Blake List — Volume 1997 : Issue 28

Today's Topics:
	 Blake, intellectuals, and the division of labor
	 Re: Cromwell and Blake
	 Re: for clarification
	 Re: Raine?
	 Blake & Jews
	 Re: for clarification
	 Re: Ollie Cromwell?
	 Blake and history
	 Remove from list
	 Raine? -Reply
	 Re: Raine? -Reply
	 more on eternity -Reply
	 Blake & Jews -Reply
	 Feeding Mozart


Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 21:02:06 -0500 (EST)
From: bouwer 
Subject: Eternity
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Jeffrey Skoblow,
    Your posts are not "fumblings on eternity." It is
of the most literate and intelligent pieces that I have
read on the subject. It is especially appealing because of
the way you framed it - as a kind of an elegy in a minor
key for the old concepts that one has to give up when one
says goodbye to a linear world view, and bravely begins to
follow Blake into a relativistic universe, with its own
but different laws.
    I will for the moment only lift out things you said in
the two posts, so as to give them more prominence. (If I
have anything new to say to what you have already said, I
still have to think of it!) It may be useful eventually
to go to some of the good Blake critics and see what they
have to say. But for the time being, let us stay with what
you said:
 (1) "all of our language and hopelessly
      framed by temporality..part of the vegetable ratio..
      it is not a subset of time, but the other way around."
And what's more, Western Man is very much the heir of those
Greeks that measured and delineated and categorized.No wonder
Blake hated them and liked the prophetic mode of the Hebraic
tradition better. 
 (2) " is a real problem to demonize urizen..urizen is
      forever, as is Los, as is all. THE STRUGGLES OF THESE
Struggles to honor. Thank you for thinking about it that way.
And because Urizen's struggles are there to honour, it is 
sacrilege to look condescendinly on his travails. Because they
are the travails of Man.
 (3)"..isn't all sequence an illusion, a bar to eternal vision?
    ...blake's very much concerned with sequence, i'd say,which
    is why he is messing with it all the time, why he is at such
    pains to break the shackles of the extent that
    we live in sequence, we make assumptions that are not eternal."
You are right. But he is trying to break the "man-made manacles."
(Time is a man-made technology,one futurist points out.)And it 
seems to me that Blake is eager to point out that there are other 
sequences more important than the sequences fabricated by "Time."
In the Mental Traveller, for instance. And in the existence of
  (4) "the creation of time is an eternal event too... the
     separation of urizen from the other eternals is the 
     name for this 'moment' of creation?.." 
Here I am troubled a little. Los and Enitharmon are, by some, 
considered to be Time and Space - thus time and space are seen
as the products of the fallen Imagination. Urizen seems the
dominant zoa in the process of the fall.He is the zoa of cognition.
Urizen falls when he misuses his light-giving function, considers 
the constructs he detects as eternally stable. 
  (5)"..I am wondering if we would best imagine urizen not as the
     sin..but in fact as at least an essential part of the only
     blessing we know.."
I do not think Urizen is ever considered a sin. But it is certainly
true that Blake scholars do not give enough time to his travails,
his labours. (It may also be true that Blake Scholars do not give
enough time to the construction of Golgonooza, that other edifice
that is being built by Los, the fallen Imagination.)
  (6) "..eternity maybe is a law too -- a world without contraries,
      and thus without progression..maybe urizen's 'crime' is to
      blow the eternals' cushy cover - maybe what he does in 
      separating himself out is akin to staining the water clear."
What a question! I have to give myself time to think out that one!
I will reserve my thoughts on this until a later time. It certain-
ly is a new angle on the function of cognition in the scheme of 
things. The way you feel, it certainly behoves us to give much more
detailed attention to the power of cognition.To Lucifer as the
    Hoping for a third post from you soon.

Gloudina Bouwer


Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 22:29:49 -0800 (PST)
From: Ralph Dumain 
Subject: Blake, intellectuals, and the division of labor
Message-Id: <>

I was preoccupied for several days with urgent business, so last
night I read all my Blake posts of the past several days at once
-- quite a lot of reading, mixed with many uncreative and
intellectually unproductive insults directed against me.  I love
good invective, but surely one can do better than this.  However,
to see Albright's Kennedy liberalism revealed in all of its naive
stupidity is just too priceless.  I shall use this later.

After reading Gloudina Bouwer's post last week in which she
wonders what the common reality we are all forced to live in could
possibly be, I was at a loss as to how to communicate further with
such a person.  But for reasons I have yet to fathom, she appears
to be one of my biggest fans:

>I want to add my voice to the growing chorus. Ralph, where are
you >when we need you?

