Blake List — Volume 1998 : Issue 88

Today's Topics:
	 Re: Race -Reply/  Song of Los
	 Re: Black Boy
	 Luvah and Orc...
	 R: Any news? -Reply
	 Re: Black Boy
	 R: Poetry is ........
	 Re: Black Boy
	 Re: Countenance Divine -Reply
	 Blake on sickness
	 Re: Weird Poetry -Reply -Reply
	 Get in the ring!
	 Photo Mousepads...........Great Gift Idea!
	 R: Black Boy
	 Re: R: Poetry is ........
	 Re: Get in the ring!
	 Re: Weird Poetry -Reply -Reply
	 Re: R: Poetry is ........
	 "Black Boy" Thoughts


Date: Wed, 11 Nov 98 11:05:54 -0800
From: Seth T. Ross 
Subject: Re: Race -Reply/  Song of Los
Message-Id: <>
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Forwarding for Ralph ...

Begin forwarded message:

Date: Wed, 11 Nov 98 08:29:32 -0800
X-Mailer: Windows Eudora Pro Version 2.2 (16)
From: Ralph Dumain 
Subject: Re: Race -Reply/  Song of Los
X-Diagnostic: Not on the accept list

Jon James and Josh First have picked up on the "incriminating" implications
of some of Blake's formulations.  Perhaps if someone had written this sort
of stuff today he could be considered patronizing, like Steven Spielberg.
But I don't see Blake as racialist so much as limited in his knowledge of
other peoples.  He knows so little about Africans he can only portray them
as cosmic victims, yet he is always concerned about their plight, and the
African slave takes a leading role in the liberation of Jerusalem.  To his
credit, Blake plays with reversals of color symbolism to show that there is
more than one point of view on the meaning of color.  All in all, the black
boy is still Uncle Tom-ish, but we are reading the voice of the slave child,
and we have insufficient evidence to posit him as Blake's mouthpiece.  This
brings to a head the problem of irony in the Songs of Innocence.  Blake has
no intention of mocking the childlike points of view expressed in Innocence,
yet it is clear that they are one-sided and inadequate though
well-motivated, in this case and in the case of the chimney-sweep.

And now .....

At 09:48 AM 11/10/98 +0200, P Van Schaik wrote:
> He attributes the blackness
>of the Africans to the darkening and contracting that Urizen causes by
>rejecting Jerusalem and the divine vision of love ... in Eternity , in
>Innocence, there are no physical bodies, so racism couldn't exist ...

This is of course the danger of attributing deep meaning to physical
characteristics.  It's pernicious and objectionable.  To his credit, at
least Blake allows the reversal of color symbolism, and of course the
freedom of all human beings from black or white color. i.e. from the
garments of appearance.  Here we find an issue analogous to that discussed
in the case of alternative medicine.  The spiritual meaning of physical
states is dangerous terrain.  I wish someone would speak to the subject

>are Nations in which the people give expression to their desires in
>differing, imaginative ways, all of which are acceptable to GOd.

Except of course the slimy hook-nosed spindle-nosed pig-faced Jews, who
somehow managed to receive a unique product of the Poetic Genius but defaced it.

> Ironically, the
>black child's forgiving attitude is so striking that the poem imaginatively
>proves the `whiteness' of the black boy's soul  and is a moving critique
>of white society, which encourages  its children to scorn other races
>and believe in its own superiority.

Yes, Blake's audience, if he had one at all, was English, a white audience,
and his social protest was addressed to them in terms that they would
understand, sort of like Twain's HUCKLEBERRY FINN.  Because society has
progressed, we have the gall to accuse courageous and advanced people of
their days of being bigots while few of us today have 1/10th of their
courage in the face of analogous social ills.

The "forgiving" attitude is what makes the poem seem so unacceptably Uncle
Tom-ish today.  It's really sickening, but then so is Christianity.


Date: Wed, 11 Nov 98 11:14:18 -0800
From: Seth T. Ross 
Subject: Re: Black Boy
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Hugh (& others): It's best if subscribers didn't post HTML-encoded mail to  
the Blake List. It adds no value and makes it tough for those of us not using  
HTML mailers to read. I believe it's pretty easy to change settings on the fly  
in Outlook Express.

> And yes, the american pronunciation of Blake is close to a
> Cockney pronunciation of Black.

Interesting point.



Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 12:36:06 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)
Subject: Luvah and Orc...
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>The Southern WIld is Luvah, weirdest and most incomprehensible of the Zoas
>to me.

Well, Hugh...

Considering that some people believes he lies at the *heart* of the matter,
I don't quite understand why he is "weirdest" for you. I mean, I too have
an Oxford English Dictionary, but words can only go so far.

Orc had high hopes in "America" and "Europe", at least. Although I never
quite understood why Urizen would be an *enemy* of him, in those
cases.......... Until I heard the sad story about how, after Los chained
him, he got fed that Urizenic stuff and had a bad reaction to it all.

I personally find Tharmas the hardest Zoa to understand. I mean, yes-- he
was a dancer, he's... Father of Space and Time (Los and Enitharmon)-- and
maybe that's why we'll never know him well? Invisible, like "Christ"?
Perhaps part of the problem is that an anonymous friend of mine tells me
that he doesn't think Blake himself was a very good dancer.

