Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Urizen by William Blake Chapter 6

Archetypes vs. patterns

People say "archetypes are patterns". They are not. If they are, they become scripts, and the play becomes scripted. Archetypes properly defined are the image of a pattern, achieved a la reduction. To say "the archetype is a pattern" is to sow the seed of its conscription.

The archetype can never in a sense refer to the entire pattern save for by metonymy, which often it will. It is therefore better to reckon the archetype as an image of a pattern, rather than a pattern proper. In a sense, what we are sensing is the recurrence of selected attributes. And in another sense, when we create the archetype, we negate or regard as negligible those attributes which do not fall within the inner circle of the Venn diagram. We are thus left with a remainder, an excrement which falls outside the pattern; and so the archetype proper is the disarticulated image of a set of articulated examples which considers only those qualities/attributes which are common to all members. It is thus the disarticulated image of a pattern, which by metonymy represents the entire set.

I call this "shit theory". But you needn't. Modular Ambiguation would be a good way to describe it as process, I don't know, something fancy. Maybe, Modular Concretization Fallacy. Ostrich Nominalism?

Because now the overlapping dimensions are going to map to multiple real world referents/objects which are in fact being subsumed by this reduction.

If we were to imagine that this archetype was more real than the objects to which it maps we would be making the same mistake that Blake is arguing Plato makes in his conception of ideals. Blake is very interested in annihilating Plato, and we'll see that Urizen affectively does what Derrida's work takes on and does as well.

Blake's critique, I think is more direct than Derrida is willing to be. Blake argues that the origin that Western Metaphysics is built upon is in fact a void, a blank slate, and emptiness, that allows allowing the senses to prevail at any given moment of perception.

The foundation, having no grounding in itself can only imply a greater grounding, an ultimately unknowable God-principle.

God, being defined as un-knowable, subsumes the shape of a disarticulate infinitude that is all potential shapes at once.

Thus the foundation of a temporal system of knowing, is actually the process of some sort of fall from an atemporal system.

On the other end of this pole, you have Aristotle or "Science" reducing everything to that which is sensible.

The argument, according to Blake, is that they're both wrong and they're both right. How? Well, the two are each methods of understanding data, and the lack of one, necessitates the desire and demand of the other.

The preferable solution to this ontological battle, would be to understand these both as methods, and that the way they handle, sift through and interpret data is unique to the sorts of inquiry they are engaged in.

This gets into the different ways in which Aristotle and Plato understood the relationship of the eyes to light.

Aristotle believes that they eyes are the purely passive receptacles of data. Plato argued that the eyes partially transmit data, and partially receive data, and perception is a mixture of what they eyes output and what reality inputs.

I have no doubt in my mind that Plato wins this argument hands down. The endless proliferation of particle accelerators is enough reminder that our eyes don't tell us what reality really looks like.

Back to the text.

To this point, we have seen Blake through his character of Urizen perform a critique on both Science and Religion, particularly the sort of Science and Religion thats holds itself as the only form of Truth to the exclusion of all others; the truth of the refutation; negative truth which assigns the value of falsity to all that which lies outside of its rigid self-contained logic. Its own self-affirmation, is thus the cause of it being all-repelling.

It is now safe to assume that Urizen is the personification of the “Reasoning Negative.” He is in a sense, the Reasoning Negative's god or genius, or Animus; he is presented to us in a human form as having a personality, as being jealous, and full of sorrow. His goal is to refute, abstract, and externalize the other Zoas, or Eternals, in a sense, to prevent their capacity to be acted upon. It is thus unreasonable to act on one's emotions, and one restrains one's anger and compassion in a single stroke. The disciplines of the ascetics thus become sanctified; self-control; self-denial; causes and effects; the privileging of the mind, over the animal portion of man (ie: the body and its desires, impulses etc).

In so denying, it negates (by degrees) its influence over the whole person, and such denying becomes habit, and whichever habits happen to be patterned on those which become replacements to the unwanted desire, exhibit themselves whenever this desire does. This basic behavior in religious humans is based on the this process of Negation, which in turn is based on slicing all possible behaviors into two categories, Good and Evil. Blake defines good as the “passive which obeys reason,”; evil as “the active springing from energy.” (TmoH&H)

In the Devil's estimation, Good and Evil represent a pure binary partition of the impulses of life and by extension, the body; & everything else which works against those impulses in an attempt to police, and eventually decondition them. They are the attributes which govern our ethics.

Now the attributes which govern Western ethics, are based on a primordial division between man and nature, for the God of the Western tradition elevates man above nature and thus in a sense, he esteems him in contradistinction to his “animal” self. And this separation, which is at once the foundation of Western metaphysics, the patterning principle which governs not only our relationship to our environment, but also our relationship to our own bodies. In this sense, Urizen, the personification of the Reasoning Negative, proves to be archetypal1.

Urizen himself is characterized as a brooding deity constructing books in solitude. His preferred manner of communication is the written as opposed to the spoken word. Derrida has written extensively about the Mythological History of the craft (the tekne) the technology of writing.

The appearance of the first female, who the Eternals call Pity, is once again a creation based on separation. Los attempts to embrace her, she refuses and escapes; he follows. In one of Blake's most peculiar lines:

2. Eternity shudder'd when they saw,
Man begetting his likeness,
On his own divided image

This strange line commemorates the birth of Orc, an ambivalent force of human nature who personifies the violence of condensed energy exploding. He is at once the hero of the revolutions; and the murderous single-mindedness it takes to achieve victory. He is at once the Devil and the Christ who both seek to overturn the established order; for it was Christ who preached for a philosophy of which the highest principle was compassion, and against the Laws of his father. Orc himself is distinctly ambivalent; he can go either way. We can call him an archetype of the revolutionary (in our modified way); we can see him in the same sense as the disturbed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud found his archetype in the character of Oedipus, who literally kills his father. Orc (on some basic level) is merely the desire for change. To overthrow one hierarchy in favor of a new one. He is born out of the unrequited union of Los and Enitharmon. He is the product of being bound against one's will. He is imprisoned, fettered, restrained. He is the one who attempts to break free. He is the sort of frenzied freedom one associates with those who have nothing to lose.

His description is thus serpentine. He is at once a worm, lying on its mother's bosom by day, and being shoved back into her womb at night; he cycles with time, and grows. He changes from a worm into a serpent. His utterances begin as hissings. His hissings turn in a “grating cry” (Urizen 6:32); it humanizes; it personifies. Suddenly there is an “infant form/Where was a worm before” (Urizen 6:36).

The source of this humanization: “Many forms of fish, bird & beast” (Urizen 6:34). This is a man born of animal; of nature; Darwin's man on the one hand, the Priest's uncivilized savage on the other, forever acting on the animalistic passions of his repressed desires.

No comments:

Post a Comment