Beg your pardon?

>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.

I wish I knew what a Marxist approach to Blake or any other
literary figure entails, because I am not particularly versed in
Marxist literary theory, and I haven't read any other theory since
Kenneth Burke, and I have no respect for what goes for theory
anyway.  What literature means to Marxism could have a variety of
answers: from the matter of obvious social content to matters of
form and style.  In Blake Studies, we've got a variety of
examples, good and bad, from Sabri-Tabrizi's Procrustean
interpretations to David Erdman's detailed historical
investigations to Jack Lindsay to Fred Whitehead to Minna Doskow
to Jackie DiSalvo to E.P. Thompson, just to name a few.  I haven't
read all of them, either, nor do I find myself following others'
leads in this matter.  I note that Terry Eagleton couldn't make
heads or tails out of E.P. Thompson, which is a sad commentary on
Eagleton.  So tell me what a Marxist approach is, because I can't
be sure I know.  Or why you would care, given that you don't think
you are confined to planet Earth with the rest of us.

One can never know enough to be able to understand a literary work
exhaustively.  Certainly one is better off deciphering Blake's
mythology with the help of the Bible, the Kabbalah, and other
literature of this kind.  There are other kinds of cultural
information equally as indispensable: knowledge of history,
political economy, the publishing industry, reading audiences, the
state of literature, the state of the language, rhetorical
conventions, etc.  No avenue of investigation can be closed off.
At the end of the day, however, what is there about Blake that
mystical charlatans like Kathleen Raine cannot possibly
comprehend?  Those are the things that interest me.  And they
should interest not only me, because Blake happens to be one of
those figures who questioned at an unprecedentedly profound level
all of the assumptions of the civilization in which he lived.  We
cannot begin to understand Blake's complete overhaul of his
ideological environment without understanding this.  There are
many endlessly arcane issues of interpretation, but then there are
priorities: what matters most, what is most fundamental, why do we
care?  Seek ye these fundamentals, and all the rest shall be added
unto thee.

Now the only person who has influenced my thinking about the world
in recent years is someone you never heard of, and even those who
do know his work haven't figured him out yet -- C.L.R. James.  I
have absorbed many things from his work; among them is the
approach to the fundamental questions of social being -- which is
not political agitation but the division of labor and its impact
on the capacities and development of people.  A major part of this
approach is to question institutionalized intellectuals as the
bearers of culture and the embodiment of universality.  This is
something that Blake and Marx did to an degree that few others
have, but I shall say little more about this right now.

Blake knew that the bearers of culture and learning were what he
opposed.  Marx learned all there was to learn from them, and then
when they began to rot and stink, he finished with them and turned
to skilled workers for what he could never get from the
intelligentsia.  James differed from the Frankfurt School in one
significant respect.  They were all cultured intellectuals reared
in a cultural elitism that never took them out of their upbringing
for a second.  James thought that European intellectuals were
finished.  Sartre deserted his own class to write engaged
literature, and James mocked him as a man at the end of his rope.

General point being: what sort of a thinker was Blake, what sort
are others, and what sort are the people analyzing him and
comparing Blake to other intellectuals?

Our first priority is to understand the implications of the
division of labor and specialization for what happens to
intellectual and cultural life, and, for us, the profession of

E.P. Thompson understood these things above all other

Naturally, when intellectuals who have been socialized in the
customary manner approach Blake, they see him through the eyes of
their social position.  But Blake was interested in human
emancipation and not in Culture.  That not only differentiates him
from other Romantics of his own time and place, but from a host of
critics and artists who came later.  T.S. Eliot, a frightened bank
clerk, only cared about "culture" and defending it from the
unwashed masses, hence, like the fascist Yeats, had to support
clerical and political reaction in order to find a place for
himself and protect his sacred Tradition.  Yeats had to lie about
Blake in order to love him, and Eliot had to hate Blake in order
to defend his own values.

Now any person of mechanical talents can come along and highlight
commonalities betwixt Blake and Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger,
Jung, Derrida, and scores of other bourgeois intellectuals.
(Hegel is of some interest here, but the differences are far more
important than the similarities.)  I have spoken my mind on this
issue before, and also on the putative affinities between Blake
and Berkeley, Plato, etc.  I have yet to consume all of this
literature, but so far I find most of it a bloody bore.  But then,
what sort of people write these books?  Precisely people who dwell
in the realm of what they think is "culture", and hence they are
blind to fundamental differences of social being, acculturation,
orientation, attitude, and purpose.  The theologians and mystics
-- who supposedly are fixated on higher things, not mundane
matters -- are as bad or worse than the rest, because they are
quite sure that they are who they pretend to be.  They too are the
victims -- and the perpetrators -- of the social and ideological
opacity produced by alienation and the division of labor.

