The Four Zoas – Ginsberg on Blake continues – 4

The Jealousy of Los (from Vala, or The Four Zoas) – William Blake  (The British Museum)

Allen Ginsberg’s 1979 Naropa class on William Blake’s “The Four Zoas” continues from here 

AG (quoting William Blake) : “The Fallen Man takes his repose:  Urizen sleep in the porch….”

So now begins an account, in this “Song of Death”, of the relative position of all the four Zoas:  Luvah and Vala, his Emanation – Luvah the emotion and Vala the Emanation or feminine counterpart of that, separated.  We will have Urizen come in.  Let me read just five lines and then we’ll analyze them and figure out what’s going on, what the score is, what the plot is here.  See, what I’ve been trying to do is keep the plot straight.

Student:  Could you just repeat that?  How is that … how is it the same as Eden … Eve and the temptation.  How is what Enitharmon is saying now as the same as….
AG:  It was a passing thought.  I don’t remember how I got there.
Student:  Okay.
AG:  But, she is saying, Let us not be nice to our parents.  They are seeing the woe of the parents – Enion and Tharmas – …
Student:  Uh-huh.
AG:  … and she, noticing that … well, see, Los, the imagination, has some inkling of empathy for the parents – “Thy name is Enitharmon; said the fierce prophetic boy/While thy mild voice fills all these Caverns with sweet harmony/O how our Parents sit & mourn in their silent secret bowers” – (So he’s showing some kind of empathy or sympathy for the fallen elders.  It’s just like a kid who says, “Oh, our poor old mommy and daddy, they’re working at the factory all day”).  And she says, “…with a dropping tear & frowning/Dark as a dewy morning when the crimson light appears” – (“Let them work in the factories, otherwise they wouldn’t appreciate us!”)
Student:  Right.  The thing I was going to pick up on….
AG:  “To make us happy let them weary their immortal powers.”  –  Go on.

Student:  In the earlier passages when they say she drove all the females away and he drove all the males … there’s the beginnings of jealousy.
AG:  Yes.  Yes.
Student:  And this is Enitharmon, who’s jealous.  She wants Los’s attention, instead of him giving it to his mother.  So he can, like..
AG:  Yes, there would be that.  There would be that, sure.  Yeah.

Student(2):  I just don’t understand why … how psychologically we keep relating that  to the imagination.
AG:  Which?  The Los?
Student(2):  The jealousy and Enitharmon, because this is the beginning of their whole behavior.  I mean, they’re always….
AG:  Well, first they go into a “Moony” daydream, that’s really separated from the real world and from the body, in the Moony spaces of Beulah.  So you’d think they’d have a good time.  All they’ve got to do is daydream.  But there’s some built-in karmic problem of self-hood there to begin with since they’re just Spectres.  He isn’t full Imagination.  He’s just-born and he’s born with this sister (with a somewhat incestuous relationship with his sister, actually).  Actually, he doesn’t want to fuck his sister (there’s shame and fear over that) ,  but, on the other hand, there they are all alone and who else are they going to fuck?  And it’s the beginning of the world,  the beginning of the psychological world.  And originally they aren’t supposed to be separated, to begin with.  It’s just that they’re in a fallen state.

So, because they’re in a fallen state and have gotten bodies all of a sudden, although they’re kind of shadow bodies so far, their situation is confused emotionally as to where their allegiance lies.  His instinct is to check out the parents and say, “Why are they suffering for our growth and pleasure?’ How come we’ve rejected Enion, wandered far away from her, and she’s kind of re-humanized?”.  Enion, because of this experience of rejection by her children, is somewhat humanized, (back on page nine, line thirteen and fourteen) – “Rehumanizing from the Spectre in pangs of maternal love.”  Page nine, line three –  The one that we were doing on the blackboard.  “Rehumanizing from the Spectre in pangs of maternal love.”

For Buddhists, the Spectre would be Rudra, actually – Self-hood. Solidified self-hood.  That would be the equivalent of Spectre, to put it into place.   Yes?

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-nine-and-a-quarter   minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.