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Revealer of the Fourfold Secret: William Blakes Theory and Practice of Vision

Coperta: Patricia Puca

The cover shows Plate 14 of William Blake Illustrations of the Book of Job (1825): When the Morning Stars Sang Together

Catalin Ghita, 2008

Descrierea CIP a Bibliotecii Naionale a Romniei GHITA, CATALIN Revealer of the Fourfold secret : William Blake's theory and practice of vision / Ctlin Ghi. - Cluj-Napoca : Casa Crii de tiin, 2008 Bibliogr. Index ISBN 978-973-133-233-8 821.111.09 Blake, W.:821.135.1.09 929 Blake, W.

Director: Mircea Trifu Fondator: dr. T.A. Codreanu Redactor ef: Irina Petra Tehnoredactare computerizat: autorul Tiparul executat la Casa Crii de tiin 400129 Cluj-Napoca; B-dul Eroilor nr. 6-8 Tel./fax: 0264-431920 www.casacartii.ro; e-mail: editura@casacartii.ro

Catalin Ghita

Revealer of the Fourfold Secret:


William Blakes Theory and Practice of Vision

Foreword by David Worrall

Casa Crii de tiin Cluj-Napoca, 2008

To my brother, Lucian

Revealer of the Fourfold Secret

Contents
Acknowledgments / 9 Foreword / 11 Introduction / 13 Chapter 1. The Self in Vision / 23 1.1. Prolegomena: Formulating an Identity / 25 1.2. The Problematic of the Self / 26 1.3. The Creative Self vs. the Empirical Self / 35 1.4. The Build-up of the Creative Self: Ontological Traits / 37 1.5. Urizen as Blakes Doppelgnger: The Ego vs. the Self / 46 Chapter 2. Vision-Inducing Agents / 63 2.1. Prolegomena: The Old Case for Blakes Madness / 66 2.2. Imagination / 70 2.3. Inspiration / 83 2.3.1. Indefinite Forms of Inspiration / 90 2.3.2. Definite Inspiring Agents: Personified Aspects of Afflatus / 93 2.3.2.1. God / 94 2.3.2.2. Angels and Devils / 97 2.3.2.3. Saints and Prophets / 99 2.3.2.4. The Spirits / 100 2.3.2.5. The Muses / 104 Chapter 3. The Nature of Vision / 113 3.1. Prolegomena: Brethren unto Contemplation: Blakes Religious Milieu / 116 3.2. A Binary Concept: The Empirical Aspect and the Aestheticized Dimension / 120

3.3. The Paradox of Vision and the Time/Space Polarity / 152 3.4. Contraria sunt complementa: Blakes Dialectic / 160 3.5. Enlightened Numerology: The Significance of 4 / 170 3.6. Four Types of Vision / 173 Chapter 4. Blakes Prophetic Writings: The Four Levels of Interpretation / 189 4.1. Prolegomena: Translating Ideas into Metaphors / 191 4.2. The Social Level: America, Europe, The Song of Los / 194 4.3. The Metaphysical Level: The Four Zoas / 202 4.4. The Aesthetic Level: Milton / 214 4.5. The Religious Level: Jerusalem / 223 Conclusion / 243 Appendix: Blakes Orientalism / 249 A.1. Theoretical Considerations / 251 A.2. Zen Intuitions / 256 A.3. Visionary Bestiary: Animal Metaphors in Blake / 261 A.3.1. Beasts and the Fourfold Geography of the Sacred / 263 A.3.2. Ophiomorphic Symbolism and Psychological Exclusion: Orcs Reptilian Metamorphosis / 267 Works Cited / 277 Index / 293 Critical Opinions / 301

Acknowledgments
I should like to thank here those who helped and encouraged me whilst I was striving to write this difficult book (originally, my second PhD dissertation, defended in January 2007). Firstly, I wish to express my deep gratitude to Professor Eiichi Hara (head of the Department of English Literature, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University), to Professor Peter Robinson (formerly visiting professor at Tohoku University and currently professor at the University of Reading), to Dr Miki Iwata, and to Dr Paul Vlitos (both members of the Department of English Literature, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University), for their unfailing intellectual support and endless patience with my requests. Secondly, I want to acknowledge the substantial aid provided by the Ministry of Education in Japan, which granted me a generous Japanese Government Scholarship, thereby financing my extensive research undertaken in Sendai. Thirdly, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the staff of the Tohoku University Library, whose kindness and solicitude enabled me to find Ariadnas thread in the aforementioned bookish maze. Last but not least, I must thank my family, friends, and colleagues. I am particularly thankful to an eminent Blake scholar, Professor David Worrall (Research Leader in English, Nottingham Trent University and currently Charles J. Cole Fellow, Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University), who has honoured me by writing the foreword to this volume.

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Foreword
Catalin Ghitas study, Revealer of the Fourfold Secret: William Blakes Theory and Practice of Vision, is a welcome contribution to a perennial area of Blake studies but one which looks ready to undergo a new renaissance of scholarly attention. The historicist mode, broadly defined to encompass contextual, bibliographical and even physical properties of Blakes output as a poet and artist, came to dominate much of late twentieth-century scholarship. With Northrop Frye, S. Foster Damon and David V. Erdman providing much of the impetus behind post-World War Two Blake criticism, backed up by the bibliographical and art historical studies of Geoffrey Keynes, Anthony Blunt and G. E. Bentley, Jr., the post-structuralist moment of the 1980s propelled most notably by Thomas A. Vogler, Donald Ault and Nelson Hilton, provided a further set of significant insights based largely upon close-reading but alongside respect for the importance of the materiality of Blakes texts. Concurrently, working independently but with scholarly collaboration, Robert N. Essick and Joseph Viscomi presented ground-breaking new analyses of the relationship between Blakes printmaking and the technical processes of creation all of the illuminated books apart from The Four Zoas. Since that time, the work of Jon Mee and Saree Makdisi has proved similarly influential, bringing to bear a set of analyses about Blakes relationship to very specific aspects of late eighteenth-century British culture, including the roles played by religion and empire. In short, late twentieth century and contemporary Blake studies can be characterized as both energetic and markedly divergent but perhaps with a tendency to particularize and miniaturize its focus, perhaps under the considerable weight of the sheer intractability both of elucidating Blake and coping with the bibliographical or material conditions imposed by examining his materials as artefacts which sometimes

yield up their own intricate narratives of production and creation. It is into this complex critical context that Catalin Ghitas Revealer of the Fourfold Secret: William Blakes Theory and Practice of Vision must be placed. Ghitas background as a student emerging from the University of Craiova, Romania, and Tohoku University, Japan brings to bear a unique awareness of the range of critical approaches which might be applied to facilitate a hermeneutic of Blake. From the problems of how Blake figures as product of Western Enlightenment to considerations of the strengths and limitations of Blakes encounter with Eastern philosophies, Ghita reminds us all about the continuing presence of an undercurrent in Blake criticism which ambitiously seeks to take on board a comprehensive, even holistic, view of his challenges and achievements. Revealer of the Fourfold Secret needs to be read with the care and attention of the international scholarly community. Professor David Worrall Research Leader in English, School of Arts and Humanities, Nottingham Trent University Charles J. Cole Fellow, Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

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Introduction
To speak of Blakes visions has become a leitmotif in literary criticism. Due to its excessive use, the very term has come to signify next to nothing from a purely scientific viewpoint. Thus, although several critical studies have been fashioned with a view to explaining Blakes formally intricate poetry, to my knowledge, very few, if any, have been devoted specifically to a systematic approach to Blakes visionariness. It is true that, at a shallow glance, Blakes thought, as disseminated throughout his uvre, may seem self-contradictory and therefore highly illogical, but it is no less true that, once the external layers of textual encoding have been properly acknowledged, the internal hermeneutic 1 levels display at their core coherent and, at times, even simple visionary messages.2 Therefore, the overall purpose of my study is an explicit and, because of space constraints, introductory analysis of Blakes visionariness, which I describe as an unsystematic system.3 I shall try to point out that Blakes common critical label, depicting him as a visionary artist, is not something to be taken for granted. Instead, just like any other critical assumption within a Literaturwissenschaft4 model (which is my telos in this book), it must be properly substantiated. Quite naturally, this does not imply that my exegesis is uniquely valid, but, rather, that it is one of the many possible interpretative patterns, which cannot rule out the existence of complementary or even of contradictory viewpoints. From a methodological perspective, my general approach to Blakes work draws on resources from various fields: theory of literature, aesthetics, hermeneutics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. My preliminary task is to show that, although Blake makes no attempt at explicitly creating a system, he does implicitly attempt to create one. In point of fact, in Jerusalem, Los, Blakes symbol of the creative self,5 states boldly: I must Create a System,

or be enslavd by another Mans / I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create (E 153).6 To support this statement, I must equally call attention to a subsequent line, describing the fearful employment of Loss Spectre, which entails intense suffering and complete determination: Striving with Systems to deliver Individuals from those Systems (E 154).7 To put it in a nutshell, this is Blakes main poetic (and practical) task too, since, in his opinion, man must be eventually restored to the glory of his prelapsarian condition, that of sublime possessor of the Divine Vision. According to his own statements, the artist creates a visionary system 8 whereby his fellow human beings may be released from the tyranny of spiritual blindness,9 imposed by the soiled doors of perception. 10 Mark Trevor Smiths critical perspective is a case in point. In an attempt to offer a definite response to Blakes putative system creation, the exegete resorts to paradox as an ultimate explanatory formula: it is impossible to decide either [italics in the original] to build systems or [italics in the original] to destroy them. We must, as Los learns in Jerusalem, simply decide to do both (158). A similar dictum is pasted at the end of his demonstration: Blake is constructing systems most coherently when he is smashing systems; Blake is smashing systems most vigorously when he is constructing systems (175). In his turn, David Weir concludes that any inspired poet can create his own individual system, his own set of poetic tales that might have the same sublime authority as those on which other religions are based. In Blakes case, the capacity to create such a system was surely aided by the explosion of mythographic studies of world religions that appeared in his lifetime (121-22). The question which arises as soon as a critic has started his hermeneutic endeavour concerns the logicality of Blakes poetry: can the latter be effectively analysed as a unitary construction, a pattern endowed with both purpose and meaning? I strongly believe that it can. Whilst a sagacious scholar like Damrosch, Jr.11 gives a rather strange verdict, which acknowledges Blakes formal incomprehensibility, three brilliant Blake exegetes,

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Damon,12 Frye,13 and Erdman,14 prove conclusively the existence of a variety of Blakean systems. 15 Although a number of postmodern currents frown upon any systematic attempts at explaining Blake, and subvert unitary paradigms, I do not rally to these efforts, and, rather, believe that the exegetic basis is to be sought not only in the dissemination of details, but also in the overall textual organization. Thus, one must remember that the components of this poetic pattern, whose internal coherence I essay to point out, are interrelated, even symbiotic, and, even if they represent something in themselves, their general function is to be discovered only within the integrity of the system. The whole controversy concerning Blakes readability beyond Songs of Innocence and of Experience commenced as early as 1924, with the publication of William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols by S. Foster Damon, who found it necessary to underline the purpose of his exegesis in the Introduction: This book is an attempt to give a rational explanation of Blakes obvious obscurities, and to provide a firm basis for the understanding of his philosophy (IX). Further on, Damon stated, rather metaphorically, that Blake gives us the Keys of Paradise. But he conveys them in symbols whose meaning he stipulates we must first learn. We must [italics in the original] find the meaning (X). Subsequently, Northrop Frye, in Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake, and David V. Erdman, in Blake: Prophet against Empire: A Poets Interpretation of the History of His Own Times, proposed two different analyses of Blakes work as a whole. Whilst the formers discourse concerned itself with myths and archetypes, discussing Blakean poetry in terms of a cosmology in movement, the latters settled for an account of Blakes historical and political intellectual development (notwithstanding that the historical and political perspectives are diminished, in the great epics, by the anguished outbursts of the poets elementals, such as the four Zoas 16 ). The latest critic to have offered a comprehensive approach to Blakes philosophy was Leopold Damrosch, Jr., who, in Symbol and Truth in Blakes Myth, after trying to prove the
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presence of a coherent structure in the poets work, decided that the aforesaid structure is under a permanent threat of break-up: But it would be idle to pretend that Blakes prophetic poems are not, in the end, very strange as well as very difficult (349). Aside from these critics, Kathleen Raine deserves an honourable mention. Her massive and well-documented Blake and Tradition fell just short of its target, the critic having failed to unify the otherwise well-defined pieces of the exegetic puzzle.17 In my interpretation, Blakes general attitude towards lyrical composition, what one may call his rhetoric of poetry, parallels a practice of poetic discourse. In a letter to Thomas Butts, dated 6 July 1803, the poet offers his own definition of poetry: Allegory addressd to the Intellectual powers while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding is My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry (E 730). 18 As Blake himself claims in an indisputable manner that poetry must be invested with significance, a scholarly approach to his work cannot disregard so important a statement or overlook the proofs that point to the relevance of a systematic unity of significance within the artists frame of thought. The various pieces of poetry, albeit characterized by semantic cross-currents, parallel plots, ideological idiosyncrasies, and rhetorical repetitions, are essentially logical, even unitary, constructions. Although Blakes rhetoric becomes undoubtedly obscure at times, the poet intuitively hastens to deny any links between the aforementioned epithet and a genuine work of art.19 Thus, in his Annotations to the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Blake writes: Obscurity is Neither the Source of the Sublime nor of any Thing Else (E 658). Again, in [The Laocon], he insists that there is [n]o Secresy in Art (E 275). If one decides to accept the challenge of delving into the meaning of several such poetic utterances disseminated throughout Blakes various works and interpreting them in their proper context, then one may be lavishly rewarded in the end. To sum up, I believe that Blakes system of thought is indeed unsystematic, since it is diffused throughout a variety of

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textual productions, of unequal length and poetic value (main works and the so-called parerga and paralipomena, if I were to borrow the terms from Schopenhauers writings). Nevertheless, as I shall make an attempt at proving, all these display a thoroughly coherent visionary message, and may therefore be unified under the auspices of a convergent interpretative enterprise, which should be viewed neither as reductive nor as absolute. In the foregoing phase of analysis, I stated that Blakes intellectual challenge lies not only in the details of poems, in their careful rhetorical dismemberment, but also in their overall tone, in their general architecture. If ones perspective on Blakes thought is solely microscopic, irregularities, contradictions, and illogical plot developments are striking. But if one is mainly concerned with Blakes ideas as they shift their tone from one poem to another, then a coherence and even a convergence of interpretative layers is at hand. At this point, I find that one particular problem looms large: Blakes rhetorical encoding, which implies a series of complex literary ciphers, some intentional, some haphazard. It pays to give a succinct account of the most important of them, since such a systematization has not been the concern of any Blakean exegesis so far. Granted, there is a certain degree of obscurity in Blakes work, but this is to be found only at the surface level, at which connections and hierarchies are not transparent enough. Concretely, most difficulties arise from language and style peculiarities, as well as from textual organization. Blakes chresmology (oracular prophetic mode), combined with a shrewd use of significatio (implying more than he says), in his two continental prophecies, America and Europe, is, at first glance, cryptic enough to baffle even the most stubborn critic. The absence of metabasis (a technique whereby the writer at once recapitulates the plot and points out directions of its development) on some particular occasions in The Four Zoas and Milton has a double effect: on the one hand, it accelerates the turn of events, on the other, it
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obscures the function of the characters and their intellectual liaisons. Various deleted, as well as inserted, passages significantly complicate the textual organization of certain epics. 20 At other times, Blakes incorrect spelling is evident, but this fact, neutral in itself, becomes malignant in some passages where exactness and lack of verbosity are requirements for an apposite interpretative act on the part of the reader. Blakes open punctuation and seemingly random capitalization constitute yet another formal difficulty, along with the constant employing of hypotaxis, especially in the larger poems, a fact resulting in multi-layered constructions, with numerous subplots and rhetorical ramifications. The presence of effiguration (minute descriptions) in Blakes epics, especially in The Four Zoas and in Jerusalem, also diverts the readers attention from the broad spectrum of plot development. Simultaneously, the poet makes use of commoratio (dwelling upon a point by means of repetition), especially in the early prophecies: e.g. the whole plot of The Book of Los is a retelling of The Book of Urizen from Loss viewpoint. Last but not least I should mention Blakes propensity for using aptronyms (Dr Sawbones in [An Island in the Moon] is an eloquent example). Moreover, Blakes poetry is defined by a specific quality, which the Japanese, with their natural and exquisite sense of linguistic nuances, call shiori. This word, stemming from a verb shioru, which means to bend or to be flexible, as Makoto Ueda notes, originally designated a poem which allowed several modes of analysis.21 This flexibility is the direct result of certain ambiguity-creating techniques, whose presence in Blakes oeuvre I have tried to underline so far. It becomes swiftly and abundantly clear that the hermeneutic problems raised by a highly personalized visionary poetry may not be obviated unless one has acknowledged them properly. Having briefly presented at least some of the initial hurdles to interpretation, i.e. those concerning Blakes relevance as a creator of systems as well as those regarding Blakes rhetorical obscurities, I cannot finish these prefatory considerations without

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a paragraph containing a brief outline of my research, which is concerned neither with psychology 22 nor with anthropology (although, evidently, these fields cannot be disregarded altogether), but with literary criticism. On the whole, I believe that the visionary process in general, and Blakes in particular, represents a vast gnoseological attempt, aimed at a complete understanding of man and his role in the universe. As such, it is bound to involve three prominent factors: the Self as the subject of knowledge (the experiencer of the visionary state, the recipient of vision proper), a series of vision-inducing agents (phenomena or supernatural entities which help the self to acquire the specific state of mind, and subsequently to put the aforesaid experiences to paper), and vision proper (denoting, on the one hand, the visionary experience undergone by the self, and, on the other, the textual metaphorization of the process, i.e. the work of art). Whilst these phenomena will be dealt with in the first three chapters of my research, the fourth chapter constitues an exemplification of the function detained by various visionary nuclei in Blakes lyrical and epic poetry, re-emphasizing the role of the aforementioned conceptual triad in the artists practice of vision.

Notes to the Introduction


1 In this book, I use the term hermeneutics in its broad sense: that of a coherent theory of interpretation and understanding 2 One such message concerns the idea of an essential unity of all ontological components of reality under the corporeal and spiritual auspices of Jesus. 3 Strange as it may seem, I think that this paradoxical formula synthetically accounts for Blakes ambitious imaginative construction. 4 Literature as a scientific method, based on exegetic principles. 5 In Milton, the poet ontologically identifies himself with Los. For additional details, see the first chapter of my study. 6 All Blake quotations are drawn from The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Ed. David V. Erdman. Commentary Harold Bloom. Newly revised ed. Garden City, NY: Anchor/Doubleday, 1982, hereafter abbreviated to E. 7 Blakes odd spelling and punctuation have been retained throughout. 8 Here, I also have in mind Damrosch, Jr.s dictum that Blakes art is fundamentally conceptual (118). 9 See the Bards utterance in Milton, repeated no less than six times in Book the First: his words are supposed to be of our salvation (E 96, E 98, E 100, E 101, E 102, E 105). 10 In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake holds that man would perceive reality as infinite should the doors of his perception be purified (E 39). 11 See Damrosch, Jr. passim. 12 See Damon, William Blake and Blake Dictionary passim. 13 See Frye, Fearful Symmetry passim. 14 See Erdman, Prophet against Empire passim. 15 It is no accident that, in his elegant Foreword to Damons Blake Dictionary, Morris Eaves points out that three emblematic scholarly figures are to be retained as foremost authorities on Blake studies: Damon, Frye, and Erdman (IX). In my opinion, the same three critics succeeded in offering a logically coherent and fundamentally unitary Blake. 16 For more details, see the fourth chapter of my study. 17 See Raine passim. 18 As a case in point, Damon too notes that thought, animated by passion, is the substance of his verse (Blake Dictionary 351). 19 For additional details, see infra.

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See, in this respect, the series of omissions, erasures, and deletions in Milton: plates 6 (l. 35), 7 (l. 4-5), 27 (l. 60) and in Jerusalem: plates 1 (Frontispiece), 4 (l. 15), 14 (end of the first chapter), 36 [32] (l. 34), 37 [34] (l. 10), 84 (l. 17-19), etc. Other contexts evince the fact that Blake re-used the material of The Four Zoas to shape Milton and Jerusalem. On the other hand, The Four Zoas contains repetitions from previous poems, such as Tiriel, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, America, The First Book of Urizen, The Book of Ahania. For more details, see Damon, William Blake 396-98. 21 However, its meaning was subsequently altered. For more details, see Ueda 158. 22 The role of the visionary element in the development of religious thought is sporadically analysed by David M. Wulff. For more details in this respect, see Wulff 70, 107, 489, and 621.
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Whatever its form and contents, vision posits the existence of a subject of experience. Therefore, this chapter aims to dwell on several aspects regarding the human self that undergoes the visionary experience. As the reader will see henceforward, the former constitutes a twofold entity, comprising creative, as well as empirical, features. However, my critical discourse must also deal with a welter of related subjects, especially when it comes to discussing the intricate elements which shape the Blakean self. But let me now draw an outline of the main steps underlying my approach.

1.1. Prolegomena: Formulating an Identity


The theme under consideration is intricate enough to demand clarification from the very beginning of my exegesis. My interpretative task in these subsequent subchapters is fourfold. Firstly, I shall try to analyse the very concept of self, which I consider an elusive term, thereby facilitating the apposite definition of the self in vision. Secondly, I intend to distinguish between the creative self and the empirical self, that, in Blake, resemble a dyad, contrastive yet complementary elements of the same ontological subject. After providing hopefully satisfactory definitions of the aforementioned ideas, I may move on to my third goal, that of describing the manner in which the creative self in Blake is articulated. In this subchapter, I may also anticipate that the poets self-representation is that of a vates (poet, prophet, and seer, all in one). But Blake is not artistically at ease with himself until he has managed to project an opposite representation, a textual identity which sometimes surpasses mere textuality. This figure, as I intend to show in the final subchapter, is embodied by Urizen, the stern and sterile god of reason, who

represents the counterpart of Los, the incarnation of human imagination at its best. If Blake borrows Loss identity as a textual presence (as is the case in Milton), he also designs Urizen as a mirror-image, a double that can be gradually exorcized and eventually defeated. If Blake (y compris Los) may stand for the self, Urizen could well be its fallen psychological aspect, the ego. Because the ego must be properly identified by being ascribed a name and a distinct behaviour, I have elected not to consider the problematic of the Spectre.1 The reader should bear in mind that the Spectre is anonymous2 and quasi-neurophysiological in nature, J. R. Watson derisively labelling it a kind of vampire figure (106), and this lack of proper identification makes it unfit to be drawn into the ethical and metaphysical conflict between the self (as Blake/Los) and the ego (as Urizen). The only clash which may involve the Spectre is, in my opinion, primarily sexual in nature, and its extensive analysis does not fall within the scope of my current exegesis. Moreover, such a commentary entails a parallel discussion of the Spectres corresponding Emanation, 3 and this, again, would go far beyond the confines of my present study. However, my demonstration might not be complete in the absence of a critical synthesis, in which the onus is on me to enumerate and to touch on the chief features of the creative self in Blake.

1.2. The Problematic of the Self


Undoubtedly, only that which is properly identified is worth analysing. In Voltaires acknowledged fashion, I wish to pursue the significance of the idea of self. Is this often ill-defined concept indeed a mysterious reality, mysterious in its nature and origins and not necessarily consubstantial with the fictions we use to express it (Eakin, 277), or can there be some explanation at

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hand? Must one understand the self in its intimate relation to the development of language, as Karl R. Popper believes,4 or in its relation to ethics, as Charles Taylor thinks 5 ? Should one hold simpler views, i.e. that the self, as it were, shines by its own light, that every one knows what it is, and that, instead of finding, or inventing, problems in it we should restrict ourselves to the task of showing how other things may be explained in terms of it (Laird 4), or, even more pragmatically, that we ignore theory and take as a given the existence of a more or less autonomous self (Elliott 95)? Finally, is a discussion about the self really constructive, or is it tantamount to a multiplication of circular judgments (consider, for instance, Henry W. Johnstones opinion that the self is prone to harbour a logical contradiction6)? I believe that a scholar does not necessarily have to vacillate between alternative approaches, for, at least to a certain extent, a solution is readily available. If, despite all these questionable issues and fully aware of the possible objections which may still be raised to the legitimacy of the concept proper, I have elected to employ it, it is because the term may eventually prove both useful and enlightening, insofar as my interpretative track is concerned. Certain alternatives, such as mind, person, soul, spirit, even consciousness, are regarded by many as synonyms of my key idea. But self, as John Laird puts it, includes what these other words include, and is preferable because it does not dictate the road which the discussion must follow (8). In other words, it is the degree of liberty and hermeneutic flexibility afforded by the concept which matters, and it is precisely this degree that justifies the usage of the term in my particular context. Textualist criticism would argue that it is only the reality of the text which must be looked into. However, in the case of Blakes visionariness, the reality of the self becomes transparent both at a pre-creative level (the visionary experience which precedes the elaboration of the work of art) and at a creative stage (once the subject has experienced vision, he resolves to translate it
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aesthetically into a work of art). Thus, a purely textualist approach to Blakes visionary universe runs the risk of missing the latters complexity, which extends beyond the confines of the finite work of art. In my opinion, the proper understanding of the artists visions cannot be reached in the absence of a larger spectrum of analysis, exceeding the purely literary confines, and comprising a discussion of philosophical, mystical, and religious topics. Blake lived in an age when established rationalistic values were permanently shaken, to be replaced with new ones, defending the obscure forces of nature, imagination, and the expanded human intellect. The eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury revolutionary Zeitgeist proclaimed a new order, deriding the bourgeois facts of the previous Age of Reason, an epoque whose incipit could be traced back to Ren Descartes, to David Hume, and to John Locke. 7 Immanuel Kants philosophy completely altered the map of metaphysics, and the process of revision continued with Johann Gottlieb Fichte, with Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, and with Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher. Whether or not Blake read these philosophers bears little relevance; all that matters in this context is the fact that, as an exalted visionary, the English artist was imbued with all the fundamental ideas which were gaining ground in his age, to the point that they became intellectual commonplaces, part and parcel of a Weltanschauung shared by many. It is for this reason that I find necessary to introduce the theme of the self in Blake by means of a short diachronical account of the development and refinement of the general idea of self, from Descartes to the main representatives of German Classical Idealism. Marking the difference between res cogitans (whose primary quality is reflection) and res extensa (characterized by mere physical extension), Descartes states that the reality of the cogito is unquestionable, and that the elements of the natural world are soulless mechanisms.8 Strange as it may seem, the reflection upon the nature of the self must not be taken for granted, as Georges Gusdorf notes: Le primat de la conscience de soi, au cur dune

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personnalit responsable, ne saurait pass pour une donn immdiate de la rflexion (320). Due to various mythological and, later, theological constraints, the ordinary individual was not able to reflect freely upon his own nature until the Renaissance Age had dawned: chapp au contrle de la transcendance ecclsiastique et scolastique, lhomme se dcouvre donn luimme comme un problme, ou plutt comme une tche. Il lui faut se centrer sur lui-mme et donner un sens son existence (Gusdorf 323). It is only at that point that man fully acknowledged his ontological status, and defiantly rejected all forms of external authority. Obviously, one must also consider the reverse of the Cartesian problem, which postulates that the reality self may simply be eluded if one takes into consideration the empiricist positions of Locke and Hume. 9 Briefly, the former is of the opinion that there is no such thing as the self: Where-ever a Man finds what he calls himself [italics in the original], there I think another may say is the same Person (346). The latter states that the protean aspect of sense impressions subverts the very existence of the self: But there is no impression constant and invariable . . . It cannot therefore, be from . . . impressions . . . that the idea of self is derivd; and consequently there is no such idea (251-52). It is only through memory that one manages to unite the flux of sensations and perceptions into the everexpanding idea of the self. Following Kant, one may state that the self is to be defined only in its continuous interaction with the world. E. M. Adams shares a perfectly similar view on the topic: So ones normative self-concept as a human being . . . is, in part, an empirical concept. It is formed from, and tested in, our intersubjective experiences and critical judgments . . . (188). To put it in other words, the universe conceived of by the self is the same universe experienced by it: There is no unconceptualized experience: that which is represented what experiential states are about is the world as experienced, which is the empirical world
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(Guttenplan 556). The Kantian self is integrated into the supersensible order of things, as there are no empirical conditions of application for selfhood (Guttenplan 556). Consequently, the self, as the conceptualizer, is a noumenon; nevertheless, it reflects upon various phenomena, which constitute the empirical contents of reality. But the Kantian issue is further complicated by a postulate concerning the I as nothing more than a logical form.10 In his attempt to avoid or, at least, to explain the paradoxes which spring up from the apparently innocuous question concerning the unity or plurality of consciousness, Kant stresses that the necessity of the unity of apperception is a necessity of thought (Guttenplan 553). But the common I conceives of itself as a unity in an inevitable manner, as it is only this disposition that creates the proper condition for the extensive process of knowledge. This unity, which Kant describes as the vehicle of all concepts (Critique of Pure Reason 329), is nothing more than an intellectual fallacy, a purely logical identity (Guttenplan 553). Consequently, all the a priori truths about the self, which are the direct result of a first-order thought, are, by dint of necessity, mere paralogisms. Albeit one is forced to think of himself as fundamentally unitary, this groundless fact is naturally not to be validated in an objective manner. More explicitly, in recognizing a necessity of experience we should not take ourselves to have supplied ourselves with an intuition an item within [italics in the original] experience to which the idea of a unitary consciousness corresponds (Guttenplan 553). Kant states that the unity of consciousness is perceived as such only at the intellectual level, and that it is by no means an objective fact and much less a substance: this unity is only unity in thought [italics in the original], by which alone no object is given, and to which, therefore, the category of substance, which always presupposes a given intuition [italics in the original], cannot be applied (Critique of Pure Reason 377). The Kantian argument points to a pre-eminent direction and it is for the first time in the history of metaphysics that the self is

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satisfactorily shown to have a disjointed character. Intellect alone cannot furnish an apposite answer to the ontological question of the self, and the seemingly missing link is to be discovered by another German philosopher, who suggests that imagination may be the bridge between the finite and the infinite, between the contingent understanding of reality and the visionary, integrated force enabling the subject to apprehend realia per se. The Kantian system is torn apart by Fichte. He completely rejects the-thing-in-itself, an idea so vague as to elude proof, which he substitutes for the self, as an absolute mental foundation of the world. Needless to say at this point that Fichte himself fails to substantiate his farfetched statements.11 Thus, he merely underlines that self-awareness arises when the self establishes a relationship between itself and the surrounding world. Fichtes first and foremost principle is apparently simple: The self posits itself (97). By asserting itself, the self acquires the maximum ontological liberty: That whose being or essence consists simply in the fact that it posits itself as existing, is the self as absolute [italics in the original] subject (93). Clearly, Fichtes model is inherently dialectic, for he thinks of the reality of the self as in constant opposition to the non-self, although the latter is real insofar as it affects the former (136). The limitations of the self become evident in its continuous interactions with the world; thus, the self inevitably acquires an ambivalent ontological status: The self is finite because it is to be subjected to limits, but it is infinite within this finitude because the boundary can be posited even farther out, to infinity (228). The immense paradox that follows cannot be accounted for satisfactorily; the self strives to achieve infinity, yet its attempts are baffled by its intrinsically transcendental limitations: We are obliged to resolve this contradiction; though we cannot even think it possible of solution, and foresee in no moment of an existence prolonged to all eternity will we ever be able to consider it possible. But this is just the mark in us that we are destined to eternity (238). Nonetheless, Fichte is rather optimistic, and manages to find a key to the
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apparently irresolvable problem by bringing forth the idea of imagination as the power enabling the self to act within itself. Taking into account the attributes assigned to this faculty by Fichte, I believe that, for the first time in the history of ideas, imagination can be definitely seen as an visionary incentive, as a force apt to bridge the gap between the finite and the infinite, between the temporal and the eternal: The interplay of the self in and with itself, whereby it posits itself at once as finite and infinite an interplay that consists, as it were, in self-conflict, and is selfreproducing, in that the infinite in the form of finite, now, baffled, positing it again outside the latter, and in that very moment seeking once more to entertain it under the form of finitude that is the power of imagination [italics in the original] (193). Thus, what I consider to be the missing link between the development of the self and the occurrence of the faculty of vision is firmly established. So far, we have been able to understand that sensations, perceptions, representations, and even the more refined products of the intellect are not genuinely creditable agents of epistemological contents. It is belabouring the obvious to state that the common self, devoid of any transcendent instruments of knowledge, vacillates constantly between distinct and often antinomic conceptions, readily offered by different schools of philosophy. The fleeting impressions with which it is endowed are not based on any decisive acts or insights, and therefore realia is little more than a welter of brain-racking versions of questionable world-representations. It is at this point that, in the realm of the visionary, there stems a purely metaphysical deus ex machina: the subject of knowledge (res cogitans) can become the object of knowledge (cogitatum) insofar as it is part and parcel of the divine substance,

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wherein all paradoxes dissolve instantaneously (one of Blakes chief viewpoints, disseminated throughout his prophetic works). This seems to perfect Schellings interesting argument, according to which res cogitans becomes cogitatum as a result of an introspection: Through the act of self-consciousness, the self becomes an object to itself (System of Transcendental Idealism 36). It is introspection doubled by the presence of the divine that triggers the true act of knowledge in Blake. Moreover, due to the omnipotent character of a vision, which is an intense moment of illumination, encompassing and, simultaneously, generating the world, the visionary can have direct insight into everything: he knows because he is. The separation between subject and object is dissolved, and the fusion between the knower and the known brings forth the very embodiment of knowledge: the self in vision. In Blake, according to James Engell, the self assimilates the object due to the activity of the creative imagination: the object becomes part of the subjective self because the imagination makes the object into what it is in the process of perceiving (248). Frye too notes the transfiguration undergone by the ordinary objects: A visionary creates, or dwells in, a higher spiritual world in which the objects of perception in this one have become transfigured and charged with a new intensity of symbolism (Fearful Symmetry 8). Thus, the visionary experience constitutes the basis of the aesthetic process itself, thereby enabling the self to acquire absolute knowledge, and to put this knowledge to the ultimate use, i.e. that of visionary creation. As Earle J. Coleman notes, aesthetic experience is, at once, a revelation of that which is (objective reality), of who one is (subjective reality), and of their unity (73). One theoretical outcome of this debate is that the perfect unity of the human self necessarily requires the presence of the numinous, the potent seal of the Sacred. Schleiermachers opinion on the original perfection of man as an actualization of the God-consciousness is a case in point. The German hermeneutists assertion, penned with acumen, can be understood in connection with Blakes belief in the latent
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visionary aptitude which characterizes each and every human individual, an inner impulse which enables the latter to apprehend the sacred: The predisposition to God-consciousness, as an inner impulse, includes the consciousness of a faculty of attaining, by means of the human organism, to those states of self-consciousness in which the God-consciousness can realize itself; and the impulse inseparable therefrom to express the God-consciousness includes in like manner the connexion of the race-consciousness with the personal consciousness; and both together form mans original perfection [italics in the original] (Christian Faith I 244). Moreover, as Blake expressly avers in All Religions are One, the Poetic Genius is the true Man (E 1); consequently, the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius (E 1). In other words, if we read the Poetic Genius as the predisposition to God-consciousness, which allows the incarnate subject to attain the ultimate form of gnosis, we have a complete picture of the process described by both Schleiermacher and Blake: the self in vision is enabled to surpass its ontological limitations and thereby have access to the haecceity 12 of the divine existence. Oriental philosophy 13 has offered its own equivalents of the European thisness: the Buddhist terms tathata 14 and Tathagata, 15 and the Japanese word nyojitsu.16 For, as it may well be inferred, perfection necessarily implies subtle union with God. Jakob Bhmes visionary account of the selfs integration into the divine substance is revelatory, and, as we all know, Blake was extremely familiar with the German mystics works:17 The soul here saith, I have nothing [italics in the original], for I am utterly stripped and naked; I can do nothing [italics in the original], for I have no manner of power, but am as water poured out; I am nothing [italics in the original], for all that I am is no more than an Image of Being, and only

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God is to me I AM [capitalization in the original]; and so, sitting down in my own Nothingness, I give glory to the Eternal Being, and will nothing [italics in the original] of myself, that so God may will all [italics in the original] in me, being unto me my God and All Things (74). The preceding example constitutes a different yet suggestive aspect of the self in vision, wherein the latter lacks personal qualities, and submits to the overpowering influence of the Sacred. So far, I have tried to point out that the concept of self is not only operational but also indispensable in tackling visionary thought and/or poetry, and that there can be traced a gradual development of the self, from Descartes to the expression of German Classical Idealism, which paves the way for the emergence of the self in vision, an authority endowed with a transcendent faculty that is closely linked to the presence of the divine. However, the existence of the self (or consciousness) is merely the starting point of what seems to be an increasingly difficult problematic of visionary art. The unity of this controversial self may be a desideratum in theory, but, in practice, it is nothing more than an intellectual fallacy. It is my intention in the following lines to evince that emphasis upon the aforecited unity is fraught with dangers.

1.3. The Creative Self vs. the Empirical Self


As I have shown so far, the history of metaphysics argues that it is the self, as the knower, that perceives the surrounding world. Nonetheless, a significant distinction should be made as to what kind of self is involved in the process of artistic creation, a phenomenon which may include both epistemic and aesthetic
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characteristics. This distinction is crucial from the perspective of a Produktionsstethik (established with poietic tools) which attempts to focus on the making of the work of art in general, including a general theory of creativity, as well as the concrete aspects of the textual production, 18 therefore requiring finer differentiations than those readily afforded by a general concept of self. One of the key distinctions in poietics is that between the biographical self and the productive (or creative) self, the latter manifesting itself in the creative process, encompassing and transcending the former. The first writer to have differentiated between the two ontological entities is Marcel Proust, in Contre Sainte-Beuve.19 In the Anglo-Saxon world, one could cite the example of T. S. Eliot, who, in his famous essay Tradition and the Individual Talent, writes that the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates (54). Another interpretation takes into consideration the concept of persona. 20 Applying the term to the literary world, theorists have defined it as the assumed identity or fictional I (literally a mask) assumed by a writer in a literary work (Baldick 165) or, more synthetically, the speaker of a poem (Myers and Simms 230), as distinct from the poets actual self. Obviously, the debate itself yields seemingly interminable rhetorical options. These critical refinements demonstrate that the self is not a unitary construct, and that its clivage is a theoretical desideratum if the exegetes sole purpose is the clarification of several aspects pertaining primarily to the creative process, and to the elements involved in it. For my present study, I find it more appropriate to differentiate between the empirical self, that is involved in the general process of knowledge, and the creative self, that, having apprehended the crude data furnished by the former, resolves to translate the epistemological experience into an artistic one. Whilst the direct product of the formers activity is merely personal experience, which may or may not be recorded in a scriptive manner, the direct product of the latters activity is a work of art. To a great extent, the empirical self corresponds to the epistemic self,

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that, according to E. M. Adams, is the self organized under the imperatives to be consistent and correct in experience and belief and to render intelligible whatever is taken to be real . . . (225). The epistemological contents on which the empirical self is predicated may or may not coincide with the aestheticized ones on which the creative self is predicated. In Blakes case, I hold that the empirical and the creative selves represent the twofold aspect of the self in vision. This self is the potent factor of knowledge, that, due to the intervention of particular agents, is capable of decomposing and recomposing the exterior universe ad libitum. Reality is fashioned in such a way as to match the sense and intellect data processed by the self in vision, that displays, as shown so far, a dual aspect: empirical and creative. Let me now consider the relevant characteristics of Blakes creative self, i.e. the way in which this type of self is first generated and then consolidated.

