WILLIAM BLAKE: GOLDEN STRING

Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

JOB - PAGE 2



Wikipedia Commons
Satan Before the Throne of God
Butts Set of Illustrations for the Book of Job
Morgan Library
Blake chose to make his commentary on the Book of Job in the form of pictures. But they were pictures which were to be read in the light of spiritual/psychological truth. Picture 2 showed an image of three levels of reality. The upper image showed God as Job understood him based on the revelation of truth which was available to him in his society. This was the distant lawgiver who functioned as ruler dispensing justice according to a rigid moral code contained in the book resting on his lap.

The central level pictured multiple entities which existed within the mind of man below the level of consciousness. The mind was not unified but it contained diverse energies which were available for expression. The running, flaming man in this picture is that bundle of energy which is dissatisfied with the status quo and seeks to introduce change. The Book of Job called him Satan; in Blake's mythology he was sometimes called Orc.

The lower level was the world which had benefited from the mental organization of a static God who protected the chosen few who pleased him. The prosperity of their world was based on maintaining the psychic balance ordained by God. Job's world outwardly included his feminine self, his books of law, his angelic protection, the progeny which he had produced, his material wealth and his sleeping instinctual life.

A figure similar to that of Satan in the illustration of Job, is found at the beginning of the Book of Urizen. In that case it announced the arrival of Urizen who unsuccessfully attempted to create a world defined by reason.

Job 1
[6] Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
[7] And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
[8] And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
[9] Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
[10] Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
[11] But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 4, (E 34)
 "But the following Contraries to these are True
  1 Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
  2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
  3 Energy is Eternal Delight
  PLATE 5
  Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough
to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place &
governs the unwilling.
  And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is
only the shadow of desire.
  The history of this is written in Paradise Lost. & the Governor
or Reason is call'd Messiah.
  And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the
heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan and his children are
call'd Sin & Death
  But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan.
  For this history has been adopted by both parties
  It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out. but the
Devils account is, that the Messiah fell. & formed a heaven
of what he stole from the Abyss
  This is shewn in the Gospel, where he prays to the Father to
send  the comforter or Desire that Reason may have Ideas to build
on, the Jehovah of the Bible being no other than he, who dwells
in flaming fire.    
   Know that after Christs death, he became Jehovah."
Hebrews 12
[28] Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
[29] For our God is a consuming fire.
 
John 14
 [16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
 [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you [18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
 [19] Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
 [20] At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
 [21] He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
 [22] Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
 [23] Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
 [24] He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
 [25] These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
 [26] But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
 Book of Urizen, Plate 3, (E 70)
     "Chap: I
1. Lo, a shadow of horror is risen
In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific!
Self-closd, all-repelling: what Demon
Hath form'd this abominable void
This soul-shudd'ring vacuum?--Some said                          
"It is Urizen", But unknown, abstracted
Brooding secret, the dark power hid.

2. Times on times he divided, & measur'd
Space by space in his ninefold darkness
Unseen, unknown! changes appeard                                 
In his desolate mountains rifted furious 
By the black winds of perturbation

3. For he strove in battles dire
In unseen conflictions with shapes
Bred from his forsaken wilderness,                               
Of beast, bird, fish, serpent & element
Combustion, blast, vapour and cloud.

4. Dark revolving in silent activity:
Unseen in tormenting passions;
An activity unknown and horrible;
A self-contemplating shadow,  
In enormous labours occupied
         
5. But Eternals beheld his vast forests
Age on ages he lay, clos'd, unknown
Brooding shut in the deep; all avoid                
The petrific abominable chaos

6. His cold horrors silent, dark Urizen
Prepar'd: his ten thousands of thunders
Rang'd in gloom'd array stretch out across
The dread world, & the rolling of wheels                         
As of swelling seas, sound in his clouds
In his hills of stor'd snows, in his mountains
Of hail & ice; voices of terror,
Are heard, like thunders of autumn,
When the cloud blazes over the harvests" 
 .