        ---Randall Albright


Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 21:25:33 +0100
From: "DAX" 
Subject: R: Any news? -Reply
Message-Id: <01be0db1$6ebe72a0$09263ec3@massetti>
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Dear Pam,

I received your summary through a message with
the same title above. But I am sorry I do not know
what BIQ is, so I can't answer to your request.

All the best,


>Dear Patricia
>I hope the summary of the book I'm working on reached you this time.
>Please let me know if you find it suitable for BIQ.


Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 15:32:56 -0500
From: "agourlay" 
Subject: Re: Black Boy
Message-Id: <000801be0db2$78c579a0$170a14ac@RISD.RISD.EDU>
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->> And yes, the american pronunciation of Blake is close to a
>> Cockney pronunciation of Black.

It is also at least interesting that the OE and ME usages of "blake" and
"blak" mean both white/pale/shining and black.  See the OED on the
adjectival blake.


Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 21:45:29 +0100
From: "DAX" 
Subject: R: Poetry is ........
Message-Id: <01be0db4$3823d7a0$09263ec3@massetti>
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>--Nathan Deeter
>Some time back you wrote that poetry was practice. In that one phrase you
>sum up exactly what I try to teach my students every week in their literary
>analysis classes.

I am sorry, but I must express my thought.

Poetry is the work of a trained brain, grinding
the road under your feet.

Poetry is words, yes, but  scattered in a magical pattern
and practice  is not enough for it.

When Dante or Petrarch wrote, Italian was just  a  language with uncertain

Even in the bubbling of a child one can find poetry.

Sensitiveness is what is lacking.

All the best to you all



Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 22:41:14 GMT
From: (Tim Linnell)
Subject: Re: Black Boy
Message-Id: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

>It is also at least interesting that the OE and ME usages of "blake" and
>"blak" mean both white/pale/shining and black.  See the OED on the
>adjectival blake.

Is it worth pointing out that etymological coincidences are of absolutely no
value whatsoever in assessing any aspect of Blake's views on race? 

Probably not. I am reminded of the scene in the Life of Brian where
everything Brian said, however insignificant, was taken by his disciples as
the revealed word of God.

The truth of the matter is simple. Blake was an 18th Century poet, and
somewhat behind the times even for the period he lived in. Transposing a
late 20th Century concept such as racism to this era is utterly meaningless.
Philosophically, Blake, the perpetual outsider, sided with the oppressed
individual and believed in the concept of the universality of humanity. This
is where 'The little Black Boy' comes in - whatever the colour our clouds
might take, our souls are of the same hue, wherever you come from (Blake was
politically incorrect enough to choose white to designate the soul, and to
start from the premise that the black child envied the white child). However
his views on Jews clearly demonstrate that he was not free of the prevailing
prejudices of his era. Newsflash: Blake was a flawed person, not a saint.
Big deal.

That his latter day disciples (and I use the word deliberately) find it
necessary that Blake shares their ideology exactly is fascinating, but
ultimately says more about the devotees than the man himself (I am still
perplexed that I was asked on the list how I can love Blake without being in
absolute agreement with his philosophy). 

I think I have already said on the list, but it bears repeating, that Blake
is too often viewed through the distorting mirror of the Victorian age and
the morality of our grandparents. When he spoke out against organized
religion, and in favour of sexual and political freedom, he was actually
quite well aligned with the spirit of the late 18th Century, which was far
more libertarian than the 19th later became. He was certainly not a
temporally misplaced 1960s student radical or new age hippy, and attempting
to make him one ultimately detracts from his real significance - it is to
concentrate on the merely superficial.

Tim Linnell

PS: Although the continuing confusion between Pam and the two Patricias
regarding her inclusion or not in the Blake review is becoming increasingly
amusing, perhaps they should now try and figure out what is going on, and
take this off list? Of course the strutting phalli are probably a bit of a

PPS: Anyone interested in the concept of a book entitled 'How! to reach the
inner you and meet the ideal partner', in which native American greeting
rituals are employed to empower the individual to lose weight while eating
all their favourite foods, and appear 20 years younger? Should sell in buckets.


Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 08:40:11 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Re: Countenance Divine -Reply

Thank you, Seth, for knowing and stating the truth.


Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 09:09:09 +0200
From: P Van Schaik 
Subject: Blake on sickness

Tharmas:  "O Vala, I am sick, & all this garden of pleasure
                 "Swims like a dream before my eyes.... I fade, even as a          
                  "water lily In the sun's hea,  till in the night on the couch of      
                   "Enion  I drink new life... But in the morning she arises to        
                    "avoid my eyes;  then my loins fade & in the house I sit me    
                    "down and weep ....."IX, Four Zoas, 538
Opening Blake at random I came across the above lines in which
Tharmas explains how, because of Urizen's false distinctions between
good and evil, his Emanation, Enion, avoids the  joys of love as they used
to be  in Innocence and, filled with shame,  turns her eyes away from
Blake's view is consistently that humanity is `sick' when it espouses
false distinctions between good and evil and believes the self-righteous
Accuser/Nobodaddy/fallen, cruel  god, worshipped in the name of love,
ironically, by many who espouse religion in  this world.  The Rose is also
sick because she represents Jerusalem who is an outcast in this world,
as Babylon is built in her place and all the spiritual qualities of mercy, pity,
peace and love which Jerusalem represents are eschewed