Vincent Arthur De Luca keenly observes that Blakes Bard is a kind of visionary poet whose comprehensive vision is never wholly separable from an expression of personal concern, even personal crisis (63). Chris Baldick also notes that the Romantic mythology tended to imagine the bards as solitary visionaries and prophets (22). When Blake speaks about the Bard as in the following lines: Hear the voice of the Bard! Who Present, Past, & Future sees Whose ears have heard, The Holy Word, That walkd among the ancient trees (E 18), the reader ought to understand that the poet does this with a view both to mirroring his own artistic image and to presenting a poetic confession about the tribulations of a self that dominates temporality and thereby partakes of the divine joy of eternal creation. 24 I may also add that Blakes Bard, as found in the Introduction to Songs of Experience, closely resembles Emersons poet-prophet, described in The Poet as endowed with both foreknowledge and healing powers: The sign and credentials of the poet are, that he announces that which no man foretold. He is the true and only doctor; he knows and tells; he is the only teller of news, for he was present and privy to the appearance which he describes (199). The smashing of the Bards harp in an omitted quatrain in the Preludium to America translates at once the creative selfs rejection of its own work and the formers state of melancholy depression, setting in as a result of the cosmic drama which is yet to unfold (the subsequent prophecy). The reader should mark the shining frame of the instrument, suggesting its artistic glory, as opposed to the decay of the background (the ruind pillar which, however, is strong enough to cause the pulverization of the fragile harp). Once the musical instrument has been discarded, the Bard

1.4. The Build-up of the Creative Self: Ontological Traits


The apparent unity of the self is disrupted as soon as the intention of aestheticizing the crude and raw contents of vision has become manifest. 21 The empirical self is not content with the sheer visionary experience, and feels the irresistible urge to shape it into a work of art. During the aforesaid process, the self is invested with a new power, i.e. to bring forth a polished work in an aesthetic form. In his Introduction to Songs of Experience, Blake translates the abstract image of the creative self into the concrete image of the enlightened, prophetic Bard 22 (a figure arguably inspired by the Welsh bardd),23 whose voice, in association with the Holy Word, may well stand for the Logos, the demiurgic Son of God who created Adam in His own image (Rieger 274).
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refrains from uttering a single sound as the focal eye is gradually shifted from his silhouette: [The stern Bard ceasd. ashamd of his own song; enragd he swung His harp sounding, then dashd its shining frame against A ruind pillar in glittring fragments; silent he turnd away, And wanderd down the vales of Kent in sick & drear lamentings] (E 52). The grave voice of the Bard stands in sharp contrast with the merry voice of the Piper, described in the Introduction to The Songs of Innocence. Nevertheless, Robert F. Gleckner believes that [b]oth singers are, of course, William Blake (Blakes Songs 38), although he does not specify whether this William Blake stands for the man himself or for the creative self. In the supposedly carefree creative process, an aerial child acts as an incentive; it is his urge that triggers the emergence of rhymed stanzas. As soon as the message has been successfully delivered, the messenger, having played his part, disappears: Piper sit thee down and write In a book that all may read So he vanishd from my sight. And I pluckd a hollow reed (E 7). Albeit contrastive, the two images may, and should, be read as different facets of the Blakean creative self. Blakes self-representation is, thus, that of a vates, the Latin word signifying at once poet, prophet, and seer.25 As I wish to underline, this is a Romantic and even a post-Romantic topos, echoed by several nineteenth-century English authors. The same definition is to be found in one of Blakes famous contemporaries, William Wordsworth, who, in Book XII of The Prelude, endorses not only Blakes view of the role played by the vates in a community, but also the latters idea of a distinguished lineage of
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prophetic figures, drawn together by their devotion to visionary truth, to which they continuously add their own experiential knowledge: That Poets, even as Prophets, each with each Connected in a mighty scheme of truth, Have each other for his peculiar dower, a sense By which he is enabled to perceive Something unseen before (lines 301-05). In a slightly altered form, focusing on the performative ideal of the inspired poet, this is also the belief of Thomas Carlyle, as expressed in On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History: Creative, we said: poetic creation, what is this but seeing [italics in the original] the thing sufficiently? (104-05). The Vates poet offers a melodious Apocalypse of Nature (84). John Ruskin merely reiterates the dictum: To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one (268). But the vates does not simply create ad libitum; his task is to ignore the surrounding material world, and to foreground the visionary perspective. From a teleological viewpoint, the seer must enable his readers to see in their turn.26 Blake expresses this aim of poetic activity in Jerusalem: Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonishd at me. Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task! To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity Ever expanding in the Bosom of God. the Human Imagination (E 147). Joseph Anthony Wittreich, Jr. underlines the idea according to which the actions of a prophet are neither haphazard nor sporadic,

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but part of an elaborate rhetoric, designed with a view to elevating the public: Committed to brightening the mind, to exalting and purifying all its faculties, the prophet employs a series of strategies designed to force open the doors of perception, teaching men to see not with [italics in the original] but through [italics in the original] the eye (Visionary Poetics 26). Blakes poetry is, in its highest sense, a prophetic vision, encompassing apparently divergent, but essentially concurrent phenomena. His uvre hides and, simultaneously, reveals its message by maintaining a balance between cryptic formulae and overt exhortations, in a manner similar to that of the Old Testament prophets.27 His carefully devised rhetorical stratagems persuade us that he shares more than one feature with the Hebrew masters. As Geoffrey H. Hartman deftly underlines, prophecy would seem to be anti-apocalyptic in seeking a future restoration, or time for thought (Poetics of Prophecy 27). 28 This is precisely what Blake wishes for his (and, implicitly, our) world. After all, what is a prophet? I shall consider here two prominent definitions, offered by Sigmund Mowinckel and Max Weber respectively. According to Mowinckel, a prophet is, in general, one who, by appointment of society as well as by the divinity, provides the community with necessary information in religious things directly from a divine source by virtue of an extraordinary supply of power, one who definitely knows about divine things, either because he is inspired or capable of receiving revelations or because technical means are available to him through which he can mediate the will and instructions of the divinity and can convey the same to the community as an answer to a question or to a prayer (75).

On the other hand, Weber believes that a prophet is a purely individual bearer of charisma, who by virtue of his mission proclaims a religious doctrine or divine commandment (99). Whilst the former definition underlines the participation of both the divine and the secular in the revelatory act, the latter focuses on the personal element in prophecy. Blake may be tentatively placed between the two modes of thinking, in the sense that he extols the virtues of self-development, but does not fail to value the importance of the social element, i.e. the public who must be trained with a view to receiving and interpreting the illuminated manuscripts. Blake himself urges us to re-think the traditional prophetic paradigm, as he equates it with a visionary pattern. 29 Thus, in his Annotations to An Apology of the Bible by R. Watson, Blake asserts courageously that Prophets in the modern sense of the word have never existed. . . . a Prophet is a Seer not an Arbitrary Dictator (E 617).30 A seer is the undisputed subject of visionary experiences, and one should also bear in mind the fact that vision must be understood quite literally, not figuratively. In his Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, which constitutes a synthetic yet persuasive apologia, Blake places himself in an illustrious tradition of infallible predecessors who extol the verity of visionary acts: Plato was in Earnest. Milton was in Earnest. They believd that God did Visit Man Really & Truly . . . (E 658). Robert N. Essick points out that Blake asks us to believe in the literal existence of his vision . . . and refuses its conversion into a trope (Language of Adam 99). In point of fact, the vates stands for the incarnation of the Spirit of Prophecy, the equivalent of the Poetic Genius. The first principle of All Religions are One, asserting the perfect symmetry between the Poetic Genius and the true Man, can be interpreted in connection with the fifth principle, which reads: The Religions of all Nations are derived from each Nations different reception of the Poetic Genius which is every where calld the Spirit of Prophecy (E 1). The conclusion of this series of aphorisms is that

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man himself creates religion, for he is verily the Poetic Genius.31 The whole theory works in tune with Schellings expos concerning the productive element or force of the work of art [italics in the original] (Philosophy of Art 83), which is the eternal concept or idea of man in God [italics in the original] (Philosophy of Art 83), or, to put it in a nutshell, genius. Just as in Blakes case, the latters essential characteristic is poetic in its real nature: The real side of genius, or that unity that constitutes the informing of the infinite into the finite, can be called poesy [italics in the original] (Philosophy of Art 85). Quite predictably, Genius is entirely devoid of Error, as Blake points out in his Annotations to the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds: <Genius has no Error it is ignorance that is Error> (E 652). Moreover, Blake denies any gradual development in artistic trends and skills, defending a thesis of aesthetic insularity, according to which no continuity is possible so long as the masters who follow outstanding predecessors lack Genius: <If Art was Progressive We should have had Mich Angelos & Rafaels to Succeed & to Improve upon each other But it is not so. Genius dies with its Possessor & comes not again till Another is Born with It> (E 656). Thus, Genius is unique, non-inheritable, and apparently haphazard in its artistic manifestations. Finally, the essence of Genius is to be found in its spiritual equivalent, i.e. the Holy Ghost, that bestows artistic and religious gifts upon those bereft of hope. It is essentially reparatory in nature, just as Emerson underlined in The Poet: Genius is the activity which repairs the decay of things . . . (206). Art and religion are closely intertwined, and the secret of vision lies in their fine bondage. This is the core of Loss grand discourse in Jerusalem, Chapter 4, centred around the flourishing qualities of the divine intellect, the matrix of the human one: Go, tell them that the Worship of God, is honouring his gifts In other men: & loving the greatest men best, each according
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To his Genius: which is the Holy Ghost in Man; there is no other God, than that God who is the intellectual fountain of Humanity (E 251). Thus, according to Blake, the creative self exerts a double function: at the syntagmatic level, it strives to set up social communication amongst individuals, whilst, at the paradigmatic one, it wishes to establish spiritual communication with the transcendent force. Leonard W. Deen is of the opinion that [t]he poet as man aims at a society of independent thinkers, a democratic republic, but on the smaller and more intensive scale of community. The poet as prophet seeks to create a community of prophets, a New Jerusalem (12). Truly, in order to describe Blakes ultimate poetic goal, one had better employ the syntagm republic of prophets. It is equally noteworthy that the creative self in Blake can be misled or mistaken in its approach to a welter of art-related items. When vision exhausts its benign influence on its recipient, the latter is forced to reconfigure its aesthetic desiderata, thereby meeting with artistic distress. Not only does the self fail to rejoice in his work, but it also ignores the low quality of its aesthetic output. The sudden return to its halcyon days is sometimes marked by apparent trifles, such as the visit to the Truchsessian Gallery (which held annual exhibitions). The episode is narrated in one of Blakes letters to his patron, William Hayley,32 dated 23 October 1804: 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 windowshutters. . . . O the distress I have undergone, and my poor wife with me. Incessantly labouring and incessantly spoiling what I had done well. . . . Dear Sir, excuse my

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enthusiasm or rather madness, 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 (E 756-57). The same excessive scenario is reiterated in a subsequent epistle, dated 11 December 1805, wherein all victories are ascribed to the same pompously ridiculous Hayley who will be turned into the arch-villain in Milton. 33 It is still doubtful whether Blake is conscious of his navet and his gratuitous and farfetched commendations of Hayley, but it does appear that enthusiasm drives one to exceed certain rhetorical limits. It is very interesting that the pattern is similar to the one in the previously discussed letter, comprising a short account of the external fact, the extent of damage (and, implicitly, spiritual reparation), as well as the concluding false excuse: & I know [italics in the original] that if I had not been with You I must have Perishd Those Dangers are now Passed & I can see them beneath my feet It will not be long before I shall be able to present the full history of my Spiritual Sufferings to the Dwellers upon Earth. & of the Spiritual Victories obtained for me by my Friends Excuse this Effusion of the Spirit from One who cares little for this World which passes away (E 767). All these examples evince Blakes propensity for prophetic diction and visionary construction of reality. As important critics (Damon,34 Frye,35 etc.) have pointed out in various circumstances, the essence of the artists creative self is epitomized by Los, who incarnates the chief qualities of the imaginative faculty. He is the spatiotemporal manifestation of Urthona (the Zoa that assumes neither form nor material attributes), and is fated to return to this nondescript matrix at the end of days. In Jerusalem, the Family
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Divine bestows its power to Los, [n]aming him the Spirit of Prophecy, calling him Elijah (E 187). It is Los himself who builds Golgonooza, indeed the sum of all visible works of art. Again, it is Los who gives birth to the whole material universe, including the sun and the moon. Most importantly, in Milton, Los and Blake become one, the former invading the latters soul and taking possession of it.36 But the onus lies with me to show that Blake is not satisfied with the projection of his creative self until he has designed an opposite image, against which aesthetic, as well as spiritual, war can be successfully waged.37 As I shall further argue, this image is Urizens, the counterpart of the Blakean homo agonistes, Los.

1.5. Urizen as Blakes Doppelgnger:38 The Ego vs. the Self


To speak about a relationship between Blake (or, rather, his creative self) and one of his characters, i.e. Urizen, may seem strange. But I must stress that it is precisely in this relationship that one must seek the key to the whole Blakean creative process, wherein the creative self seeks to exorcize the presence of the dark, sterile half of the psyche, i.e. the ego. Let me proceed with some preliminary explanations. An important question which naturally arises when a scholar approaches the theme of the creative self is that concerning the poets self-awareness and, concurrently, his presence in the text, although this may seem an unBlakean notion (ONeill 3). That this is yet not so is shown by Vincent Arthur De Lucas brilliant assertion, which points out at once Blakes self-identity and his lack of blunt egotism: in the aggressive and expansive self-identity that is writ large throughout Blakes works, there is no Selfhood in the baleful sense. Blake

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offers the whole of himself in his art and thus risks the possibility of a humiliating total rejection . . . (228-29). In my opinion, Urizens figure represents a Blakean mirror image, a force which is simultaneously constructive and disruptive. Undoubtedly, Urizen is Blakes most self-conscious character. Yet, it is quite obvious that he does not stand for the creative self, but for the poets fallen ego, proud and vain. That Blake the man takes pride in the talage de moi is not an object of critical dispute. As John Beer writes, Blake did not acknowledge a need for humility. . . and the isolation of his position made him less likely to consider his own claims to genius arrogant or presumptuous (Romantic Influences 84). Peter Ackroyd too observes that [d]espite growing obscurity in the world he continued obstinately to believe in himself . . . and indeed the more marginalised he became, the more grandiloquent he grew (12). Finally, Edward J. Ahearn notes that Blake, or his narrative persona . . . indeed exudes an utter self-confidence (22). The textual Urizen affords a richness of hermeneutic tracks. Where Michael ONeill justifiably unveils irony and unsmiling jokes at the expense of its figures, creator, and readers (6), a different angle of interpretation might also discover serious visionary considerations on the act of artistic creation, whose outcome is neither comic nor ironic, but tragic. Its tragic character derives from the perishable nature of any material creation, which represents a poor substitute for the absolute, eternal one (an ancient, Platonic idea). As a solid construct, any human artefact is self-contained, since expansion is unimaginable. Thus, it is doomed to become part and parcel of a rigid system, be it social, philosophical, aesthetic, or religious, in other words, it is destined to fall prey to the Urizenic. Again, it is Urizens overdeveloped and senseless ego which ultimately triggers his fall: when this happens, the creative self is purged of its unwanted psychological appendix, and can act freely in accordance with the Divine Vision. For, in the end, by depicting the fall of the supreme idol, the creative self points to human alienation,
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induced by the domination of reason and artificiality. In this sense, one must remember Fryes dictum concerning Blakes pivotal theological idea, according to which the God who created the natural order is a projected God, an idol constructed out of the sky and reflecting its mindless mechanism. Such a God is a fragment of mans alienation . . . (English Romanticism 13). At first, Urizen is posited as something remote and alien, apparently exterior to the Blakean creative self (only later do we come to realize that Los, the projection of this moi crateur, is a psychological prolongation of a grossly asserted Urizenic ego). This external gaze on the part of the auctorial voice enables its recipient to detach itself from the dark side of the self. Urizens bauche, his incipient figure as an indomitable god, is found in an early poem, written in a copy of Poetical Sketches and called To Nobodaddy. Given its brevity, I can quote it in full: Why art thou silent & invisible Father of Jealousy Why dost thou hide thyself in clouds From every searching Eye Why darkness & obscurity In all thy words & laws That none dare eat the fruits but from The wily serpents jaws Or is it because Secresy Gains females loud applause (E 471). Blakes derision and frustration are devastating, and his whole rhetorical anger is directed against a jealous deus otiosus, who, because of his barren nature, does not find joy in anything. It is, of course, Urizen, the all-bounding one (Brown 110), who grins from behind the stern mask of Nobodaddy. He is nothing short of a sterile demiurge, wrapped in utter solitude and self-deception, who metaphorically takes possession of his prerogatives in a

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fatuous manner. The whole scene of the allegorical coronation is to be found in The Book of Urizen, described by Michael ONeill as a psychodrama in which Blake opposes two kinds of poetry: the solipsistic and the would-be redemptive (7). The former is embodied by Urizen, the latter, by Los: Lo, a shadow of horror is risen In Eternity! Unknown, unprolific! Self-closd, all repelling: what Demon Hath formd this abominable void This soul-shuddring vacuum? Some said It is Urizen . . . . (E 70). The obsessive repetition of the personal pronoun in the first person singular stylistically marks both Reasons egotism and its alleged infallibility. 39 The hard consistency of the books of universal knowledge works in tune with the unassailable character of their artisan. The creative self also suggests that Urizen and the surrounding void, which is ever present in the background, are consubstantial: And self balancd stretchd oer the void I alone, even I! the winds merciless Bound . . . .......... Here alone I in books formd of metals Have written the secrets of wisdom (E 72). Further depicted as A self-contemplating shadow, / In enormous labours occupied (E 71), the god of sterile creation strives to complete his gigantic enterprise. The act of self-contemplation suggests that Urizen is the Beholder, but his sight is restrictive and circular. As Ronald Paulson notes, Urizen is the eye because he measures space, lays out caves, rationalizes darkness, and writes books. Urizen is the I of the one-point perspective
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system (122). Urizens subsequent collapse is but an inevitability, for the ego cannot expand forever. It ultimately reaches its confines, and is severed from the whole: But Urizen laid in a stony sleep / Unorganizd, rent from Eternity (E 74). The Eternals, who translate Blakes refined concept of divine identity, reflect upon the fate of the ego, concluding that the latter is perishable. That is chiefly because the supreme identity (Blakes ultimate goal as a genuine visionary artist) seeks integration, not insularity, and therefore flatly rejects the egos futile attempts to subvert the everlasting unity of the ontological contents: The Eternals said: What is this? Death / Urizen is a clod of clay (E 74). The argument into which Urizen and Los are drawn unveils the acute conflict between the ego and the creative self. In this sense, a valuable exegetic tool is provided by Geoffrey H. Hartmans dialectic, which posits a distinction between an outer and an inner self. The critic sets in contrast the common self and the Romantic I, remarking that the Romantic I emerges nostalgically when certainty and simplicity of self are lost (Beyond Formalism 304). He further elaborates on the idea of the fictional self: The very confusion in modern literary theory concerning the fictive I, whether it represents the writer as person or only as persona, may reflect a dialectic inherent in poetry between the relatively self-conscious self and that self within the self which resembles Blakes emanation and Shelleys epipsyche (Beyond Formalism 304). In my terminology, the Hartmanian relatively selfconscious self merely denotes the ego, whereas the self within the self stands for the creative self. It is the self that eventually controls the ego, for visionary intuition eventually surpasses mimetic ratiocination. Urizens spine is symbolic of his artificial structure: the god is devoid of flesh and sinews just as his intellect is never imbued with visions and divine images. There is a fearful symmetry in the apotheotic finale of The Book of Los, which, as Damon puts it, retells the story of The Book of Urizen from the

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point of view of Los (51). It is almost superfluous to say that Loss perspective parallels Blakes own visionary stance: . . . . the Deeps fled Away in redounding smoke; the Sun Stood self-balancd. And Los smild with joy. He the vast spine of Urizen siezd And bound down to the glowing illusion (E 94). Following St. John of the Crosss hierarchical distinction between the sensual soul and the spiritual soul, one may intuit that Blake stages an overt war between base and refined expressions of poetic personality. The visionary stance is made possible by the eventual stifling of the ego. Earle J. Coleman notes essentially the same thing when he refers to a more general psycho-mystical phenomenon, and his consideration may be readily applied to Blakes poetic conflict: Only when the superficial, self-centered ego does not interfere is it possible for an individuals deeper self to merge with her object of attention whether a person, an artwork, nature, or the divine (72). In my opinion, the Urizenic element corresponds to Bhmes Selbheit or to Schellings Ichheit,40 both terms signifying ontological division, i.e. separation from the primordial divine unity, and impossibility of direct access to vision. In the course of the long and often painful creative process, the rich visionary force is to supplant the obsolete power of the ego: O Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love: Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life! Guide thou my hand which trembles exceedingly upon the rock of ages, While I write of the building of Golgonooza, & of the terrors of Entuthon: Of Hand & Hyle & Coban, of Kwantok, Peachey, Brereton, Slayd & Hutton:

Of the terrible sons & daughters of Albion. and their Generations (E 147). This carefully disguised Blakean prayer in Jerusalem is for selfhood to be taken away by Jesus, the Saviour of the Divine Vision, who is simultaneously the supreme incarnation of imagination, the actualization of Los at a supreme level. Moreover, Urizen is pictured not only as a negative projection of the creative self, but also as a personified protest against the falsity of institutional Christianity, as Robert Ryan correctly observes: [i]n Urizen, Blake embodied his objection to the entire theology of submission, selfdenial, contrition, and expiation that institutional Christianity fostered (Blake and Religion 156). Blakes (involuntary?) sarcasm implies that, evil though Urizen may be, Christianity, with its hosts of false ideals, is even more so. Charles J. Rzepka furnishes a genuinely new and alluring interpretation of the concept of selfhood, which I have already introduced in the hermeneutic equation. In my opinion, the scholars attempt to equate selfhood with the human body is completely justified. The critic begins by stating a fundamental truth (13), i.e. that any personal identity is dependent upon both Kantian introspection and the idea that the self, inasmuch as it possesses a physical body, thereby enabling other embodied selves to perceive it as such, becomes self-conscious. Further on, Rzepka infers that [a] real sense of personal identity depends, at the most primitive level, on the assumption of embodiment (13). This allows him to speculate on Blakes idea of selfhood as a false body or the person reduced to the phenomenal level (13). Rzepkas subsequent analysis is, nevertheless, partially questionable. He notes that Blakes vision of redemption, like Hegels conception of phenomenological dialectic, is expressed in the form of an historically evolving social aggregate: as Hegel looked to the State, as the final expression of the Absolute, Blake looked to the rejuvenated City . . . (28). It should be noted here that Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegels State is the epitome of

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German idealism in the early nineteenth century, being premised on an elaborate political, social, and ethical scheme. This cannot parallel Blakes construction of Jerusalem as a visionary construct, a pure reification of the human creativity idea. One must really confess to astonishment upon having observed and, later, acknowledged the outcome of the terrible confrontation between the ego and the self. Whilst refraining from taking umbrage at the formers destitute creation, the latter takes up the task of re-shaping the ruined, disused structures. Aside from offering a complete and accurate picture of the demise of fallen works of art, the extended metaphor in Night the Fourth of The Four Zoas translates the idea of the creative selfs attempt to reform mimetic art in a radical manner, according to eternally valid aesthetic postulates: Terrified Los beheld the ruins of Urizen beneath A horrible Chaos to his eyes. a formless unmeasurable death Whirling up broken rocks on high into the dismal air And fluctuating all beneath in Eddies of molten fluid Then Los with terrible hands siezd on the Ruind Furnaces Of Urizen. Enormous work: he builded them anew Labour of Ages in the Darkness & the war of Tharmas (E 335). The aforementioned conflict appears to be inherent in the creative process in general, as Jacques Maritains assertions seem to prove. The scholar defines the creative self by insisting on its opposition to the self-centred ego: The creative Self of the artist is his person as person [italics in the original], in the act of spiritual communication, not his person as material individual or as selfcentered ego (106). Further refining his arguments, Maritain holds that poetic acts are devoid of interest and therefore reject any involvement of the ego, which is the corrupt form of the
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visionary intellect. Ultimately, the self expires only to be resurrected in the finished work of art: Thus, by necessity of nature, poetic activity is, of itself, disinterested. It engages the human Self in its deepest recesses, but in no way for the sake of the ego. The very engagement of the artists Self in poetic activity, and the very revelation of the artists Self in his work, together with the revelation of some particular meaning he has obscurely grasped in things, are for the sake of the work. The creative Self is both revealing himself and sacrificing itself, because it is given [italics in the original]; it is drawn out of itself in that sort of ecstasy which is creation, it dies to itself in order to live in the work . . . (107). This passage helps us to understand why Blake conceived of a conflict between the self, as a superior personal expression, and the ego, as an inferior one, and, more importantly, why the ego must be annihilated at all costs. In Jerusalem, the supreme self (Christ) must sacrifice itself so that the fallen self, i.e. the ego (Satan), may disappear. For the ego, as the ultimate embodiment of error, cannot exist per se; it only acquires a vague ontological status when opposed to truth. Should truth vanish or hide its presence, error must vanish too. If a circumspect reader might be taken aback by my apparent mixture between the creative and the religious levels, he should be aware that this is due to the fact that, in Blake, the two co-exist, and that, moreover, the former cannot be fully understood in the absence of the latter.41 It has become obvious that the problematic of the ego vs. the self implies yet another series of Blakes dichotomies, yet another set of contradictions. Blakes dialectic expands far into the realms of abysmal psychology, encompassing radically divergent aspects. Since this problematic concerns primarily the function of the creative self, I have chosen to touch upon it in this first chapter, not in the third one, where it would more naturally seem

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to belong. I also wish to emphasize that Blake wrestled with the problem of the self for all his adult life, to the point that it became a concern of capital importance. Thus, Blakes self-image as a visionary expands far beyond textual connotations and intertextual relations, into what one may call the realm of collective salvation, for the artist does not confine himself to presenting a merely solipsistic medium. As Mary Lynn Johnson puts it, the poets self-representation as a prophetic visionary is more than a rhetorical device eliciting ordinary literary-critical responses. His purpose is to change lives, so that through those saved lives a nation and a world may be redeemed (247). Several other layers of significance, perhaps of equal importance, reveal themselves, as we shall see further on, after careful examination on the part of the reader. To sum up the chief characteristics of the creative self in Blake, I must say that these features include: (1) Complete sincerity. The creative self acts or believes that it acts in earnest, and is not deterred in his task by immanent or transcendent factors.42 (2) Dedication to a concurrently aesthetic and moral cause. If one paid due attention to the first two qualities with which the Blakean self is endowed, one would realize that these constitute Romantic topoi. Isaiah Berlin analyses Muhammads portrait as drawn by Thomas Carlyle in On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, noting that the problematic of Muhammads beliefs bears no relevance in the context: for the Romantic mind, it is only his devotion to the advancement of Islam that matters (Berlin 11). Moreover, when Carlyle traces the roots of Romanticism, he does not overlook the aspect of martyrdom for the truth, which suddenly becomes desirable and admirable; a resuscitation of a Hebraic or a paleo-Christian pattern of behaviour: By the 1820s you find an outlook in which the state of mind, the motive, is more important than the consequence, the intention is more important than the effect (Berlin 10). If this is so, Blake may be

seen as a child of his age, with all the exaggerations and incongruities that Romanticism portends. (3) Inflexibility. Once the course of an action has been set, nothing and no-one can alter the scriptive and/or pictorial trajectory of the creative self.43 (4) Electivity. Embarked on a visionary quest, the self feels that it both pursues a Quixotic ideal and is chosen for this task by a supreme agency. 44 The inevitable outcome is the indomitable presence of egotism: Baron Ernest Seillire 45 joins Ferdinand Brunetire when he asserts that Romanticism is literary egotism (Berlin 15), and the consideration is perfectly valid in Blakes case. (5) Supreme power (awarded by the absolute visionary gnosis). The aforementioned power concerns the creative selfs confidence that his assertions are true insofar as they are faithful to a simultaneously aesthetic and religious code. For instance, Hlderlin, another poet obsessed with the sacrality of poetic utterances, resorts to sheer demiurgic solipsism (the expression of a Romantic consciousness in statu nascendi) when he elects to confess about the supreme revelation of truth in his poem Wie wenn am Feiertage... (As on a Holiday...), 46 which, as Angela Esterhammer points out, may be read as a series of metaphors for poetic creation (187): Now day breaks! I watched and saw it coming, And what I saw, the holy, let it be my word (Poems and Fragments 373) Jetzt aber tags! Ich harrt und sah es kommen, Und was ich sah, das Heilige sei mein Wort (Smtliche Werke 118). As Paul de Man deftly notes, [t]he subjunctive is here really an optative; it indicates prayer, it marks desire, and these lines state the eternal poetic intention, but immediately state also that it can be no more than intention (Blindness and Insight 258). By contrast,

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Blake, disguised, inter alia, as a Bard in Milton, defiantly asserts his prerogatives, casting off all possible doubt as to his poetic profile: I am inspired! I know it is Truth! for I Sing / According to the inspiration of the Poetic Genius (E 107-08). Hlderlin only expresses a wish (emerging, nevertheless, from the powerful consciousness of a Romantic subject) whereas Blake confidently states what he would have us believe is an uncontested truth (hence, the use of the present indicative). The stance of the latter, wherein both the ontological and the religious axioms are intertwined, surpasses in magnitude that of the former: the absolute knower has power and, therefore, employs different rhetorical strategies to arrest his readers attention. After focusing on both the complex nature (metaphysical, ontological, aesthetic, visionary, etc.) and the diverse functions of the self in Blake, I have concluded the first chapter of my study. I must stress here that my research has been articulated around two contrastive yet correlative features of the self in vision: the empirical and the creative. Once I have shown the manner in which the creative self is predicated, I have sought to shed more light on the matter by calling attention to the relationship between this self and Urizen, Blakes most reason-oriented character, whom I have pinpointed as the poets double. Hence, an intrinsically psychological conflict has loomed large: that involving the Self and its decayed mirror-image, the Ego. Last but not least, the preceding lines have also enabled me to present the main characteristics of the creative self in Blake. Hereafter, I shall analyse the vision-inducing agents, representing the powerful elements that enable the self to experience and/or to aestheticize visions. Without their apposite description, which paves the way for a minute radiography of Blakes work of art, no credible exegesis of the Blakean vision can be attempted.

Notes to Chapter 1
Damon defines the Spectre as the rational power of the divided man (Blake Dictionary 380). 2 Damon notes that, unlike the female Emanations, the male Spectres are never endowed with proper names (Blake Dictionary 121). 3 Damon defines the Emanation as the feminine portion, or counterpart, of the fundamentally bisexual male (Blake Dictionary 120). 4 In light of recent scientific refinements, Popper defends the idea according to which the self is the direct outcome of the linguistic experience: I conjecture that only a human being capable of speech can reflect upon himself (144). Through a slow, yet constant, evolution, man has developed the consciousness of his mortality, the question of death being intrinsically a result of language refinement. Popper states that it was the emerging human language which created the selection pressure under which the cerebral cortex emerged, and with it, the human consciousness of self (30). 5 Even if one decides to leave aside the considerations regarding the relationship between the self and the good, one cannot possibly disregard the four main obstacles, enumerated by Taylor, which impinge upon a clear definition of the concept: 1. The object of study is to be taken absolutely, that is, not in its meaning for us or any other subject, but as it is on its own (objectively). 2. The object is what it is independent of any descriptions or interpretations offered of it by any subjects. 3. The object can in principle be captured in explicit description. 4. The object can in principle be described without reference to its surroundings (33-34). 6 For an elaborate demonstration, see Johnstone passim. 7 For a recent survey of Blakes early works, centred on their relationship with the Enlightenment tradition in general, and with Lockes philosophy in particular, see Matthew J. A. Greens Visionary Materialism in the Early Works of William Blake, especially the first part of the book. 8 For more details, see Meditations and Discourse passim. 9 Bygrave says: For both Locke and Hume, then, even the existence of the self is at best an embarrassment (15). He continues: Egotism has, potentially, the capacity for actively spanning that fissure which in the Cartesian Cogito is occupied by an unknowable God. Locke and Hume only reproduce that fissure and their dismissal of a metaphysical self implies a dismissal of any possible power (15). My main objection to these statements is that the critic fails to notice the essential difference between ego, as a gross manifestation of identity,
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usually deployed in a derisive manner, and the self, as the higher expression of identity, akin to elevated metaphysical stances. 10 Yet, there are critics who think that the Kantian self is a sui generis form of Ding an sich: There are passages in Kants Critique of Pure Reason which seem to offer the self as a kind of Ding an sich: an element which is irreducible but inarticulate. The Ding an sich was the point at which Fichte and Schelling discerned a point of leverage in the Kantian system (Bygrave 18). 11 Gerald N. Izenberg remarks Schlegels fascination with Fichtes indomitable and totally subjective theory: he called it a mysticism (103). 12 This term, whose putative author is Aristotle, is indisputably found in Boethius and was refined by Duns Scotus. Its tentative English equivalent would be thisness. It is one kind of individual essence: a property that is essential to its owner, and essentially unique to its owner, in the sense that it is impossible that there be something else that has it (Kim and Sosa 199). 13 For more details concerning the ensuing synonyms, see Nishitani 304 et passim. 14 Litt. true suchness. See also note 8 to the Appendix to my study. 15 Litt. Thus come. 16 Litt. suchness. 17 For more details, see, inter alia, Damon, Blake Dictionary 39-41. 18 It concerns itself with the study of various phenomena, e.g. the manner of composition, the material tools, the factors which inhibit or trigger the artistic process, ltat de lme during the aforementioned process, etc. For a detailed account of the functions of poietics on the whole, see Ren Passeron passim. 19 For further details, see Proust passim. 20 Persona is the Latin word for the mask of an actor. This still seems to be a reasonable deduction, although several other etymologies, some of which rather ludicrous, have been suggested by various authors (Aullus Gellius, Julius Caesar Scaliger, Hans Rheinfelder, Sir Arthur Pickard Cambridge, etc.) in different circumstances. For a cogent presentation of various etymological suggestions related to the concept of persona, see Elliott 19-20. 21 For an explicit distinction between empirical visions and aestheticized visions, see the third chapter of my study. 22 In classical literature, the archetypal figure of the inspired bard is incarnated by either Homer or Vergil. If the former is constantly eulogized by Plato, the latters panegyrics are written, amongst others, by Macrobius (in Saturnalia) and by Fulgentius (in The Exposition of Vergil). 23 Traditionally, a bard was an ancient Celtic poet, who enjoyed a privileged social status, his rights being hereditary (Myers and Simms 31). The Latin writer Lucan employs the term to define the poets originating from Gaul and Britain (Preminger, Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics 65). According to the medieval code Hywel Dda, there are three classes of bards: the chief of song, or pencerdd, the 59

household bard, or bardd teulu, and the minstrel, or cerddor; these correspond to the Irish categories of druid, filid, and baird (Preminger, Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics 65). There are two memorable bardic figures before the ones found in Blake: Grays hero and Macphersons Ossian. Jon Mee is of the opinion that [t]he conception of the bard shared by Macpherson and Gray drew on the belief that the ancient poets had been intimately involved in the public affairs of their societies (85). He adds that, whereas Grays bard fights for his countrys independence, Ossian is a warrior bard, precisely as Los at the end of Europe (85). More recently, in an ambitious but uneven book, Jason Whittaker has also attempted to trace the genealogy of the term, holding that it was a source of speculation (60) for many authors. It has been shown that, for instance, Geoffrey of Monmouth simply fabricated a British king named Bardus. More interestingly, though, both Evan Evans (an eighteenth-century Welsh scholar), in De Bardis Dissertatio, and Abraham Rees (a nineteenth-century editor of a universal dictionary), in Cyclopdia, related the bard to ecstatic frenzy (enthousiasmos). (Whittaker 60-61). 24 One of the bards chief characteristic is divine wisdom. As such, he incarnates the archetype of the sage, whose expression is, amongst others, the prophet. All these figures may be united under the same aegis. For an interesting analogy, see Bodkin 125-35. 25 See Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism 375. 26 Michael ONeill underlines that [a]bout nothing is Blakes poetry more selfconscious than its relationship with a reader (23). 27 Concerning the secrecy of Old Testament prophecies, see Hermann Gunkels valuable presentation of the rhetorical strategies employed by the Hebraic authors: 38-43. 28 In considering the relationship between poetics and prophetics, Hartman finds that there are, basically, three unanswered questions. The first concerns the condition of figures: [s]trong figurative expression does not reconcile particular and universal, or show the translucence of the universal in the concrete (Poetics of Prophecy 35). The second concerns the condition of written texts reflected both socially and metaphysically: [t]extual reality, obviously, is more complex, undecidable, and lasting than any dogmatic approach (Poetics of Prophecy 35). Finally, the third concerns the problematic of intertextuality, which is related to canon formation (Poetics of Prophecy 35). 29 David V. Erdman is essentially right when he writes that [w]e speak loosely of all Blakes difficult works as prophetic, yet in so figurative a sense that it is not customary to look for any literal message . . . (Historical Approach 23). Yet the critic exaggerates the role played by factual history in Blakes poetry. 30 In Blake, as S. Foster Damon declares, prophets are not foretellers of future facts; they are revealers of eternal truths (Blake Dictionary 335). Elsewhere, he

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believes that, for Blake, the true Prophets were simply poets who beheld the eternal truths by the power of Imagination (William Blake 61). Ronald L. Grimes notes that Blake, as eschatological visionary, rejects any suggestions that vision might be predicting (dictating) of historical events (144). Martin K. Nurmi offers a more synthetic definition: The prophet in Blakes sense sees with imaginative vision in the light of eternal principles (88). 31 Leslie Tannenbaum believes that Blakes concept of Poetic Genius derives equally from St. Augustine and Bhme. The critic insists that Blake had complete faith in certain religious and aesthetic stereotypes in seventeenthcentury thought. For a complete argumentation, see Tannenbaum 74-85. 32 William Hayley (1745-1820), the biographer of William Cowper, was a famous writer in his day: when Thomas Wharton died in 1790, he could have become Poet Laureate, but turned down the offer. 33 The reader must bear in mind the fact that it was Hayley who, whilst at Felpham, managed to inveigle Blake into painting miniatures and doing a whole series of heads of poets. This was supposedly a magnanimous act on the part of the artists patron, who thus wished to help his protg materially. Because of all these petty commissions, Blake was unable to conclude The Four Zoas. 34 For more details, see Blake Dictionary 246-54. 35 Useful suggestions may be found in Fearful Symmetry 338-39 et passim. 36 See E 116-17. 37 This may well stem from Blakes inherent passion for dialectic. For more details in this respect, see the third chapter of my study. 38 I employ the term Doppelgnger, invented by Jean Paul, as a perfect equivalent of the English double. Originally, however, the term designed a certain ill-omen ghost of a human being, an alter ego emerging from the deep strata of the psyche (hence, its immaterial condition). For a theory of the Doppelgnger, especially its hypothetical nine premises, see Webber 3-5. John Herdman underlines that the double as a literary device has its roots in human experience, natural, religious, psychological and parapsychological . . . (2). I must also point out that I am not interested in opening a debate concerning the double; as it will be seen, the concept itself constitutes a mere critical tool, used to shed some light on a complex relationship, not the nervus probandi of my argument. 39 In point of fact, Urizen asserts his omnipotence more than once in different yet illuminating contexts. In The Four Zoas, Night the First, he claims that he is nothing less than God from Eternity to Eternity (E 307). Further on, in Night the Third, one comes across renewed rhetorical pretensions to supreme authority: Am I not God said Urizen. Who is Equal to me / Do I not stretch the heavens abroad or fold them up like a garment (E 328). 40 For more details, see Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism 295. 61

41 See, for instance, my analysis in the third chapter of my study, concerning the third and fourth levels of vision, i.e. the aesthetic and the religious stages respectively. One is unimaginable without the other, which follows in progression. 42 See Blakes Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, E 658. 43 See Blakes Preface to Milton, E 95-96. 44 See, inter alia, Blakes letter to Thomas Butts, dated 25 April 1803 (E 728-29). 45 For an astute analysis, see Seillire, especially the introduction and chapter 1. 46 A cogent interpretation of the poem, with a focus on its temporal models, pertains to Paul de Man. For a full analysis, see Romanticism and Literary Criticism 50-73.