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

JOB - PAGE 1

Wikipedia Commons
Job and His Family
Butts Set of Illustrations for the Book of Job
Original in Morgan Library
Blake's first excursion into illustrating works by other authors was in 1791 when he illustrated Mary Wollstonecraft's novel Original Stories from Real Life. As opportunities arose he continued to produce illustrations for existing works as requested by his patrons or for publication. In about 1805 Thomas Butts, for whom Blake had painted numerous illustrations of Biblical subjects, requested a series of illustrations of the Book of Job. Blake would move from the occasional illustrations of Job which he had done in the past, to telling Job's full story as it enacted a myth of developing consciousness which led to a truer image of God.
 

From the beginning of his series of illustrations to Job, Blake indicated that he would interpret the Biblical account in the light of his own personal vision of the divine benevolence. The setting sun symbolized the end of a day - a period of development which had been completed.  Way would be made for new dispensation not based on a understanding of God as a lawgiver who assigned punishments for disobedience. The character Job would be Blake's vehicle for confronting the internal constructs which were projected onto the Book of Job's image of God.
 

In the beginning of the Book of Job the man whose name was Job saw himself as righteous because of the rewards which he had received in the natural world. He felt he had followed the rules to the letter and had earned the blessings which had been bestowed on him. He said the proper prayers and made the prescribed sacrifices. An indication that all was not well is shown by pictures of musical instruments hanging in a tree instead of being played by Job's sons and daughters. There was something lacking in Job's image of God which prevented him from knowing God as a dynamic presence within which would nourish his soul rather than providing material prosperity. Words from the Lord's Prayer were inscribed on the setting sun which would sink out of sight until it returned on the final page of Blake's illustrations.

Job 1
[1] There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
[2] And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
[3] His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
[4] And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
[5] And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
 

Four Zoas, Night II, Page 36, (E 325) 
"It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity 
Thus could I sing & thus rejoice, but it is not so with me!" 
Book of Urizen, Plate 23, (E 81)
3. Most Urizen sicken'd to see
His eternal creations appear
Sons & daughters of sorrow on mountains                  
Weeping! wailing! first Thiriel appear'd
Astonish'd at his own existence
Like a man from a cloud born, & Utha
From the waters emerging, laments!
Grodna rent the deep earth howling                   
Amaz'd! his heavens immense cracks
Like the ground parch'd with heat; then Fuzon
Flam'd out! first begotten, last born.
All his eternal sons in like manner
His daughters from green herbs & cattle                   
From monsters, & worms of the pit.

4. He in darkness clos'd, view'd all his race,
And his soul sicken'd! he curs'd
Both sons & daughters; for he saw
That no flesh nor spirit could keep                        
His iron laws one moment.

5. For he saw that life liv'd upon death
The Ox in the slaughter house moans
The Dog at the wintry door
And he wept, & he called it Pity
And his tears flowed down on the winds"

Jerusalem, Plate 28, (E 174)
"The Tree spread over him its cold shadows, (Albion groand)
They bent down, they felt the earth and again enrooting
Shot into many a Tree! an endless labyrinth of woe!

From willing sacrifice of Self, to sacrifice of (miscall'd) Enemies  
For Atonement: Albion began to erect twelve Altars,
Of rough unhewn rocks, before the Potters Furnace
He nam'd them Justice, and Truth. And Albions Sons
Must have become the first Victims, being the first transgressors
But they fled to the mountains to seek ransom: building A Strong 
Fortification against the Divine Humanity and Mercy,
In Shame & Jealousy to annihilate Jerusalem!  
Micah 6
[6] Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
[7] Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
[8] He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Matthew 5
[43] Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
[44] But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
.

