The Four Zoas (Ginsberg on Blake continues – 7)

“Vala” – (depicted in William Blake’s Jerusalem. The Emanation of the Giant Albion)

Allen Ginsberg’s class on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here 

AG:  Well, okay, let’s check out Vala then.  Before we go any further let’s find Vala.  In Damon’s dictionary (there’s an enormous, long note on Vala, as the goddess of Nature..”the Emanation of Luvah”,the eastern Zoa”.  In a sense, the “exteriorization of our emotions”, and so, the heart of nature, let us say, or the vale of nature, (the word is like (the word) “vale”).

Student:  Natural beauty?

AG:  Beauty of nature as distinct from Enitharmon, the beauty of the Spiritual Imagination.  Yeah.  The seductiveness of nature. The great Earth Mother.  But also, as Earth Mother, (she) is also Maya illusion, a veil.  So the name is appropriate – veil – if you follow Blake’s system and say this is the fallen world and all the leaves and trees and sunlight and mountains are a veil over our senses, actually, or we have projected them – our emotions have projected them, desiring some material gross universe out there to be at home in –  so, a veil.

Let us see.  There is another (note).  In The Four Zoas later on, according to Damon, “Vala” is the momma of Urizen – the beauty of material nature is the mother of reason.

Okay.  So, just in general, let us say, to begin with, Vala is the beauty of nature, or the Earth Mother or the Goddess actually.  The Mother Goddess seen as a seductress and as an illusion, in that aspect. Yes?

Student:  You mentioned “Maya” several times, I’m not sure, exactly….

AG:  “Maya” is the old word for illusion.  Sanskrit?  Is that Sanskrit?

Student:  Yeah.

AG:  Illusion.  The veil of illusion.  V-E-I-L.  The veil of illusion.  I.e., you’re sitting there and the world looks beautiful and all of a sudden your eyeballs drop out and it’s not there anymore.  It turned out to be an illusion all along, projected by your eyeballs.  As (in) the little experiment we did moving the eyeball the other day (sic), if you just move the eyeball the whole veil of “Maya” moves around.  It isn’t really stable. You were doing that?  Do you remember that?  Did we do that here?

Students:  Yes.
AG:  Oh, you didn’t try it?
Student:  No I heard it.
AG:  Oh, in the library.  Did anybody here try?  Do you remember? Well, let’s do it here.

In order to get a passing glimpse of Mother Maya, or to raise the skirt of Mother Maya, if you put one hand over your left eyeball and then, with an open eye, just push your eyeball around a bit rapidly, you’ll see that the blackboard and all that’s attached to the blackboard, the entire material universe attached to the blackboard jumps up and down.
Student:  Uh-huh.
AG:  And it’s completely dependent on the eyeball.  As distinct from when you move your head around this way and everything stays in place.  The illusion remains.  But  once you.. if you poke the author of illusion, or push the author of illusion around –  the eyeball itself – then the entire universe jumps up and down with the eyeball.

Student:  And that comes from Sanskrit you said?  “Maya
AG:  “Maya”.  I’ve forgotten.  What is the word “Maya” from?
Student (2):  It is from the Sanskrit.
AG:  It is.  What is it in Sanskrit?
Student (2):  Desire.
AG:  Desire.
Student (2):  It’s like desire….
AG:  Perfect!  Dig that! –  “Maya” is desire, which fits in with Maya being the Emanation of Luvah –  desire, emotion, feeling.  So it’s emotion separated from itself.  Feeling separated from itself and become desire for feeling.  So Blake’s mental roots go all the way back to archetypal consciousness, back in (the) Sanskrit. “Maya” means desire?

Student (2):  Yeah, something like that.
Student (3):  It really means “my”.
AG:  Mind?
Student (3): “My”
AG:  My?
Student:  So it’s sharing possessions ..

AG:  Some selfhood become manifest as snakes and trees and worms and serpents and bacteria and stars.  And dragons in the stars and bulls in the stars.  Rams in the stars.  ((Blake’s) Shadowy Female, also).

There is also, I think, something about Maya’s, (or) Vala’s, veil – “the film of matter which covers all reality”.  (It is) – (quoting Damon again) –   “the Mundane Shell”…(It is ) “our body of flesh”.. (It is) “the code of Moral Law”.. (It is) “the Veil in the Temple” –  (or the mystery of the churches, (and) all that).  And, “Vala’s Garden is the realm of daydreaming, where our hopes and fears take fugitive shape.” – (being part of the subconscious..)..

Okay.  So we have some sense of Vala –  The Song of Vala!”, or the “Song of Death!””

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-and-a-half minutes in and concluding at approximately sixty-seven-and-a-half minutes in

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