Ginsberg on Blake continues – 60

page of original ms. from William Blake’s The Four Zoas, British Library

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

AG: Well, where did we get up to?  That’s the King of trouble”, Vala prophesying, the “King of Trouble'” (“King of Light”) prophesying his future troubles.  And when this happens, “Alas for me! what will become of me at that dread time?”, says Urizen.  So Ahania realizes, Oh-oh, it’s really true, and for seven days wept.

And now Ahania gives a big speech, and this is her version of the fall, her estimate of the whole situation.  It’s a long speech which really freaks out Urizen, so that he hits Ahania. Just as Los hit Enitharmon, he casts Ahania to earth – seizes her by the hair, in fact, throws her down “the steps of ice that froze around his throne”.

So what does she say that gets him so upset?  Well, it’s her analysis, just as we’ve had before:  I think the Emanations at different times have given different critiques or analyses of the original fall.  This finally is Ahania’s.  And I don’t think we’ve had hers yet, have we?  I think we’ve had … who have we had before?  I think Enion has given one.

Student:  Enitharmon gives one …
AG:  Enitharmon gave a version.
Student:  There’s Vala’s version.

AG:  Vala gave a version?  Yes.  And then their husbands commented on it, one after another.  Luvah, I think, gave one, back on page three-eleven.  So actually one-by-one, each one is pleading his case, in a sense, or giving their version.  Each instinct is giving their version of how … (or) what’s wrong with the other people.  In sum, shall we try and go through that, what she had to say?  – Let’s see… Yeah.  She says that the fault was that he listened to Luvah.  Reason listened to the emotions and allowed the emotions to take some control over his steeds.  She says to Urizen that you let emotion drive your steeds or command your energy, and he was deceitful and now Luvah, or emotions, are no longer obedient to the will of reason, and because of that … that gets to be really interesting//

“No longer now obedient to thy will…’ – (Because Luvah is “no longer now obedient to thy will”) – “… thou are compell’d/ To forge the curbs of iron & brass to build the iron mangers..” – (“The curbs of iron & brass.” –   The reason that Urizen has gotten into such an extreme position is that because emotion has taken over, reason now is having to work doubly hard to create a universe to contain emotion, which might otherwise explode the whole scene).

Student:  It seems like that statement (we’ve seen before) isn’t it?  Those who repress desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be repressed.
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  He got overtaken by emotion, so he has to tighten up…
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  … and reform.  So that it doesn’t….

AG:  Yes.  Yeah.  So that’s her analysis, and so “To forge the curbs of iron” is really crucial  – that phrase, “curbs of iron.” And that begins to explain how Luvah was poured into wedges, way before, or how Luvah, cast into the furnace and melted down, was then forced to flow in the strict furrows determined by reason.

Which reminded me … remember reason built the city or reason built the universe?  W.H. Auden has a very interesting poem on the death of Freud which ends with a similar conception – “sad is Eros, builder of cities,/ and weeping anarchic Aphrodite.”  “..and weeping”..  –  “On the Death of Freud”, who was sort of a Urizenic figure in the sense of ordering and rationalizing the emotions.  But (Freud) also understood them and recognized them, so “Sad is Eros, Eros builder of cities.”  So the idea of curbs of iron, which actually are cities, would actually fit with a lot of social theory, that you have to have these buildings….

Student: (“curbs of iron”? – I) think those are curbs, like on the street?
AG:  No.  Curbs like … that would be a horse.  A horse.
Student:  I thought they were curbs (on the..)
AG:  Horse curbs, yes.  It’d be funny if it were the streets!
But you would have to build … the social theorist says you have to build streets and red lights and green lights and rules and courts to curb the anarchic man. And the reason you have to have cities is somebody has to run the scene, so he’s got to have a central seat or palace and he’s got to rule the countryside so he’s got to have a little walled palace with an army, and he’s got to defend the countryside from the anarchic emotions of the neighbors, so the farmers would have to give him their tithe, and you’d have to have soldiery and you’d have to have lots of land. You’d have to have “curbs of iron and brass” and iron mangers in order to defend law and order in that territory from certain neighborhood tribes, (from the) emotional neighbors nearby.

AG: Well – “To feed them with intoxication from the wine presses of Luvah” – (Love and war.  “The wine presses of Luvah” – the alternatives of Love and war) – “Till the Divine Vision & Fruition is quite obliterated/They call thy lions to the fields of blood..” – (Well, she’s complaining that on account (that) he let Luvah take over, he’s having to work too hard and his faculties are being distorted, his resources are being abused, ultimately.  The resources of reason, the resources of sweet Science, are being abused).

“They call thy lions to the fields of blood, they rowze thy tygers/Out of the halls of justice, till these dens thy wisdom framd/ Golden & beautiful…” – (which is kind of nice –   “these dens thy wisdom framd/Golden & beautiful”, when Urizen is sweet Science).

“… but O how unlike those sweet fields of bliss/Where liberty was justice & eternal science was mercy..”

So actually she’s reminding him of the original vision of his role.  He’s supposed to be a good guy and a good husband and a good preserver, and now he’s become a big macho monster going out and … “you’ve let your boss take over!  You let Luvah take over and drive your automobile and you smashed it up (and) now, you’re not a good husband!”

“Then O my dear lord listen to Ahania, listen to the vision/The vision of Ahania in the slumbers of Urizen/When Urizen slept in the porch & the Ancient Man was smitten/The Darkning Man…”- (That was Albion, I think) – “…walkd on the steps of fire before his halls/ And Vala walkd with him in dreams of soft deluding slumber/He looked up & saw thee Prince of Light thy splendor faded…” – (So this is now saying that Albion no longer respects reason)…

to be continued

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

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