Friday, November 18, 2016

BLAKE'S WHIRLWIND

National Galleries Scotland
Watercolor Painting  
The Lord Answering Job from the Whirlwind

Blake created in 1804 another image illustrating the Book of Job. Blake was back in London following his three years in Felpham. He had undergone a re-envigorating of his spiritual and artistic life after the opening to the light which he experienced after visiting the Truchsessian Museum in 1804. During this year he painted Job Confessing his Presumption to God Who Answers from the Whirlwind.
 
Blake himself had undergone a confrontation with his darker self just as Job had. He had experience the darkness and despair, doubt and loss of confidence in his vision of truth. He was given a new vision of the Human Form Divine which confirmed the immediacy of his experience of God as Christ. He transposed his own experience to the account of Job's confrontation with God when he appeared in the whirlwind.
 
Therefore, illustrating Job's direct encounter with the all-encompassing God, he made an image of God with arms outstretched in a gesture of inclusiveness and protectiveness, emulating the position of Jesus on the cross. The figure of the vision of God vouchsafed to Job and to Blake was to replace each other vision they had encountered. It was an image of the God of Love and Forgiveness, not to be comprehended by moral doctrine, intellect or the wisdom of the world.
 
Six angels or Eyes of God accompany the central Seventh who evolves from earlier revelations as humanity evolves when his perception increases.
 
The vision was seen and the Voice heard by Job but not by his wife and accusers. He was transformed by experiencing the power of the whirlwind and the incomprehensible mind of a God not made by man. 
Milton, Plate 32 [35], (E 131)          
"And Milton oft sat up on the Couch of Death & oft conversed
In vision & dream beatific with the Seven Angels of the Presence

I have turned my back upon these Heavens builded on cruelty
My Spectre still wandering thro' them follows my Emanation
He hunts her footsteps thro' the snow & the wintry hail & rain   
The idiot Reasoner laughs at the Man of Imagination
And from laughter proceeds to murder by undervaluing calumny

Then Hillel who is Lucifer replied over the Couch of Death
And thus the Seven Angels instructed him & thus they converse.

We are not Individuals but States: Combinations of Individuals   
We were Angels of the Divine Presence: & were Druids in Annandale
Compelld to combine into Form by Satan, the Spectre of Albion,
Who made himself a God &, destroyed the Human Form Divine.
But the Divine Humanity & Mercy gave us a Human     [Hebrew text]
     Form                                                                             as multitudes
Because we were combind in Freedom & holy                 Vox Populi 
     Brotherhood"
Letters, To William Hayley, 23 October 1804, (E 756) 
"I was a slave bound in a mill among beasts and devils; these
beasts and these devils are now, together with myself, become
children of light and liberty, and my feet and my wife's feet are
free from fetters. O lovely Felpham, parent of Immortal
Friendship, to thee I am eternally indebted for my three years'
rest from perturbation and the strength I now enjoy.  Suddenly,
on the day after visiting the Truchsessian Gallery of pictures, I
was again enlightened with the light I enjoyed in my youth, and
which has for exactly twenty years been closed from me as by a
door and by window-shutters.
...
for I am really drunk
with intellectual vision whenever I take a pencil or graver into
my hand, even as I used to be in my youth, and as I have not been
for twenty dark, but very profitable years.  I thank God that I
courageously pursued my course through darkness."
Everlasting Gospel, (E 522)
"Twas dark deceit to Earn my bread      
Twas Covet or twas Custom or
Some trifle not worth caring for    
That they may call a shame & Sin    
Loves Temple that God dwelleth in   
And hide in secret hidden Shrine      
The Naked Human form divine
And render that a Lawless thing
On which the Soul Expands its wing
But this O Lord this was my Sin
When first I let these Devils in      
In dark pretence to Chastity
Blaspheming Love blaspheming thee
Thence Rose Secret Adulteries
And thence did Covet also rise
My Sin thou hast forgiven me        
Canst thou forgive my Blasphemy
Canst thou return to this dark Hell
And in my burning bosom dwell
And canst thou Die that I may live
And canst thou Pity & forgive"
Auguries of Innocence, (E 492)
"Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born 
Every Morn & every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
We are led to Believe a Lie 
When we see not Thro the Eye        
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night 
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day"
Job 40
 [1] Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
[2] Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
[3] Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
[4] Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
[5] Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
[6] Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
[7] Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
[8] Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?
[9] Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
[10] Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
[11] Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
[12] Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
[13] Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
[14] Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

