Re: Tim's herring
Re: Tim's definition
Re: Tim's herring
Re: 175 Years Ago...
Re: Digest Format?
Re: Tim's herring
RE: Re: Tim's herring
Re: Political...science of sciences
Re: [Re: Political...science of sciences]
Biblical Sources and More
Subject: Re: Tim's herring
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999 14:05:42 -0800
From: Raymond Peat
Since I will assume that you have led a remarkably sheltered existence, or
else are very young, and so might not be representative of the people in
the Blake discussion, I will answer this privately.
I spent many years as a graduate student in several humanities departments
of several universities, before I decided that in this country only the
sciences tolerate anything like rational dialog. In English, philosophy,
linguistics, art history, uniformly the professors mouthed that moronic
party line, "there are no classes in the United States," and my fellow
students were if anything even more strident. Later, I had friends in
departments of sociology who used elaborate rationalizations to justify the
same assertions. The sociological literature is full of their crap; the
reaction to G. William Domhoff's work was essentially one of hysterical
denial. One of the variations on the theme extends into psychology and
biology, arguing that since everyone has the same opportunity in this
classless society, social differences are really just a natural expression
of innate inferiority and superiority. For my entertainment, I would
occasionally insert into my seminar papers things that could be taken as
defense of such elitism, and these were always the occasion for glowing
approval by the asshole professors.
The cover of Emanations from Blake College was enclosed as first class
mail, and it was therefore inappropriate for the postmaster to open it, but
the image, faintly detected through the envelope, was apparently an excuse
to examine the contents of the book. The text that was forbidden was by
Gregory Corso, a dialog with Alan Ginsberg. The postmaster, a Republican,
was nevertheless a kind man, who returned the 300 copies to me for
correction, rather than destroying them. I mentioned that, not because it
was unusual as an illegal act of censorship, but because the Blake
engraving was the trigger. Two of my uncles were postmasters, so I heard
inside stories of postal service behavior, but the periodicals of the 20th
century give many more famous examples.
>I do have, however, two questions prompted by some nearly incomprehensible
>parts of Mr. Peat's recent post--first: please cite some "academic types"
>who claim that the USA is a classless society???? I have read a good
>deal of commentary on American history and culture, and the notion that
>it is a common or even an occasional *academic* point of view that
>US is a classless society comes as a considerable surprise to me. On
>the contrary, it is usually *academics* who cry in the wilderness
>against the "common wisdom" that the USA is "classless."
>Second: please clarify the event cited with reference to the college
>catalogue with "Glad Day" on the cover????? The Postal Service
>"embargoed" it until "the language of the text inside" was altered?
>This is truly incomprehensible. Why would the presence of a
>picture on the cover require the alteration of the text inside?
>How would that solve any problem? Presumably, the "embargo,"
>assuming it ever occurred and is not an example of a foaf tale,
>would have been caused by the exposed male genitalia on the cover,
>not by text inside. Very odd narrative, but possible as a form
>of urban belief legend.
Subject: Re: Tim's definition
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 22:34:21 GMT
From: email@example.com (Tim Linnell)
>I think the principle problem is fundamentally semantic dissonance between
>our era and Blake's, on the word "political."
I agree absolutely with this, and indeed most of this post. This was I think
what I said at the end of something I wrote today: there are two perfectly
valid approaches to contextualising Blake (i.e. historical or as part of a
collective body of thought), but they are somewhat orthogonal. I make no
apologies for being concerned with the historical context because I'm
personally more interested in what was behind Blake's philosophy than the
effects and resonances his work has had as it echoes, somewhat distorted by
successive interpretations, through the ages. What troubles me is when
people attempt to feed such analyses back into the historical figure,
thereby creating a sort of hybrid who never actually existed, and a false
starting point for future investigations. Such attempts must always be
challenged in my view, not to defend a rigid definition of the Historical
Blake, but merely to ensure that they are properly argued and the spurious
elements dismissed. Opinion is cheap and easy to come by, and needs
considerable vigourous sifting in order to separate the grains of truth it
One last thing. As I pointed out, the interactions between the actual
effects (as opposed to the stated intentions) of religious and political
dissent were complex, and there was no clear dividing line. But this is
always the central question with Blake, isn't it? What side of the line was
he on? Was he religious dissenter or political agitator? Artisan or artist?
Sane or mad? Author of carefully constructed symbolic allegories, or
recorder of semi-unconscious imagery? I rather suspect he lived in the
space between all of these states, drifting between one and the other. This
is what I think makes him at once fascinating and unique: we follow him into
areas we have our own experience of, and feel ourselves on home ground, and
then he darts off into a place we cannot quite reach.
