Ginsberg on Blake continues – 71

“The Globe of Blood” – “And left a round globe of blood/Trembling on the Void” – William Blake – from The First Book of Urizen (1794)

Allen Ginsberg’s 1979 Summer Session at Naropa on William Blake’s The Four Zoas  continues from here

AG: I thought just to get some sense of perspective, because we’re coming to the end of the last week (sic), to give a three-minute outline of the rest of the books, or the rest of the plot, of The Four Zoas .  In “Night Four” Urthona‘s Spectre has risen – that is to say, the Spectre Imagination has risen, and Los, his material form, or his apparent form, (his) fallen form, sets to work with his hammers to set limits to Urizen‘s ruined nature, and it turns out to be a big globe of blood binding Urizen into this world.  And that actually turns out to be our own human form.  So it’s the creation of a human form.  It’s in the post-flood world where Tharmas has fallen – body has fallen, mind has fallen, imagination has fallen – but Imagination’s fallen state is to… has to put a limit to the chaos, so the limit to the chaos is us, our own form.  And so it’s a description of that.

Student:  About a fifth of the lines or so are taken directly from the Book of Urizen
AG:  Yeah.  From Urizen
Student:  A repeat of that.
AG:  That’s why I dressed like this (sic) –  “the globe of blood”.  That globe of blood is here, by the way, or as some reasonable facsimile..of the womb, also, I think.  It’s a womb, it’s a beginning of a human form, and it’s also the sun covered over with human hieroglyph.  It’s also Enitharmon separated out from Urthona and Los.  So that’s why I got a red shirt on – literally. You might pass this [Blake’s image from The Book of Urizen] around for those who have never seen it.  So that was Book Four, or “Night Four”.

(So), “Night Five” – a revolution begins in that world.  The Orc cycle begins, so there’s rebellion and the birth of Orc beginning with the mad dance of Los, I think.  And also Los goes mad and dances around, once he’s created this human form.  And Urizen begins to explore his subterranean caverns inside his skull – the dens of religion.

In “Night Six” (there’s) a long survey of Urizen’s caverns and dens, of the consciousness of Urizen and the forms that Urizen has created.  Then Urizen hears about Orc, and seeks him out.  Intellectual confusion, and apparently there’s an outline of the historic rises and fallings of civilizations and sciences as order and revolution contend.

“Night Seven” – Los matures.  Urizen-  the historical tyrant – meets Orc.  There’s an account of birth of (the) nature goddess, the Shadowy Female, Vala.

“Night Eight” seems to precipitate (and) focus in on the history of Blake’s time around 1804 — the historic background of state religion, hidden war, Urizen’s final delusions.  The bottom of the pit, dark, and things have reached a limit of confusion, chaos and human pain -historical pain, conflict – the war conflicts between Orc and Urizen.  Napoleon takes over and becomes the tyrant.  So there’s a Council of Gods to set limits on the Fall of Man, in “Night Eight”.

Student:  “Night Eight” is the state religion in war?  Is that what you said?

AG:  Yeah.  “Night Eight” – 1804.  State religion in war.  Or the religion of the state, which creates war.  State and religion (as) one, creating war.

“Night Nine”:  After it hits bottom, “Night Nine” is a last judgement, an apocalypse.  Los attacks the sun and moon. Imagination attacks the material universe –  time and space, mechanical time and space, Newtonian time.  Urizenic time and space.

Then Urizen accepts the world of the present as it is and stops daydreaming of being the supreme king of all futurity, so there’s a vision of the plowing and the harvest and the winnowing and the vintage of sweet Science, or Urizen.  The dead wake to judgement, tyranny ends, and everybody is awaiting the spring and the replanting.

[to Tom Schwartz] – You had a few notes on that? –   Tom Schwartz and I were talking about getting a little tiny bit of a general survey to locate us where we are now before going on to the end of Book Three and Book Four.

Student:  Yeah, I think we’re getting somewhat too caught up in the little detail and not seeing the whole scheme.

AG:  Somewhat?  I totally lost the forest.

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

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