Allen Ginsberg on William Blake continues from here. (Allen has been discussing Blake’s concept of eternity)
Student: Do you formulate any correlation between what Keats says about “Truth is Beauty and Beauty is Truth“ in relation to that?
AG: Probably not. Because I was just trying to figure this out.
Student: No, but you were saying….
AG: I haven’t figured it out. I have finished yet. Let me finish the eternity and then we’ll get to Keats’ Beauty and Truth. They are ultimately related. Undoubtedly they all come from the same imagination and the same language.
There was a problem of the sex division. Damon’s formulation of that is that the sexes do not exist in eternity. “(E)ach individual has already absorbed and synthesized his feminine portion. The great activity” consists, rather than hunting (to get laid), hunting Ideas. “The hunting of Ideas and the mental warfare between them – ‘the great Wars of Eternity, in fury of Poetic Inspiration.'” (Damon’s quoting from the book Milton). The ultimate idea would be that any selfhood would annihilate itself and be willing to die for the good of others. So the great idea is the death of self, or the death of selfhood, and the willing acceptance of that death.
And Damon concludes his exposition of the word “eternity” as used in Blake – “Blake’s great task therefore was to ‘to open the Eternal Worlds” – (that’s quoting Blake) – “to open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes/ Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought, into Eternity/ Ever expanding in the Bosom of God,” – (and we’re stuck with a God, except that he adds a comma) – “God, The Human Imagination.”
So the reference point or final appeal, again, seems to be Urthona – human imagination, in an unfallen state.
So the Eternals groand – “Eternity groand & was troubled at the Image of Eternal Death/ The Wandering Man bow’d his faint head and Urizen descended” – (Remember, Enitharmon had called on Reason to come down and take power over the situation in her quarrel with Los, who had just hit her).
Now, your question was about how would this correlate with Keats’ “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – That is all/Ye know on Earth, and all you need to know? Was that your question?
Student: Well it’s “Ode to a Grecian Urn“. Right. I was thinking….
AG: Was that your question?
Student: It wasn’t a question. It was….
AG: Do you want an answer?
Student: Would I like an answer to my own statement? It is (was) two statements..
AG: No, what is it you want?
Student: What do I want?
Student: I was trying to iterate a point, that when you said something (along the lines that he was saying) truth was eternal, or….
AG: Eternity is a truth that’s behind the appearance of space.
Student: In other words when you hit a point where everything kind of….
AG: He was saying, very specifically, eternity was a truth that is hidden behind the appearance – false appearance – of space and time.
Student: And what would be eternity of? Just….
Student: Alright, so that’s what….
AG: …which imagines space.
Student: See, that’s what I didn’t hear when you presented it.
AG: I hadn’t said it yet. I hadn’t gotten to it. I was trying to figure it out. Actually, I’m just trying to figure this out.
Student: I’m not saying you weren’t.
AG: Okay – So if Beauty is Truth, well, then (that would be) Enitharmon is Truth – Spiritual Beauty. That would be Keats’ equivalent. He’d be hung on the beauty part.
Student: I’ll ask a question now.
Student: Didn’t Keats (well, in a sense, go beyond beauty into the pure imagination and a sense of dissolving in it. That’s asking a question (It’s not..…)
AG: I don’t know. He was pretty young and he had rash stupid statements.
Student: I mean, in his essays, didn’t it come up?
AG: I haven’t read his essays. Just that one poem, which is sort of his epitome. He says Beauty is Truth and that’s all you need to know. That sometimes means something. It’s meant something to me sometimes. Beauty as Truth.
Student: For some reason I said.. because when you asked.. I understood that what I thought you were saying was just eternity as truth was satisfying to him that was, that was vague in the sense that eternity of what?
AG: Well, it would wind up the eternity of imagination.
Student: Yes, so it would be in one sense Imagination
AG: Well, whatever that is. Because who’s imagining?
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately four-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately ten minutes in