Friday, December 10, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing: Chapter 9: Part 1: Mental Sports

Mental Sports

Before we begin the passage of "Milton" through the polluted climes of Urizen's void, Blake is going to give him a little kick in jewels by calling his work the perverted and stolen writings of the Classical Poets, set up "by artifice against the sublime of the Bible". Milton is really a poetical critique of Paradise Lost, a Paradise in fact that we lose everyday by seeing it as lost. Blake promises us a second innocence, an innocence born out of the desire to return to the place we as children habitated, a way of relating to the world which is partially imaginative, in fact, consciously imaginative.

Now, in Milton there is a conflation of reflections, images, and creations that is apparent during the Narcissus scene in Paradise Lost, as Eve stares at her reflection in the water. Eden is solipsistic sort of place where an act of perception, is also an act of creation. It is the poet's paradise, a Second Eden.

Now, what Blake is arguing for is a sort of pacificism which is not passive. Spiritual war, a war of words, rather than murder and swords and guns. We are supposed to fight each other, without contraries is no progression. But we're not supposed to literally kill each other. We should attempt instead to debate. This is Blakean war. It is the reason I have taken up his case. Blake won, but no one realized it. We are in a looking glass universe, as modern physicists are sure to tell you. The observer is not distinct from the observation, so Blake defeats Locke, but Locke, trapped in the hubris of his own reductivity, could never tell.

Three Classes are Created by the Hammer of Los, & Woven t214

M3.1; E96| By Enitharmons Looms when Albion was slain upon his Mountains
M3.2; E96| And in his Tent, thro envy of Living Form, even of the Divine Vision
M3.3; E96| And of the sports of Wisdom in the Human Imagination
M3.4; E96| Which is the Divine Body of the Lord Jesus. blessed for ever.

The role that Christ plays in Blake is similar to the role that Los plays, but also different. I don't want to jump the gun on a conclusion, here. Suffice it to say they are both redeemers, and Christ came here to redeem the outward creation, so that Heaven could be opened up for the souls of the dead. Blake doesn't care about the next world too much, he is more concerned with this world, and even if there are heavens and angels, Blake will argue that each of these concepts have psychic analogs which pattern themselves onto the consciousness of everyday men. He is extremely pragmatic. His is a religion of strategies. The goal of this text then, is to One (or unite) the soul with its God, the creative source of all gods, the imagination.

What we get next is a sleeping Urizen, who refuses "definite form", and he is called an "abstract horror". Urizen is an essence, in the philosophical notion of the term. A reductive abstraction that refuses to articulate. In Blake things move from the indefinite, or a reductive essence, toward articulation, and articulation is considered the highest as opposed to the lowest form of a thing. This is a reversal of the Platonic notion of essences and ideals, which are disarticulated proto-forms which are considered more real than the world around us. Blake wants to get out of our own heads, and return us to the now, the present, the stuff before your eyes. He echoes the language in Urizen, "another age pass'd over, and a state of dismal woe."

Then we find Urizen's body articulating into corporeal form, with the inlets of soul, the five senses petrifying or solidifying. The tongue hungers and thirsts, the nostrils hang upon the wind. He throws his right arm north, his left arm south, like Christ giving us the choice between heaven and hell. The right hand path of restraint and bodily deprivation leads to heaven, the left hand path of indulgence and sensual bounty leading to hell.

Terrified Los stood in the Abyss & his immortal limbs
M3.29; E97| Grew deadly pale; he became what he beheld: for a red
M3.30; E97| Round Globe sunk down from his Bosom into the Deep in pangs
M3.31; E97| He hoverd over it trembling & weeping. suspended it shook
M3.32; E97| The nether Abyss in tremblings. he wept over it, he cherish'd it
M3.33; E97| In deadly sickening pain: till separated into a Female pale
M3.34; E97| As the cloud that brings the snow: all the while from his Back
M3.35; E97| A blue fluid exuded in Sinews hardening in the Abyss
M3.36; E97| Till it separated into a Male Form howling in Jealousy

The curse of Los, you become what you behold, is a recurring motif in Blake and speaks to a certain relationship of the judge to the judged. It is a wise insight that we judge people out of our own fears and desires, in fact, out of our self-hate, for the truly contented see no need to judge others.

So Los is going to split in half the moment he sees this red round globe and in fact is already divided from Urizen who lay sleeping in his mental cave. Enitharmon is depicted as the fates are depicted, tending a loom. And these are the three geniuses that we have access to thus far. They are all mere functionaries of the sleeping God Albion who is Urizenic in character. The end game is to wake him up.

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