you may have a point.  But if
> you're opposing "yooour instincts" to someone else's, then Blake would
> always counsel you to follow your own.  It's Carlyle, in his later
> hero-worshipping phase, who would counsel you to follow someone else's
> (presumably superior) instincts, and that way Fascism lies.
> Or was "yooour" just a typo?  If so, please repost your question.
> -Tom Devine
A typo Tom... keyboard voodoo. And it was intuition as opposed to
instinct. Although my experience is that  there is a point (or points)
of overlap between these functions. 

 Like so much of the discourse on the list (using only the intellect to
discern Blake), to me, this is a paradoxical (but not unamusing)
discussion  (and I am not sure Blake would have hoped to stimulate our
intellects to this degree.) 

And yet both instinct and intuition seem to provide a more (well more is
not exactly the correct word, perhaps direct) experiental perception of
phenomona than intellect  and so perhaps this "discussion", which began
as sort of a "joke" will expand the general "discussion" beyond it's
seeming "intelect only" focus....... 

On the other hand....... probably not.



Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 00:49:25 +100
Subject: Re: Raine?
Message-Id: <>

Hello everybody:

Is Ms Raine alive and if she is, do you know her postal and e-mail 


vladimir Georgiev


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 21:06:21 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Cromwell and Blake
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Talk about a crooked path that was part of what one may call a "human sea",
history that led to a relatively more "free" England than France...

It's reductionistly simple to say that Cromwell was a fascist, from what
I've been reading in this admittedly antiquated 1968 Encyclopedia
Britannica. And I don't think that Milton, who excitedly became his
secretary for foreign languages, was a simple fool to collaborate.

What I see, with Cromwell, is a major break that-- muddled and sad as it is
in some ways (the art destruction under him was abominable)-- allowed
England to accelerate down its path of  more freedom, particularly in the
religious realm. This sequence of events that then went on to have
Parliament bringing in William and Mary (sorry, divine right of kings!),
allowed breathing space for people like William Blake to print as much as
he did, as well as for people like Voltaire to be envious of England's
relative "enlightenment", wouldn't you say?

Truly another complicated story. I can see why Carlyle was beguiled, even
if I am not. But, hey, other views?

-Randall Albright


Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 17:57:14 -0600
From: "Jeffrey Skoblow" 
Subject: more on eternity
Message-Id: <>

thanks for your response, gloudina, to my fumblings on eternity.  as 
for your question about my opening sentences-- i asked if anyone 
could help me with eternity, not trying to be sarcastic at all, just 
trying to open up the question: i mean, we talk about time and 
eternity all the time (!) as if we think we know what these terms 
mean, and i know i don't-- and i think the problem of talking about 
eternity is central to blake (could even be a way of describing the 
central problem blake sets himself: how to talk about eternity, when 
talking is a temporal-- i.e. not eternal-- mode of being).  and i 
quoted randall's remark about nobody existing in urizen's world until 
los appeared-- simply because that was what sparked my question (at 
least most immediately).  i think (as i hope i made clear, but maybe 
not) that randall's wrong, that we're all wrong, to speak of eternal 
events happening in befores and afters-- eternity ceases to be 
eternity if something eternal happens before or after something else 
eternal.  if urizen is eternal, then nothing happens before or after 
urizen.  same for los, same for... et al.  if urizen's "first day" is 
eternal, and his "second day" is too, and so on, then all these 
"days" are (to use a temporal lingo, as "days" is too) then all these 
days are simultaneous: the first day does not happen before the 
second day, nor the second before the seventh, etc.   we're forced to 
talk about these events in such terms only because we are limited to 
our temporal experience.
i got a private posting from susan reilly noting that these questions 
touch on blake's treatment of sequencing the plates in his various 
books: susan refers to "blake's unconcern over order and sequence" 
(excuse me susan for quoting you without permission)-- but i'd say 
"unconcern" is the wrong word.  blake's very much concerned with 
sequence, i'd say, which is why he's messing with it all the time, 
why he's at such pains to break the shackles of sequence.  or to put 
it another way: sequence is unavoidable (as is temporality, as is the 
lingo of days and simultaneity and before and after, as is our 
conception of cosmic events in terms of characters and plotlines and 
such) but its unavoidability is problematic-- to the extent that we 
live in sequence, we make assumptions that are not eternal.
i don't know if that's clear.
i'm thinking too of "eternity is in love with the productions of 
time."  the creation of "time" is an eternal event too-- it's not 
like the garden of eden (at least as i take it to be generally 
understood), where there's a happy innocent time and then a fall and 
then a post-lapsarian oy oy oy: the creation of time in blake's 
eternity-- the separation of urizen from the other eternals is the 
name for this "moment" of creation?-- is as eternal as anything else. 
 well, now i'm repeating myself.
one point this leads me to-- i sent a post on this last year 
sometime-- is wondering about the nature of urizen's separation, that 
ghastly act, bloody, petrific etc.  i'm thinking here too of "without 
contraries is no progression"-- and i'm wondering if we would best 
imagine urizen not as the sin (not the eating of the apple) but in 
fact as at least an essential part of the only blessing we know.  i 
feel almost lewd in seeming to defend the old dude in this way, and i 
certainly have my own problems with his laws and his laws and his 
laws, his misery, his oppressive bag of awful tricks-- but i'm trying 
to counteract what i see as a too-easy demonization of him.  why does 
urizen split off from the other eternals?  what is wrong in eternity 
that all the eternals are not happy with the way things go in 
eternity, but must separate out and make a thing called "time"?  
(again, remembering that there is no "moment" before this event-- 
that the something "wrong" in eternity is as "old" as eternity 
itself.)  eternity maybe is a law too-- a world without contraries, 
and thus without progression.  maybe urizen's "crime" is to blow the 
eternal's cushy cover-- maybe what he does in separating himself out 
is akin to staining the water clear.
and now i can't tell if i'm going around in circles or tying myself 
up in knots... so i'll stop.
i'm curious for everyone's sense of these matters.


Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 08:09:45 -0600 (CST)
From: (susan p. reilly)
Subject: Re: Raine?
Message-Id: <>

You wrote: 
>Hello everybody:
>Is Ms Raine alive and if she is, do you know her postal and e-mail 
>vladimir Georgiev


Kathleen Raine is well-advanced in years, and somehow I doubt that she 
has an e-mail address, though of course, she might. 

I will privately post her mailing address.


Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 15:44:53 +0000 (GMT)
From: "Tristanne J. Connolly" 
Subject: Re: Cromwell and Blake
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

It's not reductive at all to call Cromwell a fascist; problem is, not
enough people do it. Being an Irish-Canadian now living in England I am
continually shocked at how much history is actively and tragically
ignored... Cromwell massacred many Irish women and children. If this isn't
fascist, what is? Just one more example in the long list of Ireland
suffering from England's 'advance'. In case this sounds off-topic, think
of Erin in Jerusalem. And Milton's errors. And the idea of revolution
spawning another dictator (the divine right of Cromwell). You're right
it's very complicated. It reminds me of Satan in Milton. With friends like
this, who needs enemies?


Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 12:09:06 -0800
From: Hugh Walthall 
Subject: Ollie Cromwell?
Message-Id: <>
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The English Revolution was a very remarkable event.  A left-wing 
Protestant Government seized power and executed a corrupt and idiotic 
monarch.  Of course the Irish got stomped.  

Blake is a rabid anti-catholic.  I seem to remember reading an 
unsubstantiated anecdote somewhere that he took part, or may have taken 
part, in some no-Popery riot in the 1770's--?  Anybody else remember 
seeing this somewhere?

Blake's beef with Milton has everything to do with his own rightly 
perceived INADEQUACY vis a vis that Worthy Poet, and nothing at all to 
do with the Irish question.

Strange, I have a sudden craving for orange juice.

Hugh Walthall


Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 19:08:36 -0600
Subject: forwarded at Susan's request
Message-Id: <>

From:	SMTP%"" 28-FEB-1997 21:16:01.38
Subj:	Re: citation: clarification

Tom & Tom,

You asked that I post this information to the list--so anyone not 
interested delete now.

Thank you, Tom Dillingham, for calling me on this.  I did (finally) get 
back to the citation, and it's no wonder I had difficulty finding it 
again--it's an 1876 edition, privately published in London  "100 copies 
printed for private circulation."  Obviously, this is almost 50 years 
after Blake's death, and therefore NOT circulated by Blake but by an 
interested group of his growing admirers.   In my haste, hurrying 
through different editions, I posted the information incautiously---and 
here am I, with egg on my face-----scrambled.

I still defend my claim (and this of course is standard anthology 
stuff) that Blake published, many times to order, in small numbers, 
(though, as Tom pointed out, probably never so high a number as 100) 
and near the end of his life  was forced to resort, like Coleridge & 
others, to publishing by subscription.  A list of subscribers is 
sometimes included in such volumes:  I know that Crabb Robinson, Basil 
Montagu, and Coleridge & Lamb, I think, were early subscribers to *The 
Book  of Job,*  though without the references in front of me it's hard 
to remember with complete accuracy.

