William Blake Class – 9 (Urizen continues)

After our brief Daniel Radcliffe pause..

Allen on Blake continues – ( on The Book of Urizen) – “Chapter V – Actually, we’ve been going so slow on this, but I really wanted to get it down so that everybody saw how there was an apparent repetition in here. Apparently, he’s going through it from different angels – one from Los‘ angle, one from (a) Urizonic angle, one from the Eternals angle – “In terrors Los shrunk from his task./ His great hammer fell from hid hand;/ His fires beheld and sickening/ Hid their strong limbs in smoke./ For with noises ruinous loud/With hurtlings and clashings and groans/ The Immortal endured his chains,/ Though bound in a deadly sleep.” – So Urizen is unawakened yet. And now this is really the description of (how) Los has been making him physically, and now his reactions to seeing what he has made – “All the myriads of Eternity,/All the wisdom and joy of life,/Roll like a sea around him,/Except what his little orbs/Of sight by degrees unfold.” – This is still Urizen he’s talking about, I think – “And now his eternal life/ Like a dream was obliterated.” – That’s the immortal in chains. That would be Urizen, I believe he’s talking about there – “Shuddering” – Los – “..the eternal prophet smote/ With a stroke, from his north to south region/ The bellows and hammer are silent now/ A nerveless silence, his prophetic voice/ Seized; a cold solitude and dark void/ The eternal prophet and Urizen closed.” – You might see that as the illustration, again, for page 193 (I’m taking from Bloom the interpretation of this – that Imagination is creating out of deranged Reason, and that’s why Los, the poetic Imagination, is horrified – “Ages on ages rolled over them,/ cut of from life and light, frozen/ Into horrible forms of deformity,/ Los suffered his fires to decay.” – You’ll find that on page 196, I think. Well somewhat maybe. What is it? No, no, forget that. Oh yeah – “Then he looked back with anxious desire/ But the space undivided by existence/ Struck horror into his soul” – Now I wonder what that means? I thought that was illustrated on page 196 of the illuminations (Illuminated Blake) – “Them he looked back with anxious desire/But the space undivided by existence/ Struck horrors into his soul” – What is “the space undivided by existence”? – I imagine that Los is beginning to get scared of the Eternal area now, because he’s getting trapped with his creation, Urizen. But I don’t know. “the space undivided by existence/ Struck horrors into his soul” was odd – “Los wept obscured with mourning; / His bosom earthquaked with sighs;/ He saw Urizen, deadly, black,/ In his chains bound, and pity began,” – And for that you know that.. [Allen then recites the whole of “The Human Abstract” from Songs of Innocence and Experience – “Pity would be no more/ if we did not make somebody poor/ And Mercy could no more be/ If all were as happy as we;/ And mutual fear brings peace/ Till the selfish love increase/ Then Cruelty knits a snare/ And spreads his baits with care./ He sits down with holy fears/And waters the ground with tears;/ Then Humility takes his root/Underneath his foot./ Soon spreads the dismal shade/ Of Mystery over his head/And the Caterpillar and Fly/ Feed on the Mystery/ And it bears the fruit of Deceit/ Ruddy and sweet to eat:/ And the Raven its nest has made/ In its thickest shade./ The Gods of the earth and the sea/Sought through nature to find this Tree/ But their search was all in vain:/There grows one in the Human Brain.” – [and then continues] – “He saw Urizen, deadly black,/ In his chains bound, and pity began,/ In anguish dividing and dividing -/ For pity divides the soul;/ In pangs, eternity on eternity,/ Life in cataracts poured down his cliffs./ The void shrunk the lymph into nerves,/Wandering wide on the bosom of night,/And left a round globe of blood/ Trembling upon the void”. Well, if you can’t figure that one out, there’s a picture of it (on) page 199 of the Illuminated book – a globe of blood emerging from Los – “In anguish dividing and dividing”

Now, this is Los’ reaction of pity to seeing this creation he’s made of Urizen. This is the poetic imagination’s reaction of empathy and pity seeing…Hitler! .You see Hitler and you get this “ah, what can I do with that?” – (or seeing Nixon – or seeing anybody (seeing Tyrone Power, seeing (Albert) Einstein) – the poetic imagination seeing Einstein – dividing itself in to pity – Einstein and his bomb). So the poetic imagination divides itself up, empathizing with this rational creation and wanting to do something with it. And gives birth to the round globe of blood – “Thus the eternal prophet was divided/ Before the death-image of Urizen” – There are illustrated ((on pages) 196 to 199) , these very verses – “Thus the eternal prophet was divided/ Before the death-image of Urizen/ For in changeable clouds and darkness,/ In a winterly night beneath,/ The abyss of Los stretched immense.” So you see that on page 196 (in the Illuminated Blake)

