Ginsberg on Blake continues – 92

Allen Ginsberg and his father Louis Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg 1979 Naropa class on William Blake’s The Four Zoas continues from here

Student:  I was just reading (about) wrath (and death and living), they mention about.. not to get too scared, or anything, because part of the thing is that nothing really happens.  The pain you’re experiencing in the body, that you think you have at that point, is a total illusion anyway.

AG:  Yeah.
Student:  So that’s a limit itself.
AG:  Um-hmm.
Student:  You can’t really lose it …
AG:  Yeah.
Student:  … if there’s nothing to lose.

AG:  I think it’s sort of an insight that everybody’s had at one time or other, whether they believe it or act on it or not, it is.

(Alicia) Ostrikers definition of this situation (of) opacity and narrowness of heart and mind (is) “the greatest possible hardness and narrowness of heart and mind which can still sustain life”. That’s pretty smart.  In other words. (as something) which doesn’t finally become so hard that there’s no life left.  So it’s the greatest possible hardness and narrowness of heart and mind which can still sustain life.

“Then wondrously the Starry Wheels felt the divine hand..” – (It’s total mercy, that evil can be so compacted, or ignorance can be so compacted, that it actually finds a form and you can see it and recognize it and it is not just a continuous paranoiac mystery for ever that you never get your hands on, but you can actually get your hands on ignorance, so to speak, even though you’ve got your hands on death or cancer or something.

Oh, the best illustration – I thought of this when I was reading –  (was when)  my father was dying of cancer and his sister, Hannah, and my mother didn’t want to tell him that he was dying and he had only maybe a few months to go, and Peter and myself and a few others and Trungpa thought that he should be told.  So we sort of forced the issue and we had the doctor come in and we sat in my father’s study and he sat on his afternoon nap couch (and) we sat in chairs, and the doctor said very gently that he had a tumor, and it was malignant, and my father said, “Where?”  And the doctor said, “In your spleen.”  And my father breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Oh, I thought it was in my brain.”  So that’s setting a limit.  In other words, even if you have your hand on cancer, even if you have your hand on death, it is setting a limit to the possibility of suffering.  To know what the actual suffering is.  To know what the actuality is sets a limit because it might be even … how far can chaos go?

So – ”  … Limit/ Was put to Eternal Death..” – (My father felt the limit.  “Limit was put to eternal death” that moment when the doctor told him exactly what he had and he breathed a sigh of relief.  “Limit/Was put to Eternal Death” (or the mundane shell, the mundane life) – ” … Los felt the Limit” – (It also means that because you die there’s a limit to eternal death.  If the mundane shell or the mundane life is conceived of as eternal death, from the point of view of eternity, then death puts a limit to it, if you want that).

” … Los” – (Imagination) – ” … felt the Limit & saw” – (And this is like at this climax of opacity and contraction there’s this immensely joyful proclamation) – ” … Los felt the limit & saw/ The Finger of God touch the Seventh furnace in terror/ And Los beheld the hand of God over his furnaces/ Beneath the Deeps in dismal Darkness beneath immensity”

So “the Finger of God” touching “the Seventh furnace.  “The Seventh furnace” would be equivalent also to the seven eyes of God.  Six consecutive errors finally culminating and giving up and Divine Mercy or Jesus coming in – the seventh furnace or the seventh eye – the Divine Mercy of Jesus.  It’s Loss or imagination’s seventh stage, or seventh phase:  Divine Mercy.

(S. Foster) Damon has a good explanation of the Finger of God.  On page one-three-eight of (A Blake) Dictionary) – “It’s “probably suggested by Michelangelo’s picture on the Sistine ceiling, where the Deity extends his life-giving finger to touch the finger of the newly created Adam.  In Blake’s symbolism, however, the Finger touches Los’s seventh Furnace, these furnaces corresponding to the seven Eyes of God, the last being Jesus.  It is the moment when Divinity gives life to the creative work of the poet.” –  (And that moment certainly gives its certain life to this whole chaotic myth).

“The episode occurs first in The Four Zoas (IV:277)” – ( that’s where we are) – “and involves the creation of Adam.  Los has just bound Urizen. The Daughters of Beulah lament the death of Albion and appeal to Jesus, who promises his resurrection.”  – (We’ve had that prayer, that mild prayer before, “Savior if you had been here our brother hadn’t died.”)

So the Daughters of Beulah “appeal to Jesus, who promises  (his) resurrection. He then fixes the two limits of  Opacity and Contraction” – (Satan and Adam), “thus limiting Eternal Death.  The Starry Wheels feel the divine hand.  Los also feels the limit and sees the “Finger of God touch the Seventh furnace” – (terrific image there) –   “He is terrified; drops his hammer; and on beholding the shapes which enslaved humanity puts on, he becomes what he beholds” or “identifies himself with the sufferings of mankind).”

Then he does talk about this same concept in the next paragraph (by] taking a little line of Jerusalem (and making) some further exposition of the same thing from JerusalemThese ideas will be expanded and better defined in Milton later, and Jerusalem  and other prose pieces.  So this is the solid introduction of this idea.  As, in a little while, we’ll get more new (information), like the other side.  The building of the city of Art and rebuilding of the whole state of fallen man will be coming up in the next lines, soon.

But, “In Jerusalem (12:5-14), Los terrified sees “the finger of God go forth upon my Furnaces from within the Wheels of Albion’s Sons, fixing their Systems permanent, by mathematic power giving a body to Fals(e)hood that it may be cast off for ever, with Demonstrative Science, piercing Apollyon with his own bow.” – (“with his own bow” –  “Demonstrative Science piercing Apollyon..” – (or some kind of horrific error) – “with his own bow”.
So,  by “mathematic power” – ((by Urizenic power)  –  “giving a body to falsehood that it may be cast off forever”.

Well, the basic idea is clear, isn’t it?  That truth shall set you free.  In other words, extending it to that end.  But recognition of evil or ignorance is the only way to resolve it.  The same in meditation.  Acknowledgement and recognition of any thought form is the only way to relate to it. By recognizing it, rather than suppressing it, or inflating it, simply recognizing it.  Observing it.

So, page….   [the tape ends here, to be resumed]

to be continued 

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately nineteen-and-a-half minutes in and continuing until approximately thirty-one minutes in

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