Ginsberg on Blake continues – 6

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven and Hell”  continues from here 

AG:  So, on Plate XXI – ” I have always found that Angels have vanity..” – (The hippie term would be squares, I suppose you could call these) – “I have always found that Angels have vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise..” – (This is sort of any newspaper columnist, practically, has this tone of an angel, having the tone of being the only wise) –  … this they do with a confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning..” – (and I think that’s a critique of mind which all of us has gone through, realizing that we ourselves have sprouted “confident insolence “ out of our own “systematic reasoning”.  Everybody discovers that when they first go to college, maybe, or after you get out of high school and then, sophomoric  (remember that phrase) – people go through (phases).  (I did, certainly, when I was a sophomore in college, I suddenly somehow lost my mental cherry and woke up and realized that the world was vaster than my “systematic reasoning” that I built up from my family and high school in Paterson, New Jersey.  Everything was different when I got out of that cocoon).

So, there’s a little thing where he praises Paracelsus and Jacob Boehme  If you don’t know who those are – Paracelsus, 1493-1541, or something like that, Jacob Boehme 1575-1624,  great mystic philosophers.

AG: Then, the next “Memorable Fancy”

 “Once I saw a Devil in a flame of fire, who arose before an Angel that sat on a cloud. and the Devil utter’d these words…” – (So here’s the Devil, the good guy, going to give the actual take, the actual insight, (the) visionary insight, on the Christian religion. And there’s an analysis of Christ as one who broke all the Ten Commandments. This is a very straight (reading), this is.. remember..  (that) he got off of the years of the Age of Reason, of Tom Paine, of newborn atheism, coming after the French Enlightenment. And Blake is at the crossroads there between rationalistic enlightenment and the later (Arthur) Rimbaud, visionary, psychedelic, realization of a non-theistic majesty and spaciousness of mind, unafraid.  Not going into the mill, not going from a God thing into materialist logic, or Aristotle’s Analytics, but going from God to imagination as reference point, from God to human imagination. Going into a real deep psychology, instead of just a surface materialist view (which was the basic atheist view that you get from Tom Paine up to the American village atheist of the 20th century, who is still a materialist, who still thinks the universe exists, so to speak).

So here is an early rationalistic analysis of what’s wrong with the myth of Christ, or the over-rationalizing myth of Christ.  You can read that yourself.  You don’t need me to go through that “Memorable Fantasy”

“… if Jesus Christ is the greatest man, you ought to love him in the greatest degree; (but) now hear how he has given his sanction to the law of ten commandments: did he not mock at the sabbath, and so mock the sabbaths God? murder those who were murderd because of him? turn away the law from the woman taken in adultery? steal the labor of others to support him? bear false witness when he omitted making a defence before Pilate? covet when he pray’d for his disciples, and when he bid them shake off the dust of their feet against such as refused to lodge them? I tell you, no virtue can exist without breaking these ten commandments. Jesus was all virtue, and he acted from impulse. not from rules..” – (But it’s obvious, so you can get all that yourself).

“Note. This Angel, who is now become a Devil..” – (So he apparently converted the angel in his little argument) – “ now my particular friend – we often read the Bible together in its infernal or diabolical sense which the world shall have if they behave well” – (So those are his future books, actually) – “I have also – The Bible of Hell..” – (which is to say, an analysis of hell, so to speak.  That probably is Urizen, his next big book, Urizen.  He’s probably written Urizen  already as the Bible of Hell. In other words, the book of the creation, of the genesis, of the growth, of the analytic rational mind and its growth into over-dominance and monsterhood, seizing control over the entire universe (or seizing control over the other faculties –  heart, body, and imagination. So he’s already probably written Urizen, U-R-I-Z-E-N, and ready to publish that, and engrave i,t and print it out, which the world will have, whether they will or no.)

So, “One Law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression.”

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-six-and-quarter minutes in.  


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