Blake List — Volume 1999 : Issue 6

Today's Topics:
         Re: introduction
         Re: Introduction
         Re: John Evans -Yale Center of British Art
         Secrets of crud-free e-mail
         Re: Introduction
         Mysticism (was Re: Introduction   -Reply -Reply)
         Re: Secrets of crud-free e-mail
         The cut worm forgives the plow...
         Re: Introduction
         The War *Against* War...
         Intro & Re: 2/1/99 Introduction
         hark hark the lark
         Re: hark hark the lark


Subject: Re: introduction
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 10:30:45 EST

In a message dated 2/3/99 11:52:28 AM Eastern Standard Time,

> a psychological universe where heavens and hells
>  are not constructs to be sneered at but psychic realities to be looked at
>  and seen for what they are.

what a fabulous capsule-----and what an interesting situation from a Jungian
context: Is there a vortex where our private psychic realities meet with a
collective dimension---- and are the works of B a map of coordinates or a
labyrinth of fantastic intersecting canvas???

Chatham Morell, I.C.S.


Subject: Re: Introduction
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 11:31:53 -0500 (EST)
From: "James Watt" 

Dear Mark: I share your enthusiasm for Blake's prophetic role and your
sense that his message is directed to the people who live and work in the
world of family, work, and trial.  It would be my assumption, further,
that that is also the location of the only church in which he would care
to sing (See "The Little Vagabond" in Songs of  Experience).  However one
decides to define the church, it is a fact that among the first --if not
the very first-- of his Illuminated works is the frontispiece to ALL
RELIGIONS ARE ONE and the quotation from Isaiah & Matt: "The voice of one
crying in the wilderness," identifying the young man of the illumination
with both John the Baptist and Isaiah.  His right foot is over his left
and he points with both arms to his left at ?? Jerusalem?? the church??
the wilderness?? the city?? --the point is that we have to decide, not
that we know.  More than that, we have to act on our decision.  I think,
by the by, that you'd get a better response if you dropped the kerygma;
I assume that among the theologians the distinction between preaching and
prophesying is other than it is for the rest of us.  But, though he
prophesied all his life, I have me doubts that W.B. was ever a preacher.
As to making his vision one's own, unless I'm just unable to fathom him,
Blake's argument is that fourfold vision is a divine gift to everyone and
as accessible as the palm of your hand and the (immediate) hour.  And
Jerusalem is builded, for W.B. from Highgate & Hampstead to Hackney & Bow
to Islington and Paddington (Jerusalem 84:1-2); for me from Carmel &
Zionsville to Greenwood & Newton; from Danville & Brownsburg to Greenfield
& New Palestine. For Pam, out in S. Africa, the city is the same and the
streets, districts and hamlets equally beautiful in name.  Sorry to
rhapsodize here, but I so love Blake, I can't help it.

Jim Watt, Indianapolis, IN at Butler University


Subject: Re: John Evans -Yale Center of British Art
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 15:31:15 -0500 (EST)
From: johnmartinevansiii 

a most criminal admission, I have yet to go to the newly finished art
center.  when I do, I will be sure to relate the details.

back to the previous discussion, what I love most about Blake is those
contraries themselves.  I most love Blake's incredible ability to reside
in the liminal spaces between contraries with the utmost ease.  the
balance between innocence and experience, personified most in the
Marriage of Heaven and Hell typify this.  I especially love his maxims for
this effect.  take for instance, "the cut worm forgives the plow."
incredibly odd to our sensibility, but on further investigation, two
readings present themselves: a worm is able to regenerate from fragments,
and so in that way the destruction of the plow is a creative force on the
level of the worm.  on the other hand one could view the line as heavily
ironic, the idea of a tiny worm trying to be somehow magnanimous in
forgiving the plow, despite the fact that the plow will crash on with or
without the worm's approval.  the readings are in contrast with each other
and might even fall into the heaven/hell dichotomy: in the first we have
creation and action (albeit destructive) unified, common to the Blakean
hell; in the latter we have the application of a religious ideal, with
little effect in the real world, similar to Blake's rational but rather
impotent Heaven.  But the real point for me is that both coexist, and
instead of one or the other picture of a worm and a plow, we get a complex
interchange of conflicting concepts which coexist in tension.  looking at
that, the image seems to shift before our eyes, alive with that Blakean
energy which defies right or wrong and rejoices simply in the
vigorous and amoral (NOT immoral) pulse of life.  if I tried too hard to
reach that point from this one maxim you'll forgive me, because I think
this is precisely the quality that everyone finds so enthralling about
Blake and which pervades everything he wrote at all levels.

