More Blake – Tiriel – 2

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s “Tiriel” continues

A different sort of indication that Blake wrote with the condition of the British Empire in mind is the source of the names.  Apparently there’s a book by Cornelius Agrippa, Occult Philosophy, from which the “Tiriel” name is taken, and from that it is the name of the Intelligency of the planet Mercury – commerce. And Erdman‘s suggestion is that Blake is using the language and the dialectics of occultists and mystics.  That the materialism of Tiriel, the fallen majesty, is the materialism of commerce itself.  As the problem of King George and the colonies and England and the colonies was a big commercial dispute – taxes, taxation, and trade – so this is actually a very overt mystical parable about the state of capitalism or the state of commerce and society of his own day, with Tiriel as King George finding his empire falling apart, and going mad, as King George did.

I hadn’t realized that George III was as crazy as these footnotes and scholarships make out, because they don’t teach you that in American history, I don’t think. Do they?

Students: (indecipherable)

AG:  I never heard of all this.  Apparently King George was nutty as a fruitcake and it was a total public scandal throughout England.  And it caused tremendous anguish and idiocy in England as the aristocracy tried to uphold his majesty, but he was really out of his head. Probably not very dissimilar from …

Peter OrlovskyNixon.

AG:  … the last days of Nixon.  The last days of Nixon where apparently he was drinking.  Everybody had to keep it together in the White House.  So it’s kind of interesting as a….

Peter Orlovsky:  What did occultists and mystics of that day work at?

AG: There were Swedenborgians and people translating medieval texts, hermetic philosophers.  Thomas Taylor, the Neoplatonist at that time, was collecting and translating all the fragments of Orphic philosophy and Hermetic philosophy and Gnostic philosophy.

Student: When did Agrippa write?

AG: Cornelius Agrippa, I don’t know. Let’s see.

Student: Is the name of the book Occult Philosophy?

AG: Yeah.  I’ve seen it referred to a few times.  I guess I’ll lend you the book anyway  (the Erdman book), to check out the footnotes and find out where.  Because it would take me time to look (it) up.

Student: That’s why….

AG: It’s mentioned in Damon, it’s mentioned in Bloom‘s footnotes to the book, and it’s also mentioned by Erdman. So all the scholars seem to have converged on that in the last twenty years.

Student: On the source of the term “Tiriel”?

AG: Yeah.  Um-hmm.  Or there are a few different sources, but that’s one of them.

to be continued  

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