Blake List — Volume 1998 : Issue 67

Today's Topics:
	 Re: WHich Blake is religious?
	 Re: Belligerent Blakeans -Reply -Reply
	 Re: Blake's outbursts
	 RE: Blake's outbursts
	 Re: Belligerent Blakeans -Reply
	 Re: introduction
	 Re: Blake sighting in the rading party...
	 [Fwd: Re: Blake sighting]
	 Re: Because it isnt Tertullus -Reply
	 Re: Blake sighting in the rading party... -Reply
	 What Blake does each of us see at the PArty?
	 Re: Belligerent Blakeans -Reply
	 Re: What Blake does each of us see at the PArty?


Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 12:57:04 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: WHich Blake is religious?

>>> Robert Anderson  15/September/1998
10:51pm >>>
Which Blake would be counted among "religious people"?  The Blake
who had
Oothoon exclaim:

The moment of desire! the moment of desire! The virgin
That pines for man; shall awaken her womb to enormous joys
In the secret shadows of her chamber; the youth shut up from 
The lustful joy shall forget to generate. & and create an amorous image
In the shadows of his curtains and in the folds of his silent pillow.
Are not these the places of religion?  the rewards of continence?
The self-enjoyings of self-denial?  Why dost thou seek religion?


Blake attacks the moral proscriptions of the Church and of all those who
consider themselves religious yet seek to impose narrow ideologies on
others and on the natural means of expressing love in sexual bodies.The
archetypal figure whom he continually berates for imposing false visions
of good and evil is Urizen -- who represents  self-righteous Accusers of
others in every age. ...those who watch out continually for the mote in
the eye of those they damn and condemn, while viewing themsleves as
the moral watchdogs of society.  

Although there is marked passion in the passage you quote, directed
against those who impose false visions of good and evil on others, there
is compassion for the all the young lovers of this world who have been
deprived of consummating their love freely and who have been made to
think their passion for one another  is sinful.  Here, Blake clearly departs
from orthodox religious dogma such as is represented by Anglican,
MEthodist,  Catholic  and particualrly Dutch Reform Churches. 

Blake always , however, also believes that we have  fallen from eternal
flux in the spiritual world of Eternity where all beings continually engage
in the full ardours of love, transcending the small loves of gratified,
contracted senses such as they are afflicted with on earth.  
 SO , I don't find a question phrased in terms of which Blake is religious 
... this , or that.... meaningful.  His whole outlook on life, death, and life's
meaning is informed by his visions which embrace, heaven, earth and
hell, and which ncorporate his own responses to the  mystical traditions
of both the West and the East. He was totally eclectic in trying to provide
a synthesis coherent to all nations and peoples, but rejected vigorously
and passionately all that did not fit into his holistic  , Christocentric vision.




Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 13:19:17 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: Belligerent Blakeans -Reply -Reply

>>> Tim Linnell  15/September/1998
11:23pm >>>

Tim, of course Blake's poetry is better than mine. My object in putting it up
online was to point out, in poetry, ( since some wondered whether
debate could actually be  be done in poetic, rather than prose form)  that
not only YOU looked at the stars at night and responded to the beauty of
nature.  I  , in good faith,  responded, though I did anticipate your negative
responses by poiinting out that the poetry was not intended to impress
since it is avowedly unintellectual.... no more than a spontaneous 
moment's expression.   
Please note that I DO NOT see Blake as a `a benign smiling
dali-lamaesque mystic'  ... this is to put words in my mouth which , again,
come from your false  perception of my view of Blake.
This, reflects some self-deception' on your part, I should say.
Nor is my mood usually `irascible' but tends to get  mildly toxic in
response to  verbal poison infecting my veins from the snidely dropped
insults so currently fashionable in this forum.  Perhaps they are meant to
be funny ...or maybe to arouse others to verbal gang rape in public.
Whatever the case, I cannot respect the words, however impressive,  
of someone who is consistently rude to others and as I know the
response is likely to be ", no!"  should I attempt to engage
cordially with Ralph, I don't  venture to do so. 


Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:20:24 -0500
From: "J. Michael" 
Subject: Re: Blake's outbursts
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>Sometimes I feel like the host of an out-of-control party. There are guests
>in every room of the house. Some are talking to themselves in a corner;
>are ready to come to blows. Some people are reciting hymns and lighting
>candles while others rant about the revolution. People are fighting over
>music to play, over the volume, and over whether music should played at all.
>The younger set just wants help with homework assignments. There are boozers
>complaining about the empty beer fridge even though the corner liquor
>store is
>open. The vomitorium overfloweth. A significant number of folks want to
>but they can't find the door. The party has gone on for years though its
>tenuous purpose long ago expired.

Seth, this is the most entertaining and imaginative thing I've read on this
list in some time.  Thank you for being such a patient, generous, and
forebearing host.--not to mention witty!

Jennifer Michael
"The end is where we start from." --Eliot, "Little Gidding"


Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 13:41:51 -0600 (MDT)
From: (Bruce Bigley)
Subject: RE: Blake's outbursts
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Thank you Paul for posing a really interesting and problematic question.  I
struggle every time I teach Blake with what seems to be overt sexism despite
what I see as a very enlightened position in VDA.  This is prompted of
course by problems arising from teaching Blake to some very astute young
women.  I will be thinking about that as we tackle Jerusalem this time (we
usually get to do Chapters 1 and 4 at least, by the end of the Semester, but
that depends on the class's ability to assimilate Blake.

>Hi folks,
>I've been on this list for 4-5 years now, and I've always hated it when the 
>list stops being about Blake and becomes a list about itself.  When I first
>joined the list, I was outraged by a review Ralph was posting about of a book
>by David Punter.  Nevertheless, I stuck around, and much to my surprise I've 
>come to value Ralph as one of the most rigorous thinkers on the list, despite
>his occasional lapses into name-calling.  Of course, I have also made my
>share of snide remarks and gaffs.  Part of being on the list for so long is
>I can often tell whose posts I want to read and whose I don't.  I simply delete
>Randall Albright without opening them.  I do check on what Pam has to say, but
>she and I are definitely on different wave-lengths.
>I guess I am writing in response to Seth's remark that the party has outlived
>its purpose.  I have to disagree, even if it is Seth's house we seem to have
>taken over.  Seth, I genuinely appreciate this forum, however chaotic it may
>be at times.  Hell, *because* of how chaotic it may be at times.  I am often
>frustrated at the level of discourse on the list -- not the name calling -- I
>kind of enjoy that -- but the refusal of so many list members to engage Blake's
>more ambitious work in any degree of particularity.  I refuse to do undergrad
>homework for the "younger set," and I simply am not interested in New Age
>readings of Blake.  What I want to know, for example, is what is this problem
>that Los seems to have with women?  In Chapter 1 of *Jerusalem* he sends his
>Spectre to confront the Daughters of Albion because he himself is afraid that
>he will be consumed by their beauty.  Given his fear, what do we make of his
>being captive in the camp of those daughters in Chapter 4?  Part of the reason
>I hesitate to even raise questions like this is that as often as not, Randall
>or someone like him, uses it as opportunity to say that the big *J* doesn't
>matter because Blake's later work is not as good as the *Marriage*, and then
>somebody says, "oh, yeah?" and then somebody else says, "your mama."  And then
>the list becomes a list about itself. Again.  Yuck.
>Part of the problem, and this we learn from *Jerusalem*, is that the devil can
>quote scripture (figuratively and literally), too.  What makes Blake so 
>fascinating is not that he hates intolerance, but that he recognizes that his
>intolerance of intolerance is the mirror image of the system he despises.
>The devil may quote scripture, but -- and this we learn from the *Marriage* --
>angels can also curse.
>The hardest part in all this is not to rise to the bait, to get on with your
>own work.  People get on this list -- and stay on -- because we like to talk
>about Blake, and it is hard to find people in "real life" with whom to discuss
>the man and his work.  If you have a real question, as I recently did about
>a Blake picture, our list members are very willing to help.  That purpose will
>outlive us all.  But we do -- often -- impose on each other.  Blake says we 
>should forgive those impositions, but he does *not* say that we should, or even
>can, stop imposing on each other.  You talk.  Somebody talks back.
>Thanks, Seth.
>Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
>Paul Yoder


Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 13:52:19 -0600 (MDT)
From: (Bruce Bigley)
Message-Id: <>
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In my experience of Blake (I haven't checked this in the Concordance),
Religion/religious always has a negative connotation (except in the sense
that it becomes a limit to the Fall, like Satan and Adam).  It is probably
the negation of his own version of Christianity, best expressed, to my mind,
in the final plates of Jerusalem.   The point which bothers Ralph seems to
me to be exemplified in The Chimnew Sweeper from SoI and our reading of Tom
Dacre's dream.  It is of course comforting to him and perhaps to the
speaker, who are (however briefly) happy and warm as a result of the dream.
But that should not prevent us a readers from feeling genuine outrage at the
system that has left these children in such a plight.  We must wonder just
whose duty has not been done to allow such a situation to continue.  

>Which Blake would be counted among "religious people"?  The Blake who had
>Oothoon exclaim:
>The moment of desire! the moment of desire! The virgin
>That pines for man; shall awaken her womb to enormous joys
>In the secret shadows of her chamber; the youth shut up from 
>The lustful joy shall forget to generate. & and create an amorous image
>In the shadows of his curtains and in the folds of his silent pillow.
>Are not these the places of religion?  the rewards of continence?
>The self-enjoyings of self-denial?  Why dost thou seek religion?
>At 01:00 PM 9/15/1998 +0200, you wrote:
>>Re : "he's in a better place now".
>>Blake may have retorted:
>>All is not Sin that Satan calls so: all the Loves & Graces of Eternity.
>>Ralph says:"Aside from my dislike of religious people, the real issue is
>>religion in its social context.  It's not just an abstraction. "
>>You would have to include Blake among these,  so why do you choose
>>this particular forum for venting your anger at those who love Blake for
>>his spiritual wisdom?
>>If the mother believes, as Blake does, that the True Self is eternal, how
>>can you be so discomfited by her that you regard her  as a  ` person so
>>estranged from her own being'  that she makes you feel sick?
>>Blake set out to write poetry to uplift the soul:
>>  Spiritual War:  ... is Art deliver'd from Nature and Imitation. (Laocoon)
>>He also wrote a very moving letter to someone who had lost her son.
>>There are very opposed views of  what  Blake 's vision of time and
>>eternity are online. Now, I know that I, and many other readers of Blake 
>>am not blocking my mind to  Blake's vision of the Eternal Man, so  those
>>who do so seem best to fit Ralph's description:. when he says:
>>" The overt conversation one attempts to have is not a real
>>conversation.  The reason that communication is blocked is that the mind
>>has numbed itself, retreating from the overwhelming reality that faces it
>>but that it cannot face.  The mind regresses into a rigid, primitive state,
>>taking refuge in positions it cannot reasonably hold, in the face of its own
>>experience even.  You can't say anything that will get through under
>>those circumstances." 
>>At the end of The Book of Urizen,  Blake describes all the fallen children
>>of Albion in very similar terms when, under Urizen's scaly eyes, they all
>>forget their former divine existence
>>He also  laments lost Innocence in The Book of Los:
>>    O Times remote!
>>    When love & joy were adoration,
>>    And none impure were deem'd. ( Plate 3)
>>Instead of perpetually accusing others of being impure, Ralph, in your
>>own words "this is the real conversation we should all be having; it
>>takes precedence over all other malfunctioning conversations.  This is
>>_the_ topic of discussion. It's not just a matter of constipated
>>midwesterners; it's a universal problem.  Where is that conversation that
>>is not taking place but in the final analysis is really all there is to
>>I am tired of being called names for trying to fill in the gaps that Mr Ralph
>>and Mr Tom  leave out of Blake.  Wouldn't  Walt Whitman be more  the
>>type of poet to discuss if you believe that Blake is interested only in this
>>world?  Or Wordsworth? Or, if you insist on your Blake, then do start an
>>edition of him, as I suggested earlier, online, in which all can see what
>>you most admire in the poet.... just excise all the spiritual  bits that you
>>don't like.  


Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 22:21:47 EDT
Subject: Re: Belligerent Blakeans -Reply
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I have been following this rather petty squabbling among "Blakeans" with some
amusement. As I'm sure you know, Tim?, the passages you quote by Blake to
bolster your arguments on name-calling were in his private notebook, not for
public consumption. Probably, as much as anything, because Blake didn't think
they were good enough. 

All of this seems pretty far off the mark from any serious discussion of


Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 07:40:53 +0100
From: (Tim Linnell)
Subject: Re: introduction
Message-Id: <>
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>At the moment, I am beginning to look at the hand that Blake used to
>write *Innocence,* and I would be interested to know anything about what
>Blake would have known about formal hands & typefaces.  I have recently
>been in contact with Joe Viscomi, who suggested in his book that Blake
>switched from roman to italic because of technical difficulties with
>letter spacing & etching.  My proposal, then, is that Blake's *initial*
>conception for the process he invented was to make his printed MSS
>appear more booklike.  So to that end, I need all the information on
>what Blake knew, read, &c., that I can muster.

One very important point about Blake's use of text was that he wrote
enormously long books in reverse script using a soft brush and sticky
stopping medium - an astonishing difficult task for anyone, but Blake also
worked relatively quickly. Clearly under such circumstances he would have
chosen the style that was most comfortable to him, and this may be the
reason for using the more flowing italic style. Of course this also suits
the nature of the work itself, which is itself fluid and unconventional in
the extreme, and its unique aesthetic.

My own view on the 'Songs' in particular is that Blake produced them with a
view to making his fortune with them - there is a quote on his 'invention'
of relief etching where he pretty much states this explicitly - and so would
have probably have been happier to work somewhat within contemporary
conventions than he later became. Also relevant perhaps is his glee on the
return from Felpham when he discovered letterpress books were not as
expensive to publish as he had thought - it may well be he aspired to
produce these originally but thought he had not the means (fortunately for
us, as it turned out). It is often forgotten that Blake was first and
foremost an artisan and tradesman, and the mechanical aspects of the
production of his works are just as impressive as their content.

In partial answer to a question on the PRINTS-L list, I found last night a
copy of a letter from John Linnell to an employer written in 1816, in which
he excuses the lateness of one of his plates by citing the delay caused by
the 'letter engraver'. I assume this is evidence that it was general
practice at the time to give this work to specialists (this refers to the
legends on the plates rather than the letterpress).

All the best, and welcome to the Blake list,


PS: I recall having seen a discussion of Blake's calligraphy in one of the
standard works on him, probably Mona Wilson's life of Blake. I take it you
have seen it?


Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 08:23:33 +0100
From: (Tim Linnell)
Subject: Re: Blake sighting in the rading party...
Message-Id: <>
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>There is a Blake print on the back of the album, but since I'm not as
>familiar with Blake's pictorial art, I do not recognize it. It appears
>to be Satan(?)--he's an angel with bat-like wings--pouring something
>(water?, beer?) on top of an old, grizzled, half-naked man laying prone
>on the ground. I suppose it's probably from Milton.

Sounds like Satan smiting Job with sore boils from the Butts watercolour
set. Quite a good choice given the acne afflicted state of much of the heavy
metal audience.


PS: Izak - apologies for the 'H[ayley]' quote misattribution. I put this
down to being a Sussex man (at least by adoption), and hence rather weak in
the brainbox department.


Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 23:41:08 -0800
From: ndeeter 
Subject: [Fwd: Re: Blake sighting]
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Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 23:40:37 -0800
From: ndeeter 
X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.0C (Win95; I)
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To: Tim Linnell 
Subject: Re: Blake sighting
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Tim Linnell wrote:
> Sounds like Satan smiting Job with sore boils from the Butts watercolour
> set. Quite a good choice given the acne afflicted state of much of the heavy
> metal audience.