Consider this quote (one of my favorites) in that context, of tensions in
conflict, and of the sense that life gets its fire from that space
between, uniting them not in rational singularity (impossible), but simply
in combined energy, or love, which for Blake was the perfect, undefinable,
ambiguous, self-conflicting, life-affirming, and ultimately solely
important thing:

"...And I dance with William Blake
For love, for love's sake;
And everything comes to one,
As we dance on, dance on, dance on."
-Theodore Roethke, "ONCE MORE, THE ROUND"

Note it's not romantic love, it's just love for love's sake.  And the
conclusion is instructive: two contraries light each other up, spin around
and around in their tension, and never come to rest or resolution, but
continue to spin forever, for that complexity and energy are life itself.

The frustrating thing about Blake is trying to say one little thing about
him and ending up talking about life, the universe, and everything.


John M. Evans III
Yale University


Subject: Secrets of crud-free e-mail
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 99 17:41:44 -0800
From: Seth T. Ross 

A number of people have posted HTML mail to the Blake List.

Please don't do this. HTML mail is unreadable in many mail clients,
even those that support HTML mail. It's a bad idea that's been
implemented poorly.

Below I've attached a cheat sheet for "crud-free email" written by
John Levine, all-around tech wiz and author of _E-mail for Dummies_.


To send plain-text email ...

    In Eudora 4.x:

* On the menu, select Tools, then Options.
* Click Styled Text.
* Click "Send plain text only"
* Click OK

    In Netscape 4.0 or later:

* On the menu, select Edit, then Preferences, then "Mail and News
* Select tab "Compositions"
* Remove the check mark for "Use HTML Composition Window"
* Make sure that "Allow 8-bit" is checked
* Make sure that "MIME compliant" is NOT checked
* Click OK

    In the Internet Explorer 3.0 news program:

* On the menu, select News, then Options
* Select the Send tab
* Check the "Plain Text" box
* Click OK.

    In Outlook Express:

* On the menu, select Tools, then Options
* Select the Send tab
* Check the "Plain Text" boxes in both Mail and News
* Click OK.


Subject: Re: Introduction
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 18:03:50 -0800 (PST)
From: Ralph Dumain 

At 02:40 PM 2/4/99 EST, wrote:
>You ask about
>>the outspoken biblical directive of a Gospel filled with content... Does
>> have some input here?
>If you're not familiar with E.P. Thompson's _Witness Against the Beast_, I
>believe it speaks to this side of Blake.  I would also refer you to many of
>Ralph Dumain's best posts in the archive of this list, but there is so much
>material in the archive that it would be hard to sort through without specific
>references, which, alas, I can't give you.  Ralph -- have you published
>anything on Blake yet, outside this list?

I feel myself in a rather embarrassing position being referred to as a
reputable source for religious people.  However, since information is my
calling, I feel ethically obligated to provide people with information
whenever I can.  In referring to my "contributions", do you mean
specifically my comments on Thompson's book, or comments I've made on other
topics?  I've got just about everything on disk somewhere, but it's rather
difficult to search through several MBs of data without having some more
specific specifications of what you have in mind.


Subject: Mysticism (was Re: Introduction -Reply -Reply)
Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 17:58:31 -0900
From: ndeeter 

Forgive me, Ralph...but


Hayden Carruth has defined the "mystical" experience as literally, from
_ekstasis_, a transportation out of one's place, a loss of identity. And
a "spiritual" experience as the opposite, an intensification of
identity, that he who has a "spiritual" experience is "in firmer command
of what he knows, than at any other time.

