Blake List — Volume 1998 : Issue 21 Today's Topics: Re: Last Judgment Judgments: first, last & material The Brotherhood of Eden Re: _MT_ shadows and fading Re: _MT_ shadows and fading Re: "Nature's Dross" -Reply -Reply Re: "Nature's Dross" -Reply -Reply-Reply Re: _MT_ error and truth "the Outward Creation" Nature, dross and history, etc. Re: "Nature's Dross" -Reply -Reply Re: "Nature's Dross" -Reply -Reply Judgments: first, last & material -Reply Re: "the Outward Creation," Dross, etc. "the Outward Creation" -Reply Re: "the Outward Creation," Dross, etc. -Reply ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 03:31:38 EST From: Andrewkauf To: Subject: Re: Last Judgment Message-Id: <> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit > Izak Bouwer wrote >"The 'Mental Travellers' not about a cycle in time" >"The pictorial equivalent of "MT" is Blake's (circular design) for his > *Vision of the Last Judgment*" [the painting]. It would be tough to find two works by Blake that are more dissimilar. The contortions undertaken to make "The Mental Traveller" fit the thesis that it does not depict a recurring cycle, and that the rape of the female is an emblem of the Apocalypse, are indeed remarkable. Andy ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 12:11:45 -0500 (EST) From: (Watt James) To: Subject: Judgments: first, last & material Message-Id: Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII Pam, Gloudina, Izak & Paul --I am away from my texts now, so this response comes strictly from Los: one of the consequences of single vision --from which God us keep-- is an either/or quality which REDUCES experience to the parameters of logical discourse. This, in turn, leads to a dualistic dilemma, with regard to what we call "the physical universe" and our EXPERIENCE of it: either we assert the primacy of matter and coincidence or chance (materialistic science) or we assert the primacy of a perfected union of the spirit --something from which all, so called "accidentals" are purged --this is something like the vision of the mystics. But our Blake, God Bless him! is no man to be tricked into false choices, particularly those which imply hierarchical states and the power games they lead to. Why should we have to CHOOSE between what we learn from Tharmas and what we learn from Luvah, between what holds for Urizen and what holds for Urthona? If there are FOUR mighty ones in every man, then every man is, also, in four mighty ones --more importantly, each intersection, each individual, is necessary for the construction (it is a made thing, not an inheritance) of Jerusalem. The, much neglected, second part of those lines from the opening of the Four Zoas is that (and please correct my quotation, this is from memory): 'THERE IS NO PERFECT UNITY. EXCEPT FROM THE UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD OF EDEN.' it is this --the brotherhood-- towards which we go, at the end of MILTON, when the harvest is seen: here. on the earth (in Blake's case, in Surrey). and we are called there, to work, not to rest. now. thanks fellow builders! Jim Watt Indianapolis, IN. USA --where, outside, the breezes of spring are blowing and calling me to my bicycle and my wife and a picnic basket! ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 16:51:18 From: Izak Bouwer To: Subject: The Brotherhood of Eden Message-Id: <> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Ah, Jim Watt, there you go into the springtime with your bicycle and your wife and your picnicbasket. & the Four surrounded him in the Column of Fire in Felpham's Vale; then to their mouths the Four Applied their Four Trumpets & them sounded to the Four winds. Terror struck in the Vale I stood at that immortal sound. My bones trembled, I fell outstretch'd upon the path A moment, & my Soul return'd into its mortal state To Resurrection & Judgment in the Vegetable Body, And my sweet Shadow of Delight stood trembling by my side. Immediately the Lark mounted.... Gloudina and Izak ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 23:14:44 From: Izak Bouwer To: Subject: Re: _MT_ shadows and fading Message-Id: <> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable On Fri, 27 Mar 1998 03:31:38 EST Andrewkauf wrote: >It would be tough to find two works by Blake that are more dissimilar [_MT_ and _VLJ_]. >The contortions undertaken to make "The Mental Traveller" fit the=20 >thesis that it does not depict a recurring cycle, and that the rape=20 >of the female is an emblem of the Apocalypse, are indeed remarkable. The basic idea is very simple: The States depicted in the _MT_ form=20 a circle. It seems to me that the efforts to read it as an Orc cycle=20 or some other kind of cycle in time are indeed more remarkable in=20 their contortions. Even a scholar of the stature of Frye, who=20 introduced the idea of the Orc cycle in the late 1940=92s, made=20 two serious errors: The one was to let Orc change into Urizen=20 (thus not respecting the integrity of the Zoas), and the other=20 was to interpret the Female Babe as =93imaginative achievements=94=20 (a reading taken up by a number of scholars). He himself expressed=20 dissatisfaction with this interpretation (_Fearful Symmetry_=20 p.444 n.7), and later identified the female figure in the poem=20 with =91the natural environment.