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In my interpretation, based on extensive reference to critical sources, Blakes visions are induced by a number of agents, which fall into two main classes or categories. Essentially, one may speak of a spiritual dyad: imagination and inspiration. Imagination is, as I shall point out henceforth, an immanent force, stemming from within the creative selfs intimate strata, whereas inspiration is a transcendent power, originating in exterior elements. There are two instances of the latter: one wherein the inspiring agent remains unknown or unnamed, and another wherein the inspiring agent acquires a distinct, albeit physically questionable,1 status (as is the case with God, angels and devils, saints and prophets, spirits of deceased persons, and the Muses).2 It is equally important to observe that, in Blake, vision is induced, more often than not, by a conjunction of these agents. Imagination conjugates with forms of inspiration both in empirical visionary contexts (when the former moulds and expands the sensory contents furnished by the latter) and during the creative process (when the former organizes and adds to the aesthetic data made available by the latter). That is why the exegete may easily find a paradoxical combination of spontaneous bursts of poetic creativity and a careful, at times even desperate, revision of the supposedly revealed initial drafts. In my opinion, neither the role of imagination nor that of inspiration should be deemed absolute and exclusive: the two phenomena complete one another in a harmonious ontological juxtaposition, contributing to the generation, to the intensification, and, eventually, to the transformation of empirical visions into aesthetic ones.

2.1. Prolegomena: The Old Case for Blakes Madness


Blakes putative madness made the object of ardent discussions both in his day and later, until about the mid-twentieth century. Some rejected the idea that his visions were inspired by transcendent agents and re-shaped by the immanent force of imagination, and inclined to consider them the dismal fruit of a deeply disturbed mind. This, in turn, resulted in the dismissal of his visionary universe as little more than the fancy of a lunatic, who was in more immediate need of confinement and proper medical care than in the position of offering spiritual advice and sustenance. Thus, in 1924, Arthur Symons wrote that [t]here are people who still ask seriously if Blake was mad. If the mind of Lord Macaulay is the one and only type of sanity, then Blake was mad (156). Nowadays, however, hardly anyone bothers about this erstwhile inflammatory issue.3 It is commonly accepted that Blake was in the possession of a rich, exquisite psyche, which allowed him to explore regions never dreamt of. However, there lingers a legitimate doubt concerning a purely psychological approach to Blake, which studies like Brenda S. Websters Blakes Prophetic Psychology avail little in dispelling. The author, who does not give much credit to Blakes sanity, hastens to dismiss numerous exegetes attempts made at the poets rehabilitation: critics in their efforts to bridge the distance between Blake and his reader and get as far away as possible from the idea that he was mad may have become rather too Blakean (2). In her opinion, this happens mainly because [t]here is a tendency to accept his prophetic assertions at face value and submit to his obscurities as rightfully imposed tests of ones worthiness as a reader (2). Whilst I agree that one must always take the artists words with a grain of salt, I strongly disagree to the objection implied by the latter part of the

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argument. On the contrary, I believe that Blakes obscurities, far from representing the ravings of a maniac, are really meant to put the reader to the test, to challenge the latters intelligence, to arouse his interest in the development of vision. Amongst other things, it is the oracular character of Blakes rhetoric, albeit manifested only at a primary level of understanding, which has maintained the critics unflinching interest in the artists poetry. Let me now shift the readers attention to another problem: what exactly is the element which contributed decisively to a conflict between Blake and the eighteenth-century Londoners? According to David Morse, the inevitable clash between Blake and his contemporaries arose from the formers incapacity to adjust himself and his demeanour to the increasingly constraining rules of a bourgeois society. The predictable outcome was the poets banishment from active public life, and, eventually, his financial downfall: his one-time patrons were only too eager to slough off their protg. Morse argues that art is a sui generis form of industry, which ensures a financial, if not social, contract, the beneficiaries being the body politic, on the one hand, and the artist, on the other. If the terms of both parties are not met, the most powerful imposes its will on the weaker. In our particular context, Blake was dubbed an unfortunate lunatic: Many of Blakes problems as an artist arose from his failure or refusal to see that genius alone was not enough; it was requisite that he should act in conformity with the notion of how a society painter should behave and furnish society with appropriate artistic services. Art is one of the service industries. In the Romantic period the writer and artist become a perennial source of embarrassment: they draw attention to themselves in ways that are unseemly; they insist on their genius and on the uniqueness of their vision in a way which, if it does not smack of self-advertisement, appears incongruous, disproportionate, not to say mad. . . . (Romanticism 229).
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A slightly different approach to the theme would posit the idea of insanity as a cunning invention of Blakes own, as this tended to become a behavioural topos in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, a hallmark of distinction between artists, forced to inhabit a bourgeois milieu, and philistines: Blake exploited rumors about his madness in order to insist on the importance of mental reality and of an individual imaginative perspective (Dabundo 288). Moreover, questioning the idea of madness in the eighteenth century literary society, Damon points out that, at the time, it was little more than Enthusiasm (William Blake 207). The same line of thought is followed by Charles Rosen, who draws an interesting parallel between Blake and Cowper, noting that the two found madness an escape, a way of life that could be chosen with all its terrors (113), and adding that the formers insanity was a finer solution in that his sanguine temperament was sustained by indignation (113).4 After examining the available data which could make up the case of Blakes lunacy, Damon draws the conclusion that the artists sanity is a fact proved by the self-conscious character of all his acts: By the Laws rule-of-thumb definition, Blake was legally sane, since he always was entirely conscious of the nature and significance of his acts (William Blake 210). It is Damons opinion that, once a critic has labelled Blake lunatic, he must so label all visionaries (William Blake 211). This assertion echoes the poets dictum, according to which [t]here are States in which all Visionary Men are accounted Mad Men such are Greece and Rome (E 274). Finally, Hoxie Neale Fairchild emphasizes that Blake was certainly a neurotic whose mind, for better and for worse, deviated widely from the norm; but he never lost control of his faculties, and his behavior was never perilous or even troublesome to himself or to society. In short he was a sane though extremely queer person (68). Actually, there is not a shadow of doubt that almost all of the artists contemporaries, even the most benign and tolerant of them, regarded him as a lunatic. His mental tribulations, though

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incurring opprobrium, were the only factor which could account for his erratic social behaviour and passionate arguments. In a letter to Johnny Johnson, dated 31 July 1805, Lady Hesketh wrote about her certainty that the poet would precipitate the death of his patron: he [Blake] will poison him [Hayley] in his Turret or set fire to all his papers, & poor Hayley will consume in his own Fires (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 40). Nonetheless, in an epistle to Robert Southey, dated 27 April 1830, Caroline Bowles expressed a somewhat milder opinion on the subject, adding a tone of concession: Mad though he might be, he was gifted and good, and a most happy being (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 40). Robert Southey, just like William Wordsworth, 5 took Blakes insanity for a fact, but found it at once fascinating and sorrowful. In an emotional response to Caroline Bowles, dated 8 May 1830, he depicted the artist as an unfortunate vates, ignorant of his own mental distress: Much as he is to be admired, he was at the time so evidently insane, that the predominant feeling in conversing with him, or even looking at him, could only be sorrow and compassion. His wife partook of his insanity . . . You could not have delighted in him his madness was too evident, too fearful. It gave his eyes an expression such as you would expect to see in one who was possessed (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 40-41). The list of the people who deemed Blake insane comprises illustrious, as well as obscure, names (the Swiss-born painter David Fuseli; Blakes patron, William Hayley; Dr Benjamin Heath Malkin; a sneering columnist, Robert Hunt, who published a searing review of one of the artists exhibitions, etc.). However, I must stress the idea that a few contemporaries, such as James Ward, Seymour Kirkup, 6 John Linnell, 7 and Samuel Palmer, 8 boldly raised their voices and testified to the artists sanity.
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Alluring though it may be, the point per se constitutes an ideological cul-de-sac, mainly because it is so intricate, that no conclusive proof can be produced either pro or contra. However, since Blake can be considered legally sane and was evidently capable of sustained, self-conscious, purposeful creative work, I regard it as only fair that his uvre be granted the tribute of a valid, systematic approach, wherein the role of the vision-inducing agents should be properly looked into. In the following lines, I shall focus on the main features of the vision-inducing factors which I have already mentioned. I shall commence my analysis with the presentation of imagination (its morphology, as well as its scope and function in Blakes work).

2.2. Imagination
In order to facilitate the understanding of visionary imagination, I must first take into account the general functions of this intellectual faculty. The basic formula reads that imagination is the power to form mental images (Kim and Sosa 235). However, it is generally admitted that, philosophically, the concept has two meanings: First, the capacity to experience mental images, and, second, the capacity to engage in creative thought (Cooper 212). Notwithstanding the fact that, in the general field of aesthetics, one may speak about creative imagination, the syntagm has a more specific meaning when applied to the poetics of vision. Let me consider the first case, involving the broader sense. Whenever a person imagines something, his thoughts are not illusions about the real world, but undeceived depictions of a world that is not only unreal, but also known to be so (Cooper 213). Thus, the subject imagines something and precisely because he is the originator of these thoughts he cannot create the illusion of verisimilitude. In the second case, involving the restrained sense

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of visionary poetics, the subject imagines something which, as soon as has been imagined, has acquired an autonomous ontological status. The imagined world becomes self-sufficient and functions on its own support. It does not require the external judgment of another beholder (i.e. another subject of knowledge); its contents are true simply because, ex hypothesi, their author has deemed them true. The relationship between (mental) image and imagination looms large at this point. Some theorists hasten to state that images are the material components of the mental activity, describing them as symbols. A more appropriate definition of image could be that the latter may justifiably be regarded as a bridge between perception and thought (Guttenplan 366), since any image involves an intricately elaborate connection between the sensorium and the intellectual faculty. Moreover, there are four main characteristics which link images and sensations. Thus, occurrence of images can be timed; they can vary in intensity, elude description unless one resorts to some sensory experience, and are characterized by subjectivity.9 The whole controversy as regards the function of imagination arises from a theoretical failure. As I have already underlined, it is not within the scope of my pursuit to present imagination diachronically, but rather to facilitate the understanding of the concept and its role in visionary poetry. R. G. Collingwood brilliantly synthesizes the three steps which the theory of imagination has passed in modern Western thought: (1) To most of the seventeenth-century philosophers it seemed clear that all sensation is simply imagination. The common-sense distinction was simply wiped out, and the existence of anything which could be called real sensation was denied. . . . (2) The English empiricists tried to restate the common-sense distinction, but were unable to reach an agreement. . . . (3) Kant (with important help from Leibniz and Hume) approached the problem along
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a new line. Instead of trying to conceive a real sensa and imaginary sensa as two co-ordinate species of the same genus, . . . he conceived the difference between them as a difference of degree (187). So, the problem has been created by the philosophers failure to make an apparently common-sense distinction between real and imaginary sensory data, i.e. impressions and ideas. If, in Baruch Spinoza (who merely resumes Hobbess position), for instance, imagination is simply equated with sensation, in Kant, it constitutes the imperative connection between sensory data and understanding.10 It is at this point that Collingwood is able to coin his own theory of imagination, which responds to the foregoing controversy by simply acknowledging the existence of a sui generis sense experience, akin to the sense experience proper, and yet clearly distinct from the latter: There must, in other words, be a form of experience other than sensation, but closely related to it; so closely as to be easily mistaken for it, but different in that the colours, sounds, and so on which in this experience we perceive are retained in some way or other before the mind, anticipated, recalled, although these same colours and sounds, in their capacity as sensa, have ceased to be seen and heard (202). In my opinion, this is one of the simplest and clearest definitions of imagination in European aesthetics, which facilitates the primary understanding of the term. More recently, a number of aestheticians and literary critics have emphasized the importance of equally relevant issues raised by the concept under consideration. Thus, whilst Patrick Grant is of the opinion that [t]he characteristic modus operandi of human knowledge mediating between Spirit and Matter . . . we may presume to call Imagination (25), Thomas McFarland

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discusses the concept of imagination in relation to the idea of originality. The latter remarks that, because both terms historically accumulated value in inverse ratio to their clear and distinct definition, they tended not only to share a common aura, but also to restore that numinous which by the eighteenth century was increasingly divested from soul [italics in the original] as a term in its own right (88). As all literature scholars undoubtedly know, the concept of imagination has often been deemed to parallel the concept of fancy. I must stress that I am not particularly interested in differentiating between the two ideas, since Blake himself fails to. Suffice it to say at this point, just for the sake of the general argument, that the two terms have been transmitted to the modern intellectual thought via two sources: one is Latin (imaginatio), the other, Greek (phantasia).11 The Latin tradition of the Middle Ages and its intellectual avatars employs them as either synonymous (St. Thomas Aquinas, amongst others) or not (Albertus Magnus, amongst others).12 At this stage, the reader should bear in mind that my discourse focuses on the main attributes of the creative imagination; that is why I intend hereafter to summarize James Engells brilliant genealogical presentation of the idea of imagination as an originative force.13 Starting from the premise that imagination, as an independent concept, is brought fourth by the Enlightenment, Engell asserts that it is in imagination alone that a valuable key to the concurrent understanding of both Enlightenment and Romanticism is to be discovered. 14 The teleological characteristics inherent in the creative power are best summarized by Engell himself: The creative imagination became the way to unify mans psyche and, by extension, to reunify man with nature, to return by the paths of self-consciousness to a state of higher nature, a state of the sublime where senses, mind, and spirit elevate the world around them even as they
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elevate themselves. The new concept of imagination enlarged the humanities and increased the expectations placed on secular art, and the promise and burden of those expectations continue today (8). The concept of imagination is central in Blake, and, although presented in comparatively simple terms, it affords a multitude of semantic refinements. On the one hand, C. M. Bowra believes that, for Blake, imagination is nothing less than God as he operates in the human soul. It follows that any act of creation performed by the imagination is divine and that in the imagination mans spiritual nature is fully and finally realized (89). On the other hand, as Engell deftly notes, Blakes idea of imagination has roots in philosophical and religious traditions that include both esoteric and popular elements and which extend back through the eighteenth century, the hermeticists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Renaissance, medieval and ancient philosophy, and sacred Hebrew poetry (245). Moreover, Engell points out that several connections may be established between Blakes imagination and that of Pico della Mirandola, Meister Eckhart, Jakob Bhme, Paracelsus,15 Cornelius Agrippa, Emanuel Swedenborg, and, of course, Kant and Schelling (245). His English forerunners include Bunyan, Milton, Shaftestbury, Joseph Warton, Akenside, Collins, and Christopher Smart (Engell 245). Despite all these influences, Blakes idea of imagination retains original features, and is to be discerned and described appropriately. Engells blunt yet suggestive definition, according to which Blake is a Protestant revivalist16 in the radical sense of the word (246), is quite fit in the context. Further on, Engell remarks that Blakes idea of imagination can be closely related to that of both Coleridge and Schelling, although Blake fails to discern amongst various levels of imaginative force (247). The scholar also notes that the visionary poet restores to its full power the syntagm natura naturans, the forming or plastic spirit that works in God and in the human

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mind (247), found in Spinoza or in Scotus Eriugena. Subsequently, Engell draws an interesting parallel between Blakes fourfold vision and the chronological development of Schellings philosophical thought (the Fichtean incipit, the Naturphilosophie, the Identittsphilosophie, and the mytho-theological synthesis). 17 The scholars conclusive view on Blake coincides with Coleridges, in that the visionary is an anacalyptic poet, rather than an apocalyptic one, and the explanation which the scholar furnishes is satisfactory enough: The anacalyptic poet (from Greek ana- up, back, again, excessively + calyptein, to cover, conceal) literally recovers in order to recover and restore; only when we become initiated to his symbols can he be called apocalyptic (255). Thus, Blakes heterodox and confusing language is explained via an intricate network of etymological refinements. The conclusion of the whole study is that Blake furiously and repeatedly attempts to restore the already fully-fledged concept of antiquity: he is trying to reintroduce the oldest and most mysteriously resonant idea of a divine-human imagination (256). After examining all these theories concerning imagination and its chief creative traits, I am now ready to offer my own. According to my definition, at the empirical level, imagination constitutes the subjects inner ability to filter, to magnify, and to modify the basic visionary data of experience. At the creative level, insofar as visionary poetry is concerned, imagination represents the selfs inner capability to transform the raw contents of the visionary experience into a work of art, without thereby entailing the active participation of an exterior agent. Thus, this intellectual capacity involves the personal involvement of the creative self, that does not wait for a transcendent voice to furnish a finite work of art. The subject is the sole organizer of the creative process. However, in Blake, this is the case only at a theoretical level, for, at a practical one, one discovers an ontological fusion between imagination, as an internal power, and inspiration, as an external one, the former contributing to the expansion and intensification of vision, as induced by a transcendent force. This holds true both for
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empirical visions (wherein the subjects imagination appropriates and reforms the inspiration-generated visionary contents) and for aestheticized visions (wherein the selfs imagination alters the first draft made available by an external agent, be it definite or indefinite). It is my intention now to take into close consideration various instances (drawn from textual references) of the concept in Blakes thought. I shall commence by trying to shed additional light on what the poet means by imagination, at the same time taking into account, as Andrew J. Welburn reasonably suggests, not only the power of the image, but also the difficult issues that arise when poetry touches upon the limits of imagery and representation (15). In Blakes thought, imagination ranks as the foremost mental faculty at both immanent and transcendent levels (human and divine), but, as I shall further evince, its ultimate meaning is to be sought in its closely interdependent relationship with inspiration. If one were to give credit to Damons interpretation, one should say it is Paracelsus who originates the pivotal role of imagination in Blakes art. According to the German physician and alchemist, imagination plays a capital part in all human activities, operating through mans spiritual body, which dominates his physical body (Damon 322). Be that as it may, it is safe to say that Blake borrows at least a few ideas from the alchemical tradition. Moreover, Leonard W. Deens careful analysis of the role played by imagination in Blakes poetic thought leads me to believe that the artists aesthetic credo may well originate from the ancient alchemical idea, according to which successful spiritual harmony stems from the conjunction of the masculine, or active, element, and the corresponding feminine, or passive, one: In Blakes psychology, imagination is not the ruler over desire and reason but their source, and hence the balance they achieve when the energy of desire has the initiative (56).

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In order that he may properly grasp the ultimate meaning of imagination, Blake contrasts the latter and the mnemenic faculty in man. Blake reaffirms the nature of imagination as an essentially spiritual mirror of man, and, concurrently, marks an already familiar distinction between fancy and memory: 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 (E 666). Thus, memory disrupts vision, and causes an artistic work to be imbued with conventionality, artificiality, and imitative characteristics. Although invoked in Poetical Sketches, memory is afterwards discarded and even ridiculed by Blake, in a Herculean attempt to purge his work of all philistine, non-visionary traits. The poet even comes to conceive of two sets of feminine figures: the Daughters of Inspiration, who govern visionary art, and the Daughters of Memory, who protect mimetic art (fable or allegory). 18 Frye holds that imagination is constructive and communicable, whilst memory is circular and sterile (Fearful Symmetry 32). Kathleen Raine, in her turn, speaks about the double meaning of art and life in Blake, one pertaining to visionary imagination, the other to mimetic ratiocination: the art and life of imagination, informed by intellectual vision; and the art of the ratio, of the human spectral selfhood, based upon the copying of nature. . . (II 208). Finally, Damrosch, Jr. underlines that memory is tantamount to fracture and dispersion, as opposed to the constructive unity of imagination: Memory . . . is in Blakes view the symptom of a fragmented consciousness that interprets reality as a collection of discrete phenomena instead of a single form. Imagination . . . has no need of memory because it perceives everything as simultaneous unity (27). Nevertheless, Damon contends that [t]here was more Memory in Blakes Visions than he admitted (268), implying that any poet, however biased towards theoretical originality he may be, falls victim to the acquired artistic instruction, as well as to the literary conventions of his age.
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Blakes dichotomy between imagination and memory is a Romantic clich, a differentiation which survives well into the twentieth century (Gaston Bachelard, amongst others, distinguishes between a creative form of imagination, free from any mnemenic constraints, and a reproductive one, based on memory). But one of the earliest and most interesting instances of the dyad is found in Philostratus. In his famous religious opus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the writer has Thespesion (an Egyptian) and Apollonius involved in a heated argument concerning the zoomorphic representation of Ethiopian gods, the former holding that imitation is based on visual stimuli only, whilst imagination emerges from deeply-embedded strata of consciousness, without any reference whatsoever to perceptive reality: Imitation will fashion what she has seen, imagination also what she has not seen. She will form her conception with reference to reality. Amazement (ekplesis) often baffles imitation; nothing baffles imagination (Russell and Winterbottom 552). We have seen that imagination must be properly distinguished from memory, but what is the exact nature of the former? A tentative answer is attempted in A Vision of the Last Judgment: 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 (E 555). Thus, Blakes incipit of argument can be traced back to the Platonic tradition, and refers to the legendary archei or the primary principles of things. Moreover, the idea that individuality is imperishable can be related to Platos belief in the omnipotence of Eternal Forms.19 Only now does one come to comprehend fully the extent of Blakes thought, for the artist declares explicitly that it is for the infinite and eternal world of imagination that the human soul departs after death: This world of Imagination is the World of Eternity it is the Divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the Vegetated

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body (E 555). Again, Blake deploys his favourite trope, and ventures to personify human imagination, as the latter appears as Coming to Judgment. among his Saints & throwing off the Temporal that the Eternal might be Establishd (E 555). One may also notice Blakes obsession with time perishable and time eternal is recurrent, as the former may be restored by the latter through the exercise of the divine will, which is possessed of benevolence and sanctity. Subsequently, imagination is simply equated with the body divine, residing within each and every living individual. In Annotations to Berkeleys Siris, this idea is thrice reiterated, each time with only slight alterations: Imagination or the Human Eternal Body in Every Man (E 663), Imagination or the Divine Body in Every Man (E 663), The All in Man The Divine Image or Imagination (E 663). The same definition is repeated in [The Laocon]: The Eternal Body of Man is The IMAGINATION [capitalization in the original] (E 273), and in Blakes last letter to George Cumberland, dated 12 April 1827: . . . The Real Man The Imagination which Liveth for Ever (E 783). At one point in his Annotations to Berkeleys Siris, Blake attributes Gods anthropomorphization to the theological conceptions of Jesus, Abraham, and David, whose views are in sharp contrast with the abstractions of Plato and Aristotle: Jesus as also Abraham & David considerd God as a Man in the Spiritual or Imaginative Vision (E 663). This naturally induces the idea that it is Jesus himself who identifies Imagination with the Real Man: Jesus considerd Imagination to be the Real Man . . . (E 663). Finally, once the poet has attributed his own ideas to an illustrious biblical tradition, thereby accrediting and even ennobling them, he can draw the conclusion that Man is All Imagination (E 664) and that man and God are one. Of course, Greek philosophy is pernicious, and must be dealt with quickly and harshly: What Jesus came to Remove was the Heathen or Platonic Philosophy which blinds the Eye of Imagination The Real Man (E 664). Trapped in his own flamboyant convictions, Blake seems to forget that, in his own
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writings, he felt free to borrow from Plato and Aristotle more than once, and that the Gospel of John which he much admires has a purely Platonic idea at its heart, i.e. the pre-eminence of the Logos. The primary function of imagination in actual life is to establish an empathic connection between the individual and the cosmos. According to Blake, the self can escape formulaic depictions and emotional shallowness by using a certain imaginative trope: the prosopopoeia.20 The exterior universe can only be loved by means of the latters personification. A human presence ennobles an otherwise static vista, and allows the imaginative beholder to experience love divine, as Blake holds in his Annotations to Swedenborgs Divine Love and Divine Wisdom: Think of a white cloud. as being holy you cannot love it but think of a holy man within the cloud love springs up in your thought. for to think of holiness distinct from man is impossible to the affections (E 603). The very same idea is poetically expressed in The Little Black Boy (Songs of Innocence and of Experience): Look on the rising Sun: there God does live / And gives his light and gives his heat away (E 9). In a Public Address, concerning Chaucers Canterbury Pilgrims, the artist emphatically claims that it is the world of imagination, not of matter, that deserves any recognition whatsoever: [Imagination is My World this world of Dross is beneath my Notice & the Notice of the Public] [italics in the original] (E 580). Moreover, according to Blake, it is through the incessant exercise of this foremost faculty that the creative self apprehends noumenal reality (if I may employ this Kantian epithet). Phenomenal contents of the world can exert a pernicious function on the unfolding of imaginative components, in the sense that the former may be able to slacken the activity of the latter: Natural Objects always did & now do Weaken deaden & obliterate Imagination in Me (E 665). At a purely aesthetic level, imagination acquires a prominent status. That Blake attributes not only the inchoate stages of creativity but also its final ones to imagination becomes

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transparent if one examines the artists Annotations to Wordsworths Poems: One Power alone makes a Poet Imagination The Divine Vision (E 665). Imagination is converted into the epitome of the aesthetic process, the regulating force that is able to fashion a work of art according to the artists own convictions, beyond the confines imposed by the inspiring agents. Imagination also accounts for the perfection of forms as a result of the poets mental activity, nature playing no part in their generation. Herein lies the active principle of an anti-naturalistic consciousness, refusing any involvement of nature (perceived, in this particular context, as natura naturata) in the aesthetic field, and placing human activity above all other values. Mans intellect is to be extolled mainly because it is capable of projecting flawless worlds (although stemming from an afflatus 21 experience), rather than perfectible natural universes, as Blake points out in his Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds: All Forms are perfect in the Poets Mind. but these are not abstracted nor compounded from Nature <but are from Imagination> (E 648). The great prophetic books bring little, if anything, new in regard to Blakes already discussed idea of imagination, but I elect to examine them briefly for the sake of exhaustiveness. Thus, in Milton, the creative faculty is described as . . . the Divine Vision & Fruition / In which Man liveth eternally . . . (E 132) or, even better, as the Human Existence itself (E 132). In Jerusalem, imagination is involved in a fierce conflict against abstract philosophy, and is again equated with the Divine Body of the Lord Jesus (E 148). Albions lament subsequently identifies the foremost human power simply as Divine Body (E 169), a syntagm pasted once again in the description of the Spectre attempting to contain the Divine Body by a carefully designed net of moral laws (E 229). At one point, Blake states boldly that imagination is the universal receptacle of cogitatum, the ontological support of reality components: For All Things Exist in the Human Imagination (E 223). Therefore, the entire universe, in its refined, unalterable form, is located not outside but inside man;
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the latter has to acknowledge this truth before going any further in his gnoseological investigations. The transcendent and the transcendental mingle, and the resulting fusion is an ecstatic moment of metaphorical perfection: . . . when you enter into their Bosoms you walk In Heavens & Earths; as in your own Bosom you bear your Heaven And Earth, & all you behold, tho it appears Without it is Within In your Imagination of which this World of Mortality is but a Shadow (E 225). All the aforementioned examples allow us to draw the proper conclusion: the creative self actively projects poetic worlds in conjunction with an inspirational medium, and subsequently explores them by a constant use of the imaginative faculty, which acts as an immanent, not a transcendent, force, originating from the artists mental activity and instanced in visionary writings. In Leopold Damrosch. Jr.s words, the function of visionary imagination is thus to get beyond the images of the ordinary world to the true forms in which they participate (14). One should conclude by saying that, in Blakes case, the ordinary world simply ceases to exist, and that, from a certain point onwards, this material universe, an erroneous construct in itself, is replaced by a transphenomenal reality called Eternity, entirely governed by the omnipotent components of imagination.22 I might venture to add that Eternity itself becomes, in The Ghost of Abel, the equivalent of the creative power: Imagination is Eternity (E 270). For, as the artist sententiously declares in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, [e]very thing possible to be believd is an image of truth (E 37). Thus, in Blake, one can definitely identify an aesthetic extremism at work, a kind of tyranny of art over life (XI), if one were to quote Berlin, a pivotal conviction in the Romantic Age, when the frontiers between the real and the possible were easily effaced,

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and the heritage of the French Enlightenment, triggered by a bloody Revolution, was quickly substituted for a new set of dogmas, anti-rationalistic and idealistic perhaps, but still as implacable as the former. If the philosophes indefatigably preached that the material universe is the only creditable epistemological object, Blake and the Romantics rose to defend the autonomy of imagination, and their steadfast determination and lack of ideological concession put the latter on a par with Reason.

2.3. Inspiration
It is my critical conviction that, in visionary poetry in general, and in Blake in particular, inspiration implies a twofold distinction. On the one hand, it refers to a number of indefinite inspiring agents, whose voice remains clear, but sheds little light on the identity of the enunciator. On the other, it refers to a series of definite inspiring agents, that constitute personified aspects of afflatus: God, angels and devils, saints and prophets, spirits of deceased persons, and the Muses. Firstly, I should say that two critical theories have emerged with regard to the origin of inspiration: whilst the first claims that inspiration is a transcendental force (i.e. a power which originates in the creative self), 23 the second claims that inspiration is a transcendent force (i.e. a power which originates outside the creative self, in a superior agency). 24 Psychological data supports the former theory, and literary, as well as anthropological, data sustains the latter. 25 Be that as it may, I am of the opinion that inspiration is a term to be deployed when taking into account an alien agency, whilst imagination should be used when considering the personal contribution of the creative self. Otherwise, serious theoretical contradictions arise in regard to the validity of

inspiration and imagination, as expressing two essentially different realities. Secondly, I believe that a brief diachronic presentation of the concept, which is more unclear and therefore elicited more controversy than that of imagination, is not unwelcome at this stage. Its first famous champion is Plato, and three of his dialogues are essential to the better understanding of inspiration as a catalyst of visionary force: the Apology, the Ion, and the Phaidros.26 The main argument is briefly reiterated in Platos last dialogue, Laws, wherein the philosopher claims the utter passivity of the poet, a fact that promptly denies the latters sense of truth, and thereby renders the whole idea of inspiration futile.27 The Apology centres on the idea of the lack of knowledge and rationality on the part of the poet, whose will is completely subordinated to a superior agency: So I soon came to this realization for the poets also, that they were not composing their works out of wisdom, but by virtue of certain natural gifts and being filled with divine inspiration28 like the prophets and givers of oracles; for those too say many beautiful things but have no knowledge of them (22b). In the Ion, Socrates denies any involvement of ratiocination in the creative process, and plainly asserts that the poet is not able to compose until he has become inspired and out of his mind and his reason is no longer in him (534b). Since it entails the presence of definite inspiring agents, i.e. the Muses, I shall discuss the Phaidros in the next subchapter. However, I should not fail to mention that so authoritative was Platos theory and so convincing were his arguments defending it, that, until Schleiermacher and Tillich added their own religious refinements, essentially nothing new had been said in relation to inspiration. The term itself was either restricted to the biblical sphere of interpretation or subjected to intense criticism, levelled mainly at its irrational character which sharply contrasted the forma mentis of an increasingly materialistic and rationalistic society. A cogent analysis of inspiration cannot overlook the chief aspect of the phenomenon, i.e. its fleeting incipit. It is

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Schleiermacher who first notes that the poetic expression, as opposed to the rhetorical, rests upon a primary instant, which enables the creative self to envisage the general form (blurred though it may be) of the still uncreated poem. So rich and powerful is this original moment, and so enticing are its visionary contents, that the recipient can do no more than submit to the power of afflatus. The German hermeneutist insists that the poetic expression is descriptive and thereby highly illuminating, allowing a profusion of interpretations on the part of the reader, who takes up the task of completing the truncated message, whereas the rhetorical, albeit stimulative, is comparatively weaker, yielding hermeneutic approaches fashioned strictly in accordance with the expression/signification ratio: The poetic expression is always based originally upon a moment of exaltation which has come purely from within, a moment of enthusiasm or inspiration; the rhetorical upon a moment whose exaltation has come from without, a moment of stimulated interest which issues in a particular definite result. The former is purely descriptive (darstellend), and sets up in general outlines images and forms which each hearer completes for himself in his own peculiar way. The rhetorical is purely stimulative, and has, in its nature, to do for the most part with such elements of speech as, admitting of degrees of signification, can be taken in a wider or narrower sense, content if at the decisive moment they can accomplish the highest, even that they should exhaust themselves thereby and subsequently appear to lose somewhat of their force (Christian Faith I 78-79). It is also worth noting that, for Schleiermacher, inspiration acquires a particular value properly due to its prophetic quality, and to Christs valuation of tradition: We shall rather express the whole truth if we say that we believe in the prophetic inspiration
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simply because of the use which Christ and his apostles make of the utterances of the prophets (Christian Faith I 76). Elsewhere, the German hermeneutist defines inspiration in terms of the moral faculty and liberty: What is inspiration? It is simply the general expression for the feeling of true morality and freedom (On Religion 89). The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich discusses the term in its close relationship to ecstasy, underlining that the two become perfectly synonymous if one envisages the cognitive aspect in an ecstatic experience, more specifically, the sheer receptivity of the faculty of knowledge (I 114). As such, Tillich points out that inspiration fails to mediate apprehension of either concrete objects or relations, acting instead as a revelatory agency regarding the ultimate ontological aspects of reality. Most importantly, afflatus is transmuted into an agent of hyperintellectual apprehension: It does not add anything to the complex of knowledge which is determined by the subject-object structure of reason. Inspiration opens a new dimension of knowledge, the dimension of understanding in relation to our ultimate concern and to the mystery of being (I 115). Creating an exquisite approach to inspiration, Jacques Maritain holds the view that the artist, especially the visionary poet (I may venture to add) can create only by reverting to a spiritual locus, which is not the spatial topos, found in Aristotle, but a subjective one, internalized in the pre-creative process.29 Linking poetic experience with poetic intuition, Maritain virtually describes a supreme moment of inspiration, involving the active participation of all the senses, and the rejection of all rationalistic formulae: Into this place he enters, not by any effort of voluntary concentration, but by a concentration, fleeting as it may be, of all the senses, and a kind of unifying repose which is like a natural grace, a primordial gift, but to which he has to consent, and which he can cultivate, first of all by removing obstacles and silencing concepts (176-77).

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In an attempt to refine Schleiermachers argument about the role played by the initial instant of afflatus, M. H. Abrams lucidly argues that the moment of inspiration arrests ordinary temporality, and projects the creative self in illo tempore: 30 Many Romantic writers testified to a deeply significant experience in which an instant of consciousness, or else an ordinary object or event, suddenly blazes into revelation; the unsustainable moment seems to arrest what is passing, and is often described as an intersection of eternity with time (Natural Supernaturalism 385). Abrams quotes two examples from St. Augustines Confessions, which depict the experience of eternity in a moment (Natural Supernaturalism 385). Taking the argument even further, Carl Fehrman insists that it is the initial gush of inspiration that functions as an aesthetic organizer for what is to become the finite work of art, in the sense that it affords the creative self a total insight into the life of its creation. Nonetheless, Fehrman notes that this first impulse is not to be interpreted as a purveyor of the finite piece of poetry per se: The first flash of inspiration, the sudden initial impulse, can appear as an intuitive conception of the whole or as a shorter sequence of images, words, or notes, i.e., as a continuum or as a fragment. . . . Many similar experiences of authors could be quoted, instances when the whole to speak in the language of Gestalt psychologists appears to have come before the parts. . . . The sudden first moment of inspiration by no means always, however, appears as a vision of the total work (164-66). In considering the concept of inspiration, I shall only take into account those aspects which favour an apposite approach to Blakes ideas. In contrast with the theory of imagination, the theory of inspiration has not been particularly productive in Western thought insofar as originality is concerned (I have already pointed out that, despite the ardent controversy which it elicited, the meaning of the term itself, as established by Plato, was not refined essentially until the late eighteenth century). The latest important contribution to the theme is Rosamund
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Hardings An Anatomy of Inspiration, which represents a psychological approach to various doctrines prevailing in the Romantic and post-Romantic ages.31 The positions expressed by both Robert Graves and William Oxley constitute rather desultory efforts; 32 therefore, I shall disregard these critical opinions altogether. Nevertheless, a notable approach pertains to Timothy Clark, who takes his cue from Harding, and updates her work in a most satisfactory manner.33 The six points established by Clark in discussing various theories of inspiration bear particular significance, and I shall discuss them in detail. Firstly, the critic notes that the etymology of the term implies an energetic force, applied to the utterance ability: It thus imposes an oral model on the process of writing, which is troped as an animated voice (3). Notwithstanding this fact, this voice is not personalized, its being mysterious in nature prevents us from knowing its originator.34 Secondly and thirdly, Clark calls attention to the concurrent facts that poetic composition may seem to be effortless, even automatic, (3) and that, due to its external origin, the resulting text is of superior value (3). He subsequently defends the rhetorical nature of the concept: To be inspired is, necessarily, to inspire others (3). In my opinion, this underlines its social function, as the position of the inspired is comparable with that of a medieval ecclesiastic. Afterwards, the critic writes that the presence of inspiration annuls the definite temporal order, bringing with it a peculiar temporality (3).35 Finally, Clark points out the clash between the emerging Romantic theories of inspiration and the archaic ones, according to which the absolute truth is embodied by the person who is the most ignorant of his acts. This particular Romantic attitude, notably found in Coleridge, may also be traced in Blake. After analysing all these theories related to the term, I am now able to offer my own. My explanation of inspiration is to be understood in the latters relationship with imagination. According to my definition, at the empirical level, as opposed to imagination, inspiration represents the subjects outer ability to experience a vision

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induced by an exterior agent, be it definite or indefinite. At the creative level, insofar as visionary poetry is concerned, also as opposed to imagination, inspiration constitutes the selfs outer capability to apprehend the already aestheticized contents of visionary experience and to translate them materially into the tangible work of art. In the context of imagination, the visionary data which must be incorporated into the finite work of art is refined and embellished by the imaginative faculty, involving the active participation of the creative self. In the context of inspiration, the visionary contents are readily available, the creative selfs only function being that of apprehending them in a proper manner. So long as the state of inspiration is manifest, the creative self only plays a passive role in the aesthetic process. 36 Unlike imagination, which entails the faculty of volition in its highest sense, afflatus presupposes restraint and even subjugation of personal will. The task of aesthetic modification of the visionary contents is assumed by either an indefinite or a definite transcendent force, external to the creative self. The latter element(s) will be dealt with further on in this chapter. As I have already pointed out both in the prefatory lines to this chapter and in the subchapter dealing with imagination and its function in visionary poetry, inspiration must be understood in its close, interdependent relationship with imagination. In accordance with the artists overt penchant for dialectical fusion, one can but seldom find pure instances of inspiration in Blake, just as there are but a few genuine examples of imagination at work. On the one hand, Blakes empirical visions, preceding the creative stage, are based on a synthesis between inspiration and imagination, the latter transforming and regulating the spontaneous and obscure visionary contents furnished by the former. On the other, Blakes aestheticized visions (i.e. his poetic works) are, more often than not, the direct result of a conjunction of agents: an exterior (or a transcendent) one, dictating the first draft of a prophetic book, and an interior (or an immanent) one,
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organizing, embellishing, and creatively modifying the data made available by the former.

2.3.1. Indefinite Forms of Inspiration


Blake is consistent in his rather jejune attitude to inspiration, which he presents as a potent transcendent agency. By way of introduction, I shall first focus not on the idea of inspiration proper, but, rather, on its temporal context, i.e. on the time of its complete manifestation. Thus, the artist designs a transparent dichotomy, involving two radical temporal aspects: the common and the inspiring. In contrast with the sterile instances of banal existence, the moment of inspiration 37 arrests temporality itself, thereby enabling the creative self to bring forth the splendour of visionary poetry. The germinative moment is explicitly described in Milton: For in this Period the Poets Work is Done: and all the Great / Events of Time start forth & are concievd in such a Period / Within a Moment: a Pulsation of the Artery (E 127). In Blakes view, the inspiring moment is beyond the reach of malignant forces, although these make desperate efforts to grasp it. Its essential temporal attribute is its extensiveness: the creative self may extend this interval ad libitum, provided that it has persevered with its initiative. Moreover, if properly used, the instance of inspiration is inherently able to restore all the other insignificant moments: There is a Moment in each Day that Satan cannot find Nor can his Watch Fiends find it, but the Industrious find This Moment & it multiply. & when once is found It renovates every Moment of the Day if rightly placed (E 136).