Often times I think this distinction is not made when talking about the
mystical experience of poetry, sometimes the "mysticism" brings them
closer to themselves, sometimes it brings them further away. So, are we
always talking about a transcendence of self when we talk about the
mystic nature of Blake? Or are we also talking about that
intensification of self, that moment when our person-ality seems to
glimmer for a moment and then crystalize into a "newer" self? Are we so
mystified about the experience that we fail to articulate it well

Nathan Deeter


Subject: Re: Secrets of crud-free e-mail
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 11:18:55 EST

Subject: The cut worm forgives the plow...
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 13:10:14 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)

Yes, there are more than one way to read this, which is why I resist
certain *conclusions* about Blake's "great system" (?), which in fact was
evolving for him throughout his life, although it is intriguing to hear the
explanations in books and here in this group. Frames... the fallacy of
Zeno's paradox... &...

There is too much energy in Blake, and energy that can be given to Blake,
for me to believe certain interpretations of "The Sick Rose", for example,
as the correct way to view it. For all I know, the worm is really a
caterpillar, and comes out a butterfly-- a *human* who has used that rose,
so... rolling over the bones of the dead, it can become fertilizer. I love
the fireworks of "Proverbs from Hell". I am baffled by the dichotomy of
Prolific and Devourer, because the two need each other. Sheep and goats,
believers and non-believers-- MHH was Blake at his most powerfully
inclusive, for me, at ridiculing the un-inclusive, and at raising questions
without vocabulary that moves into the arcane.

>From Swedenborg's rejection of the Newtonian concept of permanent,
irreducible particles of matter, suggesting instead that everything
material was essentially motion arranged in geometric forms, to Niels
Bohr's own theory of "complementarity", which talks about how nature is
beyond both logic and common sense, that no single definition is sufficient
to understand a phenomenon (i.e. art, or life, fights against the "nature"
impulse of entropy)-- Bohr's view, to the contrary of common sense that
would warn if two different views are incompatible, suggests instead that a
profound truth may be approached...

So for me it's the paradoxes, the expansions through riddle, the new things
I see (both myself, and as expressed by members of this group, things I
read-- and often entirely OFF the subject of Blake-- or friends of mine),
that sometimes bring me back to Blake. I've heard many explanations to the
beginning of MHH, but to me it still starts enigmatically w/ this-- who IS
this-- this Rintrah roaring? The wind seems fresh, dangerous, invigorating,
and a challenge.

How many different implications can Blake give to a drawing by the way he
colors it? What's that got to do with *mood*?

I see Nathan Deeter's new post a comment about mysticism, and would suggest
that one view of "To Tirzah" (from _Songs of Experience_), promoted by S.
Foster Damon, is a divide between spirtual calling of "the father's
business" versus the material (vegetable?) world as personified in "the
mother", and that this is something again where Blake took after
Swedenborg. There are problems that I have w/ this view, because people in
the material world (like Blake) *made up* these visions of the spiritual,
mystical, etc. I think it is a denigration of the "material" to say "What
have I got to do with you" or vice versa, when Jesus's own DNA is fully
one-half his mother's, and what Blake forgives in the historical Jesus is
precisely that: yet another material person w/ strong convictions about
ideals commenting on yet another material person w/ strong convictions
about ideals.

"The Good and Evil Angels", "Newton", and "Pity" LIVE at the Tate as well
as in my mind, for example, and for more reasons than the explanations
others or I, myself, could ever give.

Why in "The Little Vagabond", for example, is there no pictorialization of
the "ale" that is mentioned in the text? Or is the ale really a metaphor
for the warmth that comes from the bearded man at the top, comforting a
person who has, in my view, bared his/her soul to that person/Jesus/God?
Perhaps the person on the bottom in purple is suffering a hangover from
some excessive ale, either metaphorical or real, though.