“And now seen, now obscured to the eyes/ Of Eternals, the visions remote/ Of the dark separation appeared./ As glasses discover worlds/ In the endless abyss of space,/ So the expanding eyes of Immortals/Beheld the dark visions of Los,/ And the globe of life-blood trembling.” – “The globe of life-blood” (is on) page 199 (in the Illuminated Blake) and (the creation begins with page) 197 and (is) completed on (page) 199 – as those of us who looked at the colored pictures (in the University of Colorado’s Special Collections Library) saw:

“The glove of life-blood trembled,/Branching out into roots -/Fibrous, writhing upon the winds,/Fibres of blood, milk and tears,” – And what would that create? A feminine thing – “Fibres of blood, milk and tears,/ In pangs, eternity upon eternity./ At length in tears and cries embodied,/ A female form trembling and pale/ Waves before his deathy face./ All eternity shuddered at sight. Of the first female form now separate/Pale as a cloud of snow/Waving before the face of Los” – Page 200, if you want to see that – Los seeing that appearance. The illustration on page 200 of the Illuminated, correlating with verse IX, page 77, of the Erdman text. Are you following that? Are you able to follow these two (the Illuminated Blake and Erdman‘s text) back and forth at all? You have the pictures at all? Why don’t you sit with someone who’s got the pictures?

“Wonder, awe, fear, astonishment,/ Petrify the eternal myriads/At the first female form now separate” – This is Enitharmon (Spiritual Beauty), Eve, the birth of Eve, the emanation of Los, and – “The called her Pity, and fled” – The Eternals fled. You know who the Eternals are? Or is that a mystery? (or) should we (look it up)?… “the Eternals” – okay – no, they’re very definite. Well, kind of a funny thing that he does with them actually..[Allen then consults and reads from S.Foster Damon’s A Blake Dictionary] – “Eternity lies behind Nature also. Nature is a projection of Man; all its Forms are human. The rising constellations, the dancing flies, the mountain trees, the thunderstorm, are “the Sons of Los”; “These the Visions of Eternity;/ But we see only as it were the hem of their garments/ When with our vegetable eyes we view these wonderous Visions” – that’s [the lines Damon quotes are] from “Milton (A Poem)” – “Eternity is what always is, the reality underlying all temporal phenemona..”Eternity Exists, and All Things in Eternity” [Blake – from “A Vision of The Last Judgment] – This is the word “Eternity”, and what are “the Eternals” then? – “Everything in Eternity shines by its own internal light” [again Damon, quoting from Blake’s Milton] – “Eternity is a place of great activity” – “The great activity” (of the Eternals, of the Eternal Ones in Blake, their activity), “therefore, consists in the hunting of Ideas and the Mental warfare between them”, “the great Wars of Eternity, in fury of Poetic Inspiration” [Damon continues to quote from Blake’s Milton here, and then goes on] – “But they are not wars of hatred” – “For the soldier who fights for Truth calls his enemy his brother:/ They fight and contend for life and not for eternal death” [Blake, here, fromJerusalem”]..”One must die for another throughout all Eternity” [Blake again quoted from the visionary poem, Milton] – this is what Los is doing for Urizen here.[Allen concludes, reading Damon’s note on “Eternity” (Damon concluding with another quote from Blake’s “Jerusalem’‘)] – “Blake’s great task therefore was “to open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes of Man inward into the Worlds of Thought, into Eternity ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination”

So that’s (the) word “eternal” in relation to “eternal prophet” and “the Eternals”. There was another set of definitions that might name some of these Eternals, however, that would be “the Divine Family”. The Eternal Family is listed in here (Damon’s A Blake Dictionary) as “the Divine Family” – “Their “two Sources of Life” are “Hunting and War” [Damon again citing Blake’s “Milton” and “Jerusalem”] – “the great Wars of Eternity, in fury of Poetic Inspiration,/ To build the Universe stupendous, Mental forms Creating” – [Allen reads from Damon] – “The Divine Family, or Council of God, is the Communion of Saints, that aggregate of Christian thought, the Body of Christ, consisting of all the Elect, dead or alive. Blake, however, never called them by their conventional name” – the Divine Family. Let’s see if there’s any more specific matter [Allen reads on] – “Mostly the members of the Family are not named, but Milton is one, and Albion, “mildest Son of Eden” is another. The Zoas (The Four Zoas) belong to another category” (but Los [Allen is precising Damon here] occasionally, of all the Four Zoas, enters into the Councils of the Divine Family, because he’s Imagination – Poetic Imagination. He steps out into the Divine Council with his Eternal Family to speak to Albion. And the Sons of Eden (who are part of the Family) praise Los, who is Urthona‘s Spectre, “because he kept the Divine Vision in the time of trouble” (when Urizen was taking over the universe).