His engraved books did not reach more than a small circle of friends:

28 copies of Songs of Innocence  and Experience (complete & incomplete) 
are known to exist

of The Book of Thel: 16
Marriage of Heaven & Hell:  9 copies
Jerusalem: 5 copies

I do not own a copy of Bentley or Keynes. If anyone does  (it will be 
several days before I can get to the library)  even if privately, I 
would love to see a post on this.  And what information is known 
(through the Stationer's Register or other sources) on how many copies 
may have been lost?  For that matter, was Blake, printing privately, 
required to enter his works in the Register?   This could get us into 
an interesting discussion on Blake & sedition....



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From: (susan p. reilly)
Subject: Re: citation: clarification


Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 19:10:17 -0600
Subject: for clarification
Message-Id: <>

From:	COSMO::TOMDILL      "TOM DILLINGHAM" 28-FEB-1997 13:19:55.08
To:	SMTP%""
Subj:	Re: citation

Susan--I will be surprised if you can find any valid indication of 
exact numbers of Blake's illuminated books *printed*.  The scholars to
consult on this issue are Raymond Lister (now superseded), Joseph
Viscomi, and Morris Eaves.  (Erdman, of course, but remember that he is
very elderly and not very active now.)
Of course Blake was capable of printing many copies of his texts from the
copper plates (he claims in one letter he could print 2000 if they were
wanted) but his practice was to print a few and color them when they
were bought or requested.  Some copies were printed by Frederick Tatham
after Mrs. Blake's death, and some possible by Mrs. Blake herself after
William's death.  But it was definitely not a process comparable to 
summoning a file from wordperfect and sending it to the bubblejet printer.
I don't have a photographic memory, so I don't remember the details of
the printing history, but my generalized and imperfect memory is that
he did not ever print as many as a 100 at a time,t hough he usually
had uncolored sheets of some of the books "in stock" in case anyone 
wanted them.
I did not mean that the surviving books are the only ones he printed, but
only that the very small number of survivors would suggest a smaller number
of printed copies than your general statement seemed to suggest.
I think, too, that your paragraph on that matter made a rather sweeping
comment (not supportable) about a "tradition" --apparently continuing?--
of such private printing stretching back to the beginning of printing
in England.  This is simply not supported by the history of printing in
England and Blake, as a matter of fact, was self-consciously going 
against the standard, which was submission of one's works to
professional printers for production and subsequent distribution.
By the time Blake works, such labor was definitely divided an dhis
insistence on re-combining the processes of composing, illuminating
engraving, printing, coloring and binding was a contrary statement
on his part.
By the way, there is plenty of evidence that Blake was aware of posterity,
but it is in th eDescriptive Catalogue and other writings and letters where
he refers to issues of the "art market" and the relationship of art
(both poetry and visual art) to the creation of a nation and culture;
remember that he is consciously creating a "bible" and by that very
act is asserting the eternal importance/relevance of his work to all
both before and after him.
But I have to apologize--though I normally keep every Blake-l posting, for
some reason I can't find the particular one you sent where you said
(in conclusion) that you probably ought to post some information off-list--
to which Tom 
D (the other) said no no, give it us, and I, still remembering at that
time that I was interested, agreed with him.  It will probably come back
to me, bu tat this moment, it has flown away.  
(By the way, just because I have it handy, here is a quotation from 
Raymond Lister's _Infernal Methods_--a book that I should say is
superseded in many respects by Viscomi and Eaves:
"Of the twenty different works large and small so produced, only a
total of about two hundred and ten still survive, some of which
are fragmentary, and that number must represent a very high proportion
of those actually made.  Even this figure includes a number of 
posthumous copies printed by Frederick Tatham, into whose possession
the plates came when Mrs. Blake died in 1831.  Altogether, some
three hundred and sixty-three etched plates were used in the 
illuminated books" (66-7).    So this is the kind of information
that I had in mind when I raised the question.  Best,
Tom Dillingham


Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 19:53:40 -0600
Subject: Re: Cromwell and Blake
Message-Id: <>

Is there no such thing as a sense of history here?  Would anyone like
to consider when the word "fascist" came into existence, its derivation,
its meaning. It is not just "reductive" to refer to Cromwell as a fascist,
it is plain ignorant nonsense.  There are plenty of terms available to
describe the kind of murderous dictator Cromwell became without 
babbling anachronisms.  (For what it's worth, the OED indicates
1921 as the first year the word appears in the English language.)
Or are we to assume this is another of those wonderfully
"creative" exercises of the imagination that justify absurdity
by insisting on interesting "connections.")
Tom Dillingham

End of blake-d Digest V1997 Issue #27