Ginsberg on Blake – continuing – 31 (Ezekiel)

“A Vision of the Prophet Ezekiel”

Allen Ginsberg on William Blake’s  The Four Zoas – continuing from here

AG: [Allen is momentarily distracted by students whispering] – I won’t be able to teach if you talk while I’m teaching, though, that’s the problem.  Is that going to be a problem, do you think?  Okay.  Or I won’t be able to keep … by teach I mean just to remember what I’m saying while I’m saying..

(So)..  How did that (the elements in the Book of Ezekiel) compare with our four Zoas?  Do you have a copy of that that I asked for, the …

Student:  Chronology…

AG:  Does anyone have a copy of the chronology?  Alright.  Oh, you have the original here.

Tharmas was the ox here.  Urizen was the lion,  Luvah,  emotion,  had a man’s face,  the difference is… no, the eagle.. Urthona is the eagle.

Student: Allen?
AG:  Yes?
Student:  In the back of … (Harold) Bloom says, page eight-seventy, that Urizen is the lion, Tharmas the eagle, Urthona the man, and Luvah is the ox.  It’s different than….
Student:  Northrop (Frye) brought in whole other systems, so….
AG:  Yeah.  Let’s see.  Where did I get (these)?  I think I got mine from …
Student:  Damon.
AG:  … Damon.
Student:  Yeah.

AG: (to Student 2)  Do you know what this discrepancy is?
Student (2):  Well, I guess sometimes there’s justification in the text so that you can put up the…
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student (2): …  (the)identification with the animals gets reversed…
AG:  Uh-huh.
Student (2): … and that’s partly because whenever a Zoa decides that he’s the head Zoa, he accumulates to himself a lot of the stuff that belonged originally…
AG:  Yeah.
Student (2):  … to the other people.  So there’s a lot of confusion and every cartography of this system decides a little bit different from the other …
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student (2):  …probably because they want to be original cartographers, too.  So normally Frye’s system doesn’t exactly jibe with Damon’s.
AG:  Uh-huh.
Student (2):  Damon’s is the first one, so usually….
AG:  Yeah, I’m following the divisions I’ve got now because, it seems that, whenever I’ve tried to apply them they seem to be consistent.
Student (2):  Um-hmm.
AG:  At least so far.
Student (2):  Yeah.
AG:  They haven’t goofed up yet the different heads.

So apparently he’s got exactly the same heads from Ezekiel. Does anybody know in the original Biblical prophecy what the significances were?  We covered this very slightly, but we didn’t have the text at the time.  Do you know anything about that?

Student (2):  No. You’re talking about what those four faces might have symbolized.  That first vision is the one where Ezekiel is called and.. just the fact of having beheld such a … such a sight …
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student (2):  … and then having the permission, the actual permission, to say, “I’m going  to be a prophet, prophesying (to the(ir) captors), (whether you like it or not).
AG:  I’m just wondering….
Student (2):  I find Ezekiel very difficult.  Another thing that Blake did….
AG:  What?  Did later commentators have any interpretation?
Student:  I don’t know.

Student (2):  I do believe that some people think that there’s a correspondence between the Zodiacal – Zodiac …
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student:  Yeah.
Student (2):  … systems …
AG:  Yeah.
Student (2):  … and Ezekiel’s vision.
AG:  Yeah.
Student (2):  That he was borrowing from some of the same …
AG:  Yeah.
Student (2):  … archetypes.
Student:  Although the eagle isn’t in the Zodiac.
Student (3):  The eagle is not in the Zodiac?
Student:  No.
Student (2): The eagle is always, in all literature tradition, was the bird of wisdom…
AG:  Um-hmm – Or genius …
Student (2):  Far-sightedness.
AG:  … in Blake.
Student (2):  He has far-sightedness.  His eyes … he doesn’t get blinded by the sun

Student [Steven Taylor]:  Didn’t Helen Luster (sic)  in one class saying something about the eagle being in the Jewish Zodiacal system?
AG:  Was the eagle in the Jewish Zodiacal system? (to Helen Luster)  Helen?  Did you mention that?
Helen Luster:  Well, it’s the whole Merkabah mysticism comes from Ezekiel.  The chariot and then the palaces and then the whole thing about looking in the mirror to see God.

AG:  What is Merkabah?
Helen Luster:  Well, it’s a long..  It’s a long … It means that … it means the chariot, actually, in the.. Kabbalah…
AG:  Yeah.
Helen Luster:  That’s where the palace is (from)…  but this was a long.. part of the Kabbalistic writings relating to the Zohar…
AG:  Uh-huh.
Helen Luster:  Probably some of it’s incorporated into the Zohar, I’m not sure.
AG:  Um-hmm.

Student (2):  The four-square palace that starts at about Chapter twenty-eight in Ezekiel, I think it is, and it just seems to.. it goes on..He mentions it in the Bible.  He measures it cubit-by-cubit.
AG:  Yeah.
Student (2):  It’s a huge place with different porches and rooms and hidden inside it walls and gates
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student (2):  And one of things it keeps emphasizing is that it’s four-square.
AG:  Uh-huh.
Student (2):  And that’s, I think, parodied in the palace that Urizen builds.
AG:  In Book Two, yeah.
Student (2):  And then later it comes of course again by way of the Book of Revelations …
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student (2):  … where the..
AG:  Seven eyes of God.
Student (2):  … that, you know, in Ezekiel that obsessive measurement.  I mean, he has all the measurements of this palace which… drew the attention of Richard of St. Victor, for instance.  That’s practically all he writes about,. He’s got one little chapter on the wheels… and the four living creatures.  And then the rest is all about the proportions of…the palace.
AG:  That’s in Chapter twenty-eight of Ezekiel.  Chapter twenty-eight of Ezekiel?
Student (2):  It starts there (and then continues)
AG:  Let’s get into that when we get into.. The four-square palace.  Let’s get into that when we get into Blake’s…

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately four-and-three-quarter minutes in and continuing until approximately ten-and-a-half minutes in

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