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Blakes idea of inspiration can only grow out of a typically vates pattern. Herein, two elements are to be discovered: the voice, as the ultimate motor of afflatus, and the creative self, ostensibly the humble recipient of vision. Thus, inspiration is simply equated with the indefinite or, as I shall point out later on, definite agent that triggers vision in the creative self. One instance of inspiration of indefinite origin, i.e. immediate Dictation, is the writing of Milton.38 As one can easily notice, immediate Dictation is Blakes pivotal idea of afflatus. In a letter to Thomas Butts, dated 25 April 1803, he says: I have written this Poem from immediate Dictation twelve or sometimes twenty or thirty lines at a time without Premeditation & even against my Will. the Time it has taken in writing was thus renderd Non Existent. & an immense Poem Exists which seems to be the Labour of a long Life all producd without Labour or Study (E 728-29). The quoted excerpt is particularly relevant for my demonstration of Blakes inspiration, as an irresistible indefinite force, which subdues the energy of the creative self, compelling the latter to serve its visionary purpose. Moreover, one should notice the motif of temporal suspension; therein lies the putative moment of inspiration, which is expandable and fertile by nature. Indefinite inspiration, as the ferment of visionary trances, enables the creative self to gauge and fashion a poem in accordance with a virtually mathematical standard of precision. Arcane laws of harmony demand an appropriate rhetoric, for Blake strongly believes that a true poet is concurrently a prophet and an orator, and that one side cannot fully function without the presence of the other. The alternation of the parts in Jerusalem, a poetic unitas in varietate, is a prerequisite for the scope and cadence of a grand epic. Moreover, one should note the recurrent idea of dictation; the creative self is dictated to by an unknown force, and must act accordingly: When this Verse was first dictated to me I considerd a Monotonous Cadence like that used by Milton &
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Shakspeare & all writers of English Blank Verse, derived from the modern bondage of Rhyming; to be a necessary and indispensible part of Verse. But I soon found that in the mouth of a true Orator such monotony was not only awkward, but as much a bondage as rhyme itself. I therefore have produced a variety in every line, both of cadences & number of syllables (E 145-46). Nevertheless, as it may be seen, the creative self retains to a certain degree its liberty of action. Leopold Damrosch, Jr. is of the opinion that, albeit Blakes case is not one of automatic writing, it is one of authentic inspiration: This is not automatic writing, for the poet is free to choose his metrical mode . . ., but it is nevertheless written under direct inspiration . . . (303). In Blakes Annotations to An Apology for the Bible, inspiration is credited with the creation of poems of probable impossibilities. A closer look to this apparently bombastic jeu de mots will prove its rhetorical effectiveness, for, quite naturally, the visionary artist perceives the data furnished by psychological, if not spiritual, agencies as superior in nature to the data provided by historical experience: If Moses did not write the history of his acts. it takes away the authority altogether it ceases to be history & becomes a Poem of probable impossibilities fabricated for pleasure as moderns say but I say by Inspiration (E 616). Thus, inspiration lies at the very foundation of any creative act, or so Blake believes. The recurrent image in Blakes Annotations to the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds is that of the artist as an individual entirely possessed by afflatus, an enthusiast burning with the fire of dashing ingenuity: The Man who on Examining his own Mind finds nothing of Inspiration ought not to dare to be an Artist he is a Fool. & a Cunning Knave suited to the Purposes of Evil Demons (E 647). Although far from annulling it, Blake rejects, to a considerable degree, the involvement of reason in the aesthetic sphere, thereby postulating the absolute necessity of inspiration in the creative process. Its role is reduced to a mere

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technical use (metre alternation, tempo, etc.). The demonization of the mere artisans points to the fact that the artist conceives of no compromise between afflatus and labor. In conclusion, Blakes idea of inspiration posits the existence of a voice (which may remain unknown, as I have shown so far, or be ascribed to a personified agent, as we shall see henceforward), able to dictate the visionary contents of a poem to the recipient (the creative self). Inspiration possesses artistic will and shapes it as it deems fit, for, in writing prophetic poetry, the subject and everything related to him must abide by the laws of necessity imposed by afflatus. Nevertheless, this indefinite agency cannot account for the multiplicity of voices which are manifest in Blakes writings. The main difference resides in that these voices pertain to certain identifiable, if supernatural, characters.

2.3.2.1. God
The Supreme Being seldom, if ever, manifests itself, but its inspiring revelation is one of the most important stimulants of prophetic creativity. The influence exerted by the absolute spirit is not only poetic, but also gnoseological and ethical in its contents. The ordinary human being lacks the appropriate instruments which may enable him to acknowledge properly the presence of God, and distinguish the latter from his unassuming messengers. Blake, however, never claims to have been in such a serious predicament, and, moreover, insists, in his Annotations to An Apology for the Bible by R. Watson, that the munificent Creator has never failed to communicate with his creations: It is strange that God should speak to man formerly & not now. because it is not true . . . (E 615). Nevertheless, in his Annotations to Lavaters Aphorisms on Man, Blake seems to believe that God cannot be perceived per se, and that any description based on an act which springs from the sensorium is suffused with images: it is impossible to think without images of somewhat on earth (E 600). Briefly, this means that the visionary senses the presence of God in the shape of man, for, in truth, God eludes form in the basic sense of the word. Consequently, all pictorial reproductions of divine visions show God as a man, but the chief reason lies in the artists being true to the biblical creed: God created man in his own image. In point of fact, Blake writes in his Annotations to Swedenborgs Divine Love and Divine Wisdom: Man can have no idea of any thing greater than Man as a cup cannot contain more than its capaciousness But God is a man not because he is so percievd by man but because he is the creator of man (E 603).39 And he is even more explicit in his Annonations to Lavaters Aphorisms on Man: human nature is the image of God (E 597). Additionally, I believe that Blakes idea of God closely parallels an Emersonian formulation. According to the theory expressed in The Over-Soul, the supreme being is nothing less than that Unity, that Over-soul,

2.3.2 Definite Inspiring Agents: Personified Aspects of Afflatus


Unlike the indefinite forms of inspiration, the definite agents are personified, numbering amongst themselves a series of explicit and, to a certain extent, determinate factors. The personified aspects of afflatus display a clear and independent, albeit mystical and, from a perceptive viewpoint, subjective, identity, and can be best referred to as beings. This supernatural class includes God, angels, demons, saints, prophets, various spirits, and the Muses. Generally, the selfs attention is arrested by the potent presence of such entities and can do nothing but obey the latters aesthetic command. I have divided these instances into five main subcategories, which I shall analyse accordingly.

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within which every mans particular being is contained and made one with all other . . . (153). Emerson subsequently emphasizes the fact that within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One (153). Blake too conceives of an allencompassing and all-integrating spirit, for, in a dialogue with Crabb Robinson, found in the latters unpublished Reminiscences (1852), he declares that [w]e are all coexistent with God Members of the Divine Body And partakers of the divine nature (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 696). Again, in his Annotations to Berkeleys Siris, the poet stresses the fact that God is Man & exists in us & we in him (E 664). The ability to visit mentally Gods celestial abode is considered, in Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the sine qua non of the creative process in general: The Man who never in his Mind & Thoughts traveld to Heaven Is No Artist (E 647). Moreover, Blake explicitly avers that it is God from whom all visionary creations originate, including his own magnum opus, Jerusalem.40 As a plain recipient of a divine message, the creative self cannot acknowledge the possession of any personal merits; its sole ontological purpose is to preserve the arcana clestia, if I may use Swedenborgs syntagm. 41 It is also noteworthy that, in his Hebraic plea, the poet does not hesitate to mock implicitly the Platonic myth of the god Theuth (Thoth), inventor of writing, for, according to his own creed, God himself inspired the celebrated discovery: Reader! [lover] of books! [lover] of heaven, And of that God from whom [all books are given,] Who in mysterious Sinais awful cave To Man the wondrous art of writing gave, Again he speaks in thunder and in fire! Thunder of Thought, & flames of fierce desire: Even from the depths of Hell his voice I hear, Within the unfathomd caverns of my Ear (E 145).
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Thus, Blakes conviction regarding the inspiring function of the Sacred is quite consistent with that formulated by both Xenophanes and Proclus.42 Xenophanes extols the merits of the Homeric poetry, written under the influence of divine influences (phusis theazousa). Additionally, the work produced under the guidance of the godly voice is innately endowed with supreme beauty: Whatsoever a poet writes under possession (enthousiasmos) and the divine spirit (hieron pneuma) is very beautiful (Russell and Winterbottom 4). Proclus, one of Plotinuss disciples, devises a psycho-poetic scheme describing three spiritual faculties: intuition, informed by divine contents, reason, informed by logic, and fancy, informed by random associations of images. Accordingly, there are three types of poetry: the first is literally called a rage for beauty, created as it is under divine inspiration, and related to a form of madness (mania), the second didactic, and the third a mere imitation. 43 Naturally, Blakes literary production may be readily placed under the auspices of the first kind of lyric. Moreover, by eulogizing the Supreme Beings direct revelation of inspired books, the English poet unconsciously echoes Schellings fundamental assertion in Philosophie der Kunst, that God is [t]he immediate cause of all art [italics in the original] (32), since he represents nothing less than the source of the ideas (32), the ultimate matrix of inspiration. In the end, I believe that Blakes predisposition to spiritual unity and to integration stems from his idea of an internally fissured universe, a cloven world which stages a perpetual clash of opposing principles, spiritual and material, holy and demonic, divine and human. It is only through their marriage that progress and, eventually, redemption are rendered possible. For Blake, just like for Emerson, it is not Gods existence which justifies that of man, but vice versa: God exists inasmuch as he mirrors mans sublime form. When man listens to the divine voice, he has access to the most refined and treasured part of his own soul.

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2.3.2.2. Angels and Devils


Angels (defined by Gerardus van der Leeuw as soul-beings, 44 emanating from a superior power) and devils are rather controversial characters in Blakes work, and their traditional function is more often than not reversed. 45 Thus, angels are incapable of transcending their rectitude, and pay a high tribute to their own righteousness, whereas devils are fiery geniuses, masters of the art of rebellion who reject conventional truth and accredited religious beliefs. It is through the inspiring mediation of the latter that humankinds progress is made possible. In A Memorable Fancy found in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, a mysterious angel presents the creative self with successive visions of a stable, a church, a mill, a cave, an infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke of a burning city (E 41), the black & white spiders (E 41), the head of Leviathan (E 41), the pleasant bank beside a river (E 42) and, again, the stable and the church (E 42), as well as the mill. The imaginative pattern is circular, and the topoi bear a special significance within the Platonic and Christian frames of thought. 46 The stable is Christs birthplace, the church the spiritual body of the Lord, the mill a metaphor for the Last Judgment (the separation between the good and the evil), and the cave a Platonic symbol of the Earth as a secluded lieu, whose darkness prevents its inhabitants from acquiring the gnosis, the ultimate knowledge. Concurrently, the metaphor evoking the cave points to the human body,47 seen by Plato as a tomb or, better yet, as a prison, an idea first encountered in the Gorgias, then soon to become recurrent in the Dialogues. According to C. J. de Vogel, the soma-sema formula is a central one in Plato and in Plotinus.48 Sema stands for a firm enclosure, a fence, that kept the soul within its limits, not giving way to the excesses (80). Further on, Blake textually mocks49 Aristotle, Platos most revered disciple, when he writes that I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body, which in the mill was Aristotles Analytics (E 42), after carefully describing
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the cannibalistic feast of the aggressive monkeys (a metaphor for ancient Greeces analytical schools of philosophy).50 Perhaps the most significant episode of the vision occurs towards the end, when the angel admits to having been influenced by the force of the creative self: So the Angel said: thy phantasy has imposed upon me & thou oughtest to be ashamed (E 42). In the end, the voice of the self proclaims the biunivocal character of their artistic relationship: I answerd: we impose on one another (E 42). In the juxtaposition of the angelic and the human, each enhances the other.51 Another Memorable Fancy describes the spiritual confrontation between an angel and a devil. After being defeated by the devils argument, according to which no virtue can exist without breaking these ten commandments: Jesus was all virtue, and acted from impulse: not from rules (E 43), the angel chooses immolation: he is consumed by the Satanic fire, and, in a Phoenixlike apotheosis, is resurrected as the prophet Elijah. In a derisive undertone, Blake adds that he has befriended this angel, now turned into a devil, and that they often read the Bible together in its infernal or diabolical sense . . . (E 44). As in the aforementioned case of the angel, the relationship between the creative self and the devil is biunivocal: the influences exerted by the former on the latter and vice versa are kept in equipoise by both similarities and dissimilarities. The Hebraic-Christian Bible metamorphoses into the Bible of Hell, which is, according to Frye, the Bible as Blake read it (Spiritus Mundi 244). In a letter to Dr Trusler, dated 16 August 1799, Blake speaks plainly about the pre-set rules of artistic creation, implying that the visionary has no freedom of choice, but, rather, obeys the command of his vision-inducing agent. His acting otherwise would result in the sudden dbcle of the visionary state: in this which I send you have been compelld by my Genius or Angel to follow where he led . . . (E 701). Then, in an epistle to William Hayley, dated 6 May 1800, the artist demands pardon for his enthusiastic foibles, mentioning coyly that angels accompany him:

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Forgive me for expressing to you my Enthusiasm which I wish all to partake of Since it is to me a Source of immortal Joy even in this world by it I am the companion of Angels (E 705). Another account of angel-inspired poetry is found in Catherine Blakes rather brief but suggestive letter to Anna Flaxman, dated 14 September 1800: we not only talk but behold the Angels of our journey have inspired a song to you (E 708).

2.3.2.3. Saints and Prophets


Not only angels and devils, but also saints and prophets communicate actively with the creative self, and deliver aesthetically-oriented messages. However, their advice is shaped in accordance with no formal theological exhortations, and Blakes accounts are no orthodox homilies. In an epistle to John Flaxman, dated 12 September 1800, Blake recounts one of these spiritual visits, amongst whose guests one surprisingly finds Ezra and Isaiah (E 707). A Memorable Fancy found in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell tells about an exciting dinner with Isaiah and Ezekiel: Blake asked the prophets to offer their lost works to the public, to which Isaiah said none of equal value was lost. Ezekiel said the same of his (E 39). As regards the face and the direct voice of God, Isaiah explicitly declared: I saw no God. nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discoverd the infinite in every thing . . . (E 38). Ezekiel, in his turn, confessed that he cherished the desire of raising other men into a perception of the infinite (E 39). It is noteworthy that the viewpoints expressed by Isaiah and Ezekiel coincide perfectly with Blakes, and that the metaphysical considerations of the two prophets are, to a certain extent, Blakes own ideas in careful disguise. It may well be that the artist fervently pursues his dream of completing a Bible of Hell, wherein ethical, as well as ontological, contraries could somehow be reunited, and the voices
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of the (self-appointed) righteous would be heard in tune with those of their brilliant usurpers. A different yet extremely bold interpretation of this episode is furnished by R. H. Blyth, who sheds some light on the continuity of spiritual vision and daily life, with no break between (363), which is the very core of Zen (Chan) Buddhism. According to Blyth, it is through this Far-Eastern mode of thought that Blake (unconsciously, of course) resolves to harmonize the deep seated conflict between privileged intervals and monotonous stream of time.52

2.3.2.4. The Spirits


It is the poets ardent desire, as expressed in Annotations to Lavaters Aphorisms on Man, that all men ought to be able to engage the Divinity in a lively, sincere spiritual conversation: O that men should seek immortal moments O that men would converse with God (E 595). Nevertheless, in the end, Blake rectifies this statement by adding that God and his holy subjects can only be known through the mediation of good spirits, who have been entertained by the Divinity, and who can, consequently, offer advice. The reader should be aware of the fact that spirits are either benign or malevolent: So it is impossible to know God or heavenly things without conjunction with those who know God & heavenly things. therefore, all who converse in the spirit, converse with spirits. [& these are either Good or Evil] [italics in the original] (E 600). In truth, Blake declares, in an epistle to Thomas Butts, dated 10 January 180[3], that he is constantly guided and inspired by spiritual entities: I am not ashamed afraid or averse to tell You what Ought to be Told. That I am under the direction of Messengers from Heaven Daily & Nightly . . . (E 724). Yet, this attitude is more or less imposed on the artist by the very laws of

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creativity he must act so lest he should be condemned to perpetual suffering and desolation: Refuse & bury your Talent in the Earth even tho you should want Natural Bread. Sorrow & Desperation pursues you thro life! & after death shame & confusion of face to eternity (E 724-25). The topic is reiterated in another letter to the same Butts, dated 25 April 1803: I must not bury the Talents in the Earth . . . (E 728), Blake concurrently underlining his visionary liberty afforded by the company of the spirits: I may converse with my friends in Eternity. See Visions, Dream Dreams, & prophecy & speak Parables unobservd & at liberty from the doubts of other Mortals (E 728). Finally, in an epistle to William Hayley, dated 11 December 1805, the artist decides that one must take up Christs Cross and follow in his footsteps, Persisting in Spiritual Labours & the Use of that Talent which it is Death to Bury. & of that Spirit to which we are called (E 767). Again, in a letter to the faithful Butts, dated 6 July 1803, Miltons (or perhaps Jerusalems) authorship 53 is attributed to the inspirational genius of celestial beings. Predictably enough, the creative self modestly professes to have no intellectual involvement whatsoever in the composition of the epic: I may praise it since I dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors are in Eternity (E 730), not forgetting to add that [t]his Poem shall by Divine assistance be progressively Printed & Ornamented with Prints & given to the Public (E 730). One of the most famous accounts of the influence exerted by the spirit of a deceased person is the Robert Blake episode. According to J. T. Smith, in 1788, Robert, then long dead, revealed the secret of what would become known as illuminated printing. The incident is also narrated by Allan Cunningham, in his Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1830): The spirit advised him at once: write, he said, the poetry, and draw the designs upon the copper with a certain liquid (which he named , and which Blake ever kept a secret); then cut
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the plain parts of the plate down with aquafortis, and this will give the whole, both poetry and figures, in the manner of stereotype (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 637). As Aileen Ward presents it synthetically, this solution to one of Blakes most ardent questions was an ingenious method of relief etching achieved simply by painting his text and designs on the copperplate with a fine brush or pen in acid-resist, and then biting the plate in acid to reveal his outlines, printing, and hand coloring (24). This revelation brought about only the first step in a long process of art technique development, which can be set in contrast with the intaglio engraving process.54 In point of fact, it is Blake himself who describes his daily spiritual communion with his departed brother, in a letter to William Hayley, dated 6 May 1800: Thirteen years ago. I lost a brother & with his spirit I converse daily & hourly in the Spirit. . . I hear his advice & even now write from his Dictate (E 705). That Blake relished 55 the company of illustrious men, eager either to extol or rebuke, in any case, always ready to offer advice, is an undisputed fact. In an epistle to John Flaxman, dated 12 September 1800, he gives a versified account of spiritual encounters with various poets and mystics: Now my lot in the Heavens is this; Milton loved me in childhood & shewd me his face / . . . Shakespeare in riper years gave me his hand / Paracelsus & Behmen appeard to me . . . (E 707). Not only Blakes but also his friends confessions endorse this view: in a letter to Dorothy Wordsworth, dated 19 February 1826, Crabb Robinson testifies to Blakes artistic visions, whether they be scriptive or pictorial. Their composition is induced by definite inspiring agents spirits of long-departed people whose dictation is faithfully recorded by their mortal recipient. From a creative theory perspective, it is noteworthy that the dictated words acquire a material, if fleeting, quality, and that their reification forms an independent vision:

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He receives visits from Shakespeare Milton Dante Voltaire & c & c & c And has given me repeatedly their very words in their conversations His paintings are copies of what he sees in his Visions his books (& his MSS. are immense in quantity) are dictations from the Spirits he told me yesterday that when he writes it is for the Spirits only he sees the words fly about the room the moment he has put them on paper And his book is then published (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 29). An anonymous author patiently enumerates a few other Blakean spiritual companions, and, endowed with a genial nature perhaps, refrains from adding the slightest note of irony: He held converse with Michael Angelo, yea, with Moses . . . Semiramis was often bodily before him; he chatted with Cleopatra, and the Black prince sat to him for a portrait. . . . He had no doubt but that the Spectre of Edward the Third frequently visited him. . . . Bruce would now and then call to converse with him (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 408). Frederick Tatham, in his Life of Blake (? 1832), foregrounds the importance of the spiritual agents in the development of Blakes creativity, emphasizing, at the same time, the incredibly casual nature of these encounters: He said that he was the companion of spirits, who taught, rebuked, argued, & advised, with all the familiarity of personal intercourse (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 217). Some of the most famous spirits indiscriminately number amongst themselves ancient and modern poets. According to Allan Cunninghams Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1830), whilst in Felpham (Sussex), Blake forgot the present moment and lived in the past; he conceived, verily, that he had lived in other days, and had formed friendships with Homer and Moses; with Pindar and Virgil; with Dante and Milton. These great men, he asserted, appeared to him in visions, and even entered into conversation (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 181). The readers are given interesting details about an unnamed
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Miltonic piece of poetry, offered to Blake in a rare moment of oral ecstasy: Milton, in a moment of confidence, entrusted him with a whole poem of his, which the world had never seen; but unfortunately the communication was oral, and the poetry seemed to have lost much of its brightness in Blakes recitation (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 181). In all probability, Felpham constituted a crucial topos for the advancement of Blakes visionary faculties, including artistic composition. In a letter to John Flaxman, dated 21 September 1800 and penned shortly after the Blakes arrival at their country cottage, the artist praises the spiritual atmosphere of the natural surroundings. It is here that the dictate of heavenly spirits is clearly audible: Felpham is a sweet place for Study. because it is more Spiritual than London Heaven opens here on all sides her golden Gates her windows are not obstructed by vapours. . voices of Celestial inhabitants are more distinctly heard & their forms more distinctly seen . . . (E 710).

2.3.2.5. The Muses


The ecstatic madness generated by the Muses is properly described in Platos the Phaidros. Socrates explains that there are three varieties of divine frenzy: the oracular (or mantic), the kathartic and telestic (as a result of various ritual ablutions), and the Muse-sent. In our particular case, the third is essential: [A] possession and madness from the Muses, capturing a tender, unspoiled soul and rousing it and firing it to frenzy, both through songs and through other forms of poetic composition, educates the oncoming generation by giving luster to countless deeds of the men of old; but he who approaches the poetic gates without Muses madness, confident that he will become a real poet by dint of craft

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alone, remains outside: the creative effort of the safe-andsane man is left totally in the shade by that of the madmen (245a). Thus, in this dialogue, which has been interpreted both as a reiteration of the Ion encomiastic discourse on the nature of poetry and as a reconsideration of the aesthetic reprimands of the Republic, 56 Plato rejects any form of creativity which entails ratiocination and artifice, and even personal participation. The poet completely subjugates his creative will to the apparently omnipotent control exerted by a superior agent, i.e. the divine Muses. The invocation to the Muses is instanced in the opening lines of Blakes Milton. Blakes attitude to the Muse parallels Pindars, the latter wishing to translate into intelligible language his Muses arcane idiom: Prophesy (manteueo), Muse, and I will be your interpreter (prophateuso) (Russell and Winterbottom 4). Creating an utterly unconventional speech, the creative self beseeches the Daughters of Beulah to take possession of the bodys right hand, which is subtly connected to the brain, the seat of paradise, the source of aesthetic ecstasy. A critical eye may be surprised to discover material elements in a context apparently devoid of materiality: Daughters of Beulah! Muses who inspire the Poets Song Record the journey of immortal Milton thro your Realms Of terror & mild moony lustre, in soft sexual delusions Of varied beauty, to delight the wanderer and repose His burning thirst & freezing hunger! Come into my hand By your mild power; descending down the Nerves of my right arm From out the Portals of my Brain, where by your ministry The Eternal Great Humanity Divine. planted his Paradise And in it causd the Spectres of the Dead to take sweet forms
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In likeness of himself . . . (E 96). The Muse is again mentioned in a letter to Dr Trusler, dated 16 August 1799, when Blake describes his designs as belonging to this superior vision-inducing agent, and quotes Milton as a predecessor: And tho I call them Mine I know that they are not Mine being of the same opinion with Milton when he says That the Muse visits his Slumbers & awakes & governs his Song when Morn purples The East (E 701). Fairies may also be included in this subcategory.57 K. M. Briggs, an authority on the subject, states the common belief that fairies do not act and live independently, being in constant communication with humans: Many creatures pursue their own lives and destinies without any wish to hold communion with mankind, anxious only to shun human interference. This is not so with the fairies (95). One of these diminutive characters is the putative agent who dictates Europe. The episode, evoked by Blake at the very beginning of his work, takes place in the poets garden at Lambeth, and retains a certain pastoral freshness, an Arcadian reverie reminiscent of the neo-Anacreontic tradition in European poetry: They hoverd round me like a cloud of incense: when I came / Into my parlour and sat down, and took my pen to write: / My Fairy sat upon the table, and dictated EUROPE [capitalization in the original] (E 60). Notwithstanding this fact, the aforementioned fairy fails to impose his spiritual power on his human companion, becoming, instead, the latters servant. K. M. Briggs is of the opinion that perhaps Blake continues in the tradition set by the magicians and followed by Prospero, that which advises harsh, peremptory treatment of spirits to keep them under subjection (162). Once in the firm grip of the poet, the supernatural being acts in the manner of an Oriental wishgranting genie in a bottle: Seeing himself in my possession thus he answerd me: / My master, I am yours. command me, for I must obey (E 60).

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As I have shown so far, Blakes definite inspiring agents are, generally, coercive characters, eager to command. It is perhaps only natural that these figures should be audacious and independent: pertaining to the supernatural order, they surpass the limitations imposed by the frail human condition. Only in two cases (i.e. that of the angels and demons and that of the fairies) have the animate entities been influenced and even dominated by the creative self. This concludes the second chapter of my study, focusing on the presentation of the Blakean vision-inducing agents, which, in my interpretation, are represented by imagination and inspiration (the latter affording ample distinctions between its indefinite and definite aspects). Before defining imagination as an inner capability, stemming from within the creative self, and inspiration as an outer ability, enforced upon the creative self by exterior agents, be they indefinite or definite (God, angels, devils, saints, prophets, spirits, and the Muses), and furnishing ample details in all the cases, I have expatiated upon the theme of Blakes madness, and concluded that it is virtually an ideological dead end. The critical eye will now be shifted to the analysis of both vision proper and the elements pertaining to this category.

Notes to Chapter 2
Few people would accept the existence of supernatural phenomena and fewer still would agree that, if these phenomena do exist, they can be seen with the naked eye. 2 I shall discuss each case in part, for the topics invite special treatment. 3 One should note that there is at least one prominent study on the subject of Blakes insanity: Paul Youngquists Madness and Blakes Myth, published almost two decades ago. Youngquist debatably argues that Blake suffered from schizophrenia, and that writing became a cure in the artists desperate attempt to fight mental disorder and thereby contain the malady. For more information, see the preface to this book. Damon too touches on this delicate issue. For further details, see William Blake 207-11. 4 Rosen provides us with a welter of examples of eighteenth-century insanity, focusing on William Cowper, Christopher Smart, and Friedrich Hlderlin. For a complete presentation of the topic, see Rosen 105-28. 5 Nevertheless, Wordsworth admitted that he was more interested in Blakes madness than in the sanity of Lord Byron or Walter Scott. 6 For more details, see Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 41. 7 For further details, see Michael Davis 145. 8 For additional details, see Michael Davis 156. 9 See Cooper 212-13. 10 Kant discusses the aims of poetry in his Critique of Judgement, thereby defining the function of imagination: The poet essays the task of interpreting to sense the rational ideas of invisible beings, the kingdom of the blessed, hell, eternity, creation, & c. Or, again, as to things of which examples occur in experience, e.g. death, envy, and all the vices, as also love, fame, and the like, transgressing the limits of experience he attempts with the aid of imagination which emulates the display of reason in its attainment of a maximum, to body them forth to sense with a completeness of which nature affords no parallel (176-77). Commenting on this, T. J. Diffey hastens to emphasize: [t]hat what poetry expresses cannot be understood discursively does not mean, however, that what is expressed is unreal or illusory (188). 11 In Greek, phantasia is synonymous with appearance. Anne Sheppard points out that the term is therefore applied as much to what we imagine as to the faculty of imagination, and ancient discussions of phantasia tend to contrast the imaginary with the true, the merely apparent with the real (15). Interesting
1

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enough is the subsequent introduction to the avatars of the concept in Greek philosophy, from Plato and Aristotle to Philostratus and Proclus (see Sheppard 12-18). 12 For a cogent presentation of fancy and imagination, see Preminger, Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics 270-71 and 370-77. 13 Engells analysis is also relevant in the case of Blakes concept of imagination, as I intend to show afterwards. 14 For an extended argumentation, see Engell 3-6. 15 For more details concerning Paracelsuss influence on Blake, see infra. 16 By revivalist, one commonly understands a person dedicated to enhancing the strength of a particular religious trend or thought. 17 For a complete demonstration, see Engell 249-51, especially 250. 18 For more details, see E 554. 19 Blakes putative Platonism is the subject of a study by Edward Larrissy, entitled simply Blake and Platonism. The author himself concedes that most, though not all, of Blakes references to Plato himself are hostile (187). For more details, see Larrissy 186-98. 20 Prosopopoiea may be equated with anthropomorphism. It is worth mentioning here that John Ruskin is the originator of the pathetic phallacy syntagm, aimed to describe the metaphorical anthropomorphization of inanimate objects. 21 Afflatus is a synonym for inspiration, the term being chiefly employed by Cicero (in De Oratore and De Natura Deorum). For additional details, see Preminger, Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics 8. 22 For a more elaborate analysis of Eternity, see the third part of my study. 23 I draw attention again to Jacques Maritain, who asserts: There is no Muse outside the soul; there is poetic experience and poetic intuition within the soul [italics in the original], coming to the poet from above conceptual reason [italics in the original] (179). Maritain holds that [i]nspiration is natural, but neither continuous, nor frequent as a rule (180). He adds: Sometimes, inspiration remains unperceived when it is especially deep and steady. Sometimes it must be paid for by hard labor and thankless digging in an arid soil. If the above remarks on poetic experience are true, it appears that poetic intuition is the most essential and spiritual, the primary element and catalytic agent of inspiration . . . (180). 24 The most notable case is that of Plato. 25 For more details, see Preminger, Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics 396-98, especially 396. 26 For a cogent commentary on Platos doctrine of inspiration (transparent in the three dialogues), see Else 5-9, 48-55. 27 For more details, see Else 63. 28 The Greek noun is enthousiasmos (lit. the state of being possessed by a god). 109

29 Jacques Maritains argumentation is based on Sens et Non-Sens en Posie, an essay penned by his wife, Rassa Maritain 30 See also the first chapter of my study, including the brief discussion of haecceity. 31 For further details, see Harding passim. 32 With a striking hint of derision, Timothy Clark synthetically labels them mythical accounts of inspiration (4). 33 For an extended argumentation, see Timothy Clark 1-14 et passim. 34 As I shall further argue, this is not necessarily so: at times, Blake is aware of the status of the inspiring enunciator. For an extended analysis, see infra. 35 This reiterates Abramss aforementioned distinction. For more details, see supra. 36 Hence my distinction inner ability/capability (imagination) vs. outer ability/capability (inspiration). The former depends on the will of the creative self, whilst the latter is triggered by external agents. 37 For a short description of the moment of inspiration in Blake, see Damon, Blake Dictionary 284. 38 See infra. 39 An interesting, if succinct, analysis of this problematic (but from a different perspective) is found in Fearful Symmetry. For further details, see Frye, Fearful Symmetry 32. 40 See infra. 41 Heavenly Secrets contains a detailed explanation of the biblical text, together with accounts of Swedenborgs visions of the spiritual universe. The book was published in London between 1749 and 1756. 42 Of course, several other instances may be found in the subsequent ages. For example, in the fourteenth century, Giovanni Boccaccio, in his Genealogy of Gentile Gods, underlines that the practical art of poetry springs from Gods bosom (Preminger, Hardison, Jr., and Kerrane, Classical and Medieval Criticism 458). 43 For additional details, see Preminger, Hardison, Jr., and Kerrane, Classical and Medieval Criticism 312. 44 For more details, see van der Leeuw 141-46. 45 Damon is of the opinion that, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, angels are the Bourgeois, whilst devils are the artists (William Blake 91). However, the whole work itself is, according to Stephen C. Behrendt, a carefully calculated exercise in polemic . . . (94). 46 Let us bear in mind that the juxtaposition of the two frames of thought may not be haphazard in Blake. Indeed, later on, Friedrich Nietzsche considered Christianity Platonism for the use of the masses, philosophy in religious disguise. 47 It is interesting to note here that Blake himself holds the same idea elsewhere. Thus, in A Vision of the Last Judgment, he writes that in Paradise they have no

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Corporeal <& Mortal> Body that originated with the Fall & was calld Death & cannot be removed but by a Last judgment . . . (E 564). 48 The same idea occurs in Philolaus, quoted by Clemens Alexandrinus. For more details, see Damon, William Blake 74. 49 This represents an excellent example of Aristophanic irony in Blake. 50 Edward J. Ahearn discusses the passage in terms of a powerful attack on what Blake presents as a very destructive form of religion. For it is the Bible that contains this view of the simian, how close to human, body. The degraded animality, the stench, sex as rape and devouring: this is the real hell that, according to Blake, such religion contains (21). 51 That men and angels should work together with a view to completing Gods creative work is a common theme in religious literature. A closely related idea may be found in Serge Boulgakov, who speaks of the constant spiritual collaboration between the human and the angelic. For more details, see Boulgakov passim. 52 For further details concerning possible intuitive connections between Blake and Zen, see the Appendix to my study. 53 That Blakes letter to Butts refers to the composition of Milton is Damons conjecture (for more details, cf. Blake Dictionary 275). Nevertheless, in his preface to Jerusalem, entitled To the Public, Blake writes: After my three years slumber on the banks of the Ocean, I again display my Giant forms to the Public . . . (E 145). In the aforementioned letter, the poet uses the same syntagm, claiming that none can know the Spiritual Acts of my three years Slumber on the banks of the Ocean unless he has seen them in the Spirit or unless he should read My long Poem descriptive of those Acts . . . (E 728). A satisfactory explanation is offered by Geoffrey Keynes in a note to The Letters of William Blake, with Related Documents: The title-page of this [i.e. Milton], dated 1804, indicates that there were twelve books, though only two were finished about 1808. The rest of the material seems to have been transferred to the longer poem, Jerusalem, finished about 1818 (55). In the end, however, the question of the three years slumber as a catalyst for the composition of either Milton or Jerusalem remains open. 54 For a more technical presentation of the intricacies of relief etching, see Dabundo 33. A few significant details may also be found in the third part of my study. 55 It is certain that at least the recipient of such visits was convinced of their factuality. For a similar conclusion, see Fairchild 68-69. For more details on the subject, see also the third chapter of my study. 56 See Else 49. 57 In this context, one should perhaps also mention Blakes visionary account of the fairy funeral which he inadvertently witnessed whilst in his garden. The 111

episode is included in Allan Cunninghams Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1830): I was walking alone in my garden, there was great stillness among the branches and flowers and more than common sweetness in the air; I heard a low and pleasant sound, and I knew not whence it came. At last I saw a broad leaf of a flower move, and underneath I saw a procession of creatures of the size and colour of green and gray grasshoppers, bearing a body laid out on a rose leaf, which they buried with songs, and then disappeared. It was a fairy funeral (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 640-41).

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In this chapter, I intend to examine the complex modus operandi of vision, foregrounding both the empirical and the aesthetic dimensions of the latter. I shall concentrate on a profusion of religion- and art-related issues with an eye to providing a modest starting point for what I believe to be a rich and rewarding field of study, about which only scanty and sporadic data has been so far furnished. In considering Blakes visions, it is imperative that one should accept his poetic premises, although these may eventually lead to a certain paradoxical state of affairs, which, in its turn, has to be accounted for in a proper manner. 1 Thus, one must pay special attention to the artists letters and memoranda, as well as to his contemporaries notes, for they unanimously describe the same phenomenon: Blake experienced visions, which he subsequently translated into works of art, via the conjugated medium of inspiration and imagination. It is an indisputable fact that the artist wished to portray himself as a visionary; therefore, one needs to examine the profile of his works, as well as the experiential dimension which precedes the creative process, however circumspect one may grow to be. If one superimposes ones own critical premises and idiosyncrasies, Blakes visions, be they empirical or aestheticized, remain forever in the dark. It is with these precautions in mind that I start to examine the artists concept of vision, and why this idea is pivotal in our understanding of both his creative process and his uvre on the whole.

