Blake – (Research/Readings)

Ginsberg on Blake at Naropa, 1979, continuing from here   (notes on various scholarship) (See also here

AG (to Students): Who was to read the various books? (Who had)  Gilchrist’s life (of Blake) , is it? That was Helen.  Are you here?  Helen H.? You here Helen?  Well, what is it?  Rick McGonagle?

Student (Rick McMonagle) : McMonagle.
AG: Yeah.  Pardon me?
Student: (Rick McMonagle): McMonagle.
AG: McMonagle, right.  Have you had a chance to look at the Kathleen Raine book(s) [Blake and Tradition] at all?
Student (RM)): I did before class and …
AG: Yeah.
Student (RM): … and I’ve even bought one volume …
AG: Yeah.
Student (RM)): … in Boulder.  It’s … I tried to look up America and it’s scattered throughout it, so I really didn’t do it.

AG: Yeah, well, see. you have to give yourself a little time and get into it.  Basically. what Kathleen Raine will do is give her history of hermetic images and some Oriental images and Byzantine images and Hebrew images that will lead up to the imagery in Blake, like the business of the cycle from underground to above ground.  The mythic,  mythic imagery stuff.  And I think we’ll need her. She’ll be useful for these names, particularly, because a lot of the names that Blake uses are taken from old Gnostic mythology, Manichean mythology, like the shadowy female, Ruha.  (Ruha in Hebrew is sort of like the demon-woman universe,.  sort of the Mother Goddess seen in unfriendly aspect).  And I think Kathleen Raine goes back to all that, if you can get that.

And then (to Student) Andy Levy, have you cracked that Yeats-Ellis Blake at all?
Student (AL): I started working on the Songs of Experience
AG: Uh-huh.  Okay.  Whenever you can get into it.  Maybe look through it and see if there’s anything that can help out with what Yeats thought of all those names in Europe, is what I’d like to find out.
Student (AL): Okay.

AG:  And David (sic),  in the engraved designs. David?  Did you get to look at those?
Student (David): Yeah, I went through it but I didn’t see anything that was from America
AG:  Did you see any Westminster Abbey stuff?
Student (David): Uh-uh.
AG: They must be in the engraved designs, in the early (part). You might look at that again.

Then we’ve got a packet..  Bruce Kaufman.
Student: Yeah.
AG:  A packet for Europe
Student (BK) : I haven’t had a chance to….
AG: Well, we’re coming up to Europe, so look at that.
Student (BK): I got to get it in the library….
AG: Those are the….
Student (BK): Next week I think….

AG: Yeah.  Peter C (sic)“s  gone, or not here?  Disappeared?  What happened to him?  Disappeared?
Peter Orlovsky:  Is he gone?
AG:  He keeps disappearing.
Student: He’s here.
Student (2): He’s been awake three nights straight.
AG:  Oh, I see.  Partying.
Student: Right.
Student (2): Writing poetry.
AG:  Oh, he’s been writing his epic.
Student: Yeah.
Student (2):  He might have finished it.
Student: He finished it.
AG:  He did.
Student: He’s got it, I think.
AG: What, he finished it and then what?
Student: He’s eating dinner.
AG: Disappeared.  Disappeared into heaven.

Let’s see now.  Peter, he was going to look up a book by Roger Easson on Blake the illustrator, which would have had some stuff.

And (to Student) Charlie (Ross) did you get to Ostriker at all?
Student (CR): No, I didn’t get a chance to get to the library.

AG: Nobody’s been doing any work! (It’s) been a week-and-a-fucking-half (since the last session).  Partying!  You’ve been doing nothing but partying!  It’s pure Orc.  Pure Orc.!  Well, okay.  I thought in all that time everybody would have done something.  Well..

AG:  (to Student) Albert (sic), you were reading some of the Von Sidren [sic].?
Student (Albert): Yeah.  I’ve only one comment that referred to Europe
AG: Yeah.
Student: The book was written in 1949, and the guy says in the book here, “The text is confused in meaning.”  So it means in 1949 they hadn’t figured it out yet.

AG:  Right.  Right.  We just need comments from people who’ve had some kind of “rising sun” apprehension of it.

Did anybody find the Foster Damon book, Blake and His Symbols?or (Mark) Schorer’s Politics of Vision?
Reed Bye: I have that.
AG:  Did you get it?
Reed Bye: Yeah.
AG: Where did you find it?
Reed Bye: At C(olorado) U(niversity).  There was two, two or three of them.
AG: Ah.  Is it anything?
Reed Bye: I think there might have been two of them.
AG: What does Erdman.
Reed Bye: It’s all about his life, I mean, his life and thought. It’s not about his works.  You know, it’s very….
AG: It’s a biography.
Reed Bye: Well, there are sections….
AG: Does it take up the revolution part?
Reed Bye: It’s like … huh?
AG: Does it take up the American and European revolution?
Reed Bye: I don’t know I …
AG: Yeah.
Reed Bye: … haven’t read far enough to know.
AG: Um-hmm.
Reed Bye: But. so far it’s about … it’s essays about his thought and how he developed … how he became like …
AG:  You might just check through it and see.
Reed Bye: There’s a lot of interesting quotes.
AG:  It should be a good book.  Just the title.

Peter Orlovsky:  What book is that?

AG:  A book by Mark Schorer, called The Politics of Vision
Reed Bye: But it doesn’t … so far it hasn’t contained anything particular.
AG: Um-hmm.  Well, everybody keep trying.
Reed Bye: “Every honest man is a prophet.”
AG: “Every honest man is a prophet.”  Yeah.  Blake said that, didn’t he?
Reed Bye: Yeah.
AG: Yeah, that’s a common thing. Whitman had the same idea –  “Fool, said the muse, look in your heart and write.” [Editorial note – Allen is, of course, quoting Sir Philp Sidney here]  – That’s a key – It’s the same thing that he said in … (that’s from Marriage of Heaven and Hell, I think).. where he asks Ezekiel how they could claim to be God and talk for God, prophesy,  and he said, “Honest indignation.”
Reed Bye: Um-hmm.
AG: (It’s) basic.

AG: And Jeanne. (to Student)  You had Northrop Frye.
Student (Jeanne): Right.  Since you brought them back….
AG: Okay.  We haven’t seen it yet.
Student: No.  I’m reading….

AG:  (to Student) And Anne (sic) you had a whole bunch of … Anne? You had a whole bunch of illustrated books.  Did you get to them at all?  Okay. Well, try and get to the some.  Get to some of this.

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-five-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately seventy-one-and-a-half minutes in


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