 
Job 42
[1] Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
[2] I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
[3] Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
[4] Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
[5] I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
[6] Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
 
John 1
[3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
[4] In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
[5] And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

JOB AND HIS DAUGHTERS

National Gallery of Art
Tempera Painting of Job and His Daughters
1799-1800

Scholars tell us that this picture was created in approximately 1800, the time when Blake had come under the patronage of first Butts then Hayley. Blake had at this time not produced a series of image illustrating Job. Five years later he would illustrate Job for Butts; twenty-one years later he would reproduce Butts' paintings for Linnell adding an image which hawked back to his design of Job and His Daughters of 1800.

When Blake painted his tempera of Job and his daughters he was making a statement about the exercise of imagination by man. Job as the universal man was connected to the Eternal through his daughters who were each one of the arts funnelling the imagination into time and space.

In this image we see Job (as representative of humanity) before he lost the ability to allow his imagination to act as a connection to the Divine Vision. He is capable of embracing the arts of poetry, painting and music to express the spirit which dwells within. The pictures on the wall behind Job and the three females are temporal expressions of eternal realities which are made permanent when the objects reflected in the vegetable world have lost their finite limitations.

Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
"All the tortures of
repentance. are tortures of self-reproach on account of our
leaving the Divine Harvest to the Enemy, the struggles of
intanglement with incoherent roots.  I know of no other
Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body
& mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination.   
  Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more.  The Apostles knew of no other Gospel.  What were
all their spiritual gifts? What is the Divine Spirit? is the Holy
Ghost any other than an Intellectual Fountain? What is the
Harvest of the Gospel & its Labours?"

Milton, Plate 27 [29], E 125)
"Urizens sons here labour also; & here are seen the Mill
Of Theotormon, on the verge of the Lake of Udan-Adan:            
These are the starry voids of night & the depths & caverns of earth
These Mills are oceans, clouds & waters ungovernable in their fury
Here are the stars created & the seeds of all things planted
And here the Sun & Moon recieve their fixed destinations

But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,          
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions

Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery: 

That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men."

The picture is described from the mundane perspective in William Blake, by Robin Hamlyn and Michael Phillips:

"Behind the figures of Job are three panels showing his experiences; to the left, the destruction of his servants by the Chaldeans, with Satan overhead; to the right, the destruction of Job's ploughman by Satan; in the center, 'The Lord Answering Job out of the Whirlwind' - a design that appears as a separate illustration in Blake's series of engravings. The theme can be seen as the transformation of experience into art: it illustrates Job making a story out of his life, and also has Blake referring to his own art." Page 62

The expressions of the arts are the agent of imagination. As Damon tells us: "The Daughters of Memory (tradition) are often confused with the Daughters of Inspiration: 'Imagination has nothing to do with memory.'"
Annotations to Wordsworth, (E 666)
"Imagination is the Divine Vision not of The
World nor of Man nor from Man as he is a Natural Man but only as
he is a Spiritual Man Imagination has nothing to do with Memory"

Milton, Plate 27 [29], (E 125)
"Urizens sons here labour also; & here are seen the Mill
Of Theotormon, on the verge of the Lake of Udan-Adan:            
These are the starry voids of night & the depths & caverns of earth
These Mills are oceans, clouds & waters ungovernable in their fury
Here are the stars created & the seeds of all things planted
And here the Sun & Moon recieve their fixed destinations

But in Eternity the Four Arts: Poetry, Painting, Music,          
And Architecture which is Science: are the Four Faces of Man.
Not so in Time & Space: there Three are shut out, and only
Science remains thro Mercy: & by means of Science, the Three
Become apparent in time & space, in the Three Professions

Poetry in Religion: Music, Law: Painting, in Physic & Surgery: 

That Man may live upon Earth till the time of his awaking,
And from these Three, Science derives every Occupation of Men." 
 