Also: I don't believe the key to Blake's differences from other
thinkers lie merely in overt politics, but in the entire structure
of concepts that underlie the concerned individuals' world views.
That is, it's not enough to see Blake as a political progressive
in contrast with Yeats as supporter of the Irish Blue Shirts, Jung
a lover of Franco and Nazi collaborator, or Heidegger as an out
and out Nazi.  Such concerns, however important, are merely
external when just left to themselves.  One must look at the
internal structures of these people's world views and see how they
correlate with their reactionary politics.  One must look at the
underlying dynamics of these systematic approaches to the world
and not merely point up abstracted point-by-point similarities in
order to prove that Hegel and Nietzsche and Jung and Tom and Dick
and Plato and all the mystics and religious leaders of the world
and Harry were all saying the same thing as Blake.  How utterly
insipid and shallow and unimaginative.

>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."

I haven't the foggiest what you are talking about.  When I wrote
this I was referring not to Blake but to me.  That is, because I
make categorical statements about things, it could appear as if I
superimposed some a priori scheme on the subject matter, whereas
in fact the way I came to these judgments was much more inductive,
for lack of a better term.  Another time I may give some detailed
examples of what I mean.  The route by which one comes to one's
ideas and the method of their presentation to the public may be
quite different: Marx just said it so well I had to cite him.

>At this moment, the question in my mind is: must all Blake's
works >be considered polemical? Or is Jerusalem, and Four Zoas

I don't understand this.  Obviously I don't frequent the same
vortices as Gloudina.  I suppose polemics must be measurable by
the degree to which Blake directly implores or cajoles the reader,
and this occurs in varying degrees.  Or does Gloudina really mean
that Blake thought of himself as a bearer of an urgent mission
which informed everything he wrote?  I believe that writers who
write out of a sense of urgency are far superior to those who are
only interested in culture, but this doesn't make the writing
stylistically polemical in all cases, nor should it.  I also don't
believe in literature as political propaganda, as others have --
Stalinists, nationalists, etc.  Nor do I believe that a writer's
worth is measurable by the direct political activism in which the
writer engages.  Therefore I don't moan like Jack Lindsay because
Blake never joined a movement or wail like Jerome McGann because
Blake only sold books to moneyed connoisseurs and could not reach
the masses.

I have my doubts as to whether you, from your own standpoint, need
me at all.  It is not clear who on this list needs my presence,
but I invite all who have been here long enough to know the
history of this list to compare all of my contributions over the
past few years, even the most polemical, with those of Albright
and his pals, and determine whose presence has disrupted the
"normal" course of discussion and whose has enhanced it, since
some pisspot priest has arrogated to himself the right to judge --
as only a condescending clerical obscurantist can without knowing
anything -- who has moral credibility and who does not.


Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 14:58:54 +100
Subject: Re: Cromwell and Blake
Message-Id: <>

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

>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

I thought that Dumain was a fascist but now I understand that he is 
simply mad. I feel sorry for him.


vladimir Georgiev


Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 07:40:50 -0600 (CST)
From: (susan p. reilly)
Subject: Re: for clarification
Message-Id: <>

Hi, Tom,

Thanks for for forwarding my message, and for your informative 
correctives.  I was referring to the tradition of Donne, Sidney, the 
Countess of Pembroke, et al, who passed *MSS* in private circulation, 
so you are quite right in calling me on this, too.

If we had a word like "Cheers" in America, that's what I'd wish you as 
I sign off.



Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 10:18:40 -0600 (CST)
From: William Neal Franklin 
Subject: Re: Raine?
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

On Sat, 1 Mar 1997, susan p. reilly wrote:
> Vlado:  
> 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.
> >

As of last summer, she was not using e-mail.  I was given her address
along with a sample of her handwriting and a warning.  I elected not to

Bill Franklin


Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 17:57:43 +100
Subject: Blake & Jews
Message-Id: <>

Hi there,

Has anybody read the following title:

Shabetai, Karen. The Question of Blake's Hostility Toward the Jews, 
ELH, 63.1, Spring 1996? Could he imitate the Kabala if disgusted its 


vladimir Georgiev


Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 14:54:39 -0600
Subject: Re: for clarification
Message-Id: <>

Thanks, Susan, for the cheers.  I kind of suspected that it was ms.
circulation (often in the form of commonplace books into which poets
wrote for each other or friends, but also in packets, of course)
that you meant rather than private printing.  For some reason, so
far as I can tell, the notion of having one's own printing press
never caught on with people the way the owning of one's own camera
or radio or tv or, now, computer with net access and desktop publishing
capacity have all caught on.  It would be an interesting study to find
out just why (perhaps because of the sheer difficulty and size of the
machinery involved) the printing technology has been and remains the
province of professionals and a very few highly motivated amateurs.
Even artists who deal in various printmaking processes (etching,
engraving, etc.) often design and then send their designs to professional
printers to be produced.  I recently saw a fascinating exhibition at the
National Museum of Women in the Arts of the products of a workshop
set up by a woman to help women artists learn to print their own
designs rather than being dependent on professionals.  Beautiful
work--Louise Bourgeois was one of the artists participating.
So--cheers back--Tom Dillingham


Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 15:01:27 -0600
Subject: Re: Ollie Cromwell?
Message-Id: <>

Blake was not, according to any biographical or textual evidence I have
seen, any more a rabid anti-catholic than he was a rabid anti-Christian--
which is to say that to the extent that he loathed churches, many
institutions, and established religion, he would have included
Catholicism in the category--and certaily the wonderful lampoon 
image of the Pope's tiara (in Europe plate 11 and in Jerusalem 53,
quite different versions but both associating the triple crown with
tyranny) would indicate part of his views on Catholicism.  It seems
wrong, however, to suggest that his anti-Catholic feelings would
be any more focused (or necessarily connected to the Irish question)
than his other antinomian views. 
As for the Gordon Riots, which were certainly anti-papist, most accounts
suggest that Blake's encounter with the rioters was accidental and that
he left the scene with horror--according to Gilchrist:
"the artist happened to be walking in a route chosen by one of the mobs
at large, whose course lay from Justice Hyde's house near Leicester 
Fields, for the destruction of which less than an hour had sufficed,
through Long Acre, past the quiet house of Blake's old master
engraver Basire. . . he encountered the advancing wave of triumphant
Blakguardism, and was forced (for from such a great surging mob 
there is no disentanglement) to go along in the very front rank, and
witness the storm and burning of the fortress-like prison . . ."
The reference to blackguardism indicates, of course, Gilchrist's
political feelings, not Blake's, but the usual notion is that the
images of destruction and violence (far from mental fight) were 
deeply disturbing to Blake.  Mona Wilson, if I remember rightly
links his early images of plague, war, starvation, and death to
those experiences, though I do not know if the chronology would 
support that view. (I may not remember her account as accurately as
would be desirable.)
For a fascinating account of the Gordon Riots, I recommend 
Christopher Hibbert's _King Mob_ (Longmans 1958)--but he does
not mention Blake, in fact.  There are also references to the Gordon
Riots in George Rude's _Wilkes and Liberty_ (Oxford 1962).

On another small matter, I find the shift from Cromwell and "fascism"
to Ralph Dumain one of the most unaccountable and quirky mental leaps
of recent vintage--is it a fool's gambit, perchance?
Tom Dillingham


Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 19:45:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Blake and history
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As an historian (in training) on the list I feel obligated to correct Hugh 
Walthall's description of Charles I of England.  This monarch was neither 
"corrupt" in the sense that I think he means it, nor "idiotic".  I don't think 
that an history lesson on the causes of the English CIVIL WAR, (the English 
Revolution was actually in 1688, with the arrival of William of Orange on 
English soil) is necessary for a complete understanding of Blake's poetry but it 
would be in the best interest of everyone concerned if historical comments were 
at least a little accurate.  Tudor and Stuart history is my area of focus, and 
so I cannot help but cringe when literary scholars make unsubstantiated comments 
about history.  As to whether or not it is appropriate to place modern labels on 
historical events or figures...if it furthers the understanding of the 
event/figure in question, it is acceptable, but any such lable must be qualified 
by a statement which reinforces the fact that a lable is being taken from the 
modern english language lexicon and placed onto an event/figure in the past.  
The use of language is no less important in history than it is in, say, poetry.