Thanks, Tim.

Welcome Thora and Hassanah! Glad to hear some new voices haven't been
chased away by some of the louder voices. Thora, I'm not familiar with
print-making technology, either today or in Blake's day, but I'd like to
hear more about your ideas. What kinds of information are you looking
for? What kinds of differences do you see between Blake's method of
publication and, say, a more professional method, like how a Bible might
have been made?

Nathan Deeter


Date: Thu, 17 Sep 98 10:19:02 +0100 ( + )
From: Paul Tarry 
To: Blake Group 
Subject: Re: Because it isnt Tertullus -Reply
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I don't know Tertullus at all, but maybe I should could would benefit 
from a closer aquaintance ? Perhaps the original questionner (sorry 
I've forgotten who) might say something about Tertullus, as I say its 
the first time I've ever heard the name. 


Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 12:21:04 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: Blake sighting in the rading party... -Reply

I think the design you refer to is Satan afflicting Job with Boils ... but
could also aptly illustrate how Urizen's mental visions of good and evil,
being false, afflict sleeping Albion.


Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 12:52:12 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: What Blake does each of us see at the PArty?

Seth, Thanks for the party, but I would like to say that I hope you don't
identify me with the candleburning worshipper at the Blake party. The
only time I light candles is at Christmas, dinner parties, or with a really
nice person, or just for fun once in a while , the better to listen to Brahms
and Rachmaninov.  
Moreover, I'd like to dispel any notion others may have that my
perception of Blake is new-agey, dalai-lamaish and otherwise weird.
I  see Blake as feisty, and   vigorous intellectually , imaginatively,
spiritually  and emotionally. I love him for his sincerity of feeling and
purpose and for his enthusiasm and unremitting efforts to do something
for suffering  humanity and to release the image of Jesus from dogma.
(I myself do not go to Church, nor meditate formally, nor worship any
guru, nor place faith in any mental box, so also love Blake for his
evocation of mental freedom from the restraints which others impose on
one.  For this reason, I also find the mental images which others impose
on the artist I love , and on myself, irritatingly confining.)  I see Blake as
being like Los in incessantly devoting his talents and labour to preserving
a divine vision of love, in which every particle of the universe is seen to
partake of holiness and of god's humanity. This, of course, does not
prevent Blake from resisting fiercely those whose vision of god and of
man's eternal nature differs from his. Nor from insisting on acting nobly
(that is, leaving behind the selfish aspects of  pride, greed,  and lusts of
the ego-self). His vision of Satan comprises all that hinders and 
diminishes the splendour of the soul. Those who trivialise, demonise and
misrepresent  others , even if they do so because they lack respect
ultimately for themselves, would certainly be seen as Satan's cohorts by
Blake as he knows the misery which putting others in enemy camp leads
to in every age.  HE would see this as the cause of all religious wars and
earthly strife.  So,   I honour Blake, too, for so well understanding the
spiritual causes behind the horrors of history, lilttered with tyrants. He
also, long before the age of psychologists, understood the need to
accommodate the shadow self within a pschye in which both masculine
and feminine elements are in balance ... and in dramatising this, was also
able to make use of imagery derived from both eastern and western 
mystical traditions. Add to this, his superb craftsmanship and mastery of
conciseness in the Songs   and his deep understanding of the roots of all
human suffering, and you have a man worth cherishing and honouring
and this is why I bother to contribute to your party, for which many


Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 12:22:07 +0100
From: (Tim Linnell)
Subject: Re: Belligerent Blakeans -Reply
Message-Id: <>
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>I have been following this rather petty squabbling among "Blakeans" with some
>amusement. As I'm sure you know, Tim?, the passages you quote by Blake to
>bolster your arguments on name-calling were in his private notebook, not for
>public consumption. Probably, as much as anything, because Blake didn't think
>they were good enough. 