A Vision of The Last Judgment, (E 554)
"For the Year 1810
Additions to Blakes Catalogue of Pictures &c
... 
The Last Judgment is not Fable or Allegory
but   Vision Fable or Allegory are a totally distinct & inferior
kind of Poetry.  Vision or Imagination is a Representation of
what Eternally Exists.  Really & Unchangeably.  Fable or Allegory
is Formd by the Daughters of Memory.  Imagination is Surrounded
by the daughters of Inspiration who in the aggregate are calld
Jerusalem  The Hebrew Bible & the Gospel of
Jesus are not Allegory but Eternal Vision or Imagination of All
that Exists Visions of Imagination
ought to be known as Two Distinct Things & so calld for the Sake of
Eternal Life Plato has made Socrates say that Poets & Prophets do
not Know or Understand what they write or Utter this is a most
Pernicious Falshood.  If they do not pray is an inferior Kind to
be calld Knowing Plato confutes himself

     The Last judgment is one of these Stupendous
Visions. I have represented it as I saw it.
to different People it appears differently as every
thing else does for tho on Earth things seem Permanent they are
less permanent than a Shadow as we all know too well
     The Nature of Visionary Fancy or Imagination is very little
Known & the Eternal nature & permanence of its ever Existent
Images is considerd as less permanent than the things of
Vegetative & Generative Nature yet the Oak dies as well as the
Lettuce but Its Eternal Image & Individuality never dies. but
renews by its seed. just as the Imaginative Image
returns by the seed of Contemplative
Thought the Writings of the Prophets illustrate these conceptions
of the Visionary Fancy by their various sublime & Divine Images
as seen in the Worlds of Vision"

Thursday, November 10, 2016

ILLUSTRATING JOB



Throughout his career Blake continued to create images expressing his interaction with the Book of Job. Blake read the Book of Job as an account of the spiritual journey of an individual. As he traveled his own journey through time he was led into a deeper understanding of the Eternal dimension of the Book of Job as a account of the psychological experience of integration. The account of Job's trials and breakthroughs to higher consciousness are portrayed through a group of characters undergoing interactions with one another, but it was the internal significance of the characters which produced a transformation of the psyche of the individual called Job. Blake's illustrations to the Biblical account are designed to encourage his viewers to turn inward to one's own encounter with the forces which impel one along the journey.

National Gallery of Art
Sketch of Job and his Daughters
1821
This is a list of images which are available on the internet through which you can follow Blake's extended response to the message in the Book of Job:
 

1793
Wash drawing of Job and His Tormentors
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
 
1793
Engraving of What is Man That thou shouldest Try him Every Moment?
British Museum
 
1800
Tempera Painting of Job and His Daughters
National Gallery of Art

c 1804
Watercolor Painting of The Lord Answering Job from the Whirlwind
National Galleries Scotland
 
1805-6
Set of 19 watercolor Illustration of Book of Job produced for Thomas Butts
Morgan Library and Museum
 
1821
Sketch of Job and His Daughters 
National Gallery of Art  

1821
Set of 21 watercolor Illustrations of the Book of Job - copies of Butts set for Linnell 
Fogg Museum (Partial)

1823
Sketchbook - 32 pages of sketches for engravings of Book of Job
Fitzwilliam Museum
 
1823-1825
Engraved copper plates for The Illustrations of the Book of Job
British Museum
 
1826
Engravings of 22 Plates of Blake's Illustrations of The Book of Job
University of Adelaide 
__________________________

Gates of Paradise, Plate 16, (E 33)

"16 I have said to the Worm, Thou art my mother & my sister"

Book of Job
Chapter 18
[13] If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.
[14] I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou are my mother, and my sister.
.
.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

BLAKE & JOB

Anything that one reads or hears may either be accepted at face value as literally true or may be understood and interpreted in accordance with one's own value structure. If one reads commentary on the Book of Job one learns that the document which is in the Old Testament already represented multiple sources, points of view and authors. Readers through centuries have continued to struggle to discern in it a message which has application to their own experience. Although an orthodox interpretation developed, alternative responses continued to surface and still do. William Blake, within his own system of belief, sought to hear what the Book of Job said about God and man, about good and evil, and about worldly life and Eternal life.
 