Yours Aye,



Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 19:08:40 -0600
Subject: apologies
Message-Id: <>

My apologies to both Susan and the list--I made the elementary mistake
of hitting "r" when I should have re-addressed my response so as to
send it off-list, directly to Susan.  Sorry to bore the membership
even more than usual.  Tom Dillingham


Date: Sun, 2 Mar 1997 21:11:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Remove from list
Message-Id: <>

Please remove me from your mailing list.

Thank you
Jack Nuthall


Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 08:45:55 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Raine? -Reply

Yes, I've read Raine's ~Blake and Traditio' and it does go into kabbalistic
as well as Gnostic influence, but not in any great textual depth re Blake'e
epic vision.  Few writers in this field really do so which is why I ventured
into writing  on the subject ... work not available  till published, though.


Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 09:55:44 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: Raine? -Reply

Kathleen is alive, but in her 80's and no longer takes kindly to having to
reply on Blake issues. I contacted her last year, and was told this by
herself  ... she's getting tired.  Pam van Schaik


Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 10:17:17 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: more on eternity -Reply

Jeffrey, I think the questions you raise are very interesting and do lead to
the depths of Blake. I think Blake sees all time as redeemable and  the
divine light as never extinguished , even in the darkest, most contracted
portions of Existence. (He calls Satan a Dunce for not realising this truth: 
theat `KAte can never be turned into Nan' and that the `soul of sweet
delight ` can `never be defiled').  He definitely sees that a `Limit' has been
set to the Fall by God's Mercy since the `Fall' also involves, ultimately, a
contraction within the godhead itself -- the creation of a kind of
down-sucking vortex within the  spiritual worlds  created continually in
the fires of Eternity.  
You ask, `What went wrong' in this timeless world?  The answer is that
the harmony within the godhead can be disturbed should any of the
Eternals who exist there in union with God cease to behold the divine
vision of love.  This they can do by entering too deeply into the recesses
of their own Selfhoods.  The Selfhood is necessary, to give identity to
each ` Minute PArticular' (each `Herb, Mountain, Tree,Cloud, Clod of
Clay..' as Blake says) within God's divine body.  The potential for the Fall
must exist, but, according to Blake, Helpers usually stand by to rescue
those falling into a SLeep of the soul.  However, it CAN happen that
rescue comes too late and the Eternal falling must then enter the `Abyss'
and learn from the fall into so dark, cruel and contracted a state of
being.But, the good god of Eternity, `the Eternal Humanity Divine' sets a
`Limit' to the Fall, and various helpers offer to enter the state of Time to
redeem man -  like Christ and Milton.  Moreover, Los continually tries to
restore warmth to the cold body of sleeping Albion which is laid on the
Rock of Ages.  Blake's vision is an attempt to prove that the true God is
indeed merciful, and he exonerates this God from creating a world in
which the Tiger always tries to devour the Lamb by putting the blame on
Urizen's exploration of his Selfhood.  However, the Fall is a Long
process - and isn't simply over at the moment of Urizen's separation from
his other Zoas.  That is the Big Wrench,,, the equivalent of the scientis'
Big Bang, but the anguish of the emanations as they flee in terror from
their male counterparts evokes a cosmic tragedy of partition and
breaking into fragments and atoms in which the divine humanity is lost of
all things.  To recover this humanity, even within time, is , it would seem,
what Blake is teaching us ... how to `see a world in a grain of sand' `
and `hold eternity in the palm of the hand'.  Hope you, Tom Dillingham,
approve of this longer posting (instead of the dribs and drabs you
complained of, which you said subjected you ad infinitum to the twaddle
that prefaces my postings re time, place, route etc.  I hope you are not all
still getting double postings plus twaddle.  My computer will be ugraded
this week and I hope to ask for the third time what can be done to avoid
all this. I have been silent to spare you all, but Jeffrey's question was too
provokingly close to my own interests. Pam van Schaik. 


Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 11:16:26 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Blake & Jews -Reply

Blake also taught himself to read Hebrew and believed in forgiveness of
sin rather than accusation of others ... but also would have hated
anything in any religion which imposed `mental chains' on the human
mind and energies and there is much of this in all dogmatised religion.


Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 12:48:34 +0000
From: (Tim Linnell)
Subject: Feeding Mozart
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>Who was it who said, no one would let Mozart starve, if they only knew 
>who Mozart was?

Actually, the answer to this riddle is quite simple. If everyone helps out
someone who is struggling but whose work they like, then eventually someone
will end up feeding Mozart. Try it: the worst that can happen is that you
end up with stuff you like by an unknown artist...


End of blake-d Digest V1997 Issue #28