=92 Frye was on the right track when=20 he started off with the interpretation of Orc (as revolution=20 against the laws of Urizen), and even said that Orc =91foreshadows=20 the apocalypse=92 (_Fearful Symmetry_ p.206).=20 The Apocalypse is the spiritual awakening of Man that occurs when Spirit/Truth in him overcomes Nature/Error in him. When the former is personified as a Male and the latter as a Female, this overcoming is aptly expressed by a sexual overpowering or =93rape=94 if you will. There is nothing particularly remarkable about this.=20 In fact, Blake himself used it in _America_ and _FZ_7(b) in the=20 image of the 14 year old Orc rending up his (mind-forged) manacles=20 and overpowering the =91shadowy Female=92 or =91Dark virgin=92: =93The hairy shoulders rend the links, free are the wrists of fire;/ Round the terrific loins he seiz=92d the panting struggling womb;/ It joy=92d: she put aside her clouds & smiled her first-born smile;=94 Here =91red Orc,=92 the Spiritual drive in Man at this stage, overcomes the =91shadowy Female.=92 This is the Apocalypse, effected by divine=20 =91Wrath.=92 The =91Dark virgin=92 is Vala and what is rent is her =91Ve= il.=92 This obviously corresponds to the event mentioned in the sentence:=20 =93The Lamb of God has rent the Veil of Mystery.=94 (_FZ_9) The=20 Bridegroom having taken his Bride, the Natural subsequently=20 becomes his =91Garden fruitful seventy fold.=92=20 Although =93shadowy Female=94 is not used in the poem, one feels her presence since she is so closely associated with Orc in the=20 Blake canon. It is interesting to me that there are two other=20 =91fadings=92 in the poem. In the quarter cycle following the Apocalypse there is =91An aged Shadow, soon he fades.=94=20 [In _FZ_8 we have a parallel statement: =93=91When the man gently=20 fades away in his immortality,/ =91. . . so shall the Mortal gently=20 fade away/ =91And so become invisible to those who still remain.=94] =20 And in the third quarter, at the Fall: =91The Cottage fades before=20 his sight,/ The Garden & its lovely Charms.=92 Here the Spirit,=20 seduced by the attractions of the Natural, is forced into an=20 inferior position.=20 Izak ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 28 Mar 1998 01:46:31 EST From: Andrewkauf To: Subject: Re: _MT_ shadows and fading Message-Id: Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit However one contorts, strains, wriggles, grasps, persists, or struggles, the rape of the female ("he binds her down for his delight") in "The Mental Traveller" is hardly a symbol or embodiment of the Apocalypse or Last Judgment. If anything, it is a hellish parody thereof. For all of the different types of sublimity in Blake, "The most sublime act is to set another before you" (MHH). For most people, this does not include rape. There is no violence, only "mental strife," if that, in the apocalyptic endings of *Milton* and *Jerusalem.* There is no actual apocalypse (though there is much intoxication and fervor) in the violent endings ("the strife of blood") of the Lambeth prophecies. It is hard to think of any poem in English that is more forthrightly, hauntingly, and appropriately circular--ending taking us right back to the beginning--than "The Mental Traveller." Andy ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 28 Mar 98 19:33:32 -0800 From: Seth T. Ross To: Subject: Re: "Nature's Dross" -Reply -Reply Message-Id: <> Content-Type: text/plain Begin forwarded message: Date: Fri, 27 Mar 98 14:48:22 -0800 Subject: Re: "Nature's Dross" -Reply -Reply From: Tom Devine To: Pam- I don't know what "nature" is; but I note that in the apocalypse on plate 99 of _Jerusalem_, all creatures -- every part of "nature" -- even tree, metal, earth, stone -- participate in the transformation that Albion's act initiates. But it is a mental transformation, I would say -- what else could it be? Unlike the fundamentalist Christians who look forward to a historical last judgment, I think Blake was thoroughly unconcerned with the fate of the "material" world. Basically, the material world -- the world whose ecology is currently suffering the effects of ozone layer depletion, the world that could be blown up by an atomic holocaust -- is where we live, and certainly it exists, as surely as we do. But its eventual fate (except in so far as it concerns my physical health, our children and grandchildren, etc.) is of no more concern to me --spiritually -- than the fate of my body after I die. What IS of concern to me is how I act, how I perceive whatever world I live in, etc. I object to speaking about "nature as dross" being burned up, in that it seems to imply an objective, historical Last Judgment, a final moment for _everyone