        --- Randall Albright


"What nature divides, the spirit unites."
        --- from a trailer for a new movie,
                        based on Balzac's "A Passion in the Desert"


Subject: Re: Introduction
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 01:19:42 EST


Sorry -- I didn't mean to embarrass you.  Mark wrote "I'm still wondering
whether there is any real, practical use in trying to make Blake's visions
one's own," and he remarked that though he had seen a lot of discussion here
of "the esoteric side of Blake (kabbalah,etc.)," there was "little on the
outspoken biblical directive of a Gospel filled with content" - i.e., real
practical use in trying to live one's life; "that," Mark continued, "Blake
gave his life to."

Although that isn't exactly the content of Thompson's book, I think his book
bears on that -- and so do some of your posts.  You have written with passion
about the practical importance of Blake's work.  Although Mark couched his
query in religious terms, I believe a genuinely lived religion and a lived
ethical idealism are very close kin, so I thought your remarks about Blake's
practical importance (not specifically re Thompson) might be of interest to

--Tom Devine

In a message dated 2/6/99 4:27:28 AM, writes:

>I feel myself in a rather embarrassing position being referred to as a
>reputable source for religious people.  However, since information is my
>calling, I feel ethically obligated to provide people with information
>whenever I can.  In referring to my "contributions", do you mean
>specifically my comments on Thompson's book, or comments I've made on other
>topics?  I've got just about everything on disk somewhere, but it's rather
>difficult to search through several MBs of data without having some more
>specific specifications of what you have in mind.


Subject: The War *Against* War...
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 1999 13:47:56 -0500
From: (R.H. Albright)

might be well invoked by this immortal piece:


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire;
Bring me my Spear; O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green & pleasant Land.

Would to God that all the Lord's people were Prophets.
        Numbers XI.29

                ------- preface to _Milton_, commonly known as


As I read yet another quip attributed Blip, or try to fathom how the
thoughts of one considered to be the best product of the Frankfurt School
by *some* are-- a guiding light?--

I can't help but wonder how true some of the warnings that Blake had are
still vitally important to fight cynicism, despair, self-depracation, and
other-defacation, too.


"I have said to the Worm: Thou art my mother & my sister."
        (plate 16 in "For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise")

"3. Energy is eternal delight."
        (from plate 4, MHH)



Subject: Intro & Re: 2/1/99 Introduction
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999 14:41:45 -0500
From: Carter 


My name is Carter and I have just begun reading Blake and thought that this
would be an interesting place to learn more about the Poet/Artist.

Mark...I think that Blake is very relavent to modern day experience.  He
was writing from an urban middle class perspective and--to a certain
extent--seemed to be decrying the atomizing influence that
science/industrialization was having on the every day lives of individuals.
 (his work, to me, is an allegory of the original sin....I am proud...which
leads to the breaking apart of the whole; I am trying to understand the
influence that Jakob Boehme had on Blake and think that Boehme's Pride,
Covetousness, Envy, and Anger may be represented by some combination of
Urthona, Urizen, Luvah, and Tharmas & their emanations).

I see his work as a warning of sorts of the passing of the old older
(belief in Aristotle's ideal forms, ultimate truths) into the inductive
reality that we are now in (hate to say postmodern).  There is not ultimate
truth (oneness, I would argue, to Blake) but many different parts that we
must inspect ourselves to see how it fits into something larger.  We are
ruled by the compass and the clock rather than the transcendental
understanding that some may argue Blake was advocating.

This theme is very strong in pop literture in the US--atomizing of society
into homogenous consumer units--and I would bet that you may yet find
fertile ground for this message among suburbanites, if you can effectively
translate it.  In some urban planning literature, for example, idealists
are decrying how the suburb has broken apart society and they now are
desiging model communities to try and recreate 'the great good place' (see
Ray Oldenburg) for people.