3.1. Prolegomena: Brethren unto Contemplation: Blakes Religious Milieu


A brief note about Blakes religion and its English (and, as I shall point out, French) influences is not out of place here. I thereby strive to demonstrate that Blakes seemingly radical position vis-vis the development of visionary capabilities in an individual is not something entirely new, the preposterous invention of a disturbed mind, but, rather, an intellectual prolongation of several mystical movements which deeply stirred the Britain of his time. After declaring that several scholars have tried to link Blake to the seventeenth century antinomian tradition, 2 a trend which lasted until the nineteenth century in Britain,3 Robert Ryan states that by the standard of his time Blake seems to have been quite adequately orthodox in regard to the essential core of the faith the divine humanity of Jesus Christ and his redemption of the fallen human race (Romantic Reformation 53). 4 But Ryans argument concerning the essential core of faith perfectly matches the profile of numerous dissenters who basically defended the same general idea as their orthodox counterparts, for, I might venture to add, the devil lies in details. Thus, we should not forget that Blake was particularly influenced by Jakob Bhme an established critical fact which needs no further endorsement, and on which I shall not insist here. 5 Again, it is well-known that Bhme was translated into English and widely commented on by William Law, a cleric whose mystical experiences are, however, a matter of dispute. In the seventeenth century, several of his books became what one would now call best-sellers, most notably A Practical Treatise on Christian Perfection (1726) and, of course, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728), the latter having been acclaimed by Dr Samuel Johnson himself. Just like Blake,

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Reverend Law believed in the God within us, i.e. in the figure of Christ as an intimate identity, as the divine voice residing in mans heart. 6 Gordon Rupp notes that, [a]t a time when Reason was considered to be an almost flawless tool, Law drew attention to the hidden, irrational, forces in man and in the universe, the conflicts and eruptions in the hidden depths of our being, which distort and deceive our judgments (241). This, I believe, works in tune with Blakes eulogy of energy as an unfettered force, apt to bring forth vital sincerity and robust vision. Two small excerpts from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell are particularly relevant in this context: Energy is the only life . . . (E 34) and Energy is Eternal Delight (E 34). Thus, there is a strong connection between Blakes religious convictions and the eighteenth-century doctrine of inward religion, a concept which accounts not only for the profound lives of a few men and women devoted to contemplation, but also for a number of religious sects, including the French Prophets, the Philadelphians, the Pietists, the Moravians, and the beginnings of the Evangelical Revival (Rupp 207). I wish to dwell briefly on the Philadelphian movement, as well as on the French Prophets, since both have been less conspicuously treated by critics than their aforementioned religious counterparts. In my opinion, Blakes ideas seem to be indebted, at least to a certain degree, to both these mystical trends. The most notable Philadelphian was Dr John Pordage, a rector from Berkshire and an ardent disciple of Bhme, who had started to experience visions by the mid-seventeenth century. According to Rupp, he held an electrifying sermon at the University of Oxford, whereby he seduced, both intellectually and emotionally, two Fellows of All Souls: Thomas Bromley and Edmund Brice (215). Whilst a minister in London, he encountered Jane Leade, who was to become a famous prophetess in her day. After his death, and especially after she became blind, Leade was supported by Francis Lee, her son-in-law, a Medical Doctor and a former Fellow of St Johns College, Oxford. The Philadelphian Society
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was formed at the end of the seventeenth century, under the joint patronage of Leade and Richard Roach, himself a Fellow of St Johns (Rupp 215). Rupp does not fail to mention that the rules of this society have a stress on the liberty of prophesying, on silent prayer, on waiting on the sweet internal breathings of the divine spirit, and on the Kiss of Peace (215). At least two of these characteristics (the freedom of prophecy and the respiration of the Pneuma) are shared, to an extensive degree, by Blake. Moreover, Jane Leades dominant conviction concerns the apocatastasis, the final restitution or restoration of all things, as announced in the Acts 3:21. Michael Ferber notes that the Neoplatonists deploy the term with a view to describing the escape of the soul from his bodily confines (189). Blake himself is obsessed with the idea, to the extent that the whole of his Jerusalem may be placed under the auspices of this productive, albeit controversial, theme.7 By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Philadelphians gained significant ground well beyond their initial confines: the French Prophets, originating from the militant French Protestants of the Cervennes, known as the Camisards, had set foot on English soil. Rupp underlines that the Prophets produced a remarkable Liturgy of the Desert, and developed into a charismatic movement complete with visionaries, ecstasies, and mass hysteria which made it a perfect embodiment of what the age called enthusiasm (216). But, to complete the brief picture drawn so far, one cannot possibly overlook the questionable role played by an Antinomian branch in the development of Blakes thought. Thus, E. P. Thompson is at pains to demonstrate a possible link between Blake and the Muggletonians, a sect founded by a cobbler, William Reeves, which lasted well into the eighteenth century. Thompson indicates one of the sects central beliefs, according to which the dispersion of evil originates in a sexual liaison involving Eve and the serpent. The ungainly offspring of this foul union is Cain, whereas Abel is Adams son (73). In the eyes of the Muggletonians, there can be no separation between

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the corporeal and the spiritual. 8 However, Thompsons conclusions are not convincing; Priestman too is of the opinion that we have to rest content with the broader idea of a shared culture rather than evidence of direct connection (84-85). Finally, Richard Brothers and Joanna Southcott are the leaders of what Stephen Prickett considers the most important millenarian movements of the period (The Religious Context 134), and may have also played a part, however negligible, in the development of Blakes mythopoetic symbolism. Prickett underlines that some parallels may be drawn between the prophecies of Brothers (gathered in the 1794-opus A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and Times, as well as in the 1801-tome Description of [the New] Jerusalem) and those of Blake, noting that the former remained a simple literalist who saw in contemporary events clear signs of the end of the world (135). However, the critic fails to identify those Blakean books which may afford such ideological parallelism, and the eager reader is left frustrated. In relation to Southcott, who claimed to be the woman described in Revelation 12:1, the mother of the Redeemer, Prickett points out that, amongst her fervent followers, one could find an engraver eager to dabble in mysticism, William Sharp, who was an acquaintance of Blake. Still, this does not prove that Blake himself followed or indeed even knew her. It is not my intention to draw irrevocable conclusions to so debatable a topic, nor is it my impression that the discussion can be closed in a definitive manner. The problematic of the influence exerted on Blake, at various times and in various degrees, by an incalculable number of religious sects looms larger than my present scale of critical research. However, my only wish is to emphasize that Blakes enthusiasm does not stem from a religiously barren land. Moreover, I have elected to discuss here these movements and mystics only, since their role in the development of Blakes visionariness has often been underrated or neglected altogether.
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3.2. A Binary Concept: The Empirical Aspect and the Aestheticized Dimension
In this third chapter of my study, I wish to expatiate on the productive theme of vision, which I interpret as an essentially twofold idea. On the one hand, I speak of vision from an empirical perspective (which points to the extrasensory experience apt to be subsequently recorded and translated into a work of art), on the other, I consider vision from an aesthetic one (which refers to the resulting work of art proper). The two facts are often inter-related, although this is not an absolutely imperative condition. Recorded visions 9 are radically different from experienced ones. In order to shape a coherent discourse focusing on the theme of Blakes aesthetics, one must naturally consider what Blake implies by vision.10 The main reason for this is that the Blakean creative process cannot be set apart from the development of vision.11 Frye is of the opinion that, engulfing the basic principles of the imaginative life, the work of art is, in Blakes case, nothing less than a unified mental vision of experience (Fearful Symmetry 24). Blakes aesthetic conception12 is premised on the conviction that numerous visionary moments enable him to create despite any material setback. It is vision itself that will provide an extremely valuable key to the proper understanding of Blakes artistic process. Before attempting to offer my own interpretation of the artists vision (which I shall do only after analysing both its empirical dimension and the main steps of the creative process), it is high time that I examined the most important critical contributions to the subject of vision in Blake. The reader will thus understand better why certain ambiguities arise particularly when exegetes fail to discern between empirical and aestheticized

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visions, between visions of experience and recorded versions of the former. According to Damrosch, Jr., Blakes implied meaning of vision is that of a mode of perception that sees through symbols rather than with them (302). The formula, although underlying a Blakean jeu de mots,13 does not fully reflect the inextricable blend of concrete and abstract elements in Blakes poetic philosophy. The critics explanation may be valid insofar as twofold vision is concerned, but it does little in the way of explaining the superior types, i.e. the threefold and the fourfold. On the other hand, Damrosch, Jr. himself concedes that, since vision is a model of imaginative activity (114), the poets conceptions must often have begun in pictorial rather than verbal form (114). This holds true inasmuch as Blakes artistic visions are preceded, according to his own claims, by empirical ones. In contrast with Damrosch, Jr.s attempt to decipher the meaning of Blakes visionary discourse, as well as that of the artists original empirical stance, David Punter, author of a study on the problematic of the Romantic unconscious, asserts that exegetes should not embark on an argument concerning the reality of Blakes visions (Romantic Unconscious 104). In order that they may catch [t]he crucial mystical moment, critics should not essay to analyse the content of Blakean vision, but, rather, try to construct an intertextuality in the light of which Blakes specific textual stance can be inserted into the gallery of vision whereby the whirling stance of the mystic caught between naming and the unnameable can be held for a momentary regard without being frozen by the critical gaze (Romantic Unconscious 104). The argument is very well shaped, and can be easily related to Julia Kristevas basic assumption that texts are essentially interdependent.14 Ergo, any exegesis is an exercise in intertextuality, and, in Blakes case, the hermeneutic desideratum concerns not only the establishment of textual communication networks between one visionary document and another, but also the capture of a fleeting reality, the mental photography of an
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essentially incommunicable experience. Thus, a literary analysis whose object is to retrieve the crux of Blakes argument concerning vision must not disregard their claimed factuality, just as it cannot afford to overlook the welter of fine connections which may be established between Blakes visionary moment and the numerous accounts of mystical experiences, legitimized by a long and respectable Christian tradition. After pointing out that the concept underlying Blakes ontology is vision, Harvey Birenbaum even ventures to state that the artists sole ontological determination is vision itself. However, the conclusion is rather redundant, since it is evident that vision as perception cannot differ from vision as a concrete [italics added] revelation of spiritual experience: Thus Blakes sense of being is, most emphatically, vision vision as seeing and vision as what is seen both relescoped, as it were, in one: the emanation and the self together, properly coherent. Also, vision as perception is identical with vision as a concrete revelation of spiritual experience (49). Ronald L. Grimes tries to explain Blakes vision in terms of myth and metaphor. Thus, he opines that the concept is metaphorical in every field of study except optometry and physiology, concluding that [v]isionary perception is visionary hermeneutics (135), and that vision develops its own epistemology and ontology (135) when it essays to encompass and to explain everything. He goes even farther, holding that Blakes visionary epistemology stretches beyond the confines of literature, as a general mode of world-knowledge: Vision is true only as it is comprehensive (135). But Grimes is certainly mistaken to equate vision with an eschatological myth (168), firstly because vision, especially in Blakes case, is a powerful living force, not a rehearsed mythical scenario, and secondly because vision refers to creation and to the present time, not only to futurity. Ideally, one must not forget that chronology itself is to be substituted for Eternity, wherein temporal distinctions are lost.

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Whilst Steven Vine sees in Blakes vision simply the power of imagination to embody the world of desire (21), Thomas J. J. Altizer interprets Blakes vision in dialectic terms, whose outcome is a much-coveted coincidence of contraries: it effects a true reversal of the opposites . . . that, in negating the opposites, unites them by making possible their transition into one another, thus effecting not an abolition of the opposites but a genuine coincidentia oppositorum (215). Andrew J. Welburn defines a visionary poem as a piece of verse which undertakes to create its own meaning, or to discover a pattern of truth rather than work within an accepted framework of ideas (30). He adds that [v]isionary poetry does not suggest an order beyond human experiential range, whether of an objectivist or a mystical kind (214). Both sentences are partially flawed: the former in that it is too general, the latter in that it condemns the poetry of vision to the function of a humble description of nature via the questionable role of artistic imagination. Any good poem, whether visionary or not, attempts to create its own meaning, and if visionary poetry is not to imply the existence of a realm beyond the commonly experiential one, then it is tantamount to a metaphysical satire. It seems that Blakes visions and visionary poetry elude a frontal critical attack. As one has seen so far, literary criticism has offered different, even contradictory, responses to the problem elicited by Blakes poetic interpretation of vision. This is chiefly due to the fact that most exegetes have overlooked the central difference between empirical and aestheticized visions, thereby encountering unsurpassable paradoxes. To avoid such a hermeneutic impasse, it is my intention to dwell firstly on empirical vision, and then, once the latters semantic sphere has been satisfactorily accounted for, move on to the aestheticized type. Taking into account all that I have shown until now, it is perhaps better to commence an analysis of Blakes visions not by wondering what the poet understands by vision, but by asking a slightly different question: what is vision in general? The quickest
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answer available seems to be its equating with revelation, the latter being defined by Schleiermacher as [e]very original and new communication of the Universe to man (On Religion 89). But we soon find out that our heuristic joy is short-lived: the sentence tells us nothing about experience, which involves, as I shall further underline, the full participation of the senses in the act of knowledge. Joseph Runzo warns us about the intrinsic polysemy of the term: In the mystic literature there are two uses of vision. Vision can be used (a) to denote an experience [italics in the original], where the recipient can be referred to as having the vision, or (b) to denote an object, where the recipient can be referred to as perceiving the vision i.e. there is an external state of affairs, the vision, of which the recipient becomes aware (5960). Therefore, I wish to convey that, if the two meanings can be somehow brought together, the resulting superstructure (the experience and the object) may be what I have been looking for all the time. But this constitutes only a preliminary operation. As I shall point out further on, Runzos definition satisfactorily accounts for empirical visions only. Aestheticized visions altogether defy this blunt classification. Strange as it may seem, not only Blakes meaning of vision, but also the term itself is subject to a plethora of contrastive interpretations. Numerous scholars have included visions in the larger sphere of mystical experience, 15 and, given the elusive nature of both phenomena, it is difficult to raise any strong objections. However, one may claim, for instance, that mystical experience does not necessarily imply the subjects perception of a definite form, nor does it entail the full participation of the senses. There is a strong apophatic tradition at the heart of Western mysticism which is based, in Denys Turners words, on metaphors of negativity. Turner also notes the existence of a restraint of experience insofar as the representatives of this negative theology are concerned. This fact seems to enhance the gap between vision, as image and experience, and negative mysticism, as pure allegory and lack of visuality.16 Within this frame

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of thought, vision presupposes primarily form perception (imagery), and this, in its turn, claims an active involvement of the sensorium. However, there are scholars who would flatly reject these claims, and one of them is Earle J. Coleman, who does not distinguish between vision as a perception of the ultimate form of reality and mysticism as an intuition of the formless. Thus, he notes that there are essentially two types of visionary experiences: in one, images and voices together with data from the other senses abound, as in the case of St. Francis of Assisi or Black Elk. 17 In the other, one intuits what is imperceptible, a distinctionless unity, an undifferentiated oneness, as in the case of Plotinus, Adi Sankara in Hinduism, or the Taoist who experiences po18 (32). Philip C. Almond enumerates five characteristics (which he labels models) of the relationship between any mystical fact and its corresponding hermeneutic approach: (M1) All mystical experience is the same. There is a unanimity about mystical utterance which points towards the unanimity of mystical experience. (M2) All mystical experience is the same but the various interpretations of the experience depend on the religious and/or philosophical framework of the mystic. (M3) There is a small number of types of mystical experience which cut across cultural barriers. (M4) There are as many different types of mystical experience as there are paradigmatic expressions of them. (M5) There are as many types of mystical experience as there are incorporated interpretations of them (128). Almonds table is illuminating, in that it helps us to understand the phenomenology of mysticism, thereby giving us precious insight into the sphere of vision. If one closely examines the five models, one realizes that virtually each and every one of them may be applied to empirical visions. This means that the relationship
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between visionariness and mysticism is much more important than one may have believed at first. Thus, it has become quite certain that visions, both in their general meaning and in their Blakean sense, are profoundly connected with mysticism. Two important scholars, William James and W. T. Stace, whose ideas are extensively analysed by both Galen K. Pletcher and Philip C. Almond (amongst others), have listed several formal characteristics of mystical experience.19 Most of these features are also relevant in the case of visionary experience, so I find it appropriate to call them to attention. More specifically, William James20 notes that (1) ineffability, (2) noetic quality, (3) transiency, and (4) passivity are characteristic of mystical experience (Almond 132-33). In his turn, W. T. Stace21 lists the following: (1) sense of objectivity or reality, (2) feeling of blessedness, joy, happiness, satisfaction, (3) feeling that what is apprehended is holy, sacred, or divine, (4) paradoxicality, and (5) ineffability (Almond 134). Summing up, I must say that several of the aforementioned mystical qualities, like transiency, passivity, feeling of blessedness, feeling that what is apprehended is holy, sacred or divine, and paradoxicality also apply to Blakean visions. N. D. ODonoghues contribution to the topic under discussion is extremely important, in that it connects mysticism and the creative imagination, the latter being nothing less than a gnoseological mode: But mysticism may also be seen as concerned with the mystical as an extension of imagination, of that free and unbounded form of knowing that I have tried to describe in terms of a vibrational field, something common to the poet, the artist and the philosopher (187). This is, perhaps, how Blakes sense of the sacred may be properly intuited, once the exercise of pure ratiocination has been excluded from the noetic sphere of religious experience. But I should say that, in Blake, the complexity of the theme is enhanced by the mere fact that he acts neither as a pure mystic nor as a pure artist. Ben-Ami Scharfstein, a justly reputed scholar, carefully notes that the key difference between the mystic and the artist lies not in the status of the

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experiencer, but in their relationship with what is experienced, and, consequently, in the ontological exchange between the immanent, personal gnoseological faculty exalted by the former and the transcendent, all-pervading emotional faculty eulogized by the latter: The mystic overcomes his doubts by finding the reality, as consciousness, within himself, and he tries to persuade us that it is located here. The artist constructs a new external reality and tries to persuade us emotionally that it is universal (98). In Blake, the two attitudes co-exist, in the sense that reality is simultaneously internal and external, which means that it cannot be properly expressed beyond the fine fabric of the Divine Vision. Truth eludes both words and images, becoming incommunicable so long as finite, mortal utensils of knowledge are employed. Once the visionary has made full use of the capabilities of his sensorium, he rises above all vegetative constraints, and reaches the climax of human experience. But the price of visionary ecstasies is extremely high in practical terms: Blake was isolated for most of his life, both as an artist and as an individual. This was certainly due both to his idiosyncrasies and to the flabbergasting manner in which he described his visionary encounters. G. E. Bentley, Jr. notes that Blake spoke familiarly of his visions as if they were commonplaces (Stranger from Paradise 20). No wonder then that many of the poets acquaintances avoided or at least looked upon him with growing disbelief and avoided his company. This feeling of desertion may have induced in Blake a state of holy terror, a sentiment that he, as a lonely prophet, wages a cosmic war against the malevolent universe. Kant speaks of the noble awe that the description of complete loneliness can inspire (Beautiful and Sublime 48), and, to further his argument, in a text note, the philosopher quotes Carazans Dream, as published in the Bremen Magazine: One evening, as by my lamp I drew up my accounts and calculated my profits, sleep overpowered me. In this state
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I saw the Angel of Death come over me like a whirlwind. He struck me before I could plead to be spared his terrible stroke. . . . I was swept away by an unseen power, and driven through the shining edifice of Creation. I soon left countless worlds behind me. As I neared the outermost end of nature, I saw the shadows of the boundless void sink down before me. A fearful kingdom of eternal silence, loneliness and darkness! Unutterable horror overtook me at this sight. I gradually lost sight of the last star, and finally the last glimmering ray of light was extinguished in outer darkness! (Beautiful and Sublime 48-49) Nevertheless, Kant feels ill at ease when eulogizing the incongruous, the exaggerated, and the irrational, and takes full revenge on those mystical phenomena when he sets himself to describe the man of melancholy frame. The German philosopher assigns him all the dangerous qualities of a prophetic figure, and even equates the visionary22 with an imposter: By the perversity of his feeling and the lack of enlightened reason he takes up the adventurous inspirations, visions, attacks. If the understanding is still weaker, he hits upon the grotesque meaningful dreams, presentiments, and miraculous portents. He is in danger of becoming a visionary or a crank (Beauty and Sublime 66-67). Evidently, Kants stricture on visionariness is premised on his over-balanced critique of Romanticism. Isaiah Berlin notes that fate, after all, is not devoid of irony: although Kant found himself elevated to the position of a Romantic icon, he detested every form of extravagance, fantasy, . . . any form of exaggeration, mysticism, vagueness, confusion (68). We have seen that Blake owes a great deal both to mysticism and to visionariness, particularly insofar as the empirical sphere is involved. It is therefore high time that I presented the chief accounts of Blakes experienced visions, focusing diachronically, information permitting, on their contents, so as to

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see whether or not one can speak of a literary case here. The profusion of relevant examples will point in this direction. A veritable catalogue of Blakean visions, G. E. Bentley, Jr.s Blake Records and The Critical Heritage provide us with a welter of visionary instances. The juvenile experiments with the interior sight are extremely important, for they help us to reconstitute the profile of a prophet-to-be, whose chief characteristic is boundless enthusiasm (apparently, the poetic voice never suffers the pangs of taedium vitae). One of the artists first experiences of the Transcendent is narrated by Catherine Blake in one of Crabb Robinsons Reminiscences (1852): You know, dear, the first time you saw God was when You were four years old And he put his head to the window and set you ascreaming (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 699). Though not entirely devoid of comic and even of burlesque, this episode is followed, when Blake turned 8 or 10, by another enchanting vision, this time of a host of angelic figures: Sauntering along . . . , the boy looks up, and sees a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars. . . Another time, on summer morn, he sees the haymakers at work, and amid them angelic figures walking (Gilchrist I 7). A variant of the latter is found in J. C. Stranges unpublished Journal (185961); according to the author, Blake related his first vision to an old nurse, who alone believed him: when ^a lad^ out walking at harvest time he saw some reapers in the field & amongst them angels (Blake Records 724). Another case in point is Frederick Tathams testimony in his Life of Blake (? 1832), according to which Blake asserted from a Boy that he did see them [visions], even when a child his mother beat him for running in & saying that he saw the Prophet Ezekiel under a Tree in the Fields (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 37). However set against the factuality of these visions a critic may be, he cannot ignore the testimonies of a young boy, less inclined, perhaps, to make up a good story to save face than an artist.
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Whilst still an apprentice, Blake clearly saw a majestic chorus inside the Westminster Abbey, an incident to be narrated in a lost letter by Blake himself, and succinctly paraphrased by Oswald Crawfurd: The aisles and galleries of the old buildings (or sanctuary) suddenly filled with a great procession of monks and priests, choristers and censer-bearers; and his entranced ear heard the chant of plain-song and chorale, while the vaulted roof trembled to the sound of organ music (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 37). Strange though these accounts may be, they do not qualify as downright terrifying. Only on three occasions does Blake tell stories of repellent horror: when he narrates the ghostencounter in Lambeth, when he catches sight of the ghost of a flea, and when he encounters Satan.23 The first vision is recounted in a few words, but the series of relevant epithets individualize the otherwise clichd description: Standing one evening at his garden-door in Lambeth, and chancing to look up, he saw a horrible grim figure, scaly, speckled, very awful, stalking downstairs towards him. More frightened than ever before or after, he took to his heels, and ran out of the house (Gilchrist I 128). The second vision seems to hinge on the aforementioned one: I see, said I, a naked figure with a strong body and a short neck with burning eyes which long for moisture, and a face worthy of a murderer, holding a bloody cup in his clawed hands, out of which he seems eager to drink. . . . It is a ghost, Sir the ghost of a flea a spiritualization of the thing! (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 650). The third vision, found, just like the aforementioned one, in Allan Cunninghams Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1830), depicts the devil in the shades and tones of a Dario Argento or a Lucio Fulci film, complete with the hyperbolized organs of horror movies (ad captandum vulgus, as it were): At last I saw him (Satan, n. n.). I was going up the stairs in the dark, when suddenly a light came streaming

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amongst my feet, I turned round, and there he was looking fiercely at me through the iron grating of my staircase window. . . . Its eyes were large and like live coals its teeth as long as those of a harrow, and the claws seemed such as might appear in the distempered dream of a clerk in the Heralds office (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 651). At other times, the picture is vivid with light and colour, and the ascending curves profusely disseminated throughout his enlightened works are in full swing. Thomas Phillips recollects Blakes own memory of the arch-angel Gabriel. Though only a passive witness, the recipient of vision plays a pivotal role in the development of the latter: I looked whence the voice came, and was then aware of a shining shape, with bright wings, who diffused much light. As I looked, the shape dilated more and more: he waved his hands; the roof of my study opened; he ascended into heaven; he stood in the sun, and beckoning to me, moved the universe (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 38). It is legitimate to ask ourselves whether or not the creative self can exert an influence of some sort on the emergence of the visionary state. Gilchrist is ready to answer this aesthetic query by calling attention to several verbal exchanges between the artist and John Varley, and the arbitrariness of vision seems to point to its factual nature. The least we can say is that the artist strives hard to create the aesthetic illusion of involuntary gushes of creativity and spontaneity. It is also surprising that the supernatural characters involved praise or rebuke Blake. 24 However, they play an active role in the creative process, in that their will can never be bent to the facile achievement of artistic ends: Sometimes Blake had to wait for the Visions appearance; sometimes, it would come at call. At others, in the midst of his portrait, he would suddenly leave off, and, in his
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ordinary quiet tones and with the same matter-of-fact air another might say It rains, would remark, I cant go on, it is gone! I must wait till it returns; or, It has moved. The mouth is gone; or he frowns; he is displeased with my portrait of him (I 251-52). Allan Cunninghams observations, as found in his Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1830), shed light on an oblique interpretation: Blakes supernatural models seem rather haphazard in manifestations: docile at one time, reluctant at other. They make their grand entrance at night, taking possession of the artists study, and remain therein until the early hours of the morning, but no clear reason to explain their erratic behaviour is at hand. The artist himself is seen as a vates imbued with enthousiasmos, in a state of drunken elation: The most propitious time for those angel-visits was from nine at night till five in the morning; and so docile were his spiritual sitters, that they appeared at the wish of his friends. Sometimes, however, the shape which he desired to draw was long in appearing, and he sat with his pencil and paper ready and his eyes idly roaming in vacancy; all at once the vision came upon him, and he began to work like one possest (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 188). Biblical characters pose for Blake with all the naturalness and candour of contemporary models. In an episode narrated by the same indefatigable Cunningham, Blake hastily addresses a friend of his: Disturb me not, said he in a whisper, I have one sitting to me. Sitting to you! exclaimed his astonished visitor, where is he, and what is he? I see no one. But I see him, Sir, answered Blake haughtily, there he is, his name is Lot you may read of him in the Scripture. He [italics in the original] is sitting for his portrait (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 190). Another case in point

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(found, again, in Cunningham) is the apparition of Christs Mother; Blake confesses to Fuseli that the Virgin Mary appeared to me, and told me it [a drawing, my note] was very fine . . . (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 73). As regards the physical aspect of his visionary companions, Blake, quoted by Cunningham, avers that [t]hey are all majestic shadows, gray but luminous, and superior to the common height of man (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 181). The poet insists that the visionary faculty is a most natural, if somewhat downplayed or even overlooked, human gift, if one is to credit John Linnell, who, in his unpublished autobiography, observes that even to Varley Blake would occasionally explain unasked how he beleived that both Varley & I could see the same visions as he saw making it evident to me that Blake claimed the possession of some powers only in a greater degree that all men possessed . . . (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 341-42). In his diary, Crabb Robinson testifies to the same fact: Of the faculty of Vision he spoke as One he had from early infancy He thinks all men partake of it but it is lost by not being cultivd. (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 428).25 Even more significantly, just as John Varley, quoted by Linnell (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 368), John Clark Strange emphasizes that the artists visions are objectively real, recorded as such by common visual perception: I had a lengthy discussions with Mr. P. on the nature of Blakes visions Mr. P. on the whole thought they were seen as real objects by his outward eyes and as such painted (Bentley, Blake Records 729). Seymour Kirkup notes that Catherine Blake had absolute faith in her husbands visions, and that she defended their factuality: His excellent wife was a sincere believer in all his visions. She told me seriously one day, I have very little of Mr. Blakes company; he is always in Paradise (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 42). But what is worth taking special note of is the fact that the attitude of the couple stems from a genuinely Swedenborgian stance, 26 encouraging the objectifying of ones insights as visions or as spiritual dialogues (Thompson 134). The belief in the experiential
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truth of Blakes visions is also underlined by Arthur Simmons, who, in a confession to Auguste Rodin, declares that the English artist used to literally see these figures; they are not mere inventions (139). Simmons even ventures to assert that Blakes creative process is genuinely spontaneous, and that the artist never revises his initial poetic outbursts: he is in haste to record what he has seen hastily; and he leaves the first rough draft as it stands, not correcting it by a deliberate seeing over again from the beginning, and a scrupulous translations of the terms of eternity into the terms of time (139). More recently, Joseph Burke interprets Blakes drawn visionary figures as eidetic (actually seen), not as borrowed (remembered or simply invented),27 and Morton D. Paley opines that it is clear, from Varleys accounts, that the images Blake drew as Visionary Heads were perceived rather than invented (Traveller in the Evening 302). As the reader may notice after perusing all these testimonies, in Blakes empirical visions, ordinary sensory perception is doubled by an extrasensory one, apt to instil a sense of the supernatural and/or the Sacred into the recipient.28 In There is No Natural Religion, Blake underlines textually that Mans perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception. he percieves more than sense (tho ever so acute) can discover (E 2). This leads him to believe that He who sees the Infinite in all things sees God (E 3). The corollary to these ideas, expressed in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, reads thus: If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite (E 39). This means that perception is highly conditioned by the state of the perceivers organs Blake stresses this point succinctly in his Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds: <As the Eye Such the Object> (E 645).29 It is interesting to note here that Novalis himself makes a similar, though a more poetic, assertion: Es liegt nur an der Schwche unserer Organe und der Selbstberhrung, dass wir uns nicht in einer Feenwelt erblicken (II 564). Thus, mans ordinary complacency, triggered by the vegetative state of the senses, prevents one from

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perceiving reality per se, offering in exchange a dim, colourless version of the Visions of Eternity (which may be facilitated by the enlightened extrasensory perception): The Visions of Eternity, by reason of narrowed perceptions, / Are become weak Visions of Time & Space . . . (E 198). Empirical visions constitute the first step of the creative process, as they may or may not be recorded and moulded into a work of art. If the creative self decides to make full use of the contents provided by the realm of experience, then empirical visions become the cornerstone of the future aesthetic edifice. But, before offering my own definition of the two types of vision, it is important for me to concentrate on the concrete aspects of Blakes creative process, which can shed light on the main elements of both empirical and aestheticized versions of reality. In a prominent study, M. H. Abrams furnishes an elaborate theory concerning the shaping of the visionary work of art in the literary sphere, which may also prove relevant in Blakes case. The whole process has four main characteristics, which are, presumably, interdependent: (a) The Composition is sudden, effortless, and unanticipated. The poem or passage springs to completion all at once, without the prior intention of the poet, and without that process of considering, rejecting, and selecting alternatives which ordinarily intervenes between the intention and the achievement. (b) The composition is involuntary and automatic; it comes and goes at its own pleasure, independently of the will of the poet. (c) In the course of composition, the poet feels intense excitement, usually described as a state of elation and rapture, but occasionally said to be racking and painful in its initial stages, though followed by a sense of blissful relief and quiescence. (d) The completed work is as unfamiliar and surprising to the poet as though it had
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been written by someone else (The Mirror and the Lamp 189). At first glance, it seems reasonable to say that Blake defends virtually each and every one of them in theory, and his friends, as well as his own, testimonies seem to point in the same direction: the composition of his major poems is sudden and effortless; it is also involuntary and automatic; finally, the creators state of elation is a fact.30 Alicia Ostriker is perhaps right when she asserts that Blakes experiences of revelation, which, unlike the mystics, are sudden and achieved without labor, make him scorn discipline and artifice (208). To a certain degree, Blake appears to be on a par with the erratic and tempestuous Byron, a common-vision poet, who also professes spontaneity.31 According to the latters confessions, found in a letter to John Murray, dated 18 November 1820, entire poems seem to be created at the first stroke of the pen. 32 It is worth mentioning that the account revolves around animal metaphors, a fact which induces an atmosphere of naturalness and instinctual aesthetic behaviour: With regard to what you say of re-touching the Juans and the Hints it is all very well but I cant furbish [italics in the original]. I am like the tyger (in poesy) if I miss my first Spring I go growling back to my Jungle. There is no second. I cant correct I cant - & I wont (Kitson 122). After presenting the chief characteristics of empirical visions and the main steps of the creative process, I am ready to coin my own definition of vision (valid both in general and in Blakes particular case). In my interpretation, vision is the subjects capability to grasp the commonly undetectable contents of reality, and to transfer the obtained data to the aesthetic level. My definition of vision accounts for both empirical and aestheticized types. The empirical vision refers to the experienced vision. The aestheticized vision may be equated with a recorded version of the empirical vision, which represents the result of the creative process, the finite work of art. Taking into account the creative

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process itself, it now appears evident that a sequence of steps underlies the concept of vision, including: 1. a state, which may be defined as the apperception of the ultimate contents of the universe (the empirical vision); 2. the creative process proper, which may be defined as the concrete recording of the visionary state, resulting in a work of art, i.e. a poem, an engraving, a painting, or a combination of them (the aestheticized vision) Quite naturally, there may be instances in which the two stages are, to a significant degree, simultaneous. This fact should prevent us from conceiving of the whole process in terms of an oversimplifying dichotomy: an empirical irrational state versus a rational transformation of the data furnished by the visionary experience. Moreover, in A Descriptive Catalogue, Blake himself insists that what we may call empirical visions reveal concrete and logical elements: The Prophets describe what they saw in Vision as real and existing men whom they saw with their imaginative and immortal organs . . . A Spirit and a Vision are not, as the modern philosophy supposes, a cloudy vapour, or a nothing: they are organized and minutely articulated beyond all that the mortal and perishing nature can produce (E 541). The force of the creator, which is his capacity to transfer the imaginative contents of vision to the level of a painting, an engraving, or a poem constitutes a decisive material organizer in the aesthetic process. The work of art in the making acquires a certain mimetic dimension, but a special, visionary one, for the artist reproduces materially whatever he has perceived spiritually. If one pays attention to Blakes own phraseology, the artists secret of transforming experienced visions into aesthetic ones lies in his fidelity to the original, as emphasized by Allan Cunningham, in his Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1830): Amongst his friends, he at length ventured to intimate that the designs on which he was engaged, were not from his own mind, but copied from grand works revealed to him in visions; and those who believed that, would readily lend an ear to the assurance that he was commanded to
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execute his performances by a celestial tongue (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 636-37). In his unpublished Life of Blake (? 1832), Frederick Tatham adds a significant detail concerning the infallibility of the artistic copy procedure: Blake persisted that while he copied the vision (as he called it) upon his plate or canvas, he could not Err; & that error & defect could arise only from the departure or inaccurate delineation of his unsubstantial scene (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 217). It is perhaps more important that the consciousness of the artist involved in this type of creative process is automatically transferred to a level which prevents it from erring artistically and spiritually. Despite what Blake believes in regard to his aesthetic fidelity, some questions loom large, and they are raised by a significant number of textual modifications, which evince that the artist is not entirely free from error since his work requires revision.33 If one is to credit Nelson Goodman, who considers that any copy theory (in the broadest sense of the word) is made futile by the subjects inherent re-creation of the image, 34 and that, consequently, one cannot possibly specify what it is that one copies, then the inevitable question is the following: does not the artist who claims to reproduce a painting, an engraving or a manuscript perceived during a visionary experience actually fail to account for his own sensory subjectivity, so that it is not the object proper which is depicted, but rather its personalized version? Thus, Blake may be right if one concedes that there are two different levels of visual perception: a common, vegetative one, which is prone to error and in whose case Goodmans thesis holds water, and a superior, privileged one, which is the only one apt to manifest itself during the visionary process, its divine origin rendering it infallible in theory. Blake dwells on this idea in Auguries of Innocence, when he writes: We are led to Believe a Lie / When we see not Thro the Eye (E 496), these lines being reproduced almost verbatim in The Everlasting Gospel: And leads you to Believe a Lie / When you see with not thro the Eye (E 520).

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But sight is not the only factor involved in the visionary production. The difficulty of the problem is increased by the fact that Blake is simultaneously a visual and a verbal artist. Jean H. Hagstrums synthetic presentation is perhaps one of the clearest introductions to the topic: Blakes composite form consists of language and design, or, more particularly, of (1) words [italics in the original] that appear as short-lined lyrics, sometimes rhymed; as long-lined prophetic poems, usually in septenary rhythm, never rhymed; and as prose mottoes or aphorisms and of (2) designs [italics in the original] that have these constituent elements: (a) color, (b) border), and (c) picture or scene (William Blake 13). For the sake of clarity, in the following analysis of Blakes composite aesthetics I shall employ Goodmans terminology regarding the languages of art. 35 Technically, painting and engraving are autographic (they cannot be reproduced, since their alphabet of significance is restricted to an embedded code, which is unique in the case of each and every work of art), whilst literature is allographic (it can be reproduced, since its alphabet of significance is not self-contained). The argument may be refined if one considers, in parallel, Goodmans distinction between depictions (as pertaining to visual arts) and descriptions (as pertaining to verbal arts): Descriptions are distinguished from depictions not through being more arbitrary but through belonging to articulate rather than to dense schemes; and words are more conventional than pictures only if conventionality is construed in terms of differentiation rather than artificiality (23031). If one cares to extend the theoretical debate, one must say that the articulate conservatism of the descriptions contained in a verbal work of art, which uses an alien alphabet of signification, contrasts the suggestive density of the depictions contained in a visual work of art, which uses a self-contained alphabet of
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signification. However, in Blake, language itself borrows an essentially pictorial density, in the sense that a poetic text surpasses its ordinary verbal limitations due to its authors cunning manipulation of syntax, spelling, punctuation, and graphic display, whereas engravings, in their turn, borrow a linguistic conservatism, in the sense that artists drawings can be grouped under the auspices of certain mannerisms or invariants of representation. 36 In this case, one may acknowledge the existence of a visual-verbal continuum; hence the aesthetic product is partly autographic, partly allographic.37 Each and every scholarly edition of Blakes works makes serious concessions to their allographic dimension, and inevitably subverts their autographic component. In Blakes case, one cannot speak of a domination of scriptiveness over visual representation, since textual and visual forms alike are magnanimously treated by the artist. The two arts cannot be conceived of as separate, but, rather, as complementary manifestations of a powerful creative self.38 In this chapter, I have focused (and shall concentrate henceforth) on Blakes verbal works of art, since this is the primary concern of my exegesis. Nevertheless, a brief note about Blakes visual works of art will prove extremely useful, for the analysis may point eventually in the direction of my previous interpretation regarding the integration of descriptions and depictions in the English artist. By using a significant number of technique invariants, as well as certain patterns of representation, Blakes pictorial works of art are metamorphosed into a more conservative mode of expression, reminiscent of the repetitive code embedded in the verbal works of art by the linguistic medium. Moreover, in my opinion, it is the technicalrepresentative dimension which ensures the visionary character of Blakes paintings and engravings; one can scarcely define the artists visual means of communication in the absence of the aforementioned twofold aspect. Before identifying Blakes artistic technique and speaking about the characteristics of his art, I find it important to present

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the chief assumptions of the nineteenth-century specialists regarding the manner whereby a print was fashioned. It is thanks to Joseph Viscomis insightful observations that we have conclusively understood the way in which the nineteenth-century critics viewed the artists creative process and printing. Of course, it should be remembered that these mens observations are mere assumptions, since, at the time, no definitive answer was at hand. Thus the three suppositions are: (1) that the illuminated print was a reproduction [italics in the original] of an image made in another medium; (2) that the invention [italics in the original] of the original image was thus necessarily separate [italics in the original] from its graphic execution; and (3) that the original image was reproduced by being redrawn in the same manner and with the same tools as the original, that is, in freehand using pens, brushes, and an acid-resistant liquid medium instead of ink (Idea of the Book 5). Dealing elsewhere with the problematic of Blakes illuminated manuscripts, Viscomi brilliantly synthesizes the evolution of Blakes artistic technique: Looking back from the last year of his life, Blake could see the great contrast between his early and late illuminated books. The first six years of production progressed through a series of three formats: leaves printed on both sides and lightly washed (1789-93), color printing (1794-95), and single-sided printing with borders and richer coloring (c. 1795). After 1795, the format remained the same, though the coloring style continued to become more elaborate (Illuminated Printing 60). Raymond Lister too focuses his discourse on the Blakean technique of printing, emphasizing the aquatint-like effect which,
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quite unexpectedly, it seems, the process brought about. His observation is important because it can be partly applied to the artists illuminated manuscripts: The technique of transferring the design to the paper in a press imparted a rich granulated effect, reminiscent of aquatint; this feature is characteristic of much of Blakes colour-printing and is present also on some pages in his illuminated books which were sometimes similarly coloured (13). Dabundos Encyclopedia of Romanticism offers a detailed description of Blakes method of relief etching, holding that the artists technique is in stark contrast with the intaglio relief technique, as a traditional craft. Further important, albeit technical, details are furnished, so that her demonstration may be complete. This, which may be combined with Listers, is a contemporary answer to the assumptions made by the nineteenth-century critics: In intaglio engraving, the copper plate is completely covered with a ground, and then the lines representing the design are carved into the surface of the copper plate. In Blakes method of relief etching, he applied a ground only to the areas of the copper plate where the actual lines of the design would emerge from the surface of the plate. Text and design are painted on the plate using a solution impervious to acid. When the plate is then bitten in an acid solution, the area of design to be inked is raised rather than recessed (60). According to Stewart Crehan, who analyses in an excellent manner the chief characteristics of Blakean art, the painters lighting is invariably frontal, adding that this and the elimination of a background help to foreground [italics in the original] everything in the picture, reducing physical volume, distance and depth, and bringing everything up close to the viewers eyes (253). He notes subsequently that [t]he flashlight effect creates a thisness or permanence, a kind of instantaneous, eternal present [italics in the original] . . . (253). Finally, Crehan points out that

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[t]he illusion of a transparently objective reality is hence replaced by another illusion, that of a world of universal, permanent and ideal forms . . . (267), simultaneously underlining that, as a linearist (following Drer, Raphael, and Michelangelo), Blake revolts against the illusionism of Brunelleschi and Uccello. Blakes paintings are defined, in my opinion, by an ascensional craving: characters frequently appear in the guise of dancers whose primordial element is air, and whose only obsessive goal is reaching the above. 39 This contributes decisively to the visionary character of his pictorial works of art, in that it succeeds in establishing a communication between the transcendental and the transcendent, between the world of contingency and that of Eternity the depicted heroes essay to leave the ground just as Blakes geniuses conquer their limited perceptions and exercise them with a view to attaining the ultimate degree of vision. 40 I should also point out that Blakes paintings as representations of visions are set in contrast with Joshua Reynoldss, the latter urging his contemporaries to beautify the heroes in art, so as to instil a feeling of sublime in the audience. Nevertheless, this desideratum is not matched by a radical aesthetic stance, but by a moderate, bourgeois telos, educational in nature and limited in scope to moral exemplarity. Blake, in his turn, has no need for charactermodification: he claims that he renders them as close to the reality of his visions as humanly possible. In the end, as Damrosch, Jr. notes, Blakes pictures are read in traditional pictorial terms, and the problems of interpretation which they raise are less radical than those of Blakes language and form (349), which implies that it is his literary work which must be looked into more carefully. 41 However, all these examples show that, although read in traditional terms, Blakes visual works of art bring into focus a significant number of original elements which may enable one to interpret them in the light of the artists verbal mode of representation, and under the auspices of visionary construction. Blakes creative process and his manner of expression cannot be
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accounted for satisfactorily in the absence of a brief pictorial analysis. It must also be remembered that I have already spoken of Blakes unsystematic system, a fact which underlies the idea that his works are somehow interconnected, and that a key to one automatically provides a key to another. Saree Makdisi is a case in point when he advises that . . . if we try to read one of the illuminated books as a self-contained object, we will almost inevitably be frustrated. We will have greater success if we try to read it as a part of a virtual network of relations that opens away from it and undermines its autonomy (Political Aesthetic 130). Concurrently, he adds the principle of iterability and repetition (simultaneously technical and hermeneutic in form) to the critical equation: The figural reiteration of images between works in Blake is inextricably related to the material reiteration of images among versions of the same work (Political Aesthetic 129). Up to a certain degree, this reinforces my idea, inspired by Goodmans distinction between descriptions and depictions, that verbal and visual representations are brought together, each borrowing certain modes of expression from the other. Only if Blakes books are read in toto can they be properly reflected upon and comprehended, without thereby subverting their visionary message. It is thus that I have finally reached the core of my demonstration: the radiography of the artists aestheticized vision, i.e. the Blakean work of art, revealing the latters chief characteristics, which may be synthesized as follows: (1) Irregularity. The work of art, particularly the literary one, is supposedly not shaped according to human standards, and can thus reject the Aristotelian rhetorical manacles. Consequently, the artists work, i.e. aestheticized vision, is highly irregular in both its appearance and contents. Blake disdains epic uniformity and rectilinear designs, and never bothers to unify apparently discontinued fragments or to sweep away contradictions and thereby to soften asperities. It is apparent that the creative self wishes to preserve the incongruous, spontaneous character of

