Allen Ginsberg on Blake’s Europe – 4

AG: Well, I want to look up “shadowy female”.  Let’s see what that has.  What was the phrase that he used –  “shadowy daughter” and “shadowy female”?  Let’s see if I can (find something in the Blake Dictionary)

Student: (The) shadowy female?

AG: Yeah.  I’ll get that in a minute.  I want to just take a look at that and see what (it says). It’s here.

“The Shadowy Female is this material world, a fallen form of Vala.”  She is the “daughter of Urthona” – imagination – “because Urthona, as “Los,” – the poetic imagination -“daily creates our world, and of Enitharmon.”  We’ll get to Enitharmon later on.  It’s Los’s Emanation.

“The birth bursts Enitharmon’s heart open forever, but presages war.  The Spectre then gives the Shadowy Female charge over the manacled Orc.”  –  (Oh, she’s going to take over Orc.  She’s going to try and repress Orc).

So it’s materialism.  Materialist materialism and spiritual materialism coming down on, with her icy magazines, Orc.  Coming down on Orc.  And so actually the shadowy female … remember “The Mental Traveler” ? –  he’s captured  – . “There the babe is born a boy/ And given to a woman old/. She nails him down upon a rock/And catches his shrieks in cups of gold.” –  So by understanding who the shadowy female is you may be able to begin interpreting the rhymes of “The Mental Traveller”.

Student: She also arises out of the breast of Orc.

AG: Yeah.   Yeah.  Well, but you’ve got to remember one problem here also is Blake is just beginning to work out his symbolism.  He doesn’t have it worked out so here he’s saying, “Okay, this principle of materialism, where does it come from?  Well, it’s rising out of this materialist revolution, maybe?  Is it Robespierre or somebody? or is it Stalin?

Student: (Or is it that the revolution dies..) 

AG: Well, yeah,(S Foster) Damon‘s interpretation of the shadowy female or the woman old — “is given to a woman old” in “The Mental Traveller” –  is society itself –  materialist society, which sucks up the newborn energy of the revolution, and he becomes old as she becomes young, or the revolution (and) the structures of society. There’s a shake-up and so there’s a new intelligence that goes through the old woman who becomes then a “virgin bright”, and he an old man.  In other words, the revolution enfeebles itself.  You can see that happening right now [1979]  in Iran.  It’s already beginning, that change from the newborn Orc. By the time it’s all over there’ll be this aged guest wandering over the earth in a long beard and the sands of the desert, the sands of the Iranian desert.  Right.

Well, I’ll give you a little more of this.

“Naked except for the cloud about her loins, and unable to speak (make meaning), she keeps Orc alive with food and drink from iron utensils until he reaches the age of fourteen, breaks loose, and embraces her (i.e., Revolution enters the material world).”

So we had her (already).  Remember we went through that with the iron cups in the beginning of Visions of the Daughters of Albion, (or) was that America?

Student: No, America

Studen (2): America

AG:  America, yes.  The beginning of America.  So that’s America.

“The sequel” –  (“Europe“) –  “consists of her agonized cry at her incessant fertility.  She is the voice of the Darwinian world, the struggle for life, ‘Consumed and consuming … howling terrors … devouring & devoured.’  But in the vision of the birth of Jesus, she sees her future salvation, the apocatastasis. See NATURE.”

Then “her story is retold, much expanded, in The Four Zoas. Vala, or the Four Zoas.  But we’re not going to get into that yet.

So, so far, Damon traces her as unspeakable unspeaking nature, unawakened nature, that nourishes spiritual revolution and physical revolution, that “Where man is not, Nature is barren.” So Orc, in a sense, binds her down and fertilizes her in the “Preludium” to America America,  Then, in the sequel, it’s the torment of continually giving birth.  I guess the torment of the revolution or the torment of continually giving birth.

We could look up “nature”. I think I’ll look up “nature” and see what he says about nature there.  Because Blake’s relation to nature is very strange.

(tape breaks here – and then continues}

AG: Well, one thing that might give you some sense of it (is) – [Allen quotes from S Foster Damon’s Blake Dictionary] –  “Nature is an external visualizing of the individual’s emotions”, (according to Blake). “Vala” (from “The Four Zoas”) is an “Emanation of “the emotions” (Luvah). “But Vala is now covered with her Veil of matter, which (in another symbol) is the shell of the Mundane Egg, the starry heavens.”
To accept this world of matter as real is ‘atheism’ … ‘Single vision & Newton’s sleep’….  Its religion is Deism; its science is the materialism of Newton.  The laws of cause and effect are false in themselves.” –  And so forth.

So, that’s one element of nature. That’s one aspect of nature, and so nature as fallen or nature as dead.  Because, remember, he asked the fairy, “Tell me, what is the material world and is it dead?”  So this is the basic theme he’s taking up.

Actually, it’s getting better.  See, the more you pour into it and sort of cross-reference the more you begin to see Blake is considering basic questions, like beginning [with] asking the basic Buddhist question, “What is the material world, and is it dead?”  Or the basic poetic question. Yeah?.

Student: It says under “nature” ….   (tape ends here but then continues)

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eighty-eight-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape

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