Current context: waiting for wife to get out of bath. About to hop in
myself. Over and out.
Subject: Re: Tim's herring
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 19:40:08 -0600
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (TOM DILLINGHAM)
I find it interesting that Mr. Peat should have told me he was
answering privately, then promptly sends his post to the full list.
I am also pleased that he did, since he has revealed to the
full list the preposterous (and rude) misconceptions he embedded
in his not-so-private response to me.
Subject: Digest Format?
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 01:31:35 EST
Could someone tell me if it is possible to recieve this list in digest format
and if so how I would go about doing that?
Subject: Re: 175 Years Ago...
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 23:25:37 -0800 (PST)
From: Ralph Dumain
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
At 04:50 PM 3/1/99, Izak Bouwer wrote:
> I wish that the recent discussion about Blake's
> "politics" and "activism" had not got us derailed
> from Ralph Dumain's original question : "the
> question of Blake's attitude towards the literal..
> acts of defiance of material reality.. "
> This is a constant theme with Ralph. I found this
> long ago posting of his the other day: ".. there
> is a sense that interests me in which Blake may
> be more materialist, i.e. concrete in the Hegelian
> sense, than others. For example, could there be a
> sense in which Blake's vision is more concrete,
> and hence "materialist", than Feuerbach's abstract
> materialism and humanism? I've never seen anyone
> ask this question before, but this is _my_ question."
Interesting you should remember my old remarks about Feuerbach, as well as
the recurring theme of the symbolic and the literal.
> My personal opinion will no doubt get me branded as
> airhead again by Ralph, but I am convinced that one
> has to take seriously the fact that Blake operates
> in the tradition of people like Boehme and Swedenborg
> (and Buddhism) that takes as "reality" a universe
> in which terms like "God" or "heaven and hell" or
> "nirvana" are anthropomorphic artifacts of the psyche,
> and therefore to be taken seriously in a scientific
> and "real" way. Moreover, in all these traditions,
> one of the chief features seems to be the ability
> by the will to manipulate "reality." This belief
> that one can do something about, can manipulate
> the psyche, seems to me of the utmost importance,
> and one should focus in Blake on his pronouncements
> in connection with the four types of vision, the
> reality of the different states, the achievability
> of "Jerusalem", because for me that is ultimately
> what I think Blake wanted to achieve, a communally
> reachable new dispensation.
Fair enough, but when you specify manipulate reality, you wisely limit
yourself to the psyche. Whether mental things are alone real or not, there
remains the matter of accounting for physical reality, even if one sees that
as an emanation of something else. Blake like everyone had to deal
practically with matters of causality: what kind of medicine makes sense,
how far does one think one can manipulate reality by magical means, etc.?
Though Blake's angle of vision on the material world may be different than
my own, he had to be able to function and justify his choices in the
everyday world like everyone else, so I think my question is a legitimate one.
Subject: Re: Digest Format?
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 99 23:47:04 -0800
From: Seth T. Ross
> Could someone tell me if it is possible to recieve this list in
No. This would be a nice feature, but it's lower in the queue than,
say, a working archive.
To leave the Blake List, send an email message to
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Subject: Re: Tim's herring
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 08:27:53 +0000
From: email@example.com (Tim Linnell)
>Do you suggest that Blake was having paranoid delusions when he spoke of
>the forces that destroy art?
This is certainly a possibility.
However, what Blake meant by the 'destruction of art' was the blurring or
removal of the 'bounding line', a tendency to employ chiaroscuro, admiration
for the Flemish masters, and the movement towards naturalistic realism in
landscape (all of which, incidentally, were characteristics of the work of
John Linnell at the time he and Blake were close friends, so clearly Blake
did not feel all that strongly about it). This is not 'destruction' in
anything other than a highly personal and subjective sense.
In actual fact, I would venture to suggest that most informed observers
would say that the first twenty or thirty years of the last century was one
of the better periods for English art. Where things did drift into crass and
sickly sentimentality and 'production line' art was when the dealers got
involved and the whole exercise became commercial, leading to the great art
boom in the late 1800s. Furthermore, dealers put great pressure on the
hangers at the RA and other exhibitions to favour artists they represented.
