Saturday, November 13, 2010

Urizen by William Blake Chapter 3 [Part 1]

The nature of blogs being as they are, the entries are in reverse order. In other words, this is the forth part, labeled the third part, in the first position. The other parts you can find by scrolling down.

1. The voice ended, they saw his pale visage
Emerge from the darkness; his hand
On the rock of eternity unclasping
The Book of brass. Rage siez'd the strong

2. Rage, fury, intense indignation
In cataracts of fire blood & gall
In whirlwinds of sulphurous smoke:
And enormous forms of energy;
All the seven deadly sins of the soul
In living creations appear'd
In the flames of eternal fury.

Imagery that is associated with the body is going to begin to become more prevalent. Special attention is going to be paid to the eyes, and cataracts have both the sense rivers forking into tributaries, as well as impediments to vision, as we'll see this is just about perfect.

The response by the other eternals is anger, though their reasons are not really clear yet, and I want to avoid jumping the gun a conclusion. The relationship between the presentation of Urizen's Book of Laws and the Eternal's rage is causal. The seven deadly sins are imprinted on their souls immediately. Flames, and sulfur. The imagery is downright hellish.

It is significant that Urizen first begins with a speech, and then opens the Book of Brass. The immediate result is rage, fury, and intense indignation. The speech which has the magical property of creation in the Book of Genesis, summons contempt in the Eternals. But when Urizen unclasps his Book of Brass, it throws all heaven in a fury. So what we have is an inversion of the tale of Creation in the Genesis text along the bounding contraries of speech and writing, the “limits” as Blake refers to them elsewhere.

This gesture, the opening of the Book of Brass, signifies the beginning of moral slavery, analogous to Eve and the apple incident, and the fall from Innocence into the state of moral dualities. It signifies the beginning of Good and Evil. Good being at once in Blake's system, a Negation of Evil, and thus of energy, and the Divine Vision, which is the ultimate ultimate good. Thus it's necessary to untangle our references into a hierarchy.

Good to the Urizenites means this: “From these Contraries [love/hate, attraction/repulsion, reason and energy] spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy./Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.]” (TMHH). This sort of good which is the inheritor of judgment, self-sacrifice, punishment, and moral cruelty, is also the inheritor of evil, being itself, generated in contradistinction to evil. Good inherits Evil. Evil is Father of Good. Good is the Negation of Evil.

Blakean Good, is a Negation of Good and a Negation of Evil. The result is a sort of omne bonum est Divine Vision, that is seeing divinity in all things living, “for everything that lives is Holy.”

Also implied by Blake's Urizen character, is that the Created world exists before Urizen's creation, the Book of Brass in which is inscribed the Seven Deadly Sins, which then appear in living creations. What Blake is underscoring here is agency of the Seven Deadly Sins coloring perceptions. Greed, Gluttony, Wrath, Envy, Pride, Lust, and Sloth, each of which is the conditioned fear of certain sort of desire. Urizen acts of desire of fear. He seeks for a “joy without pain,” for a “solid without fluctuation. His is a world of identity in stasis, a self-enclosed selfhood whose foremost desire is “not die.” “Why will you die O Eternals? Why live in unquenchable burnings?” Urizen imposes a unity, a law, which in turn enslaves vision to a system of vision, reducing wholes in their minute particulars, to parts containing only what is relevant to a particular intent, and that intent, in which in this case is to not die, but also, to not change, is born out of a fear for certain forms of desire. This is the sort of austere selfhood which enslaves the passions of the body to the fears of the imagination, inverting perception, inward and somehow creating a dark negative out of prohibitions, each coming loaded with an intention, leaving the imprint of a motivation, attacking the bodies impulses like an anti-body. This is the forbearer of the accusatory doctrine of St. John's Revelation, a mass purgation of all that which is not holy. This implies a self-contained negative definition of Good which has become “Holy” - negation, which is Urizenic in nature. When Urizen looks upon Nature's Wide Womb, he sees a void, where nothing is.

This solves our Creator/not-Creator contradiction.

Urizen is a perverter. He takes what is already there, reduces its to its mean, set its on high as an ideal.

Northrop Frye refers to this as "Flat Disk" vision of the sun, where as Blake sees a sun orbited by angels. Why? Because it's prettier. Do you need a better reason? Blake can see that angel orbited sun, literally see the angels orbiting the sun, while also recognizing that other people can't.

This is an act of adornment.

From hence forth the rules of our game are about to change. We are going to start covering things in larger blocks so I don't have to repeat myself and potentially insult my readers by pointing out the obvious over and over.

We're going to be arguing a few things that will take some getting used to.

Number one, this system is consistent the rules of science and mathematics.

Number two, it opens up a discussion of paradox that would center around the fact of paradoxes being in a sense atemporal theories which are considering things transforming into time, often from one state to another which has been defined in contradistinction to each other.

We can say that the caterpillar is both a caterpillar and a butterfly if we consider it in terms of the entirety of its existence and not at any given point. This is the transcendence of dualities. To consider things externally to the temporal dimension is to enter the realm of paradox, and by extension contradiction. We can't just throw something away because there is a contradiction anymore.

The contradiction is potentially meaningful in and of itself (Francisco Verela, A Calculus of Self-Reference). It's worth noting that Joseph Campbell reaches the exact same conclusion in his critique of duality in mythology.

I'm going to break off here, and repost a second part which will cover the remainder of the chapter.

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