Ginsberg on Blake continues – 90

Allen Ginsberg at Naropa 1978 on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here

AG:  “The Saviour mild & gentle bent over the corse of Death/ Saying If ye will Believe your Brother shall rise again/ And first he found the Limit of Opacity & name it Satan..” (“the Limit of Opacity” –  Satan there is fallen Urizen and “the Limit of Opacity”, meaning the extremeness of opacity.  How extreme can you get in not being able to see through, not being translucent, not being transparent and being opaque, or impervious to divine light, is Damon‘s comment on that –  Opacity as impervious to divine light.  As opposed to translucency. Speaking of a worm of sixty winters – man is a worm of sixty winters, but Oh translucent all within (quoted from) one of the songs in Jerusalem.  “Till he became a mortal worm, but Oh translucent all within.”  – But here it’s “the Limit of Opacity”, therefore called Satan)

” … the limit of Opacity & namd it Satan/In Albions bosom for in every human bosom these limits stand..” – (And that’s a very brave, proud statement.  He’s saying that in every human bosom there’s a limit to ignorance.  Perhaps the bosom itself is the limit of ignorance.  But the bosom makes a limit to ignorance, beyond that, beyond the polypus-ic bosom – there’s nothing worse, at any rate).

So, “… namd it Satan/ In Albions bosom for in every human bosom these limits stand/And next he found the Limit of Contraction” (That is, a contraction from infinite space, contraction from an infinity of space, and a total expansiveness contracted down and shrunk into the human form and space … the chinks of the senses, (or) the senses shrinking infinite possibility into only what eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch can tell).

Student:  When he says “a limit of Opacity,” he means …
AG:  In a way….
Student:  … opacity as a limit, right, not … I mean you can take that two ways, but I guess it means opacity as a limit, rather …
AG:  Yes.
Student:  … rather than opacity’s limit.
AG:  Yes.  When it’s finally totally opaque, that’s the end – there’s no more.  When you can’t see through it any more, it’s totally dark.  When Urizen, actually, is totally solidified under the rocks, because it’s Urizen that would become Satan – intelligence – so opacity would be ignorance, in a way.

Student:  But at least there’s a concept that’s developed later … this is a creative act that …
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  … we set a limit …
AG:  Yes.
Student:  … but it doesn’t go on and on and get opaquer …
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  … and opaquer.

AG:  Yeah, that’s why I say it’s a great, brave statement he says, “in every human bosom these limits stand.”  Thank God, otherwise we’d all be …
Student:  It’d be even worse.
AG:  … well, you can’t imagine anything worse than what we got already, sort of.  Maybe some super-Manson-oid human race.  But there’s a limit of opacity.  You could say Hitler is the limit of opacity.
Student:  There’s a limit to how opaque you can get.
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  That’s Satan.  That equals Satan, then.
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  Or you could take it like a limit of opacity – opacity limits you.
(opacity limiting) imagination because….
AG:  Well, self-limiting.  Opacity is self-limiting in any case. You can’t get any denser.  I suppose you could say from the human condition to the black hole.
Student:  (the depth of) limits.
AG:  Yeah.

Student (2):  I think he’s also trying to set up a system which can rival – and, in fact, does (rival) exactly …. (Isaac) Newton’s, and the concept of limit in calculus is very, very important.  And later on he sets as contrast to opacity and contraction, as you’ve been saying … … translucency …
AG:  Yeah.
Student (2):  … and expansion, which have no limits.  And that’s also, once you set up the system, which depends on limitations  … to say that these opposites have no limits is also a daring statement.
AG:  Yeah.
Student (2):  Yeah, so it’s kind of a … it’s an interesting thing….

AG:  Expansion is unlimited and translucency and intelligence is unlimited.  In other words, ignorance is the opposite of openness and clarity, or opacity and contraction are the opposite of clarity and openness.  So opacity is against clarity or intelligence.  I imagine contraction (is) related to space (and) opacity (is) related to time or intelligence or spirit of some sort.  Satan relates to Urizen, Adam relates to fallen Albion.  Adam is fallen Albion, fallen into the limit of contraction, according to (Harold) Bloom.

“And when was this done?  This was done/ While yet these beings were not born nor knew of good or Evil..” – (Form is given (a) limit … well, okay..) – “Then wondrously the rational universe of mind thoughts that created the Zodiac felt the divine hand./Then wondrously the Starry Wheels felt the divine hand..” – (“Starry Wheels” is the Zodiac, but it’s also symbolic of (the) rational universe and of the rational mind thought forms that, Newtonian-wise, create a universe or make that kind of universe visible.  Limit the universe.  Limit.

to be continued

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

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