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empirical vision whilst translating it into an aestheticized one by leaving certain portions of text and, in some cases, design in different stages of completeness. Therefore, in my opinion, one may safely speak of a Blakean symmetric asymmetry. 42 This feature of apparent negligence was highlighted as pertaining to genius as early as (?) the first century, by Longinus, the unknown author of the famous classical treatise, On Sublimity: I have myself cited a few mistakes in Homer and other great writers, not because I take pleasure in their slips, but because I consider them not so much voluntary mistakes as oversights let fall at random through inattention and with the negligence of genius (Preminger, Hardison, Jr., and Kerrane, Classical and Medieval Criticism 216). (2) Simplicity. Paradoxical though it may seem, the Blakean work of art displays an inner simplicity contrasted and obscured by a formal complexity. The artists poems and their accompanying designs appear unsophisticated in both their underlying structure and their conveying message once the auctorial careful encoding has been revealed. 43 Schelling opines that [s]implicity [italics in the original] is the highest element in poesy just as its is in the formative arts (Philosophy of Art 207). This is also an aesthetic desideratum in Johann Joachim Winckelmanns eighteenth-century programme, to which he adds calm grandeur (Berlin 28). Nevertheless, the specific difference lies in the cultural moment which is celebrated: if Blake wishes to revert to biblical patterns, Winckelmann pays tribute to the ideals established by the Classical Age. Concurrently, there is always a simple tone or message at work, reminiscent of Christs plain yet deep parables, for, just as the Hebrew prophets, Blake feels that he addresses multitudes, not isolated individuals. In [A Vision of the Last Judgment], the poet makes an interesting confession about the nature of his uvre: The Nature of my Work is Visionary or Imaginative it is an Endeavour to Restore <what the Ancients calld> the Golden Age (E 555), pointing in the direction of an aesthetic retrieval of lifes original purity and harmony. This
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commandment can be understood in connection with an ethical one, which fulfils a biblical credo: All Life consists of these Two Throwing off Error <& Knaves from our company> continually & recieving Truth <or Wise Men into our Company> Continually (E 562). I feel bound to say that it is only after the reader/beholder has successfully completed the complicated puzzle of interpretation, which, in its turn, claims gusto, perseverance, and subtlety,44 that the aesthetic parameters of the Blakean work of art become indeed transparent and simple. (3) Acheiropoieton. I employ the term acheiropoieton (pl. acheiropoieta, literally not-handmade) in relation to Blakes uvre because the poet repeatedly claims that his work is not created by human hand (except insofar as its technical execution is concerned), and that a transcendent authority is directly and decisively involved. The idea underlies a radicalized attitude towards divine inspiration, accentuating the involvement of the transcendent, to the point that the latter becomes the sole executor, leaving the anthropic aside altogether. It chiefly concerns execution: for instance, a book characterized as acheiropoieton entails the participation of the anthropic element only at a primary, execution-concerned level; since the contents are dictated by a foreign agency, the human recipients status is reduced to that of a scribe.45 (4) Para-visuality and para-verbality. The visual-verbal continuum of the Blakean work of art functions only at a theoretical level, when a critic wishes to identify the basic nature of this work of art.46 At a more refined level, the syntagm is no longer operational. These two features are only human definitions of an intrinsically non-human work of art (if one is to take into consideration Blakes own convictions). If the work is understood to be acheiropoieton, the direct consequence of this is that its modes of representations are no more than intellectual vehicles, and appear as such to the vegetative eye (to employ a Blakean syntagm). The true work of art, set in Eternity, eludes all possible forms of conventional representations, acquiring therefore para-

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visual and para-verbal qualities.47 Its ontological constituents are the components of the Divine Vision, which is called Fourfold Vision in the poets hierarchy. (5) Absoluteness. The third and fourth arguments project the work beyond the common sphere of aesthetics, far into the realm of the ultimate, pure consciousness. Blakes art is peculiar in that it seeks absolute unity, despite its irregularities and formal asperities. In this sense, Blake resembles Schelling,48 who, at the end of his Philosophie der Kunst, surprisingly continues Hegels conception about the disappearance of form in art, and claims that only an inward or ideal work may render all arts obsolete in its bringing about the union of aesthetics and metaphysics, thereby enabling the human individuals to join together spiritually.49 (6) Art-religion synthesis. Contemplation of artistic beauty represents the ideal of Christian life, the model offered by the Pantocrator himself. This sui generis synthesis, i.e. art-religion, constitutes the hardcore of Blakes implicit aesthetic theory. Thus, it may be noteworthy that the vast spectrum of mythological figures underlying Blakes works functions on the premise of ontological substitution (a metaphysical prosopopeia, if you will). Emotions are personified, qualities are reified, all in a supreme attempt to reveal the universe in its real shape, uncorrupted by the degenerate, vegetative senses. This aspect gains in ascendancy once we realize that it may be properly retained as the chief function of the visionary poetry in general.50 (7) Aesthetic telos: to generate an intense feeling of exuberance in the audience. In his diary, Crabb Robinson notes that Blake [s]aid he acted by command The spirit said to him Blake be an artist & nothing else. In this there is felicity (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 422). If this primary aesthetic purpose demands the existence of a pure and absolute state of joy in the creators sensorium, the recipients psyche, in its turn, must rejoice in the contemplation of artistic beauty, for, surprisingly enough, Blakes aesthetic creations are designed to please the ordinary public, and not just an elite.51 Visionary art implies a transparent soteriological end; it functions
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as a generator of serenity and bliss in the intellect of the consumer, enabling the latter to ascend the ultimate stage of divine revelation.52 Thus, he has direct access to the privileged time and space implied by vision: If the Spectator could Enter into these Images in his Imagination approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his Contemplative Thought if he could Enter into Noahs Rainbow or into his bosom or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these Images of wonder, which always intreats him to leave mortal things as he must know then would he arise from his Grave then would he meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy (E 560). (8) Ontological telos: a spiritual consonance between the creative self and its audience. The poet and the recipient of the poetic message, i.e. the reader, are consubstantialized in the work of art, which acts as a mediator between two types of world-interpretation: that of the creator and that of the receiver. Their merging in the substance of the criture reiterates, in my opinion, the apotheotic finale of Jerusalem, whereby all ontological forms are reunited in the body of Christ, that is simultaneously the reification of the Divine Vision and the personification of Human Imagination. Becoming one in the substance of the writing, the creator eternally saves his readers, and is able to redeem himself perpetually. This reminds us of Friedrich Schlegels idea of a writer-reader continuity, of a relationship of contiguity established between a homo faber and his numerous addressees: We are able to perceive the music of the infinite instrument [Spielwerk] and to understand the beauty of this poem because a part of the poet, a spark of his creative spirit, lives in us and never ceases to glow with secret force deep under the ashes of our self-induced unreason (54). Additionally, it is Robert N. Essick who notes that [t]he author and his readers ideally meet and converse together in and through

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a text which thereby becomes the motivation for a hermeneutic community whose members share a common language (Language of Adam 223). This assertion may be further clarified if we considered the Four Living Creatures dialogue in visionary Forms dramatic at the end of Jerusalem: And they conversed together in Visionary forms dramatic which bright / Redounded from their Tongues in thunderous majesty, in Visions / In new Expanses, creating exemplars of Memory and of Intellect (E 258). (9) Prophetism. According to Hermann Gunkel, the primary characteristic of prophetic literature is its orality (24). This oratorical attitude is modulated by a genuinely enthusiastic stance, and Gunkel does not hesitate to assert that [m]en like the prophets who received their thoughts in hours of great inspiration and who, now, filled with overflowing emotions, proclaim them are capable of speaking only in poetic rhythms (31). Thus, the poetic form of a prophecy is in proportion to the presence of the prophetic element. Moreover, it is poetry that precedes prose as a rhetorical style, since the latter is modulated by rational reflection and emotional coolness. The two metric types of prophetic poetry identified by Gunkel: the strict genre (characterized by recurrent patterns) and the freer genre (characterized by style variations) can be readily applied to Blakes poetry, wherein certain passages (e.g. early prophecies, Jerusalem, etc.) fall into the first category, whilst the bulk of his writings (e.g. The Four Zoas, Milton, etc.) fall into the second one. Then, Blakes apparently disconnected style mirrors the pattern found in Hosea, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, a fact which accounts for the plethora of logical contradictions in prophetic literature. In this sense, Gunkel notes: Prophetic recognition is not something that is coherent and complete but is rather a sudden, lightninglike illumination (43). Finally, a feature shared by both the Hebraic prophets and Blake is the concrete presentation of their background element: more often than not, the described setting, whether it be urban or rural, is vivid and colourful, a fact which accentuates its visual nature.53 In addition to this, there are numerous plot features which may be described in a similar
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manner. Leslie Tannenbaum too endorses the pictorial characteristic of the rhetoric of prophecy, not forgetting to point out beforehand that the prophetic language is described as dramatic and highly rhetorical: This kind of rhetoric or poetic is certainly pictorial, but its effects are achieved mainly through the readers experience of images in motion rather than his or her contemplation of static pictures . . . (73). Finally, Marilyn Butler points out that the long, regular, unrhyming lines Blake uses in many of his longer works recall the Old Testament, especially the Psalms and Isaiah, in the English King Jamess version (15). (10) Apocalypticism. Closely akin to prophetic literature is apocalypticism, a doctrine disseminated through the narrative medium and premised on mans essentially improvable condition. According to Bernard McGinn, there are three chief characteristics of this trend of thought in the history of ideas: 1. the deterministic view of history (10), 2. the divinely predetermined pattern of crisis-judgment-vindication that marks the End (10), and 3. [t]he conviction of the apocalypticists that the triple drama has already begun (11). Of course, Blakes view of history is highly deterministic: there is a three-step scenario in his Prophetic Books,54 and, if one is to believe the visionary, the signs of Apocalypse are visible everywhere.55 Not only does Blake view the Bible as poetry, as David Jasper underlines, but he also rejects any claims to its being discredited and corrupt as scripture (18), for the sacred texts elude all possible characterization in that they offer a synthetic preview of cosmic events, which Blake acknowledges as factual and in perfect concordance with his own visionary conceptions. He even insists, in [A Vision of the Last Judgment], that the Hebrew Bible & the Greek Gospel are Genuine Preservd by the Saviours Mercy (E 555). Consequently, the visionary equates Christianity with Art (which is the Tree of Life), writing, in [The Laocon], that Jesus, the Eternal Body of Man, manifests itself in the Works of Art (E 273), and that [t]he Old and New Testaments are the Great Code of Art (E 274). Finally, all Christian preoccupations, whether they concern praying,

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praising or fasting, relate to Art (E 274), a fact which leads Blake to an inevitable conclusion: A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man / Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian (E 274). 56 What Blake seems to defend in all these discourse instances is the dialogic communion between the anthropic and the aesthetic through the medium of religion. The Bible as a modulator of contemplation is an idea found in Friedrich Hlderlins famous poem Patmos,57 which underlines the same Blakean scenario of the commoners ennobled and enraptured by the sacred code, which acts as both an aesthetic stimulant and a vision-inducing agency: But when, as if By swelling eyebrows made Oblivious of the world A quietly shining strength falls from holy scripture, Rejoicing in grace, they May practise upon the quiet gaze (Poems and Fragments 475). Wenn aber, als Von schwellenden Augenbraunen Der Welt vergessen Stilleuchtende Kraft aus heiliger Schrift fllt, mgen Der Gnade sich freund, sie Am stillen Blicke sich ben (Smtliche Werke II 171). But it is fair to say that Blakes prophetic language is at least one step ahead of the Old Testament idiom, because the Divine Vision is heightened and broadened by the Advent of Christ. Just as St Bernard of Clairvaux believes that the ultimate gnosis belongs only to the angelic inhabitants of Heaven,58 Blake seems to uphold the idea according to which mans senses are dimmed by superficial sensations and perceptions, and only the enlightened mind, wherein inspiration and imagination are in full swing, has direct access to the divine truth of revelation. This is the highest
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meaning of vision, but, as we shall see, three more types underlie it. Firstly, let us examine the paradox embedded in Blakes concept of vision, which must be understood in the formers interrelationship with the two pure forms of sensible intuition (if I may employ Kants definition).

3.3. The Paradox of Vision and the Time/Space Polarity


Blakes idea of vision entails the existence of a paradox, which, in its turn, is dependent upon the spatiotemporal contrast lying at the heart of the artists creative process. The aforesaid antinomy naturally involves two distinct phenomena: time and space (and their corresponding relationship). It is this connection that shapes Blakes work of art, for a vision is seemingly eternal (at least, we have seen that this is what its author claims in a supercilious manner), and, paradoxically, ephemeral and protean just as any other artefact, continually transformed, on the one hand, by the omnipotent action of time, and, on the other, by the forceful constraints of space. For the purpose of explaining these main aspects in a satisfactory manner, I must dwell on several other theoretical and practical elements of aesthetics. Having defined and analysed the concept of vision (in both its empirical and its aestheticized dimensions), I must now turn to the equally important concepts of time and space in Blake.59 In order to apprehend the spatial and temporal features of the artistic process, one must comprehend the nature of the clash between the two ontological facts. I must first say that vision inserts a gap between the real world and the imaginary one. 60 Spatially finite, the former is characterized by a linear elapsing of time, which comprises three distinct stages: past, present, and future. Spatially infinite, the latter transcends all categories of

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reflection, for it is uncreated and eternal, as Blake himself emphasizes in A Vision of the Last Judgment: This world <of Imagination> is Infinite & Eternal whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation is Finite & [for a small moment] Temporal (E 555). The ontological contents in the imaginary world are not protean (as one might expect), but immutable: In Eternity one Thing never Changes into another Thing Each Identity is Eternal . . . (E 556). The same sentence, with only slight variations, appears in Milton: Individual Identities never change nor cease (E 132), and in Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds: <Identities or Things are neither Cause nor Effect They are Eternal> (E 656). In the introductory lines to this chapter, I have already suggested that vision cannot be imagined and moulded in the absence of time and space, the two crucial elements which contribute to the final metamorphosis of the empirical vision into its avatar, the aestheticized one. Time and space, the two modulators of consciousness, are radically modified, and their erratic components are homogenized by the human agent during the visionary act, as Amala Hanke deftly underlines: the subjective spatiotemporal consciousness constitutes an integrative force, capable of unifying the temporal and spatial dimensions into an experience of homogenous duration, continuity, and spatial interpenetration. . . . In privileged moments the subjective consciousness can arrest the flow of time, providing an experience of eternity in time in which the totality of life is possessed at once . . . . And in truly visionary experiences the mind may even apperceive eternity per se (5-6). In Blakes imaginary world, as privileged entities, the two phenomena are textually translated into the key concepts of Eternity and Golgonooza. 61 Eternity is equivalent to an allencompassing manifestation, which determines the unchangeable
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structure of all forms. It cannot be grossly equated with the present. 62 On the other hand, Golgonooza constitutes Loss 63 City of Art and Manufacture, a symbolic representation of the work of art. Its function is to give form to all uncreated things (Damon, Blake Dictionary 164). The global aspect of the city is striking; it encompasses structural opposites: The totality of history is incorporated in Golgonooza the nightmares of history as well as the works of vision (Vine 158). Sometimes, this urban space can even become a refuge, a vision that allows a partial liberation from the external world, (Lincoln, Spiritual History 254). Allegorically, time and space are a masculine figure and its feminine counterpart. Space is generated by Time (one may add that Eternity Los continually creates Golgonooza). Consequently, time and space involve a certain polarity, which is essential in the process of visionary construction. In the real (i.e. material) world, time and space do not acquire an autonomous ontological status. As S. Foster Damon remarks, they have no absolute existence: they are twin-aspects of Eternity, as perceived by our limited senses . . . (Blake Dictionary 404). In an extensive allegory, Blake treats them as lovers. The elements of this dyad can be compressed or expanded in certain circumstances. One may extend the argument, and state that the material world, as a manifestation of degraded space, is illusionary. Creation itself, in its biblical sense, is sheer error. Hanke notes that the boundaries of the material world are superimposed by the narrowed perceptive organs upon the infinite and eternal universe, adding that concrete bodies are merely images projected by an impaired mind . . . (70). In A Vision of the Last Judgment, Blake insists that the trans-temporal aspect of reality which precedes Genesis, representing the spiritual matrix of the myriads of beings, renders the true identity of all things: Many suppose that before [Adam] <the Creation> All was Solitude & Chaos . . . . Eternity Exists and All things in Eternity, Independent of Creation which was an act of Mercy . . . (E 563). It is Eternity alone that matters, for Eternity alone is the manifestation of

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visionary Truth. Thus, as S. Foster Damon synthetically underlines, the Arts discover and record Eternal Truth (Blake Dictionary 129). Here, one can identify the core of the relationship between ontology and aesthetics, as Blake masterfully designs it. Given the facts that Eternity is the sole reality, and that, concurrently, identities are unchangeable, the poet can compose his uvre before his actual incarnation, a fact which accentuates their acheiropoieton characteristic.64 Based on what I have pointed out so far, I can now offer a conclusive definition of time and space in Blake. In its degenerate form, time is the interval which modifies the evolution of the material world. In its high form, it does not exist, being replaced by a trans-temporal phenomenon, called Eternity. In its degenerate form, space is the material world, as a manifestation of error. In its high form, it is Golgonooza, a metaphorical representation of the summum of works of art. As Blake conceives of his art as a painting-poetry symbiosis,65 in the form of the illuminated manuscript, time (as a feature of poetry, which involves succession, rhythm, and enunciation of discourse) and space (as a feature of painting, which involves perceptive simultaneity, surface, and perspective) are key elements. As I have shown hitherto, the artist views the aesthetic process as completely subordinated to a transcendental authority.66 Given that the work of art67 is supposedly shaped at once, due to the powerful exercise of a non-human or a superhuman agent, the temporal dimension of the artistic process is reduced to a minimum. Hanke writes: The relationship between the moment of vision and its poetic expression is exemplified in the very structure of Milton. The entire poem is simultaneously seen by Blake in a moment as he lies in a visionary trance on the path in Felpham. Yet what he sees is at once a process in time and an eternal instant, so that the contents of the poem become an image of eternity in time, while the moment of its apperception is a moment of pure eternity (110-11). This assertion can be read in connection with another, which clarifies the meaning of the former: In visionary moments multidimensional infinitude may
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replace finite three-dimensionality (6). Thus, Blakes personal contribution to the making of a poem, an engraving or a painting is, as he himself claims, virtually non-existent.68 Eye-catching as they may be, these statements generate, in fact, a paradox of vision, which emerges when the paradigmatic experience of reality must be transferred to various material levels (scriptive or pictorial), in other words, or when the poet intends to communicate the phenomenology of the artistic state. Further on, it is my intention to underline that the aforementioned paradox of vision is dimorphic. Firstly, the paradox of vision resides in the binary status of the self. I must stress that the most interesting feature of Blakes profile as a creator resides in the ontological role which he assumes. At times (for instance, in Jerusalem), the artist identifies himself with one of his poetic figures, i.e. Los an anagram of Sol, as S. Foster Damons shrewdly remarks (Blake Dictionary 247). Los, as the archetype of Poetry and the primeval visionary, creates the Prophetic Books, and assumes the grandeur of a divine figure, second only to God the Father. Leonard W. Deen underlines that [t]he figure of Los, then, is the necessary center of Blakes long prophecies. Without him they would be unimaginably different. In Los as the image of the poet at work, we see Blakes myth coming into existence as a world being created, with its embodied souls . . . (261). Paradoxically, if one properly apprehends this identification, one comes to the conclusion that it is Blake, as Los, who first generates the sacred books in Eternity, and then attempts to recreate them materially in our world. The ingenious implication which derives from this reasoning is that Blake the immortal inspires Blake the mortal. The superhuman agent who moulds the work of art becomes the authors refined alter ego.69 Thus, the creative self metamorphoses into a Janus Bifrons-like entity: one face is firmly embedded in the psycho-epistemological dimension of an incarnate human subject (that is the creative self manifesting itself in Blakes mortal frame), whilst another refers to the latters eternal spirit, pertaining to the transcendent, the actual

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fons et origo of the creative process. Astounding though it may be, Blake asserts, in a letter to John Flaxman, dated 21 September 1800, that, in his capacity as a humble human agent, he only instantiates the creative state of the eternal Blake (a pure, disembodied spirit): In my Brain are studies & Chambers filld with books & pictures of old which I wrote & painted in ages of Eternity. before my mortal life . . . (E 710).Within this frame of thought, it seems that, for Blake the mortal to gain access to the works of Blake the eternal, the former requires the presence of a conjugated medium: on the one hand, it claims the active participation of the inspiring agents of transcendent origin, on the other, it demands the involvement of the immanent force of imagination. Secondly, the paradox of vision resides in the binary status of the creative process (and, implicitly, in the dual aspect of the work of art). As I have shown, Blake claims that his Prophetic Books are composed in Heaven, and that he is a mere scribe. Consequently, the work of art pre-exists its mundane transcription, and renders the artistic process somehow useless and obsolete.70 Nevertheless, the actual books, i.e. those that we, as critics, have at our disposal, contain omissions, deletions, and various repetitions, which demonstrate that creation is not entirely a haphazard act of Divinity, but also a conscious act of the poetic self. Although Blake states that the acquisition of vision suffices for the creator to exhibit a whole range of intricate phenomena which transgress common experience, it is quite obvious that a study of the manuscript of a single epic, i.e. The Four Zoas, proves that a lot of formal changes occurred at the level of the text itself. It may be argued that The Four Zoas was not engraved, and remained in a sketch-like form, but my objection reaches even farther, and encompasses great poems like Milton and Jerusalem, which constitute the very core of Blakes canon.71 It is highly possible that the artist may really have experienced visionary trances, but his claim that a divine agent supersedes the common exercise of intellect in the shaping of a work of art must be taken with a grain
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of salt. The act of completely replacing the faculty of reason with the faculty of superior apperception in the creative process cannot be thoroughly observed by the creative self, and the study of the manuscripts undoubtedly points to the fact that the temporal dimension of a creative process, involving craft and labour, and not sheer levity, should not be ruled out by flamboyant declarations. In Blake, an illuminated manuscript develops as time elapses, and, if it benefits from a divine factor, it is at least prudent to assert that it equally involves the presence of a human agent, a scriptive/pictorial self that takes upon itself the carefully hidden task of re-shaping a piece of literary work, an engraving or a painting, and whose role must not be downplayed. The only way in which this paradox can be explained is through the aforementioned conjunction between inspiration and imagination. 72 Thus, in Blake, the two co-exist, thereby transforming the creative act into a complicated issue. It is true that agents of inspiration furnish the basic aesthetic contents, but it is equally true that the creative self, via imagination, assumes the role of metamorphosing this data by intervening in the supposedly revealed messages, to the point that individual artistic idiosyncrasies and Blakes personal rhetoric underlie reputedly received poetic texts. Moreover, here lies a radical spatiotemporal paradox of vision. The visionary experience transfers the creative self to a new ontological scale, supported by Eternity. But, in this case, the poet cannot work on the illuminated manuscript of a Prophetic Book, for any aesthetic activity involves craft and artifice, as well as raw materials which belong to the material world, i.e. the space of error. On the other hand, although belonging to the ordinary universe, the finished illuminated manuscript of a Prophetic Book displays a holy texture. Nevertheless, Blake can only shape this visionary artefact in the finite time. This spatiotemporal circulus vitiosus is inherent in Blakes artistic process, as the prolongation of a visionary attitude.

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As I have already emphasized, Blake minimizes or even discards the autonomy of time and space, since he considers that material time has a definite ending, and that material space is the expression of a cosmic error. Nevertheless, one may trace privileged instants and favoured areas. The actualization of a vision involves a temporal dimension, in the sense that aestheticized vision may be simultaneous with or subsequent to empirical vision. Even if the former temporally coincides with the latter, the creative self operates certain changes at different levels (scriptive or pictorial), altering the original message. 73 Consequently, whenever Blake wishes to record an empirical vision, to transform it into an aestheticized one, a certain interdependence of time and space becomes manifest. In order to acquire a concrete form (graphic or pictorial), a vision must be subject to the collective action of the spatiotemporal factors. Space is metonymically represented by both the sheet of paper and the design plate, the latter being subsequently multiplied and metamorphosed into the illuminated book, which contains several deeply etched copper plates. Time is metonymically characterized by the insertion of a fragment of Eternity into the disarticulated, finite time. To synthesize the demonstration which I have followed hitherto, I may set certain generic categories of time and space in Blake, according to their functional role in the creative process. Thus, time may be characterized as: fertile (enabling the generation of aesthetic impulse) and sterile (blocking the visionary mood). Concordantly, space may be: transfigured (as a result of the artistic action) and fixed (unable to adhere to the form requested by the dominant creative will). Their polarity is even more transparent at these levels: space and time can be complementary (and productive in the creative process) only when the former is fertile and the latter transfigured. In other cases, the two phenomena are in constant opposition, and their polarity blocks the emergence of visionary art.
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It is thus that we reach one of Blakes most obsessive ideas, that referring to the permanent state of conflict inherent in the development of any relationship on both material and spiritual scales. One cannot properly understand Blakes hierarchy of visions and their internal polarities unless one analyses the artists dialectic.

3.4. Contraria sunt complementa: Blakes Dialectic


The problematic of dialectic in Blakes thought looms large at this stage because it simultaneously constitutes the artists favourite mode of aesthetic composition and his primary method of understanding reality. Christine Gallant opines that, if one considers his work as a whole, it is difficult to think of a less dualistic writer than Blake (43). For him, contraries bring forth unity only when they are sublimated for its sake. Thus, to a certain extent, contraries are complementary; more often than not, they even coincide. The idea is, of course, quite old: it was made famous by the German cardinal Nicolaus Cusanus in the fifteenth century, when he published his influential theological treatise De docta ignorantia. In the Romantic Age, some of Blakes contemporaries, for instance Hlderlin and Shelley, are in like manner obsessed with this mode of reflection on realia: Gnter Klabes writes that Hlderlins poetry, like Shelleys, is characterized by an essentially duality blending the finite with the infinite (320). Mark Trevor Smith is the only critic to have analysed the scope and role of the coincidentia oppositorum in English Romantic literature, but his approach to Blake is premised either on specific poems (The Mental Traveller, Jerusalem) or on the polarity identity/otherness. 74 Although his critical attempt proves to be

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successful to a certain degree, ultimately, Smith fails to offer a synthetic, unitary perspective upon Blakes dialectic thought, and the outcome is a mosaic of separate interpretations, rather than a comprehensive exegesis. Moreover, my main objection is that Smith does not even take into consideration Blakes most important dialectic text, i.e. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. An apposite approach to the Blakean formula of the coincidence of opposites cannot possibly ignore this chief prose work.75 But let me first present briefly Cusanuss main theological concepts, from which the coincidentia oppositorum syntagm stems. This explanation is relevant in this context not because Blake borrowed his ideas directly from Cusanus, but because the German theologian inspired a whole mode of world interpretation based on the tension between polarities that had been preserved and refined until Blakes time, so that the English artist came into contact with different major and minor figures espousing Cusanuss main convictions. The German theologian does not intend to alter radically mans Weltbild, but, rather, to connect the latter with the Platonic tradition. Starting from the assumption that all knowledge is ignorance, and that, in a Socratic manner, the better a man will have known his own ignorance, the greater his learning will be (9), Cusanus comes to the conclusion that absolute truth cannot be apprehended by human intellect. The docta ignorantia formula becomes even more transparent in the theologians simile concerning the maximum and the minimum as essentially identical. The following excerpt is also valid in the case of the coincidentia oppositorum syntagm: The maximum quantity is infinitely great, whilst the minimum is infinitely small. Now, if you mentally leave aside the notions of greatness and smallness, you are left with the maximum and the minimum without quantity, and it becomes clear that the maximum and the minimum are one and the same; in fact, the minimum is as much a superlative as the maximum. The maximum and the
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minimum, then, are predicable of absolute quantity, since in it they are identified (13). Concordantly, God, as the ontological Maximum, encompasses all other imaginable forms and suppresses the very idea of opposition: Cusanuss arguments show us the Maximum as a Being, to whom nothing stands in opposition, because all beings, in whatsoever way they be, are in Him and He in them (51). Resuming Anaxagorass dictum, everything in everything, Cusanus argues that universal harmony is brought about by the very fact that the parts that make up a whole become that whole, be it human or divine. Therefore, all diversity is ultimately a sublime unitas in diversitate: You will also see on closer study how each individual in actual existence is at peace, for all in the individual is the individual and the individual in God is God; and there appears the wonderful unity of things, the admirable equality and the most remarkable connection, by which all is in all. In this we see the one source of the connection and diversity of things. (85). Even Blakes idea of the giant Albion, as an all-encompassing human form, is transparent (in nuce, of course) in Cusanuss refined demonstration. One may see that what was to become one of Blakes favourite metaphors for the spiritual form of humankind had been, originally, a purely religious one, comprising anthropic, as well as divine, ontological qualities (it should also be noted that the poet consciously borrowed the symbol from Swedenborgs visionary description of the greater man): If you were to think of humanity as an absolute, immutable, illimitable being, and of man as a being in whom absolute humanity exists in an absolute way though contracted by him to the humanity which man is, then you might compare the absolute humanity to God and the contracted to the universe (86).

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The outcome of all these theological schemes is that the anthropic principle is defined in paradoxical terms, as being at once God and creature, creature and creator creator and creature both, without composition and with confusion (133-34), their formulator concurrently emphasizing that [s]uch a union, therefore, would surpass all understanding (134). Cusanus finally argues that it is human nature alone that is peculiarly adapted to be this maximum (134), since man is an inferior being elevated to the divine condition. If so, it follows that man is simultaneously God and himself. Once these preliminary issues have been clarified to a certain extent, I can now shift the focus of the exegesis to Blakes idea of the complementary nature of polar realities. I have already mentioned the fact that Blake interprets his ultimate world, i.e. that of imagination, from a dialectic perspective. It is equally noteworthy that Blakes conception of the unity of contraries may also be related to Aristotles Physics, emerging, in this case, as a sui generis pattern of hylomorphism.76 Whilst, originally, body stood for matter and soul stood for form, Blakes poetic discourse rejects the aforesaid dichotomy,77 and replaces it with new series, encompassing such divergent features as reason and intellect, Memory and Imagination, vegetative and spiritual. More specifically, Blakes visionary profile displays at its heart a series of clear-cut conceptual antinomies, which are subsequently transferred to the textual level, i.e. the prophetic books. It is for all these reasons that a scholar should analyse the scope and role of the abstract pairs of contraries in the artists formal ideology.78 Concretely, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93),79 which serves simultaneously as a foreshortened dialectic (Spector, Wonders Divine 60), and as a critical manifesto (Spector, Glorious Incomprehensible 81), Blake says that a permanent state of conflict is inherent in subjects and objects alike, and that its existence is solely for their benefit: Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence (E 34). 80 Moreover, Blake
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conceives of two eternally antagonistic classes of man, contextualized in the double icon of the Prolific and the Devouring: These two classes of men are always upon earth, & they should be enemies . . . (E 40). However, when writing that Opposition is true Friendship (E 42), Blake believes in a fundamental unity of all ontological contents, since unreconciled contradictions block the generation of harmony. An interesting metaphor for the artistic universe, which epitomizes Blakes view on the problematic of contraries, is the description of Beulah. According to Damon, Beulah is the source of poetic inspiration and of dreams (Blake Dictionary 42). On the other hand, Frye points out that this is the garden of Genesis in which gods walk in the cool of the day (Fearful Symmetry 50), the true matrix of life. Be that as it may, Beulah, as described in Milton, represents a topos wherein contraries are rendered simultaneously true, and thereby insignificant: There is a place where Contrarieties are equally True / This place is called Beulah. It is a pleasant lovely Shadow / Where no dispute can come. Because of those who Sleep (E 129). Mark Trevor Smith claims that Blakes self-contradictions spring from the poets intention of describing life as it is, not as it should be according to mans rational faculty: Blakes theology, however, is inconsistent and anti-rational because he is pursuing the details of the world, full of life and therefore of oppositions (203). However, his opinion gives birth to a legitimate question: is life necessarily self-contradictory? Is it not man alone who finds contradiction once he has applied complicated processes of ratiocination to an essentially non-intellectual medium, i.e. nature? A more illuminating point of view pertains to W. J. T. Mitchell, who strongly believes that Blakes aesthetic technique urges the artist to reach dialectic using dualism as a starting point. Oppositions are identifiable even at the concrete, aesthetic level: the Blakean work of art (a composite product, in the expression of Jean H. Hagstrum and Northrop Frye) is a mixture of text and image. Moreover, W. J. T. Mitchell describes an intricate visual-

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verbal dialectics (4-14): Blake wanted to combine spatial and temporal form in his illuminated books not to produce a fuller imitation of the total objective world, but to dramatize the interaction of the apparent dualities in our experience of the world and to embody the strivings of those dualities for unification (33). Mitchell even concludes his study by stating that Blakes pictorial style, like his poetic form and the total form of his composite art, is organized as a dramatic dialectical interaction between contrary elements (74). On the other hand, M. H. Abramss interpretation of Blakes dualism points to the shaping of an apocalyptic paradigm, a mode of thinking in which all process, whether historical, logical, or empirical, is attributed to the dynamic generated by polar opposites (Apocalypse 346). Abrams does not fail to mention that, within the given framework of the chiaroscuro history, the prophetic narratives chief characteristic is its ethical and ontological irreducibility: the agencies are the opponent forces of light and of darkness and there is no middle-ground between the totally good and the absolutely evil (Apocalypse 345).81 Finally, Charles Taylors brilliant description of millenarianism enables me to link this extreme intellectual trait to Blakes mode of thinking.82 Inspired by Joachim of Floras bold announcement that the advent of the Age of the Holy Ghost is inevitable, millenarians embrace the belief in a decayed and spiritually dismembered world, soon to be replaced by a new, brighter order. Taylor expresses this in terms of an apocalyptic vacillation between a moment of crisis, one in which acute conflict is about to break out, one in which the world is polarized as never before between good and evil (387) and an unprecedented victory over evil, and hence a new age of sanctity and happiness unparalleled in history (387). Needless to mention here that, within this millenarian pattern, the eschatological scenario emerges as a spiritualist prolongation of a biblical mode (mainly neo-, not veterotestamentarian), of describing reality in
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terms of evolutionary stages, whose temporal dimensions are coextensive. A poetic instance of millenarianism is traceable in The Little Girl Lost (Songs of Experience), wherein the creative self exalts the virtues of a new Eden, which is to replace the obsolete, rationalistic reality of his present (sleep is Blakes predominant metaphor for frozen intellect): In futurity I prophetic see, That the earth from sleep, (Grave the sentence deep) Shall arise and seek For her maker meek: And the desart wild Become a garden mild (E 20). Morse Peckham is perhaps wrong when he tendentiously asserts that Blake does no more than regress to an ancient and exhausted redemptionism, concealing from himself his failure to achieve cultural transcendence by a clumsy and obsessive mythology (55). When Blake reverts to a millenarian scenario, he does it with the fully fledged intellectual paraphernalia of the visionary who finds himself estranged in the eighteenth-century bourgeois milieu not because of a cultural failure, but because of his peculiar aesthetic approach to art and religion, which he reflects as essentially correlative forms of human expression. This, I think, is the telos of the artists elaborate mythological system. But one may detect a link between Blakes dialectic and an ancient line of esoteric thought, of whose elaborate doctrine and sophisticated development we can gain but an intellectual glimpse. In this sense, Stephen Gurney notes that there is good reason to see Blake as part of a heterodox but persistent tradition of Western mysticism that has always clung to the margins of institutional Christianity. This tradition, which goes back to the

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second century A. D., has been termed gnosticism (26-27). In the following lines, I shall be touching on the problematic of Blakes putative Gnosticism. Harold Bloom justly underlines the fact that, insofar as Blake may be labelled apocalyptic visionary, he seems in certain respects a kind of Gnostic, and Gnosticism is the most dualistic mode of belief ever advocated in Western tradition (Ruin the Sacred Truths 123). But the Gnostics, I may venture to add, originated geographically in the East, and they are an intrinsic part of the Western tradition only inasmuch as their late medieval avatars, the Cathars, who represent the Occidental version of the East-European Bogomils, are concerned. Nevertheless, the crux of Harold Blooms argument lies in that Blakes visionary ideology, if I may employ such a term, is strongly influenced by the Gnostic tradition. I should perhaps add in this context Morton D. Paleys critical observations, according to which Blake could never have accepted the Gnostic and Manichaean doctrines in full because they denied that Christ really became a man, suffered, died, and was resurrected (Traveller in the Evening 6). However, the critic concedes that Blake had a temperamental affinity for Gnosticism, (Traveller in the Evening 7), this propensity increasing in his last works. First and foremost, a scholar must point out Blakes organic dualism, part of an inherently Gnostic Weltanschauung, which is occasionally nurtured by religious tracts or moralistic exhortations. Such is the case with Blakes Annotations to Lavaters Aphorisms on Man, wherein the poet jots down a few inflammatory lines, according to which Man is a twofold being. one part capable of evil & the other capable of good that which is capable of good is not also capable of evil. but that which is capable of evil is also capable of good (E 594). The same goes for the poets Annotations to Swedenborgs Divine Love and Divine Wisdom: Heaven and Hell are born together (E 609). Following both the Gnostics and the Neoplatonists83 (i.e. Plotinus), 84 who see matter as the primary evil, 85 Blake too
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believes in the fundamentally erroneous character of matter. In this sense, he underlines, in A Vision of the Last Judgment, that Mental Things are alone Real what is Calld Corporeal Nobody Knows of its Dwelling Place <it> is in Fallacy & its Existence an Imposture (E 565). Moreover, in his Annotations to Swedenborgs Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, the poet thinks that the Natural Earth & Atmosphere is a Phantasy (E 607). Another Gnostic trait may well be the Demiurge as the origin of evil. Following an ancient heresy according to which the Creator of the material universe is a self-appointed god, ignorant of his own condition and, therefore, subject to blatant errors, Blake writes in A Vision of the Last Judgement: Thinking as I do that the Creator of this World is a very Cruel Being & being a Worshipper of Christ I cannot help saying the Son O how unlike the Father (E 565). According to the Sethian Gnostics doctrine, quoted by Irenaeus, the Demiurge is called Ialdabaoth, and, on a certain occasion, his own mother confronts him with the charge of fallacy of identity: Ialdabaoth, becoming arrogant in spirit, boasted himself over all those who were below him, and explained, I am father, and God, and above me there is no one, his mother, hearing him speak thus, cried out against him: Do not lie, Ialdabaoth . . . (Pagels 148). Furthermore, the radical Bogomils believe that there is a malevolent God, as potent as the good one, who plans to storm Heaven in order to capture good angels and, subsequently, to lock them up in bodies.86 On the other hand, Blakes dialectic may originate in the Paulician belief in the division of good and evil.87 These religious intellectuals are called Manichaens by Byzantine writers. 88 According to Malcolm Barber, the Persian Mani, the legendary founder of the sect, is decisively influenced by Marcion, who completely rejects YHWH. Thus, Mani creates his own version of dualism, according to which matter is intrinsically evil and God sent a series of evocations to create a material world in which to imprison the forces of Darkness (Barber 10). In the long-lasting conflict between Good and Evil, Mani himself is one of these

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evocations (another one being Jesus Christ). But the essential difference between the doctrine of Mani and that of Blake lies in the eventual outcome of the struggle: in Mani, Light and Darkness are utterly separated, whereas, in Blake, contraries must be reconciled for the sake of primordial unity. Of course, all these instances which I have discussed so far help us to understand Blakes relationship with authority and the ethics of evil, but do not favour any direction of interpretation. The exegetic path which I have suggested raises no claims to exhaustiveness: its only role is that of elucidating certain neglected sectors of the poets philosophical thought. Thus, Damrosch, Jr. is essentially right in asserting that Blake finds it impossible to use the contraries as the sole vehicle of his philosophy, settling instead for different kinds [italics in the original] of contraries, some of which are easily reconciled, other with great difficulty if at all (181). Perhaps the readers final understanding of Blakes dialectic will be facilitated by Schleiermachers contemplative method of perceiving the sense of the world in itself. The German hermeneutist writes: Look outside again on one of the widely distributed elements of the world. Seek to understand it in itself, and seek it in particular objects, in yourself and everywhere. Traverse again and again your way from centre to circumference, going ever farther afield. You will rediscover everything everywhere, and you will only be able to recognize it in relation to its opposite [italics added]. Soon everything individual and distinct will have been lost and the Universe be found (On Religion 138). Few texts in the history of ideas can prove more fertile in the case of Blakean exegesis, and the aforecited one points to the indelible visionary method of apperception: individual contraries, whether they concern body or soul, matter or mind, must be sacrificed on
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the altar of the all-encompassing divine unity. Thus, the rift between isolation and communion, precipitated by the fallen condition of the solipsistic intellect, is happily closed. After perusing this subchapter of my study, one may be urged to infer that the cardinal numeral 2 should play the most prominent role in Blakes imaginary. However, this is not the case, for the real numerical forma mentis in the artists visionary conception is 4. Hereafter, I shall try to explain why firstly by calling attention to the significance of the latter number in the history of ideas and secondly by analysing the Blakean quadripartite model of vision.