Hope that this is not too tedious :-)


At 10:43 AM 2/1/99 PST, mark peterson wrote:
>Hi, my name is Mark Peterson, I just joined your group. I've been working
>through a Master's degree in theology and I've spent countless hours on
>Blake's visionary genius, although I'm still wondering whether there is any
>real, practical use in trying to make Blake's visions one's own. The 'Hammer
>of Los' wasn't very productive in gathering interest from a wider public in
>Blake's lifetime-- and I recently drew very few students in a class I was
>teaching on the "Kerygma of William Blake" here in Sacramento, CA at Trinity
>Cathedral. If any of you Blakeans have attempted to start local 'Blake
>discussion groups' within a church /bible study context-- can you let me know
>about your successes/failures (?)  I've heard people like A.N.Wilder
>The Bible and Literary Criticism) refer to Blkae a a 'secularizer of the
>Bible'-- but for my part, even though Blake's "Eternal worlds" encompass all
>humanity, I still feel strongly that W.B. saw himself as a 'type' of prophet
>in the Isaiah-Ezekiel camp (seeing his own genius as both contrary to, and in
>service of the "heavenly Jerusalem" which John on Patmos framed in the
>language of the Hebrew Bible's vision-- as God's Kingdom coming...). For that
>reason, I've been fascinated with earlier dialogue on this web-site which
>further into the esoteric side of Blake (kabbalah,etc.) and little on the
>outspoken biblical directive of a Gospel filled with content; that, Blake
>his life to. Does anyone have some input here? Is there another practical
>'context'  here beyond e-mail communities,'hypertext-versions', or other
>individualized approaches(?) If so, has anyone integrated Blake's work within
>a 'church-group' setting ? What has been the outcome? I know monks love him,
>people like Thomas Merton...- but I'm asking about those who live and work
>have kids and bills and cannot afford to live a life of pure solitude-- in
>other owrds, can the 'secularized' man or woman in a crisis of faith, turning
>to a community of faith, find a place for our friend William Blake in that
>This web-site is a welcome change to 'theological isolation', thanks for the
>chance to introduce myself. I hope to hear some of your ideas soon.

>More than just email--Get your FREE Netscape WebMail account today at


Subject: hark hark the lark
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 1999 18:54:58
From: Izak Bouwer 

   One unexpected  result of my recent exposure
to some Buddhist practice (Tibetan dzogchen: a
meditation based on visualization and dissolution)
was this: I began to see that practising Catholics or
practising Moslems, even followers of shamanistic
practises,  had what I desired but did not have: a
sincere belief in and a dedication to a universe,
a psychic universe, filled with a knowledge and an
energy that I could access myself, but only if I was
serious about it, as serious as Blake when he begins
“Jerusalem” with these words:
    “Of the sleep of Ulro! and of the passage through
     Eternal Death! and of the awaking to Eternal Life.
     This theme calls me in sleep night after night,
                                       & ev’ry morn
     Awakes me at sun-rise.....”
It seems to me that one can take many different paths,
use different techniques, even be a practising Marxist.
Along the way though there are significant signposts:
a “state of innocence”  is  to be fervently sought for;
what Blake calls “The New Jerusalem” and Buddhists call
Nirvana (or the Marxists’ desire for a renovated earth)
inspires fervour.  There is moreover a recognition that
there is what Pirsig  calls “Quality” (eventually indicating
that what he was really talking about was the Dharma.)
This jewel in the lotus, this pearl of great price, is what
the parable in the New Testament tells us about: if you have
lost that, sell everything and go and look for it.  Very
often I  think that one of the best places to look is where
Blake painted little insects and flowers around the poems
that he illuminated, or where he enumerates lovingly and
at great length the insects and plants of the field, or
describes the sound of the lark rising above the fields.
This is the kind of phenomenal world that a Buddhist builds
up in his mandala offering, visualizes as a pure realm, and
offers up to the assembly of Buddhas.  After which he
destroys the mandala.

Gloudina Bouwer


Subject: Re: hark hark the lark
Date: Mon, 8 Feb 1999 18:11:42 -0500 (EST)
From: "James Watt" 

Gloudina: Amen.  And thank you.  "For all are Men in Eternity.  Rivers
Mountains  Cities  Villages / All are Human & when you enter into their
Bosoms you walk / In Heavens and Earths; as in your own Bosom you bear
your Heaven / And Earth"  Jerusalem 71:15-18  Jim Watt