So these Eternals, except for Los, who steps in and out of the circle, are not very well known, but I think Blake will name them one place or another, (allbeit) not very definitely. And Los is one of them.

So, out of Poetic Imaginations’ substance, or body, the Imagination perceives what it has created with this crazed independent Reason. In other words, it sees the Frankenstein universe that it’s created, the atom bomb, for instance. And that’s a perfect example of Urizonic capacity in extremis – accompanied by creative, poetic, Imagination – so they create a neutron bomb! – Okay. Los divides off into pity, seeing the spiritual beauty of the neutron bomb and of the atom bomb – “Oh Bomb, I want to love you, I want to kiss your clank, eat your boom, your lyric hat, an acme of scream, the lyric hat of Mister Thunder” (that’s (Gregory) Corso’s address to the Enitharmon aspect of the beauty of the bomb. But that’s quite immoral, actually, so the Eternals fled – “They called her Pity, and fled./ Spread a tent, with strong curtains around them” – this is (William) Burroughs talking! – “Let cords and stakes bind in the void,/ That Eternals may no more behold them/ They began to weave curtains of darkness,/ They erected large pillars round the void,/ With infinite labour the Eternals/ A woof wove, and called it Science

Student: And called it what?

AG: “..(A)nd called it Science”

Student: “woof wove”? what is that?

AG: A woof – web and woof.. They’ve made a tent. They created a tent around this monstrosity of Los (and) Enitharmon, of this monstrosity of Imagination and Reason getting together, separated from Body and from Emotions. To create Pity for this bastardized Urizen, creation of Reason, or, the creation of a bastardized Vision. No..Yeah..Bastardized (because it didn’t have a wife or mother really, it was self-born

Student: Is it possible that Enitharmon (might utter) a concrete utterance (which) might explain…

AG: Well, she’s the outside – the projection outside of spiritual beauty (or of the aura around any creation)

Student: That might explain why Los..(in) the space around Urizen…might..

AG: Yeah. And (But) it’s a separate (world). That a separate world had been created was the whole problem. And, immediately, with separate world, that means the sexual creation of different sexes now rises – “But Los saw the female…” (this is now page 78, a really funny part here) – “But Los saw the female and pitied/ He embraced her, she wept, she refused/ In perverse and cruel delight/ She fled from his arms yet he followed” – Now what does that mean? The interpretation(s) I hear of that is, Los has created this Enitharmon project of spiritual beauty – pity and spiritual beauty, but actually, according to (Harold) Bloom, Enitharmon is a materialist perception of space, a perception of space as a material entity, as an actuality. And so one goes to embrace the space, to fuck it, to actually be with it, but it’s constantly disappearing, because it isn’t really there. It’s this appearance of spiritual beauty, it’s the material universe, the phenomenal material universe, which, when you try and actually grab it, it isn’t there.

Buddhists should understand this. It’s a basic Buddhist notion that maya, the phenomenal universe, when you try to get to it, turns out to be will-o-the-wisp. Even if you knock this [Allen bangs the table], all things are changing, all things are flowing (the sage Heraclitus says). So matter is water. The material universe is water. And when Los, the creative Imagination now says, “Okay, I really made something beautiful, now I’m going to copulate with it”, it vanishes from him, or it evades him. He can’t really grasp his creation. It isn’t anything solid he can get a hold of.

So there’s a picture of the two of them and their relationship on page 201, accompanying this particular text. He’s astonished, kneeling down, with his hair over his ears and his hands on his head. She’s sprung up in front of him, turned away from him, with her hands on her face. They make it sooner or later but, at that moment, they’re being very difficult – “..(S)he refused./ In perverse and cruel delight”.