3.5. Enlightened Numerology: The Significance of 489


The history of intellect records a vivid development of numerical symbolism. According to J. E. Cirlot, numbers are not merely the expressions of quantities, but idea-forces, each with a particular character of its own (230). He continues as follows: The first ten numbers in the Greek system (or twelve in the Oriental tradition) pertain to the spirit: they are entities, archetypes and symbols (230). According to Ludwig Paneth (whose purely psychological approach to numerology, construed as an equivocal interpretation of an individuals dreams and obsessions, is obsolete), there is a significant difference between arithmetical numbers (which describe the objects mathematically, disregarding their subtle properties) and symbolic numbers (which underlie mysterious, yet central, connections with their corresponding objects). 90 It is almost superfluous to state that numbers, concurrently viewed as symbols, play a capital part in Blakes work and thought. The artist definitely ascribes specific properties to various numbers. In the following lines, I shall only consider the case of the cardinal

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numeral 4, as this is relevant to my current topic. The question which naturally arises is quite simple: why does 4 come to acquire such an eminent position in Blakes unsystematic system? Is it simply a random metaphor, deployed for rhetorical purposes, or has it a portentous significance, in connection with magic and esoteric knowledge? In order to be able to answer this, let me turn to the basic features of 4.91 Ludwig Paneth writes that 4 symbolizes the earth, the general pattern of intellectual development, even the anthropic mode of existence. The Greek and Roman mythologies devote special interest to this numeral. Pythagorians, who noted that natural numbers stand in relationship of ratio to one another (Kim and Sosa 364), also believed that it is in this number that the entire harmony of God dwells; moreover, 4 is the first mathematical power generating virtue (de Vries 201). In this, they merely follow their master, Pythagoras, whose dominant conception postulates that it is the number that governs all things. Thus, Hades is master of four rivers, Apollo has a similar number of horses. The Hellenistic philosophy also draws heavily on the significance of the four primordial elements: earth, water, air, and fire. The omnipotence of the numeral is somehow transferred to the level of the Christian doctrine:92 both the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches acknowledge the authority of Four Fathers (although the individuals are different in each case). The Four Rivers of Paradise (i.e. the Pison, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the Euphrates) described in the Old Testament symbolically define the Four Gospels of the New Testament. The Christian Creed admits the existence of four cardinal virtues: temperance, prudence, justice, and fortitude. Finally, when considering the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, one cannot overlook the importance of a special technique of biblical interpretation, encompassing four levels: the literal or historical, the allegorical or theological, the tropological or moral, and the anagogical or eschatological. Needless to say that, if one desires, further analyses
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may easily incorporate numerous examples from extra-European cultures (e.g. India, China, Egypt). I have attempted to point out implicitly how the existence of this illustrious tradition may justify Blakes obsession with the numeral 4. It is high time that we took an even closer look at the artists use of symbolic numbers.93 It was Northrop Frye who first noted the antithesis, in Blakes later poems, between four and three (Fearful Symmetry 368-69). Subsequently, George Mills Harper brought further evidence in the same respect (Divine Tetrad 235-55). Finally, Stuart Curran published an extensive study on the structural patterns of Jerusalem, in which he remarked that 4 and 3 roughly represent the eternal and the fallen (Structure of Jerusalem 334). In my opinion, the key to the whole issue lies in the perfection of the square, which is the most powerful symbol of completeness. Following C. G. Jung, one may note that a disjointed square results in two triangles. Within this system of representation, 4 may stand for unity, harmony, and primordial order, whilst 3 implies separation and disruption, a corrupted state of affairs, which inevitably collides with the quadripartite form, the perfection of integration. Associating the latter numeral with the idea of stability, J. E. Cirlot writes: The square, as the expression of the quaternity, is a symbol of the combination and regulation of four different elements (307). 4 may also be accounted for from a purely psychological point of view, but it is not my intention to draw on fuzzy and ever-changing psychoanalytical references. Blake closely follows St. John the Divines Revelation text, from which he freely borrows the figures of the Four Zoas, the four beasts which encircle the throne of Christ, conventionally depicted as having the visage of: a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. The ensemble is recurrent in Hebrew tradition; Ezekiels vision depicts four living creatures lingering by the river of Chebar. S. Foster Damon remarks that they are commonly identified with the four evangelists (Blake Dictionary 458). For Blake, the Zoas are related to the four essential constituents of Man, i.e. the creative

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faculty (imagination), the rational faculty, the sexual desire and the physical body. Moreover, they constitute the Divine triad (the Holy Trinity) plus the Adversary (the Devil). One should also take into account several possible connections, important in the case of visionary and apocalyptic texts: the secret name of God, handed down in Hebrew mysticism (YHWH),94 the wind-angels, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and, last but certainly not least, the reverse of the four cardinal virtues, summed up by the four forms of divine wrath and punishment, i.e. war, pestilence, death, and hell. Moreover, the real importance of the cardinal numeral becomes apparent when one comes to examine Blakes quadripartite visionary pattern.

3.6. Four Types of Vision


Blake avers that there exist four main types of vision, which, in my interpretation, correspond to a similar number of hermeneutic levels, affording the reader a quadripartite interpretation of the poetic discourse. Strange as it may seem, critics theoretical stances are rather inconsistent with regard to a clear and conclusive definition of the four visionary classes. Starting from what I believe is a correct assumption, i.e. that, in its broad sense, vision is the perception of the human in all things (Blake Dictionary 436), Damon asserts almost the same thing in relation to twofold vision, i.e. that the latter is the perception of the human values in all things (Blake Dictionary 437), thereby creating, rather than dispelling, confusion. 95 John Beer speaks of four states (corresponding to the four types of vision): the first is that of darkness, in which Reason alone holds sway (Blakes Visionary Universe 27), the second is that of Fire or Wrath, wherein energy
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is freely exercised (Blakes Visionary Universe 27), the third is that of Light or Paradise, reserved for the state of sexual pleasure (Blakes Visionary Universe 27), and the fourth reconciles all the others (Blakes Visionary Universe 28), being recoverable only post mortem.96 In my view, the third state is mistaken for the fourth, the Edenic experience being the attribute of the mystic, whilst the fourth is actually a very present reality ante mortem, constituting an ecstatic oasis for the deeply religious. Nevertheless, as I shall show further on, I also believe that the fourth class brings about the reconciliation of the preceding three. The only tentative definition that is essentially in concordance with my own interpretation is that offered by Alexander Gourlay in The Cambridge Companion to William Blake: Blake distinguishes ordinary, single vision, mere optical reality, from higher forms of vision that perceive things metaphorically, imaginatively and eternally (286). Nonetheless, the presentation is too brief to clarify Blakes position. In my definition, and I hope that the exegesis in the fourth chapter will furnish ample proof to this, the types of vision are as follows: (1) single: common sight, ordinary visual perception. (2) twofold: perception through the eye, not with it, functioning on the premise of phenomenological substitution; the anthropic perspective upon phenomena, transcending common visual decryption. (3) threefold: artistic en- and decoding, premised on the powerful exercise of imagination and/or inspiration. (4) fourfold: religious rapture, ecstatic trance, which simultaneously recaptures and surpasses the essence of all the three preceding stages, induced by the undeniable presence of the Sacred. Before proceeding with the quadripartite pattern exegesis in the next chapter of my study, I must also present the context wherein the poet presents the four types of vision explicitly. In a letter to Thomas Butts, dated 22 November 1802, Blake includes a 12-month-old versification describing a rather complex vision, interspersed with seemingly trivial happenings. It is also apparent

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that it is fourfold vision alone which allows its recipient to acknowledge its own existence, as well as that of the other three categories: Now I a fourfold vision see And a fourfold vision is given to me Tis fourfold in my supreme delight And three fold in soft Beulahs night And twofold Always. May God us keep From single vision & Newtons sleep (E 722). In an epistle to the same Butts, dated 2 October 1800, Blake exemplifies, in an enthusiastic, Fra Angelico-like canticle,97 how a twofold vision metamorphoses into a fourfold one through the mediation of a threefold vision. In other words, he essays to demonstrate in a poetic fashion that a permanent exercise of privileged sight (through the eye, rather than with it) may, via the aesthetic element, become religious ecstasy, Divine Contemplation of Unity. Thus, the incipit of the visionary scenario offers a glimpse of the elemental human, to be found within all ontological manifestations (an instance of what we may label pananthropism). This Argus-like multiplication is subsequently unified into a single anthropic icon, that purges the self, enabling the latter to attain celestial felicity and supreme knowledge (we shall see that, in Jerusalem, it is Jesus who embodies the Homo Magnus). This is Blakes ultimate message of spiritual and aesthetic salvation: I each particle gazed Astonishd Amazed For each was a Man ... My Eyes more & more Like a Sea without shore Continue Expanding The Heavens commanding
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Till the Jewels of Light Heavenly Men beaming bright Appeard as One Man Who Complacent began My limbs to infold In his beams of bright gold Like dross purgd away All my mire & my clay (E 712-13). Two final words on two filiations insolites. Firstly, the four types of vision, inasmuch as they mirror four levels of understanding reality, may be compared with Plotinuss ontological scale, which comprises the sense world (the gross reality), World-Soul (the active principle of creation), Nous (Platos Ideas, the seeds of creation), and One (the supreme, undifferentiated, allencompassing unity).98 The correspondence with Blakes fourfold design of vision needs no further explanation. Secondly, I should mention that the first three types of vision present in Blakes poetic definition are found in a less wellknown text of Schiller.99 The German writer describes a trio of fundamental stages which the individual experiences throughout his existence. The first state, Notstaat, refers to the domination of senses and institutes the pre-eminence of base materialism, hence its links to barbarity. The metaphorical treatment of the theme evokes Blakes common-eye perception, the primary degree of reality-understanding. The second, Vernunfstaat, points to the prevalence of reason, and echoes Blakes view of abstractions as phenomenological organizers. Finally, Schiller speaks of the necessity of Spieltrieb, tentatively translated by Berlin as play-drive (85). The sole path leading to self-fulfilment is that of the creative innocence regained through a jocular attitude, that of the game players (insofar as, in Schiller, art is a mode of play). It is only through the exercise of unhampered imagination that collective (y compris personal) life can be endowed with meaning and purpose. Schillers nave plea for an aesthetic existence is matched by

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Blakes refined vision of Beulah, the pinnacle point of artistic development (and the metaphorical expression of threefold vision). However, religious ecstasy, which completes Blakes poetic equation, is not found in Schiller. To sum up my main steps in this chapter, I must say that I have started by presenting Blakes religious milieu, and subsequently concentrated on both the empirical and the aestheticized dimensions of the binary concept of vision, providing synthetic definitions thereof. Afterwards, I have focused on the subject of Blakes dialectic, emphasizing the artists penchant for staging conflicting states among the components of reality. Finally, after pointing out why the cardinal numeral 4, and not 2 (as one might be inclined to believe after acknowledging the poets dialectic passion), comes to play in the development of Blakes visionary thought, I have elaborated on the four types of vision and on their corresponding ontological qualities. It is thus that I have reached the end of the third main chapter of my study, which concludes the systematic presentation of vision in Blake (a presentation entailing the analysis of three main elements: the self in vision, the vision-inducing agents, and vision proper). 100 Any attempt at fashioning a theory without a practical support is doomed to failure: faithful to this dictum, I have tried to substantiate my systematic approach with numerous text references, i.e. with a solid appeal to Blakes poetry. One may say that the theory and practice of vision have been integrated, so that the reader may easily follow the flow of the argument, thereby obtaining an appropriate, unbiased insight into the artists thought. However, I feel that my research could immensely benefit from an explicit, not only implicit, commentary on Blakes main visionary works, with a view to making his unsystematic system even more transparent to the reader. It is with these desiderata in mind that, after considering all these aspects related to Blakes theoretical positions vis--vis a number of aesthetically debatable points concerning visionariness, I shall now move on to the next stage of my exegetic approach, i.e. the textual
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dissemination of fourfold vision. Henceforward, I intend to show in a critical manner that there are four levels of significance in Blakes poetry, corresponding to the four types of vision described in the famous letter to Thomas Butts (22 November 1802), which I have just synthesized. I shall, therefore, examine America, Europe, and The Song of Los for the first level, The Four Zoas for the second, Milton for the third, and Jerusalem for the fourth.

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Notes to Chapter 3
For a detailed account of the paradox of vision, see infra. Antinomianism may be said to echo Joachim of Floras prophecy, according to which, after the Age of the Father and that of the Son, the Age of the Holy Spirit is an impending fact. This, in turn, will enable ordinary human beings to receive visions stemming from the Godhead, making the mediation of clergy or catechism teachings obsolete. For a good account of this theme, see Morton 37 et passim. 3 Martin Priestman declares, and I concur, that the best new studies on Blakes antinomianism belong to E. P. Thompson and to Jon Mee (82). 4 This statement is partially amended by Priestman, who writes that in his most radical period, from about 1790 to 1795, he [Blake] did challenge orthodox Christianity so consistently and blasphemously as to leave very little of it standing (82). 5 I have already pointed out (see the first chapter of my study) that it is Damons Blake Dictionary which offers a good introductory account to the topic. An equally important early contribution pertains to Jacques Roos: Aspects littraires du mysticisme philosophique et linfluence de Boehme et de Swdenborg au dbut du romantisme: William Blake, Novalis, Ballanche. For a recent thoroughly researched perspective on the influence of Bhme on Blake, see Kevin Fischers Converse in the Spirit. 6 Amongst the continental counterparts of Blake and Law, one may number Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a prominent representative of the Pietist Movement in eighteenth-century Germany. His doctrine emphasizes the importance of mans spiritual relationship with Christ, who is metamorphosed into the key icon of personal salvation. 7 Michael Ferber discusses the problematic of Blakes apocatastasis in order to do what he can to redeem one of the most scandalously intractable passages in Jerusalem (i.e. 16.28-58, E 160-61). 8 See Blakes Marriage of Heaven and Hell, E 33-45. 9 At this stage, I must underline that my critical discourse is not aimed at enumerating recorded visions, nor does it focus on their genealogy. I shall mainly consider the case of Blakes visions, but, if the reader is interested in visionary accounts before the modern times, he may find a useful catalogue of vision-related medieval texts in Patch passim. 10 In my opinion, Blakes vision cannot be reduced to a mere religious experience. But, should one decide to operate such a restriction of meaning, one may find ample information about the classification of religious experiences in Caroline Franks Davis, who identifies no less than six types of phenomena:
1 2

interpret(at)ive, quasi-sensory, revelatory, regenerative, numinous, and mystical. For additional details, see Caroline Franks Davis 33-65. 11 Frye equates vision with the creative power of the artist (Fearful Symmetry 25). It is this force alone that guarantees the poets supreme liberty. 12 William Richey remarks that Blakes artistic theory is an altering one: the latters neoclassical primitivism evolves into a biblically inspired aesthetic (10), i.e. Gothicism. On the other hand, Robert F. Gleckner states that, as Blake rapidly became aware of the visionary possibilities inherent in Gothic art (and in the Gothicism of Michelangelo, Raphael, Drer, and Giulio Romano) he was immersing himself at the same time in the prophetic-visionary books of the Bible, Spenser, and Milton . . . (Blakes Prelude 151). 13 See Blakes finale of A Vision of the Last Judgment, E 566. 14 Actually, the term intertextuality itself was coined by Kristeva in the 60s. 15 Laurence J. Rosn notes that the term mysticism has a twofold meaning, on the one hand, it designates a philosophical doctrine, namely, that the conscious individual can and should experience a uniting with the divine, that is, the Ultimate Reality (45), on the other, it defines a subjective experience for the individual mystic (45). If one were to give credit to the latter part of the definition, one should see that it matches a primary meaning of vision as an extrasensory experience. 16 For more details, see Turner 1-8 et passim. 17 Black Elk is a Native American medicine man. For more details, see Coleman 31. 18 Po is the ultimate form of reality. For further details, see Coleman 32. 19 In addition to the ideas of James and to Stace, Pletcher and Almond also consider D. T. Suzukis views. However, due to the fact that I shall take a closer look at the Japanese scholars description of satori in the Appendix, I shall not insist on its contents in this chapter. For additional details, see the Appendix to my study. 20 For a comprehensive analysis, see James 299-300. 21 For more details, see Stace 131-32. 22 Elsewhere, Kant declares ironically that [w]hoever loves and believes the fantastic is a visionary [italics in the original] (Beauty and Sublime 55). 23 An eloquent description of Blakes sketch The Ghost of a Flea, comprising a suggestive simile involving Satan, is to be found in J. T. Smiths Nollekens and his Times (1828), who notes that the character is covered with coat of armour, similar to the case of a flea, and is represented slowly pacing in the night, with a thorn attached to his right hand, and a cup in the other, as if ready to puncture the first person whose blood he might fancy, like Satan prowling about to seek whom he could devour (Bentley, Jr., Critical Heritage 38-39).

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24 Crabb Robinson writes, in his diary, that, at least on one occasion, Blake and his spiritual companions were engaged in a verbal fight, to the effect that the latter vanished without warning: the poet had a violent dispute with the Angels on some subject and had driven them away (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 320). Sometimes, opposition is met with approval, as demonstrated by a similar, Jacob-like episode, narrated by the same Robinson: [t]he oddest thing he said was that he had been commandd to do certain things[,] that is to write abot Milton And that he was applauded for refusing[;] he struggled with the Angels and was victor . . . (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 433). 25 The same diary of Crabb Robinson offers precious details concerning the disconcertingly habitual character of Blakes supernatural tribulations: And when he said my visions [emphasis in the original] it was in the ordinary unemphatic tone in which we speak of trivial matters that [no one del] every one understands & cares nothing about (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 421). In his unpublished Reminiscences (1852), Robinson adds that the poet said the most strange things in the most unemphatic manner, speaking of his visions [emphasis in the original] as any man would of the most ordinary occurrence (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 695). 26 The literature devoted to Swedenborgs influence on Blake is ample; the most synthetic introduction to the topic is a collection of various essays, entitled Blake and Swedenborg. For more details, see Bellin and Ruhl passim. 27 For a cogent analysis, see Joseph Burke 253-302, especially 261-66. 28 In this sense, Blakes attitude resembles that of Denis the Carthusian, who also experienced long and intense visionary intervals. 29 Cf. this passage in Jerusalem: If Perceptive Organs Vary: Objects of Perception seem to vary: / If the Perceptive Organs close: their Objects seem to close also: / Consider this . . . (E 177). 30 However, things are not so simple: we shall see later on that a significant number of textual revisions question, to a certain degree, these critical verdicts. 31 Whatever its shape and end, appearance dictates upon reality, and subjectivity renders Byrons art possible, firstly because appearance is not subject to any law of logic, secondly, because its main characteristic is spontaneity. As Alfred North Whitehead underlines, consciousness, spontaneity, and art are closely interconnected (269), for spontaneity numbers amongst its chief outlets consciousness and the production of ideas. 32 At the same, time, one has to bear in mind the essentially visual, not visionary, aspect of Byrons works, a fact which facilitates their seemingly spontaneous composition. In this sense, it is interesting to quote John Keatss opinion, expressed in a letter to George and Georgiana Keats, dated 17-27 September 1819: You speak of Lord Byron and me There is this great difference between

us. He describes what he sees I describe what I imagine. Mine is the hardest task. You see the immense difference (Kitson 116). 33 See infra, the discussion about the paradox of vision. 34 Goodman thinks that the putative copy is the object as we look upon or conceive it, a version or construal of the object (9). 35 For more details, see Goodman 113-22 et passim. 36 Cf. also John B. Pierces assertion: the medium of the copper plate and the mechanism of the printing press offer a degree of fixity, reproducibility, objective autonomy typical of printed texts (157). 37 Consider, for example, Blakes own testimony to the involvement of the Divine Assistance in the making of Milton, at both scriptive and pictorial levels, found in his letter to Thomas Butts, dated 6 July 1803, E 729-31, especially 730. 38 Consider, for instance, the Prophetic Books, whose multiplication is based on the elaborate art of illuminated printing. This method, supposedly revealed by the artists deceased brother, Robert, unveils an intricate combination of long portions of texts and corresponding etched designs. 39 See, inter alia, Blakes famous representation of the Last Judgment. 40 Perhaps this universally appealing feature has made Blakes visual art so popular outside Europe, and I refer specifically to Japan. For the Shirakaba Groups enthusiastic reception of Blakes paintings and engravings, see Yumiko Goto passim. 41 As David V. Erdman notes, certainly the poems can stand alone, while many of the pictures cannot (Illuminated Blake 10). 42 See, for instance, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, [The Laocn], and especially the unengraved Tiriel and The Four Zoas. 43 This appears consistent with Horaces demand in Ars poetica: let the work of art be whatever you want, as long as it is simple and has unity (Preminger, Hardison, Jr., and Kerrane, Classical and Medieval Criticism 159) 44 The sui generis types of irregularity and simplicity found in the English artist may be related to a pair of morphological traits which I have borrowed from Japanese aesthetics, for I believe that this dyad essentially matches the odd, tradition-breaking form of the Blakean work of art. Indeed, Donald Keene underlines that, amongst the four chief qualities of Japanese art, one may specifically identify irregularity and simplicity, the other two being suggestion and perishability (for a cogent presentation, see Keene 27-41). I should also point out that simplicity and irregularity are two of the three aspects of wabi, a noun derived from the verb wabiru (Haga Koshiro 246). Wabi means that the aesthetic object under consideration or scrutiny lacks something, implying, at the same time, that the beholders expectations are not fulfilled. This is a pivotal idea of Japanese aesthetics (for a full analysis, see Koshiro 245-78).

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45 Explicit statements in favour of the concept of acheiropoieton may be found in Blakes letters: to Dr Trusler, dated 16 August 1799, E 701; to William Hayley, dated 6 May 1800, E 705; to Thomas Butts, dated 10 January 180[3], E 723; 25 April 1803, E 728; 6 July 1803, E 729, respectively, etc. 46 In a letter to Thomas Butts, dated 6 July 1803, Blake makes the following confession: I consider myself both Poet & Painter . . . (E 730-31). 47 For a detailed argument in support of this assertion, see Blakes letter to John Flaxman, dated 21 September 1800, E 710. 48 For more details, see Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy 94. 49 For more details, see Schelling, Philosophy of Art 279-80. The Appendix (281-82) is equally illuminating. 50 See Blakes considerations in [The Laocon] (E 273-75), particularly those regarding his equating the vetero- and neotestamentarian writings with the Great Code of Art (E 274). 51 Regarding the problem of audience, see Eaves, William Blakes Theory of Art 171-204. 52 Beer notes that Blake was not content to be the sole inhabitant of his universe, however. He believed not only that all men were potential citizens of his city but that all men actually belonged to it, whether they wanted to or not, at particular moments of their existence (Blakes Visionary Universe 303). 53 For a succinct presentation of the concrete elements in Hebraic prophetic tradition, see Gunkel 44-45. 54 For additional details, see the fourth chapter of my study. 55 Swedenborg announced that a New Age had begun in 1757, the year of Blakes birth, a fact which held significant importance in the latters mind. 56 The same ideas are reiterated in Jerusalem, wherein the poet ventures to call upon all true Christians to banish those who pretend to despise the labours of Art & Science, which alone are the labours of the Gospel . . . (E 232). 57 According to Angela Esterhammer, the poem is dedicated to the Landgrave of Homburg, and is presented to the latter by Hlderlin himself in Regensburg, in 1802 (234). It was the poets wish that a contemporary poet would defend biblical revelation against modern liberal interpretations of the Bible (234). 58 For a full presentation of the subject, see Raedt 169-82, especially 178. 59 John Beer provides us with a canonical interpretation of the two ideas in Blake: time and space are created not as an ultimate framework but as an act of mercy, since human beings would otherwise be exposed to an infinite energy which would be totally unbearable (Blakes Visionary Universe 309). 60 The meaning of the latter must be taken literally. Imaginary simply indicates that this particular universe is generated by the artists imagination, with the substantial aid of inspiring agents.

For an elaborate analysis of the Golgonooza metaphor, see the fourth chapter of my study. 62 Peter Otto defines the present, in Blake, in both temporal and spatial terms, as a manifold of presences which solicit our attention and structure the world, and it is a space which is determined by a linear history (185). 63 Los embodies Imagination in its highest, creative state. As I shall further underline, sometimes, his material manifestation is Blake himself. 64 For a perfect exemplification of this aspect, see Blakes letter to John Flaxman, dated 21 September 1800, E 710-11. 65 W. J. T. Mitchell carefully describes Blakes visual-verbal dialectics (see 4-14). Nevertheless, Paulson is of the opinion that Blakes dyad should be interpreted in terms of interior/exterior, not visual/verbal, factors: As he gives time priority over space, he prefers the ear to the eye unaided. This is because the ear is an internal source of reference, the eye subject to outward distractions. The Blakean dichotomy is therefore internal/external, not strictly verbal/visual (122). I believe that the two definitions should not be seen as contrastive, but, rather, as complementary, for they emphasize different aspect of what constitutes a multifaced theme. 66 For additional details, see the second chapter of my study. 67 Naturally, I refer to its material form, since its archetypal form demands no prerequisite for execution. In Eternity, the work of art simply is, beyond all concepts and logical determinations. 68 See, inter alia, the famous letter to Thomas Butts (25 April 1803), E 728-29. 69 This aspect must be understood in its close relationship with the acheiropoieton feature of the Blakean work of art. For more details, see supra. 70 One must also note that Blake defends the thesis of pre-existent forms in the aesthetic field in general. Thus, in his Annotations to the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the artist states that Knowledge of Ideal Beauty. is Not to be Acquired It is Born with us Innate Ideas. are in Every Man Born with him. they are <truly> Himself (E 648). 71 See the Introduction to my study. 72 For additional details in this respect, see the second chapter of my study. 73 Empirical vision is an illogical and incongruous experience. When the poet attempts to translate its contents into an intelligible form, a certain intrusion of reasoning factors becomes manifest. Empirical vision is subsequently metamorphosed into the work of art proper (aestheticized vision), which is the end of the creative process. 74 For an extensive analysis, see Smith 151-251. 75 Another strange fact is that, in theory at least, Smith should centre on Romanticism (as the title of his book clearly states), yet the second chapter is entirely devoted to Alexander Popes An Essay on Man!
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76 S. Foster Damon thinks that it is Jakob Bhme who originates Blakes doctrine of contraries, mainly because the Teutonic Philosopher was introduced to the English audience in the mid-seventeenth century: John Sparrow translated his works into English in 1645-1662. . . . The books were republished (Vols. I and II, 1764; Vol. III, 1772; Vol. IV, 1781) with an unfinished dialogue by the Rev. William Law as an introduction. This is the edition which Blake read (Blake Dictionary 39). Nevertheless, since Blake also read Aristotle, and took great pains to dismiss his works, it is possible that he may have borrowed this pivotal idea from the Greek philosopher. Damon himself concedes that Blake referred to him [i.e. Aristotle] once as one of the great lights of antiquity (Blake Dictionary 27). For additional details, see Blakes Annotations to An Apology for the Bible by R. Watson, penned in 1798 (E 615). 77 In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake writes that 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 (E 34). 78 Throughout this study, I have used the concept of ideology in its neutral sense, i.e. that of a set of general convictions which an individual holds to be true at a certain moment. I should perhaps mention that Karl Marx, the father of the idea, opposes it to science, which is the expression of truth. According to him, ideology is nothing but the deceptive worldview of the self-centred ruling class. Michael Ferber contends that, whilst all literature has an ideology, or components of an ideology (8), an individuals ideology may be a very complicated affair (7). Moreover, David Morse emphasizes that Blakes primary value as a poet lies in the fact that he is fully aware of ideology: he recognises the hold that systems of ideas have over peoples minds and the extent to which such structural formations are a major obstacle in the way of human progress (Romanticism 235). See also note 2 to the Conclusion to my study. 79 Prickett acknowledges the essentially unclassifiable nature of Blakes chief prose work, which is at once theological, philosophical, psychological and aesthetic (Romantic Literature 226). 80 The corollary to this idea is that the aforementioned contraries generate ethical categories: From these contraries spring what the Religious call Good and Evil (E 34). 81 However, the resulting peace, to be achieved under divine guidance, is, according to Abrams, a perfected condition of mankind on this earth which will endure forever (Apocalypse 344). 82 For a recent collection of essays dedicated, inter alia, to the problematic of Blakes millenarianism, see Romanticism and Millenarianism, edited by Tim Fulford. 83 For more details concerning Blakes Gnosticism, see A. D. Nuttall, The Alternative Trinity. For an interpretation of the poets Neoplatonism, see George Mills Harpers The Neoplatonism of William Blake.

84 Here, I should point out that Plotinus severely criticizes the doctrine of the Gnostics. Joseph Katz concedes that there is, however, essentially no difference between the two systems of thought. For more details, see Katz 289-98. 85 A useful synthesis on the subject of the generation of matter in Plotinus and the Gnostics belongs to Denis OBrien. For further arguments, see OBrien 10823. 86 Here, I follow Malcolm Lamberts analysis. According to him, the moderate Bogomils hold that it is Satan, the son of God, who creates the material universe (for more details, see Lambert 132). Lamberts subsequent assessment is equally relevant: The crucial difference between these views . . . lay in the status of evil: did it originate with a fallen spirit or an eternal evil principle? (132). Quite naturally, no immediate answer is available. 87 For additional details concerning Blakes putative manichaeism, see Boutang passim. 88 For more details, see Barber 10. In the following lines, I intend to draw on several suggestions found in his book. 89 A further development of this analysis will be resumed in the Appendix to my study, when I intend to discuss Blakes fourfold geography of the sacred, which entails the presence of animal metaphors. 90 For more details, see Paneth passim. 91 I have found valuable, yet extremely concise, information on this topic in Ad de Vries (201-02). I draw on references found in his work. 92 The wild dissemination of Greek and Roman philosophies throughout the medieval dogmatic system seems to be the chief aspect which ensures the continuation of the symbolic line of thought (at least in this particular case). 93 For important additional details to the topic under discussion, see the Appendix to my study, especially the subchapter devoted to the analysis of the fourfold animal symbolism in Blake. 94 This group of four letters is better known by its Greek name, the Tetragrammaton. 95 For a detailed presentation of the four types of vision, see Blake Dictionary 43637. 96 Beer even ventures to equate what he interprets as essentially psychological states with the four degrees of vision. With one notable exception, each level is ascribed a certain religious-oriented topos: Ulro is single vision, Hell is twofold vision, Paradise is threefold vision and the true Vision is fourfold (Blakes Visionary Universe 29). 97 The reader should bear in mind the fact that Blake extols the early Christian art, especially Fra Angelico, whom he considers both an inventor acting on divine inspiration and a saint. For more details, see Samuel Palmers letter to Alexander Gilchrist, quoted by Bentley Jr., Blake Records 392.

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For an interesting parallel between Plotinus and the doctrine of the Upanishads, including the quadripartite division of realia, see Hatab 27-43. 99 The text under consideration is Briefe ber die stetische Erziehung des Menschen (1795). In the subsequent lines, I shall be drawing on Isaiah Berlins synthetic presentation. For more details, see Berlin 84-87. 100 For a complete analysis, see each chapter of my study in part.
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In the former three chapters of my study, I have tried to explain the complex and seemingly ever-changing mechanisms of vision, moulded, on the one hand, by the action of the self, and, on the other, by the influence of the vision-inducing agents, be they definite or indefinite. At the same time, I have essayed to support my argument with appropriate examples drawn conspicuously from the poets uvre. Nevertheless, since the explicit purpose of my study is both a theoretical debate and a critical exegesis, the onus is on me to take a closer look at Blakes poetry. Therefore, the focus here is not so much on theory (although this cannot be disregarded altogether) as on the poetic mechanisms of vision, on the metaphorical devices which trigger prophetic significance in poetry. More concretely, my purpose now is to show that the four types of vision, as described in the third chapter, are transferred to the purely poetic level and thereby invested with fresh meaning.

4.1. Prolegomena: Translating Ideas into Metaphors


This last chapter of my research is aimed at showing how Blakes patterns of thought are instanced in his works. Before expatiating on the topic proper, I must nevertheless touch upon a couple of key operations which the poet executes so that his process of translating ideas into metaphors could be successfully completed.1 I hold that there is a gradual yet steady development from his early prophecies, wherein, more often than not, the dominant social level is constantly subverted by incipient elementals (such as the early figures of Orc and Los), to his fully-fledged epics, wherein, if you will forgive the pun, timeless phenomena dictate the course of action. So the whole process is chronological, ranging from America (1793) to Jerusalem (1804-20). Damon insists that Blake systematized his thought so carefully that one clue led

to another (William Blake VII), and this is precisely what my exegesis seeks to underline hereafter. I have already shown that Blake has a quadripartite visionary perspective upon phenomenal reality, a fact which generates four levels of significance, and, therefore, in the subsequent lines, my critical discourse will be centred on the textual realization of the aforementioned levels. Concurrently, I shall try to point out that Blake deploys certain paradigmatic figures (Orc, the Four Zoas, Los, and Jesus), whose role is that of actionconverging icons. The simultaneity of the two processes (the creation of levels of significance and paradigmatic figures) is, paradoxically, a mode of encoding, since there is an increase in text complexity, and one of decoding a poem or an epic, since the plot, the characters, and the underlining tone become all the more transparent in the process. I shall now introduce one more factor in my interpretative equation, i.e. Blakes plot pattern. One may intuit that, throughout both the early prophecies and the epics, the poet uses a three-step scenario development: an initial state of crisis, which escalates up to a climax, followed by a gradual stage of regeneration, ending in a retrieval of harmony.2 At the social level, crisis is represented by the sleep of reason, regeneration by the unfolding of revolution (Orcs apotheosis), and harmony by the community utopia regained. At the metaphysical level, war amongst mans underlying metaphysical aspects constitutes the crisis, the Apocalypse is regeneration, and true intuitive knowledge represents the retrieval of harmony. At the aesthetic level, the crisis is comprised of Miltons errors in Paradise Lost, the war against Satan, the corrupter of visionary art, is regeneration, and the reunification with Ololon constitutes the retrieval of harmony. Finally, at the religious level, the crisis is Albions jealousy of Jerusalem, who is destined to be the Bride of the Lamb, regeneration is represented by the rejection of his own selfhood, and the retrieval of harmony is the accomplishing of the Brotherhood of Man in the spiritual body of Christ. In point of fact, the systematic presence of the

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three-step scenario proves once again that the hermeneutic key to the four levels allows an interpretation of Blakes poetry under the auspices of an articulate metaphorical system. There are also four important metaphors underlying the Blakean poems which invite special, if brief, exegtic treatment. This series comprises Urizens book tetrad: the Book of Brass (dealing with human relationships), the Book of Iron (treating the subject of metaphysical conflict), the Book of Silver (expressing artistic emotion) and the Book of Gold (revealing the supreme form of knowledge). 3 Urizen never ceases working on these Books in perfect solitude and dark contemplation. It is my opinion that the quadripartite ensemble of livres translates Blakes visionary scheme, in the sense that Brass corresponds to Single Vision, Iron to Twofold Vision, Silver to Threefold Vision, and Gold to Fourfold Vision. I also believe that these documents reiterate, in nuce, Blakes own creation (his fourfold unsystematic system which I have previously described), revealing the very core of the artists enlightened poetics. My strategy in this fourth chapter is quite simple. Thus, my study is not aimed at offering a comprehensive commentary of Blakes poetry (a task altogether impossible), but, rather, at pointing out both its purely visionary nuclei and its systematic character, in accordance with the theory of vision which I have shaped so far. I should also mention at this stage that several intricacies of Blakes works have already been accounted for in brief exegetic pieces disseminated throughout the former three chapters of my work, and that it is not my intention to reiterate them henceforth. Obviously, I have been compelled to leave aside a few unimportant subplots, parallel action developments or mythological figures (particularly in the main epics), retaining only those subjects which are relevant in the case of my interpretation of vision development, but never at the expense of analytical truth. Laurence Lerner notes that [e]ven Blake scholars are not certain what story The Four Zoas is telling, what mythological or psychoanalytical reality is represented by Jerusalem, what points
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Blake is making by these analogies from work (178). The answer to these issues, albeit manifold, is rather simple at its core: one has only to peel the successive encoding strata which obscure the poems. Once the context has been made clear, the message of the visionary becomes transparent therewith. Or, perhaps, I should say a message, for one should never forget that Blakes work is essentially an opera aperta (if I may employ Umberto Ecos term), and, consequently, the basic thesis differs with each and every reader approaching it.