On the other hand, aristocratic patrons viewed their contribution to art as
somewhat altruistic, and tended not to interfere with the artist's work. The
hangers at exhibitions were taken from among the artists themselves and were
more or less in tune with the direction their fellows wished to go, within
certain parameters of conventional taste (which are inevitable). Although
not perfect, this was a fundamentally much more healthy situation for the
development of art than the dealer led commercialization.
Subject: RE: Re: Tim's herring
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 09:37:35 PST
Tim Linnell wrote:
> I rather suspect he lived in the
>space between all of these states, drifting between one and
the other. This
>is what I think makes him at once fascinating and unique: we
follow him into
>areas we have our own experience of, and feel ourselves on home
>then he darts off into a place we cannot quite reach.
However, we shouldn't mistake our own lack of conclusions for
Blake's. For instance, earlier it was mentioned that there was
quite a bit of political art being published during Blake's time.
This is true, and some of it was Blake's. I believe it was in
a book by either Paulsen or Behrendt where I saw an engraving
done by Blake of a
chained down slave. Without a doubt this is an engraving with
clearly political content. This same image appears in the Preludium
of America as a chained down Orc. It might be interesting to
look at what Blake's visual art has in common stylistically and
thematically with some of his contemporaries who did more in
the way of straight political art.
I have to say, I disagree with the reading you gave of the "Chimney
Sweeper". I don't think Blake approved of the angel who told
the boys that if they'd be "good" and do their "duty" "they need
not fear harm", when they are clearly presented as being at risk
of dying from respiratory disease.
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Subject: Tim's aristocrats
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 13:20:27 -0800
From: Raymond Peat
Writing and other mental works provide windows into the times and
situations of their creators, and I consider Blake to be the best window
into the 18th century. If preserving the arts and sciences, the accumulated
wisdom of the ages, is very important, then I think it is useful to assume
that Blake wasn't in a delusional state when he ranted or grumbled about
the class that destroys art and knowledge, and to give serious
consideration to what he meant.
"...most informed observers"--is that still an accepted rhetorical device
in academic discussion?
Altruistic English aristocratic patrons of the 18th century, I recognize
the concept, but to accept it as an important fact seems to be giving too
much weight to their own testimony and judgment.
In our century, the commercial forces that you suggested were harmful to
art, have more resources than ever before to manipulate tastes.
Publishing, academic endowments and direct manipulation of state
institutions are used to validate their preferred interpretive frameworks,
and ultimately the judgments that are made about history, literature,
science, and painting, have to be made in this extremely polluted
atmosphere. That's why I think it's important to see Blake's remarks on
the destruction of art in a sense more general, and less subjective, than
just the issue of blurring painted forms.
[". . . and the true destruction of art did not take place until well after
Blake's death, when the industrial revolution had created an affluent
middle class who wished for decorative and sentimentally accesible objects
for their front parlours. But then I suspect you read different books than
At 08:27 AM 3/2/99 +0000, you wrote:
>>Do you suggest that Blake was having paranoid delusions when he spoke of
>>the forces that destroy art?
>This is certainly a possibility.
>However, what Blake meant by the 'destruction of art' was the blurring or
>removal of the 'bounding line', a tendency to employ chiaroscuro, admiration
>for the Flemish masters, and the movement towards naturalistic realism in
>landscape (all of which, incidentally, were characteristics of the work of
>John Linnell at the time he and Blake were close friends, so clearly Blake
>did not feel all that strongly about it). This is not 'destruction' in
>anything other than a highly personal and subjective sense.
>In actual fact, I would venture to suggest that most informed observers
>would say that the first twenty or thirty years of the last century was one
>of the better periods for English art. Where things did drift into crass and
>sickly sentimentality and 'production line' art was when the dealers got
>involved and the whole exercise became commercial, leading to the great art
>boom in the late 1800s. Furthermore, dealers put great pressure on the
>hangers at the RA and other exhibitions to favour artists they represented.
>On the other hand, aristocratic patrons viewed their contribution to art as
>somewhat altruistic, and tended not to interfere with the artist's work. The
>hangers at exhibitions were taken from among the artists themselves and were
>more or less in tune with the direction their fellows wished to go, within
>certain parameters of conventional taste (which are inevitable). Although
>not perfect, this was a fundamentally much more healthy situation for the
>development of art than the dealer led commercialization.
Subject: Re: Political...science of sciences
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 19:22:24 -0500
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Just a thought (more of a question):
This is a bit late to jump into the discussion--and the following is
probably raw meat for the lions--but I thought that Blake rejected anything
that would confine the creative energy, especially some sort of political
Isn't his whole myth that the world and the visible reality (mundane shell)
around us is a result of the falling away from the divine? I am thinking,
in particular, of Boehme's Mysterium Pansophicum.