More likely because they were ways of venting his (considerable and usually
justified) frustrations without a physical confrontation (these days, we use
the internet, which provides a nice safe haven from which we can insult the
world and his wife without worrying too much about the consequences).

However there are plenty of accounts of his sometimes irrascible nature in
public (for example his arguing a position out of a simple spirit of
contrariness, which I think was described by either Crabb Robinson or
Linnell, I can't recall which), his ability to nurture a grudge (for example
his lifelong animosity towards Reynolds on the basis of a perceived
criticism when he was in the RA schools), or his sheer unabashed temper (his
overreaction to Scofield's trespass in his garden). On the other hand there
are just as many examples of his sensitivity, compassion and generous
nature, which are equally important aspects of his character. 

By the way, I don't argue in favour of name calling, nor do I indulge in it,
because it is the least effective form of argument - I hope this was clear
from my follow up post in which I described it as embarrassing. My point was
that wholly mutually supportive environments tend to propagate error and
falsehood, because assertions are rarely if ever challenged, and I would
argue very strongly that this was Blake's view too: 'Without contraries
there is no progression'.

Has the beer arrived yet, Seth?



Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 14:27:39 +0100
From: (Tim Linnell)
Subject: Re: What Blake does each of us see at the PArty?
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"


I've read very carefully through your last few posts in order to determine
the point at issue, which isn't at all clear to me. 

Curiously, from your description about the Blake you see at the party, it is
clear you and I see precisely the same Blake, which is quite encouraging.

I think perhaps we have bashed each other to a point in which we are so
eager to disagree that we are no longer arguing content, but on the basis of
what we think the other's position is. I'm certainly guilty of this in
misinterpreting what you say regarding Blake's outbursts, for which I
apologize. I had read them as denying Blake's passion (and thereby his
humanity) by suggesting that his remarks were in some respects considered
'teachings'. I realise in re-reading your text that this is not what you
were saying at all.

The crux of the disagreement is the semantics of the word vicious. Both of
us agree that there were outbursts, and both of us agree that these were
aimed at those who had thwarted Blake's vision in some way. I do stand by my
arguments about Blake's capacity for simple and impulsive petulance, but
'vicious' is perhaps too strong a term - I do not believe in any sense that
he was an unpleasant man. Nonetheless, much of it is quite nasty and unfair,
when it is not simply childish (the 'Little Bacon'). As is, of course, the
name calling employed by Ralph and Tom - when arguing strongly for things we
believe, tempers get frayed, and the result is often unreasoned remarks.
E-mail is particularly effective at fermenting seething anger from often
quite small disagreements.

I also stand by my other comments on the positive value of conflict (whose
acid burns away apparent surfaces leaving the truth that was hid, to coin a
phrase), and of the dangers of denying any part of Blake's character,
whether or not we like it, or by placing him too much to one side or other
of the divide between the spiritual and the rational, or by approaching him
with too much reverence. I don't believe I am or have been guilty of so
doing, although I am always willing to be told otherwise. But I do withdraw
the similar charge against you, which from what you say in the post on the
Blake you see is wholly unjustified.

However you are equally wide of the mark yourself in your own assumptions
about me. I am not trying to pull Blake's vision down into the mire of
objective reality in order to deny his spirituality, as you seem to assume,
far from it. My goal is simply to determine the truth about Blake, his
character, and his visions, whatever it is, because it is closely linked to
my own family history and tells me much about the character of one of my
ancestors. This analysis necessarily takes place by considering the
historical record primarily, with Blake's work being secondary evidence. I
imagine you approach things in the opposite direction (which is after all
more normal for people studying literature!). I start from objective
reality, you start from the visionary writings. It isn't surprising we have
difficulty crossing into each other's realm.

Where we should agree to differ, because otherwise the argument will never
end, is in our different views on the truth behind Blake's spiritual work. I
believe he was wrong in what he believed, and that his visions are more
plausibly explained in terms of brain chemistry than in the existence of the
divine. Which does not diminish by one iota my admiration for the man or his


End of blake-d Digest V1998 Issue #67