at once_. That is not what I think Blake is talking about, or concerned with. What I'm trying to say is not so much that "nature is nothing but a mental illusion," as that: - We cannot know WHAT "nature" is, and it does not matter (in a spiritual sense -- it matters technologically, of course, and practically on many levels, but Blake is not writing about that aspect of things). - "Nature," for any particular person, is what you perceive when you view any particular natural object. And your perception depends on your mental/spiritual state ("To the eyes of a man of imagination, Nature is all imagination"; "When the sun rises in the morning, do you not see a round disk of gold, somewhat like a guinea? Oh no, no, I see a multitude of the heavenly host singing 'Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty'..."). Thus, the "nature" that is burnt up at a last judgment is not the material substrate, but a person's limited perception of it. Before the apocalypse, the sun is a guinea; after, the heavenly host (or, as we are speaking of at least twofold vision here, probably "both/and," as you say). The material sun is the substrate beneath both perceptions, and it is unaffected by the apocalypse. The material substrate of this earth may or may not be burnt up at some point in time; but Blake is not concerned with that, so far as I can tell. Does this make sense? I can't tell if I'm just restating the obvious, or if this has some "substance" (so to speak). Please give me feedback. --Tom Devine >I find this discussion very challenging as surely what you say, TOm, >would imply that all of nature is nothing but a mental illusion, or a product >of false thinking? In one sense, I can see the logic of that, since it >fits in >with the idea of the veil of Maya, and Blake's image of all of history as >appearing as an embroidered motif on the hem of the garments of >Immortal Albion when time is over. > However, Albion first has to undergo Self-Annihilation by casting >himself into the `Furnaces of Affliction' (Plate 96 of JErusalem) and only >then does the transformation of the Furnaces into Living Waters occur, >after a process of `Fourfold Annihilation' of all that the `Druid Spectre' >represented (Plate 98). So, it would seem that the material world must >be burnt up in the moment of acquiring a new vision. Is this, then, not a >question of both/and rather than either/or? >Pam ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 29 Mar 1998 04:36:06 EST From: Andrewkauf To: Subject: Re: "Nature's Dross" -Reply -Reply-Reply Message-Id: <> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Tom Devine wrote >The "nature" that is burnt up at a last judgment is not the > material substrate, but a person's limited perception of it. True and well put. What, if any, difference is there between this and what Pam has said about "Nature's dross"? Are Tom and Pam coming to the same point through different formulations of it? ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 29 Mar 1998 12:54:08 From: Izak Bouwer To: Subject: Re: _MT_ error and truth Message-Id: <> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Andrew, when you object to Blake=92s description in _MT_ =20 of the Apocalypse as an overpowering (rape, if you will) =20 of Nature/Error by Spirit/Truth, I think you are confusing=20 the use of poetic metaphor with the natural act. In that case,=20 the =93Burning up=94 of Error (Matter) is Arson, and the=20 destruction of Error (personified) is Murder. In an earlier post (6 mar 98) you categorically stated=20 that =93The Mental Traveller is essentially the Orc cycle.=94 I think the time has come that you should describe, preferably in stanza by stanza sequence, how the=20 so-called =93Orc cycle=94 (a term coined by Northrop Frye)=20 is applicable to _MT_. I would be especially interested to know how you interpret the sexual encounter between=20 Orc and the Shadowy Female. I would also like to hear=20 how you describe the action in the second half of the poem, especially the presence of the male figure that grows from=20 old to young. Is this a case of Urizen regressing into Orc? In an earlier posting (7 mar 1998) you said: >=93The Little Babe=94 as she helps =93drive out the aged Host,=94=20 >is comparable to Enitharmon or one of the sadistic=20 >daughters of Albion from _Jerusalem_ It is quite a jump between Enitharmon (Emanation yet=20 Wife of Los) and the =91daughters of Albion.=92 Does Los=20 figure in your cycle, or do the Sons of Albion? The second half of _MT_ only makes sense if you place it directly within the context of Blake=92s canon (which I could do in a future post). For the moment =20 I would like to know how you interpret the second part=20 of the poem as part of the =93Orc cycle.=94 Izak ------------------------------ Date: Sun, 29 Mar 1998 12:51:12 +0000 From: Howard Hinkel To: Subject: "the Outward Creation" Message-Id: Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Hard for me to imagine an artist who thought more, wrote