I have only been able to glance at a few of the postings regarding
politics, religion, etc., but agree with the poster that noted we must look
at Blake in his particular context. He may have used the "words" the
described his reality--a permutation of a radical Protestant religious
tradition--but his arguement would seem to rule out any attachement to a
particular political motive.
Hey...this notion may get thumped..but do any of you think that Blake's
Four Zoas bear any relation to Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John....via the rich
art of alchemists such as Parcelsus?
At 09:28 AM 2/26/99 -0800, Raymond Peat wrote:
>Maybe the political right, the Nazis, etc., are the only ones who take art
>seriously, and can see that it is political work of the most effective
>sort. Science, when it is approached in the same way, is Art and Politics,
>and participates in intellectual war.
>Acadamic obtuseness has always made it possible to ignore ironic and
>dialectical language, so I suspect that Ralph Dumain's riddles won't ignite
>many mental fires.
>"The wretched state of the Arts in this Country & in Europe originating in
>the Wretched State of Political Science which is the Science of Sciences
>Demands a firm & determinate conduct on the part of Artists to Resist the
>Contemptible Counter Arts"
>. . . strength to form the golden armour of science
> For intellectual War The war of swords departed now
> "Are not Religion & Politics the Same Thing? Brotherhood is Religion"
> Good & Evil are Riches & Poverty, a Tree of Misery, propagating Generation
> A Poet, a Painter, an Architect: the Man Or Woman who is not one of
>these is not a
> The Unproductive Man is not a Christian, much less the Destroyer.
> You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands if they stand in the
> Prayer is the study of Art.
> Praise is the Practice of Art.
> Fasting &c., all relate to Art.
> The outward Ceremony is Antichrist.
> Without Unceasing Practice nothing can be done. Practice is Art. If
>you leave off you are Lost.
> Jesus & his Apostles & Disciples were all Artists. Their Works were
>destroy'd by the Seven Angels of the Seven Churches in Asia, Antichrist
> The Old & New Testaments are the Great Code of Art.
> The Whole Business of Man Is The Arts, & All Things Common. No Secresy
> Christianity is Art & not Money. Money is its Curse.
>>I don't think anybody is playing arbitrary games with definitions or
>>willfully stretching the definition of the political beyond recognition.
>>Notice your key word above, "working", (my emphasis added): the implication
>>seems to be that working is acting, engaging in overt political activity,
>>not writing. But Blake was a writer and artist, who took definite positions
>>as a writer if not as an activist on issues of hunger, poverty, tyranny,
>>imperialism, slavery, and much more besides. How you could interpret this
>>as indifferent to improvement of the human condition in the material world
>>is beyond me.
>>This is where a productive discussion should begin, rather than end. I hope
>>I am not remembering something different than you are, but what comes to
>>mind is the question of Blake's attitude towards the literal: is the sun a
>>flaming disc that looks like the size of a guinea or the heavenly host
>>screeching holy holy holy? Such symbolic acts of defiance of material
>>reality have yet to be properly analyzed by anyone on this list, including
>>me, esp. in conjunction with some more down-to-earth statements such as "we
>>eat little we drink less /this earth breeds not our happiness." There is an
>>issue of psychological resistance to material conditions in the face of
>>which one is powerless, but these gestures of psychological resistance, that
>>come from real, material, palpable suffering and the will to endure, cannot
>>be reduced to New Age suburbanite hippy-dippy drivel that changing your
>>interpretation changes what's happening, tiptoeing through the tulips as if
>>one gets a free ride to live in a fantasy world.
>>I would be interested to know whether the scholarly Blake literature
>>addresses all these questions, because I've not seen any that has to date.
>>Rather than continue explicating my own views, let me pose a series of
>>riddles to advance the discussion onto the next level:
>>(1) How are we to analyze Blake's statements of resistance in defiance of
>>(2) How are we to analyze the political claims of Blake's vague and
>>symbolic descriptions of apocalyptic conditions which somehow result in
>>redemption, the new Jerusalem, in the light of how social change takes place
>>and was taking place in front of Blake's eyes?
>>(3) When Blake says it was a mistake for Jesus to get involved in politics,
>>and otherwise excuse his own disengagements from the political realm
>>(including the statement Tim cites about how an educated citizenry would be
>>immune to tyranny, and the statement that creation burns up when people
>>cease to behold it), what kind of claim is actually being made? Is Blake
>>advocating that everybody is wasting their time trying to change the
>>political, material conditions of their lives, or merely that prophets like
>>Jesus and himself are ill-advised to get mixed up in potentially
>>life-threatening political situations in which they cannot possibly win?