Perhaps from the time he was a child Blake had been troubled by the Book of Job's image of a God who was distant, hidden and punishing. Blake knew the God who was accessible, revealed and accepting. In the 1780's or 90's Blake began responding to the Book of Job by creating images illuminating the Book of Job. His final work with Job was a book of twenty two engraving published in 1823.

 We begin our study with an ink and wash drawing which he made in 1793. In it we see the suffering Job. He had lost his seven sons and three daughters, his flocks and herds. What he had left are his wife and his health and three friends who want to convince him that his reversal of fortune is the consequence of his own sinfulness.   

Achenbach Foundation  
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco    
  www.famsf.org      Complaint of Job
   Ink and Wash, 1793
 
Blake followed the wash drawing with a large engraving of the same subject which he offered for sale by Prospectus along with another engraving, six illuminated books and two small books of engravings .
Prospectus, (E 692)   
     TO THE PUBLIC        October 10, 1793.
...
 The following are the Subjects of the several Works now
published and on Sale at Mr. Blake's, No. 13, Hercules Buildings,
Lambeth.

     1.  Job, a Historical Engraving.  Size 1 ft.7 1/2 in. by 1
ft. 2 in.: price 12s."
British Museum
Engraving
"What is Man That thou shouldest Try him Every Moment? Job VII C 17 & 18 V"
Job 7
[14] Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions:
[15] So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.
[16] I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.
[17] What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
[18] And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?
[19] How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?
[20] I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself?
[21] And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.
Milton, Plate 18 [20], (E 111)                                        
"And Tharmas Demon of the Waters, & Orc, who is Luvah

The Shadowy Female seeing Milton, howl'd in her lamentation
Over the Deeps. outstretching her Twenty seven Heavens over Albion

And thus the Shadowy Female howls in articulate howlings

I will lament over Milton in the lamentations of the afflicted   
My Garments shall be woven of sighs & heart broken lamentations
The misery of unhappy Families shall be drawn out into its border
Wrought with the needle with dire sufferings poverty pain & woe
Along the rocky Island & thence throughout the whole Earth
There shall be the sick Father & his starving Family! there      
The Prisoner in the stone Dungeon & the Slave at the Mill
I will have Writings written all over it in Human Words
That every Infant that is born upon the Earth shall read
And get by rote as a hard task of a life of sixty years
I will have Kings inwoven upon it, & Councellors & Mighty Men    
The Famine shall clasp it together with buckles & Clasps
And the Pestilence shall be its fringe & the War its girdle
To divide into Rahab & Tirzah that Milton may come to our tents
For I will put on the Human Form & take the Image of God
Even Pity & Humanity but my Clothing shall be Cruelty    
And I will put on Holiness as a breastplate & as a helmet
And all my ornaments shall be of the gold of broken hearts
And the precious stones of anxiety & care & desperation & death
And repentance for sin & sorrow & punishment & fear
To defend me from thy terrors O Orc! my only beloved!"            