Enitharmon (is perhaps from the Greek amarithon (numberless) – the feminine principle, creating numberless, creating numberlessly, innumerably. There’s also zenith and armon, according to Damon, or Enitharmon’s earth-harmony. The lowest harmony or zenith, what is that? Zenith is height. Highest harmony. Spiritual beauty. A “materialist perception of space”, according to Bloom – “Eternity shuddered when they saw/ Man begetting his likeness/On his own divided image” – That’s one of the great statements in all of Blake – whatever it means! – I don’t know! (I never understood it, actually, except in (the) terms that I’ve explained it) – “Eternity shuddered when they saw..”, “when they saw” – So Eternity’s these immortals, these people, these presences – “shuddered when they saw,/ Man begetting his likeness,/ On his own divided image”.

Student (I don’t understand)

AG: (So) see.. he’s projected out his pity, his own feelings, this feminine. So he’s divided himself in two. That’s what it means by divided image… Yeah, Blake’s theory of women, I’ve never understood entirely yet. We’ll have to work it out as we go along. Actually, Jerusalem (who’s the Emanation of Albion, so, the woman from out of Albion) disappears when Albion gets himself together and becomes part of him. In other words, the separation between the Zoa and the Emanation, between the Principle and the Emanation, is only an appearance in the material universe, or the material universe is the separation.The material universe is Mother Nature, or the Woman, separated from the unembodied, unmaterialized, unlimited Imagination. And it’s Reason, trying to create a separate self-hood, who has narrowed it all down to six senses, and thus created and projected outwards from the senses a material universe, and confuses that material universe with something outside of him, and tries to fuck it, or make love to it. So the woman here is symbolic then of the external projected universe – vegetative universe. He’s just introduced Woman. Remember, we’ve gone through all this. There was the unborn woman (so she never got born) in “(The Book of) Thel“, and there was some aspects of the clod of clay as woman, but now here’s the first actual birth of a woman (out of Imagination and Reason). So we’re going to have to follow her adventures, and, actually, the next phase she takes is in the next book, “(The Book of) Ahania” (which is why it was interesting to read these ( these prophetic books) in sequence. And then you go back and read Visions of the Daughters of Albion“, and the others, to check out his other versions. I haven’t got one single coherent scheme for how he deals with women, except piece-by-piece, as we go along here. And I’ve (confessedly) never fully understood “Eternity shuddered when they saw/ Man begetting his likeness/ On his own divided image”, unless it be that he’s really saying flat out that..

Student: (..that man and woman are different..)

AG: Oh, that’s obvious. They’ve split themselves up into sexes. Yeah, he’s repeating that, but, applying it to ourselves, it’s as if he’s saying, we think we are separate from the universe that we see, and we fall in love with something we think is outside of ourselves, and try to recreate the universe, or change the universe.

Student: Well, more simply, man (gets woman pregnant) with children..

AG: Yeah – Uh-hmm. But why “shudder”?

Student: Well..

AG: At one point it’s “What is the division?” “What is the divided universe?” (is what) I’m saying… I think the “divided” image here, is he’s saying that the whole thing is projected out of our own senses, so that includes…

Student: (Man and Woman)

AG: No, it’s not just the male and female. It’s between the whole external phenomena and ourselves. See? So that it’s more than just.. see, the female is symbolic of external phenomena, not merely just ladies, but external phenomena themselves. In other words, you , the man, think you are fucking external phenomena – you think you’re fucking external phenomena when you fuck a man – but you’re only fucking yourself, because you projected that whole universe. You projected the universe and the eternity shuddered when they saw you “begetting (your) likeness on (your) own divided image”. It isn’t Men and Women – it’s just Man – it’s Everybody. Everybody masturbating on their own Imagination! (So, it’s actually somewhat parallel, that the masturbatory fantasy that one entertains during masturbation, to the extent that one has those powers of visualization, that fantasy is similar (to) , is exactly, what this universe is, that Urizen and Los made). And that’s why it’s so horrific when people go through the universe, chasing love and progeny.

Okay, well, we didn’t get very far in this, but we’ve got two days left to finish the main block. Actually, what I want to do with this course is get through Urizen and touch on the next two books so as to leave you in a position to, on your own, tackle the greater glories of Milton and Jerusalem, which are much more beautiful, more romantic, wilder, richer, tastier. But once you understand this much, you can then go in and decipher the rest slowly, with pleasure. In other words, what I’m taking you through is the most un-rewarding, conceptual, goofiest (part) – the creation myth [tape and class end here]

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