>>By pursuing questions such as these, which all follow a similar pattern, I
>>think we can progress much further through this murky character of Blake;
>>symbolic politics relates to material societal conditions.
Subject: Re: [Re: Political...science of sciences]
Date: 3 Mar 99 14:27:35 PST
From: mark peterson
Just a thought (more of a question):...Hey...this notion may get thumped..but
do any of you think that Blake's
Four Zoas bear any relation to Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John....via the >rich
art of alchemists such as Parcelsus?
I'm glad to see the focus moving on to the true source for Blake's 'political'
views, and his inspiration overall-- the Great Code of Art, the Bible. I won't
go into a lengthy e-mail here, because I'm very interested in reading what
others on this list have to say. But I think there is a great quarry to dig
through on this subject which can hopefully move the discussion into areas
more dear to WB himself: his vision of Jesus, his 'christology, his
hermenuetical principles (such as his use of the Seven Eyes of God), and his
understanding (valid or not?) of the Hebrew Prophets such as the 'Memmorable
Fancy' in which he discusses the 'metaphysics of revelation' with Isaiah and
Blake and alchemists like Parcelsus follow many throughout the centuries who
saw the symmetry of the canon as somehow linked to the larger psychological
realm of symbolic meaning in numerical (and especially concentric) structures,
animals/'zoas', ETC. Getting into Blake's later extended works like
Milton/Jerusalem it's clear that, despite the occasional dream-like
irregularities-- WB was consiously trying to maintain a meaningful symmetry
(such as the four 'addresses' in Jer. combined with the four full-page
pictures...), and this obviously was his intent with his interp of Job. The
NT itself builds on a tradition of concentric literary arrangements in its
older brother's (OT) history as the Hebrew Bible preserves a clear canonical
literary development in the Torah (4-fold then, in ca. 600BC with the
Deuteronomic tradition, integrates a 5-fold symmetry which would later be used
by NT canonical writers and redactors in the 'New Torah'; the 'Four Zoas'
[Gospels] integrating a 5-fold symmetry as Acts bridges the Apostolic age...).
I won't write a book here (and there are far too many dry-as-dust scholarly
books out on 'symmetry' in itself...), but the subject will hopefully promote
a longer look at Blake's own inspiration(?)
I'm beginning a series on Isaiah soon and would like to here some Blakean
views on this if anyone has spent any time looking at this...
-- Mark Peterson
**'Would [to God]that all the Lord's people were Prophets'**
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Subject: Biblical Sources and More
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 10:38:33 -0500
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (R.H. Albright)
I had avoided your references to Isaiah because, for one thing, you got me
to read the book again, and... there are so many fire and brimstone quotes
about making crooked roads narrow, compared to Ecclesiastes' comfort that
what God has made crooked, who is man to make things straight?
There is much in Ecclesiastes that reminds me of Blake, as well as in
Isaiah... and the Kabbalah, which Pam Van Schaik has argued convincingly
was available and "in the air" during Blake's time on Earth in London.
Swedenborg himself has sometimes been called "The Continental Buddha",
but... I don't have the source, off-hand.
But this does not mean that Blake at times did not argue with, agree with,
and also reject, *parts* of what Isaiah said, too.
Blake had visions of *Ezekiel* as a young boy. Ezekiel had visions starting
at 30 (or 35, if you add the 5 years in exile? One of my Bibles says this
has never been satisfactorily explained)-- which *may* have something to do
with Blake's "As a new heaven is begun, and it is now thirty-three years
since its advent: the Eternal Hell revives" statement on plate 3 of MHH.
Also, Ezekiel saw figures resembling *four* living creatures, but their
form was human. The faces were like this:
1) The right side was the face of a lion
2) The left side was the face of an ox
3) And finally, each had the face of an eagle.
I also must say that Blake's own Four Zoas have properties that are
synonomous with what I understand to be Plato's "forms", on another level.
Jacob Boehme's _The Signature of All Things_ has Greco-Roman gods warring
with each other.
Beyond being a mere "alchemist", am I wrong in thinking that Paracelsus
could also be called a doctor and chemist, who rejected traditional
education and medicine, anticipated homeopathy, had something to say about
"miner's disease", and could be viewed as a pioneer in both chemical
medicine as well as empirical psychological science?
------ Randall Albright