Thursday, October 27, 2016

JESUS & ALBION

Jerusalem, Plate 96 (E 255)                                
"As the Sun & Moon lead forward the Visions of Heaven & Earth
England who is Brittannia entered Albions bosom rejoicing     

Then Jesus appeared standing by Albion as the Good Shepherd
By the lost Sheep that he hath found & Albion knew that it
Was the Lord the Universal Humanity, & Albion saw his Form     
A Man. & they conversed as Man with Man, in Ages of Eternity
And the Divine Appearance was the likeness & similitude of Los

Albion said. O Lord what can I do! my Selfhood cruel
Marches against thee deceitful from Sinai & from Edom
Into the Wilderness of Judah to meet thee in his pride       
I behold the Visions of my deadly Sleep of Six Thousand Years
Dazling around thy skirts like a Serpent of precious stones & gold
I know it is my Self. O my Divine Creator & Redeemer

Jesus replied Fear not Albion unless I die thou canst not live
But if I die I shall arise again & thou with me            
This is Friendship & Brotherhood without it Man Is Not

So Jesus spoke! the Covering Cherub coming on in darkness
Overshadowd them & Jesus said Thus do Men in Eternity
One for another to put off by forgiveness, every sin 

Albion replyd. Cannot Man exist without Mysterious          
Offering of Self for Another, is this Friendship & Brotherhood
I see thee in the likeness & similitude of Los my Friend

Jesus said. Wouldest thou love one who never died
For thee or ever die for one who had not died for thee
And if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself           
Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love:
As God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death
In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood

So saying. the Cloud overshadowing divided them asunder
Albion stood in terror: not for himself but for his Friend     
Divine, & Self was lost in the contemplation of faith
And wonder at the Divine Mercy & at Los's sublime honour

Do I sleep amidst danger to Friends! O my Cities & Counties
Do you sleep! rouze up! rouze up. Eternal Death is abroad

So Albion spoke & threw himself into the Furnaces of affliction 
All was a Vision, all a Dream: the Furnaces became
Fountains of Living Waters Howing from the Humanity Divine
And all the Cities of Albion rose from their Slumbers, and All
The Sons & Daughters of Albion on soft clouds Waking from Sleep
Soon all around remote the Heavens burnt with flaming fires    
And Urizen & Luvah & Tharmas & Urthona arose into
Albions Bosom: Then Albion stood before Jesus in the Clouds
Of Heaven Fourfold among the Visions of God in Eternity"
The destination toward which mankind aspires is regeneration: being remade as a new being. His situation is that he cannot extricate himself from the trap of his own making for he has turned away from the Eternal dimension for which he was created. However when he discerns his own condition and knows there is a way out, he is ready to be released. 
 
Library of Congress
Jerusalem 
Copy I, Plate 76
First Corinthians 15
[51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
[53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
[54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
[55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
[56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
[57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 
Writing of the freeing of the Redeemed from the error's power Milton Percival in William Blake's Circle of Destiny states:
"Though the burden of regeneration is placed upon Los and Enitharmon, the pivotal figure in the scheme is Christ. He is the only God, the divine humanity,the existence itself. When man lives through Urizen's 'beast-formed science' he is in non-existence. The change from non-existence to existence - the change from Satan to Christ - is accomplished when Enitharmon through pity weaves the generative body of Christianity for the Spectre. In so doing both she and Los comprehend that the peace of mankind is to be achieved through their own extinction. The prophetic race which preached the wrath of God will come to an end. The Christ, as seen in their sacrificial pity, has been achieved. Nonexistence has been exchanged for existence. The sexual world has become the generative world, and so a mortal world which passes out of existence that man may become immortal. Clothed in the habiliments of the Elect, the Redeemed, and the Reprobate, the newly 'created' cross the Arnon and pass out of Moab into Canaan, out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of Christ. Albion begins to awaken upon his couch." (Page 231)

 
Romans 8 [J.B. Phillips translation]
8:1-2 - No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are "in" Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life "in" Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.
8:3-4 - The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness - the failure was always the weakness of human nature. But God has met this by sending his own Son Jesus Christ to live in that human nature which causes the trouble. And, while Christ was actually taking upon himself the sins of men, God condemned that sinful nature. So that we are able to meet the Law's requirements, so long as we are living no longer by the dictates of our sinful nature, but in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.
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