4.2. The Social Level: America, Europe, The Song of Los


The first level is the social one. Since it focuses on concrete realities, it corresponds to single vision, and, as such, records events which involve real history, and knowledge of the human beings in their elementary interactions, all this in spite of Blakes characteristically heterogeneous description of historical experience.4 Its basic conceptual element is revolution, since this is the ultimate ferment of social evolution. 5 One may find its textual application in some of Blakes minor prophecies, i.e. America (1793), Europe (1794), and The Song of Los (1795). 6 The French Revolution (1791) may also be treated as a textual application of the social level, but I preferred to leave it aside for two main reasons: (1) It is incomplete (of the intended seven Books, only one is extant, the other six having been lost) and (2) America, Europe, and The Song of Los form an independent whole, narrating related and even consecutive events. As I have just stated, the aforecited minor prophecies constitute an allegorical outline of social history, set on the stern and immutable principles of revolution. My idea is not unique in this context, Stephen Behrendt, amongst others, defending a

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related thesis: In America, Europe and The Song of Los Blake reconstitutes the history of the human world (105). 7 The paradigmatic figure of the revolutionary cycle is Orc, whose role is that of an action catalyst. Damon writes that Orc is Revolution in the material world (Blake Dictionary 309), but the formula is incomplete. Briefly, Orc indeed embodies Blakes idea of Revolution in the perishable universe, and from this poetic conviction springs the formers uncontrollable character. 8 One can neither reason with nor tame Loss son, for the latter is spontaneous, devastating, and rule-challenging, these being, in my opinion, the three prominent features of any social uprising. As a fomenter of rebellion, Orc is, more than any other Blakean figure, the expression of his creators Zeitgeist, an age obsessed with pseudo-religious formulae, as Jon Mee convincingly points out: The prophetic platform, expressing social grievances and utopian visions in terms of biblical paradigms of Babylonian oppression and millenarian expectation, was in fact one long established in the rhetorical resources of the popular culture by the time Blake wrote (28). The Song of Los contains two sections, the first (Africa) and the fourth (Asia). According to Erdman, they seem to be preludes to unwritten prophecies (Prophet against Empire 258). Harold Bloom adds that the poem is the weakest of all Blakean revolutionary prophecies, because of the merely pedestrian Africa section that begins it (E 905). Pedestrian though it may be, the section dedicated to Africa points out that the latter stands for the supreme expression of conservatism, imperialism, and oppression, since it embodies slavery, as the ultimate form of domination. The African continent is carefully translated into a metaphor for seclusion. In fact, these are the first lines of what will prove to be an exquisite account of intellectual architecture in Europe,9 whose fallacy resides in that it focuses on mans outer interactions (the social layer), whilst fending off the question of spiritual communion which alone guarantees liberty:
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These were the Churches: Hospitals: Castles: Palaces: Like nets & gins & traps to catch the joys of Eternity And all the rest a desart; Till like a dream Eternity was obliterated & erased (E 67). I am of the opinion that the mere pedestrian character of Africa is yet another rhetorical device employed by Blake for the sole purpose of demonstrating the intellectually castrating feature of single vision. As Newtons sleep is elsewhere defined as seeing with the eye, not through it,10 the poet intentionally describes the whole plot and its corresponding atmosphere in fading contours. There is a series of nouns, adjectives (usually used as epithets), and verbs which make up a picture of extreme uncertainty, of delusion generated by the singularity of perception: Noah faded! Black grew the sunny African (E 67), Noah shrunk (E 67), forms of dark delusion (E 67), The human race began to wither (E 67), as they fled they shrunk (E 68), two narrow doleful forms (E 68), closing and restraining (E 68). Simultaneously, the elements in the fallen, material universe are gradually diminishing, suggesting their petty role in the course of the forthcoming events. There is also a hint of derision, for the action unfolding on the material layer is doubled by an increasingly developed plot on a superior scale, involving supernatural agencies. In my opinion, this whole piece constitutes Blakes response to physical-eye vision, and to its inevitable intellectual errors. The second part, America, comprises a Preludium and A Prophecy, being constructed in a manner similar to Europe. The Preludium deserves a brief analysis, as Blake amalgamates here all his ingredients of an extreme social revolt. The lines are suffused with dark tones, and the characters movements are leaden, due to the influence of a heavy materiality, evoking at once a narrow perspective and spiritual fallacy: dark abode (E 51), iron baskets (E 51), cups of iron (E 51), dark air (E 51), iron tongue (E 51), dark virgin (E 51), tenfold chains (E 51), fathomless abyss (E 51), dark limbs (E 51), black cloud (E 52), darkness of Africa

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(E 52), dark death (E 52), nether deep (E 52), silent deep (E 52). At the same time, there can be encountered certain tropes (metaphors, metonymies, and epithets) which evoke blood: red Orc (E 51), red eyes (E 51), wrists of fire (E 52), and conflict: struggling womb (E 52), struggling afflictions (E 52). All these textual elements are symbolic of primary perception, which renders reality incomprehensible, if not absurd, in its gratuitous violence. The end of the Preludium brings about one of Blakes favourite contrasts of elementals: fire and frost mingling in howling pains, in furrows by thy lightnings rent (E 52). David Fullers assertion, insisting on the fact that America shows more characteristically than The French Revolution Blakes way of including history and blurring the distinction between the actual and the ideal (56), is particularly relevant to my case. This helps to prove my primary thesis that Blake intended the poem as an exemplification of single vision, which renders indistinct the boundaries separating material reality from Eternity. It is the intrinsic nature of this crude type of vision that urges one to vacillate between action and non-action, between actualization of potential elements and disintegration of act and volition altogether. Not only America, but also the entire poetic triptych successfully instantiates the fallacy of social representation: the individual fails to account for the obvious errors in the concrete universe by stubbornly resorting to empirical senses in order to inform his own intellect on the apparently haphazard transformations operated at the material level by experimentally ungraspable forces. On the whole, America records Orcs apotheosis. 11 The Orcan energetic impulse is, primarily, sexual in nature, the writer being seduced by a masculine form of violence (Aers, Representations of Revolution 172). Orcs omnipotent revolutionary force 12 grips Europe, destroying boundaries and upsetting obstacles. The prophecy is fulfilled: the American Revolution prevails. The visionary panorama displays a complex set of brutal images, revolving around Orcs menacing silhouette:
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Stiff shudderings shook the heavnly thrones! France Spain & Italy, In terror viewd the bands of Albion, and the ancient Guardians, Fainting upon the elements, smitten with their own plagues They slow advance to shut the five gates of their law-built heaven Filled with blasting fancies and with mildews of despair With fierce disease and lust, unable to stem the fires of Orc; But the five gates were consumd, & their bolts and hinges melted And the fierce fames burnt round the heavens, & round the abodes of men (E 57-58). As David Simpson points out, America maintains a relatively straightforward optimism about the birth of a new global political order, and sublime confusion is indeed here the rhetoric of tyranny and of melancholic self-deception (160). Yet this is merely the beginning social Revolution bursts out in the New World, but its flames will thence contaminate Europe. The third piece, Europe, which, according to Harold Bloom, is the subtlest and most difficult of Blakes poems, outside of the three epics (E 903), constitutes a social allegory, comprising a broad spectrum of phenomena, ranging from the historical sphere to the political one. On the other hand, Christine Gallant believes that both America and Europe are intensely topical poems, crammed with political allusions to an extent that makes it worthwhile to consider Blakes artistic purposes in using such materials (26). As I have pointed out, it is precisely because he sees this social cycle as an actualization of single vision that he makes full use of quotidian poetic ingredients. Just as in the case of America, the Preludium deserves a concise analysis. The lyrics are infused with numerous phrases

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evoking consumption: first born & first consumd (E 60), Consumed and consuming (E 60), sieze the burning power (E 61), Devouring & devoured (E 61). As a construct, the whole piece translates Blakes idea that social unrest is contagious, and that this contagion consumes the backward reactionary forces. Blakes scenario is rather simple: dogmatic sleep brings about rejection of imposed patterns of social behaviour, and the violent outcome of the surging masses is sheer rebellion. Single vision is again mocked in the compound metaphor suggesting at once Enitharmons sleep and the eighteen centuries of dogmatic fallacy: Enitharmon slept, Eighteen hundred years: Man was a Dream! The night of Nature and their harps unstrung: She slept in middle of her nightly song, Eighteen hundred years, a female dream! (E 63). In my opinion, one of the important keys to this primary level of interpretation lies in an explicit figure of speech, an ironical metaphor for Newton (mighty Spirit), whose pernicious mediation accounts for the subsequent emergence of spiritual barrenness and extreme dejection: A mighty Spirit leapd from the land of Albion, Namd Newton; he siezd the Trump, & blowd the enormous blast! Yellow as leaves of Autum the myriads of Angelic hosts, Fell thro the wintry skies seeking their graves; Rattling their hollow bones in howling and lamentation (E 65). Europe gives a picture of Orcs tempestuous arrival in France, where the background is set for a consuming uprising. 13 Leslie Tannenbaum draws an interesting parallel between America and Europe: Whereas America is primarily concerned with the arrival of
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Orc as the apocalyptic bridegroom, Europe presents a more detailed examination of the condition of the bride (152).The atmosphere is gory, its hues ranging from golden to crimson. It is interesting to note that the accompanying characters are ferocious beasts, as in Hindu iconography (according to various artistic representations, each and every god of the Indian pantheon is ascribed a certain animal vehicle vahana):14 The sun glowd fiery red! The furious terrors flew around! On golden chariots raging, with red wheels dropping with blood; The Lions lash their wrathful tails! The Tigers couch upon the prey & suck the ruddy tide: And Enitharmon groans & cries in anguish and dismay (E 66). The second portion of The Song of Los, and the fourth of the general plot, Asia, describes the hectic assault of the counterrevolutionary forces. According to David Punter, the Kings of Asia constitute symbols of unrepentant domination archaically imaged in feudalism (Active Evil and Passive Good 14). In my opinion, the same characters embody narrowed perceptions, able to function solely on materialistic premises, therefore imagining human relationships in terms of social exchange and servitude. It is the intellectual, not the empirical, nature of Orcs fire that poses the real threat: The Kings of Asia heard The howl rise up from Europe! And each ran out from his Web; From his ancient woven Den; For the darkness of Asia was startled At the thick-flaming, thought-creating fires of Orc (E 68).

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However, the dynamics of the Revolution cannot be subdued. The archetype of any form of rebellion, Orc, proves to be invincible, paving the way for spiritual freedom, and anticipating the conciliatory finale of Jerusalem. Martin Priestman thinks that, insofar as Orc heralds a pristine age of spiritual awakening which is to supplant Urizens religions, he combines the ideas of Cronus/Saturn and the returned Christ of the millennium (111). According to William Richey, however, Blakes Revolution is a rebirth of ancient vitality, a return to the glory of primitive times (75). It is essential to note that these primitive times translate the concomitantly religious and ontological concept of illud tempus, which is the trans-temporal aspect of reality described in Jerusalem: Orc, raging in European darkness, Arose like a pillar of fire above the Alps, Like a serpent of fiery flame! The sullen Earth Shrunk! (E 69). The chromatic pattern in Asia is the reverse of Africa, the hues ranging from yellow through red to crimson. This palette is suggestive of the gradual yet unabated force of Revolution, a transparent metaphor expressing the poets stiff strictures, levelled against scholastic narrow-mindedness and spiritual blindness. The series of nouns, adjectives, and verbs pertain to an imaginary of incipient, if luminous, rebellion, the spiritual permanently bordering the material: The howl rise up (E 68), the thick-flaming, thought-creating fires of Orc (E 68), fires in the City (E 68), red flames (E 69), pillar of fire (E 69), serpent of fiery flame (E 69).

4.3. The Metaphysical Level: The Four Zoas


The second level is the metaphysical one. Its counterpart is twofold vision, for its purpose is to reveal the concealed aspects of the universe, the first principles of things. The underlying concept is that of science, perceived not as doxa, but as apokalypsis, which is the supreme expression of episteme. One may find its textual application in the The Four Zoas, initially entitled Vala (1795-1804).15 After pointing out that, in reading The Four Zoas, one needs to confide in ones own intuitions, Brian Wilkie and Mary Lynn Johnson stress that the work may be interpreted simultaneously as an epic, as an intricately structured poem, and as a story, adding that the ultimate pleasure in reading the poem is, of course, to experience it on all these levels (5). The epic has been described to have a threefold teleology. The latter is brilliantly synthesized by Frye, whose interpretation focuses on the deep-core apocalyptic elements,16 imbued with a millenarian rhetoric: The theme of The Four Zoas is, first, the loss of the identity of divine and human natures which brought about the Fall and created the physical universe; second, the struggle to regain this identity in the fallen world which was completed by Jesus; and, third, the apocalypse (Fearful Symmetry 270). However, Andrew Lincoln considerably reduces the complexity of the matter by noting only that the poem explores a favourite subject of enlightenment historians the rise and fall of civilization and is shaped by the contemporary awareness that social development may be undermined by the same forces that promote it (From America to The Four Zoas 223).17 Critics generally agree on the delicate issue of the poems abandonment. Thus, Harold Bloom points to the tautological frame of the epic, opining that Blake gave up The Four Zoas because it explained, too well and in too many ways, how the

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world had reached the darkness of his own times, but explained hardly at all what that darkness was, and how it was to be enlightened (Blakes Apocalypse 284). The paradigmatic figure in Blakes unfinished epic is the iconic ensemble of the four Zoas: Tharmas, representing mans corporeal dimension, Urizen, human intellect, Luvah, mans feelings, and Urthona, human creativity. It is also worth noting that Urthona fails to acquire a temporal manifestation, being replaced by his poetry-embodying avatar, Los. The whole plot of The Four Zoas is concerned with the description of mans metaphysical aspects, since, in Blake, knowledge, just like historical development, cannot be separated from the anthropic element. Max Plowman, followed by S. Foster Damon and Harold Bloom,18 brilliantly epitomized the epic action. In the following lines, I shall try to synthesize my own global interpretation of The Four Zoas. Whereas the first four Nights focus on the gradual disruption and dispersion of the Zoas: Tharmas, Luvah, Urizen, and Urthona respectively, Night the Fifth presents Orcs tribulations. Whilst Night the Sixth and Night the Seventh centre on Urizens continuous decay, as he, the embodiment of reason, turns into a fallen god of the universe of error, Night the Eighth sums up the universal fallacies, suggested metaphorically by the portrait of the hermaphrodite as a sort of summum malum.19 Night the Ninth brings about Judgment Day, and thereby the restoration of knowledge as metaphysics of harmonious truth. I have already pointed out that The Four Zoas is, in its authors teleology, a complete description of the worlds ontological components and their relationships. Concurrently, one should bear in mind the fact that, as twofold vision must be understood in its relationship with single vision (the former continually substituting the perceptive data furnished by the latter with essentially new, metaphorically-designed phenomena), the metaphysical level must be identified in its similar relationship with the social level. Thus, the social conflict unfolding in the
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material world (the fierce contagion of revolution) is transferred to a superior ontological scale, and is replaced by intellectual war, waged amongst mans inner qualitative aspects. This is, I believe, the sense implied by the opening lines in Night the First: The Song of the Aged Mother 20 which shook the heavens with wrath / Hearing the march of long resounding strong heroic Verse / Marshalld in order for the day of Intellectual Battle (E 300). My critical assumption equally rests on Fryes intuitive response to twofold vision. In a CBS Radio interview, aired in 1971 and entitled The Personal Cosmos of William Blake, the Canadian critic answers Melvyn Hills question regarding the nature of twofold vision in Blake by stating that the latter merely signifies man struggling with his environment. Its not fallen under complete tyranny, which is his hell, or what he calls single vision, but its man being continually thwarted, baffled, and frustrated by the objectivity of the world but still putting up a fight (A World in a Grain of Sand 111). This works in tune with my fundamental hypothesis, that twofold vision concerns itself with the phenomenological description of realia, being consequently a mirror of deeply embedded dichotomies, identifiable at various levels, including the psychological and the metaphysical. The pivotal element shared by both the social and the metaphysical levels is the anthropic one, for man is at the centre of the entire Blakean phenomenology. 21 That this is the case is evident from the very beginning of The Four Zoas. In Night the First, Los proclaims in a peremptory tone that the unfolding metaphysical drama, the elaborate and confusing minuet of pain and sorrow which encompasses war amongst furious elementals, takes place in the human brain: I see the shower of blood: I see the sword & spears of futurity Tho in the Brain of Man we live, & in his circling Nerves. Tho this bright world of all our joy is in the Human Brain.

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Where Urizen & all his Hosts hang their immortal lamps (E 306). War is waged between Luvah, incarnating human emotions, and Urizen, the archetype of reason. Their conflict triggers the fall of man, who, deprived of the speech faculty, is projected into the bestial, instinctual universe. In parallel, access to the aesthetic components of threefold vision is blocked in the absence of language, and the degraded cosmic individual is condemned to the pain of the emotions/intellect dichotomy: The daughters of Beulah terrified have closd the Gate of the Tongue / Luvah and Urizen contend in war around the holy tent (E 311). Night the Second brings into focus Urizens building of the Mundane Shell, a construct of pure reason (Wilkie and Johnson 51). This is the exterior part of the Mundane Egg, which, in turn, constitutes the spatiotemporal world in which Man incubates until he hatches and re-enters Eternity (Damon, Blake Dictionary 288). The Mundane Shell is, simply, the sky, which, however, encompasses mans errors in their entirety. According to Brian Wilkie and Mary Lynn Johnson, its architecture is based on the system of Ptolemy and Dante, highly intellectualized but made splendid by a blend of poetic precision and mathematic elegance (52). The two also note that, despite its beauty, the Shell leads to the utterly bleak mechanistic perception of the universe (51), as described in Night the Sixth. To make a long story short, in my opinion, the wondrous Golden building is nothing less than a reification of a complex and, essentially, ineffable idea of a sterile system of thought, replete with useless philosophical demarcations (many a division let in & out), and minutely articulated but rendered sterile by its false premises. Since Urizen can only reflect the universe with the intellectual instruments of an authoritarian and, consequently, biased type of metaphysics, he cannot possibly manufacture a world of true liberty. Blake implies that, when the recipient of twofold vision fails to interpret the universe on the basis of metaphorization and phenomenological substitution,
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twofold is converted into castrating single vision. Hence, the desperate condition of the Divine Vision, depicted in Luvahs robes of blood. Luvah is, amongst other things, an accomplished weaver, and his robes signify here useless sacrifice, as well as the domination of negative emotions (hatred). Let us also bear in mind that Urizens palace is organized as a rational fortress set against the menacing background of Tharmass anarchy of instinct: But infinitely beautiful the wondrous work arose In sorrow & care. a Golden World whose porches round the heavens And pillard halls & rooms recievd the eternal wandering stars A wondrous golden Building; many a window, many a door And many a division let in & out into the vast unknown [Cubed] in [window square] immoveable, within its walls & cielings The heavens were closd and spirits mournd their bondage night and day And the Divine Vision appeard in Luvahs robes of blood (E 321). Since reason mistakes geometrical constructions for true ontological knowledge, it is destined to fall, along with all imaginable shapes and figures, an impressive enumeration, whose meaning is accentuated by the seemingly random capitalization. Blakes metaphors translate both the sterility of any organized rational compound and the latters incapacity to grasp spontaneous harmony as the ultimate meaning of phenomena: Others triangular right angled course maintain. others obtuse Acute Scalene, in simple paths. but others move

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In intricate ways biquadrate. Trapeziums Rhombs Rhomboids Parallelograms. triple & quadruple. polygonic In their amazing hard subdued course in the vast deep (E 322). The demise of sterile thought is poeticized in Enions powerful threnos, a lament which closes Night the Second, constituting one of Blakes most inspired lyrical pieces. The price of Experience is the barren intellect: I have taught pale artifice to spread his nets upon the morning / My heavens are brass my earth is iron my moon a clod of clay / My sun a pestilence burning at noon & a vapour of death in night (E 325). Night the Third evokes Ahanias fall into non-entity. 22 Urizen casts his Emanation aside, thereby severing the delicate ties between intellect and pleasure. The psychological breach brought about by the fierce conflict initiated in the previous two Nights is further enhanced, and no alleviation is in sight. At the same time, Urizens grasping of Ahanias tresses symbolizes an intensely phallocratic gesture, unveiling a patriarchal, misogynistic attitude (a fact accentuated by the epithet strong applied to the male protagonist of the scene): His visage changd to darkness & his strong right hand came forth / To cast Ahania to the Earth he siezd her by the hair / And threw her from the steps of ice that froze around his throne (E 328). Blakes symbol of inert reason is, of course, Urizen. Thus, I think that Blakes extended metaphor depicting Urizens ruins in Night the Fourth actually evokes the sheer dbcle of the rational faculty refusing to shift its perspective. 23 Only through transfiguration can the bounds of reason be surpassed, and this message is vividly encapsulated in the following quotation: Terrified Los beheld the ruins of Urizen beneath A horrible Chaos to his eyes. a formless unmeasurable Death
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Whirling up broken rocks on high into the dismal air And fluctuating all beneath in Eddies of molten fluid (E 335). Night the Fifth offers a poetic account of Urizens woes, wherein, I believe, an attentive critical eye may discover a concentrated metaphor for The Four Zoas itself. Intellects erstwhile glories are extolled by [n]ine virgins clothd in light, who stand for the nine Nights of the epic. Concurrently, this points to the interpretation to which I have sought to be faithful throughout these lines, i.e. that Blakes poem describes, at length, the attributes of twofold vision. In the aggregate, they express the domination of the metaphysical faculty, vainly attempting to understand the surrounding universe in its entirety. These tribulations demonstrate that is only through the mediation of the Divine Vision that the world may be properly acknowledged: Once how I walked from my palace in the gardens of delight The sons of wisdom stood around the harpers followd with harps Nine virgins clothd in light composd the song to their immortal voices And at my banquet of new wine my head was crownd with joy (E 343). Reason craves for knowledge, but, since the formers conceptual unity is disrupted by dichotomous entities, it is denied access to the latter. The conflicting apparitions are symbolically translated into the feminine triangle in Night the Sixth, whose aggression matches that of the mythological Harpies: So Urizen arose & leaning on his Spear explord his dens He threw his flight thro the dark air to where a river flowd

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And taking off his silver helmet filled it & drank But when unsatiated his thirst he assayd to gather more Lo three teriffic women at the verge of the bright flood Who would not suffer him to approach. But drove him back with storms (E 344-45). The god of reason obsessively clings to his books, cherishing the desperate hope that written knowledge may prove sufficient in the face of imminent failure. Their intellectual food, although poisonous, can never be effaced (in contrast with the perishable nature of sheer matter, symbolized by the worn-out garments), just as ignorance persists stubbornly in the absence of the Divine Vision: But still his books he bore in his strong hands & his iron pen For when he died they lay beside his grave & when he rose He siezd them with a gloomy smile for wrapd in his death clothes He hid them when he slept in death when he revicd the clothes Were rotted by the winds the books remaind still unconsumd (E 348). Quite predictably, Urizen wishes to shape the world after his own fashion, previous failure bringing about yet another one, and another one, in a deterministic chain of events which does little in the way of obscuring the master philosophers primary intention of imposing castrating templates on reality. Metaphysics is debased to mind-control; its components are not allowed to run freely, but are integrated into a geometric order paradoxically lacking philosophical purpose: So he began to dig form[ing] of gold silver & iron
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And brass vast instruments to measure out the immense & fix The whole into another world better suited to obey His will where none should dare oppose himself being King Of All & all futurity be bound in his vast chain And the Sciences were fixd & the Vortexes began to operate On all the sons of men . . . (E 350). Urizen continues to refuse the embrace of true visionary understanding, and his condition is consequently reduced to that of a despondent master of ruin, uselessly clinging to the imaginary salvation hidden in his books. Blake implies here that the metaphysical faculty, albeit devoid of gnosis, can nevertheless acquire a certain degree of self-consciousness whereupon it can reflect on the nature of its evil components (rendered metaphorically by Urizens Sons and Daughters). Again, these lines prove that, since twofold vision acts on the premise of phenomenological substitution, changing the perceived object into something it is not from the viewpoint of single vision, it necessarily brings about a state of conflict, an ontological dichotomy whose outcome is overt war at the psychological level (wherein the Zoas reign): Urizen answerd Read my books explore my Constellations Enquire of my Sons & they shall teach thee how to War Enquire of my Daughters who accursd in the dark depths Knead bread of Sorrow by my stern command for I am God Of all this dreadful ruin . . . (E 355).

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Reason can be misleading and deadly persuasive, but the visionary may nevertheless withstand its vicious attacks by appealing to the sense of harmonious union (the embrace of Enitharmon) and to the revelation of the worlds of imagination, to which the rational faculty is denied access. This is the sense of Loss passionate answer to the Spectres rational discourse: Los furious answerd. Spectre horrible thy words astound my Ear With irresistible conviction I feel I am not one of those Who when convincd can still persist . tho furious.controllable By Reasons power. Even I already feel a World within Opening its gates . . . (E 368). Even after contemplating the involuntary outcome of his terrible intellectual battle, i.e. the abominable profile of Satan, described as a Shadowy hermaphrodite, black & opake (E 374), Urizen is still enveloped in ignorance and confusion. Having failed to acknowledge the pernicious character of all written words, whose meaning can be twisted at will, the god of reason resolves to consecrate his books by perusing them loudly in front of an audience made up of perturbed spirits, who thereby become evil propagators of the false science of Reason. The blasphemy is set against the background of a sacred location, i.e. the temple of the Sun: Thus in the temple of the Sun his books of iron & brass And silver & gold he consecrated reading incessantly To myriads of perturbed spirits thro the universe They propagated the deadly words the Shadowy Female absorbing The enormous Sciences of Urizen ages after ages exploring (E 375).
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This constitutes only a first act in a long series of metaphysical errors which culminate in the resuscitation of the Ashes of Mystery. These Ashes incarnate the Natural Religion, which, in a Phoenix-like metamorphosis, gives birth to Deism, the pathetic opiate of the eighteenth-century philosophes: The Ashes of Mystery began to animate they calld it Deism / And Natural Religion as of old so now anew began / Babylon again in infancy Calld Natural Religion (E 386) The cosmic rage reaches its fearful denouement in Night the Ninth. Due to the implacable nature of Urizen, Science is no longer illuminated, but autological, and, consequently, selfdestructive: Thy self-destroying beast formd Science shall be thy eternal lot My anger against thee is greater than against this Luvah For war is energy Enslavd but thy religion The first author of this war & the distracting of honest minds Into confused perturbation & strife & honour & pride Is a deciet so detestable that I will cast thee out (E 390). This compels Urizen to accept his intellectual errors, but, quite predictably in Blakes complex and often contradictory metaphysical scheme, he is not instantly purged as a result of his cathartic act. The Greek desideratum for temperance and measure (pan metron ariston all things in moderation) is to be substituted for the Romantic propensity for boundless forms and for energetic manifestations: Urizen said. I have Erred & my Error remains with me What Chain encompasses in what Lock is the river of light confind That issues forth in the morning by measure & the evening by carefulness

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Where shall we take our stand to view the infinite & unbounded Or where are human feet for Lo our eyes are in the heavens (E 391). The gradual process of understanding on the part of one Zoa involves a regaining of harmony on the part of another. Urthona, a personified aspect of the metaphysically creative faculty in man, is restored to his erstwhile glory: Urthona is arisen in his strength no longer now Divided from Enitharmon no longer the Spectre Los Where is the Spectre of Prophecy where the delusive Phantom Departed & Urthona rises from the ruinous walls In all his ancient strength to form the golden armour of science (E 407). In the end, knowledge prevails, and bad science, that of Bacon, Newton, and Locke, abstract and experimental in its scope, is discarded. In the last line of Night the Ninth, the self cannot conceal an optimistic tone in what I believe constitutes the rhetorical key to the entire epic: The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns (E 407). This reiterates Schleiermachers belief in the essentially homonymous character of science and visionary knowledge: True science is complete vision (On Religion 39). Brian Wilkie and Mary Lynn Johnson suggest that Blakes sweet Science takes on archaic connotations: he probably had in mind scientia in the medieval sense of knowledge of any kind, and the adjective sweet further implies a contrast with the bitter variety, presumably the investigation of the purely physical and mechanical that is often thought of as all of science (236). In my opinion, not only does the poet mock the experimental grounds of natural science, but he also envisages the essentially visionary aspect of science as sound metaphysics, based on revelation, not
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on personal opinion. This coincides with the theoretical premise formulated in the debut of this chapter. Albeit imperfect, as George Anthony Rosso, Jr. notes, The Four Zoas is a powerful poem: it is the prophetic workshop where Blake matures his epic vision, where he forges his spiritual agents to challenge and admonish readers to carry that vision into their communities (152). In my opinion, Blakes unfinished epic faithfully mirrors the inherent shortcomings of twofold vision. In this context, Susan Wolfsons brief observation concerning the first Romantics passion for metaphysics is also relevant: they show an attraction to metaphysics, even as they attempt to conceive of a commerce between abstract principle and specific event, or imagine a poetics of mutual incorporation (148). Of course, in Blakes case, the sentence must be slightly amended, in the sense that, for him, metaphysics is not merely a means of poetic expression, but, rather, a visionary level of reflecting reality, with its inherent advantages and shortcomings. Once the metaphysical has been left behind, the seer may move on to the next level, Beulah.

4.4. The Aesthetic Level: Milton


The third level is the aesthetic one. Being designed with a view to exemplifying the principles of artistic creation, it is analogous to threefold vision. Its underlying element is spontaneous creation, which may be aroused due to the exercise of two faculties, imagination and inspiration. One may find its textual application in Milton (1804-08).24 The paradigmatic figure at this level is Los, who, as the archetype of Poetry, becomes Blake himself, thereby helping Milton purge his artistic, as well as spiritual, sins. Thus, Los/Blake represents simultaneously one of the two main characters of the poem (i.e. the genuine icon) and the powerful res

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cogitans. Consequently, although the action is constantly filtered through his omnipresent gaze, in the text, he must make way for the outward manifestations of Milton (the de facto hero of the plot), who plays the role of cogitatum in my ad hoc Cartesian scheme: Los stood in that fierce glowing fire; & he also stoopd down And bound my sandals on in Udan-Adan; trembling I stood Exceedingly with fear & terror, standing in the Vale Of Lambeth: but he kissed me and wishd me health. And I became One Man with him arising in my strength: Twas too late now to recede. Los Had enterd into my soul (E 117). Blake expounds the genesis of Milton in two epistles to Thomas Butts, dated 25 April 1803, and 6 July 1803 respectively. In the first letter, the poet merely acknowledges his lack of involvement in the actual process of creation, attributing the completion of the latter to a superior agency: I have written this Poem from immediate Dictation twelve or sometimes twenty or thirty lines at a time without Premeditation & even against my Will. the Time it has taken in writing was thus renderd Non Existent. & an immense Poem Exists which seems to be the Labour of a long Life all producd without Labour or Study. (E 728-29). The encomium in the second letter is not farfetched, since, in his opinion, Blake can assume no authorship: I may praise it since I dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors are in Eternity I consider it as the Grandest Poem that This World Contains (E 730). The divine assistance reaches even farther, in that it imposes its omnipotent will upon the very production of the finite work of art, i.e. its scriptive-pictorial form (the illuminated manuscript): This Poem shall by Divine Assistance be progressively Printed & Ornamented with Prints & given to the Public (E 730).
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According to Frye, an apposite reading of Milton unveils a theory of artistic creativity: The theme of Milton is an instant of illumination in the mind of the poet, an instant which, like the moments of recognition in Proust, links him with a series of previous moments stretching back to the creation of the world (Fearful Symmetry 163). On the other hand, David Fuller insists on the imaginative perspective enhanced by both the creative self and the recipient of the poetic message, i.e. the reader: The subject of Milton is the awakening of the imagination Miltons, Blakes, and the readers to its full human-divine potential (162). He further argues that Miltons final and central concern is with the possibilities of the Imagination freed from the corruptions of fallen life in religion, social organisation and sexuality (169). It is this creative force that must prevail if an individuals life is to be endowed with both meaning and purpose. Blake resolves to put an end to the crisis of imagination by wrestling with the tiresome problem of servile imitation, brought forth by the mendacious character of the bourgeois artist. At once displaying the spiritual tribulations of two poetic personae, i.e. Milton and Los/Blake, and offering reflections on the nature of art, Milton is, in my opinion, an aesthetic manifesto, defending the autonomy of the creative process.25 It is a powerful plea for imagination unbound and unlimited, as well as for true inspiration, since these represent the foundations of all artistic manifestations. In A Descriptive Catalogue (1809), which was innocently devised as an introduction to a seemingly crucial exhibition, heralding nothing less than the birthday of the Renaissance of English art (Frye, Fearful Symmetry 410), Blake axiologically conceives of two essentially negative classes of men. The former class refers to ethics, the latter to aesthetics: As there is a class of men, whose whole delight is the destruction of men, so there is a class of artists, whose whole art and science is fabricated for the purpose of destroying art (E 538). The Preface to Milton is also directed against the aesthetically-disruptive individuals, and calls for a visionary awakening of all artists:

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Painters! on you I call! Sculptors! Architects! Suffer not the fash[i]onable Fools to depress your powers . . . believe Christ & his Apostles that there is a Class of Men whose whole delight is in Destroying (E 95). Miltons figure as both a poetic character and a spiritus rector deserves a brief analysis. Lucy Newlyn correctly points out that, as far as the Romantic critics were concerned, there existed two paradigmatic figures, i.e. Shakespeare and Milton: Shakespeare is associated with pathos and tenderness, Milton with the sublime; Shakespeare can enter fully into frailties, Milton stands aloof from them; Shakespeare is all relativism and humanness, while Milton is a synecdoche for the Judaeo-Christian God (229). Now, to pass on to Blakes particular case, Pamela Dunbar offers an interesting insight when she boldly asserts that Milton serves for Blake as an epitome of human nature and as an agent of the salvation of mankind in short, as an avatar of Christ (2). She goes on to speak about the semantic difficulties which stem from differentiating between influence and affinity, holding the opinion that whatever Blake owes Milton may well be ascribed to an ideal affinity of minds between the two men, to their mutual devotion to the Christian-Platonist tradition of fall and redemption, and to a humanist vision according to which mans grandeur and uniqueness derive from the conjunction within him of body and spirit, mortality and divinity (3). Whilst I basically agree to the latter part of the argument, I must confess that I have reservations about the validity of the former. Dunbar seems to ignore or, indeed, to forget the negligible detail of Miltons symbolic castigation, whereby he is forced to renounce his ego in order to achieve spiritual absolution. No Messiah-based figure would ever be portrayed in this manner, for a redeemer is supposed to be redeemed from the very beginning of his saga. A more carefully-designed and therefore plausible explanation is furnished by Leslie Tannenbaum. According to his observation, Blake actively interprets, and eventually transforms
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the biblical legacy, thereby reformulating a Miltonic creed: Like Milton, Blake drew upon biblical tradition to assert in theory and practice the superiority of an aesthetic based upon the Bible, but then true to the essentially revolutionary aesthetic that he and Milton shared he transformed the traditions he inherited, including the Milton tradition (24). Ronald Paulson interprets Milton in terms of powerful dichotomies, inherent both in the material creation and in Gods creatures: Milton stood for the terrific conflict of opposing forces good and evil, past and present, fall and redemption embodied in a man and a woman or a tempter and a tempted. These dualities Milton shaped in a powerful aesthetic unity (100). Milton would thus become an ideal individual not because he is infallible, but because he can err, purge himself, and be redeemed forever. Once the preliminaries have been concluded, I may move on to the textual analysis proper. The very Preface unmistakably sets the reader on the apposite hermeneutic track, since Blake conceives of one of his favourite binary structures, wherein a New Artistic Age is set in opposition to an Ancient one. Whereas the latter is dominated by artificiality, by convention, and therefore by aesthetic perversion, the former becomes a herald of inspiration, a harbinger of creative energy unbound and unsurpassed. What the poet essentially attempts here is the establishing of a brand new form of creation, one which does not heed academic precepts and rules, but, rather, an inner religious impulse, promptly fashioned into an inspired work of art. To make a long story short, Blake wishes for the Daughters of Memory to be transformed into the Daughters of Inspiration, the latter being apt to cure the soul of the beholder, thereby purifying him: Shakspeare & Milton were both curbd by the general malady & infection from the silly Greek & Latin slaves of the Sword . . . We do not want either Greek or Roman Models if we are but just & true to our own Imaginations, these Worlds of Eternity in which we shall live for ever; in Jesus our Lord (E 95).

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That Blake sees art as being able to perform a cathartic function 26 is, to my view, a fact beyond any shadow of doubt. This can be readily proved by calling attention to a particular trope, i.e. a repetition found no less than six times (E 96, E 98, E 100, E 101, E 102, E 105) in the Bards Song in Book the First: Mark well my words! they are of your eternal salvation (E 96). A slightly different approach to this problem is offered by Robert F. Gleckner. He is of the opinion that Blake simply tries to fight fire with fire; the poet deploys a symbol to rescue its interpreters from all other symbols: Blakes point is not that we should listen to the Bards words and thereby be saved. Neither he nor the Bard (nor Los) is a preacher. Their words are of (italics in the original) our salvation, which is to say, they are allegories to deliver us from the abyss of allegories (Blake and Spenser 154). This seems to emphasize one of Blakes paradoxical and therefore favourite states of affairs, whereby visionaries do precisely what they wish to prevent others from doing: another case in point is Loss Spectre, who, in Jerusalem, strives with Systems so as to put an end to their domination over man.27 Not only does Blake believe art to lead one to catharsis, but he also employs the Bards discourse as a medium of personal communication. Blakes Bard is turned into a metaphor for the creative self, prefiguring the subsequent build-up of the actionconverging icon in the epic, i.e. Los. Through the lens of this reading, the relationship between Blake and his leitmotifs appears formulaic within the artists system of reference, and the poets insistence on this ontological identification points conclusively to its importance. Conjoined images depicting a flaming state of afflatus portend the imminent exclusion of craft and artifice from visionary art: The Bard replied. I am inspired! I know it is Truth! for I sing According to the inspiration of Poetic Genius
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Who is the eternal all-protecting Divine Humanity To whom be Glory & Power & Dominion Evermore Amen (E 107-08). J. R. Watson points out that Miltons problem, according to Blake, was an over-confidence in reason (104). In order to expiate his spiritual sins, Milton is forced to return to the material universe (eternal death), which brings about distress and confusion. The state of unannihilation is the fallen state of the artist who has not renounced his selfhood, thereby failing to submit to the benign power of the Poetic Genius. The whole scenario is set in Book the First: I will arise and look forth for the morning of the grave. I will go down to the sepulcher to see if morning breaks! I will go down to self annihilation and eternal death, Lest the Last Judgment come & find me unannihilate And I be siezd & givn into the hands of my own Selfhood (E 108). Book the Second opens with a detailed description of Beulah, which constitutes, as I have already pointed out, the metaphorical expression of threefold vision, thus becoming a synthesis of the poem itself. It is depicted as a realm of non-contradiction, wherein opposition is shunned, and concord is embraced instead. Moreover, Blake insists that Beulah is evermore Created around Eternity (E 129), offering a more refined vision of the whole process in the subsequent lines. Blakes propensity for rhetorical reifications is reiterated in this lyrical fragment, for the magic place is supposedly generated by the inspired words which are uttered by the contending humans in Eternity, acquiring an essentially dialogic attribute in the process: And it is thus Created. Lo the Eternal Great Humanity To whom be Glory & Dominion Evermore Amen

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Walks among all his awful Family seen in every face As the breath of the Almighty. such are the words of man to man In the great Wars of Eternity, in fury of Poetic Inspiration, To build the Universe Stupendous: Mental forms Creating (E 129). The complex metaphor describing Satans bosom, one of Blakes favourite stylistic techniques, depicts the utter ruin of fallen art. Since man is at the centre of Blakes poetic enterprise at all stages, 28 art is personified, and the reader is opened to the perspective of a barren anthropomorphic construct. The poet presents his readers with the detailed account of a decrepit form of architecture, which, however, does not lose its sense of grandeur, its illusion of insuperable majesty: I also stood in Satans bosom & beheld its desolations! A ruind Man: a ruind building of God not made with hands; Its plains of burning sand, its mountains of marble terrible: Its pits & declivities flowing with molten ore & fountains Of pitch & nitre: its ruind palaces & cities & mighty works; Its furnaces of affliction in which his Angels & Emanations Labour with blackend visages among its stupendous ruins (E 139). In Book the Second, sub finem, Milton renounces his ego, which symbolizes error and, implicitly, the figure of Satan, so as to embrace true art, i.e. the product of the omnipotent force of imagination and/or inspiration. 29 His discourse is a powerful aesthetic apologia, a flamboyant piece of rhetoric which differentiates between visionary and non-visionary artefacts,
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between afflatus and labor. The underlying idea is that the supreme artist, who is incapable of performing perfunctory tasks, should be completely devoid of egotism, for he merely follows a sacred generative instinct, and is under total divine control. This genuine state of enthousiasmos can be misinterpreted as lunacy by those whose only calling is elusive reasoning or dissemination of uncertainty. This is truly Blakes terrible bellum contra stultitiam: I come in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration To cast off Rational Demonstration by Faith in the Saviour To cast off the rotten rags of Memory by Inspiration To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albions covering To take off his filthy garments, & clothe him with Imagination To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration That it no longer shall dare to mock with the aspersion of Madness Cast on the Inspired, by the tame high finisher of paltry Blots, Indefinite, or paltry Rhymes, or paltry Harmonies (E 142). The ultimate solution is that offered by the Parousia or the Last Judgment (that is why the poem ends in this tone), which represents the fearful act performed by Jesus at the end of time. As Blake suggestively puts it, Generation is to be substituted for Regeneration, but the transfer of ontological authority from the aesthetic to the religious will make the object of the poets final word, Jerusalem: These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation Hiding the Human Lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains

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Which Jesus rent: & now shall wholly purge away with Fire Till Generation is swallowd up in Regeneration (E 14243). As Peter Butter arguably observes, Milton appears to be the best of Blakes longer prophetic books, the one in which he comes nearest to creating a self-sustaining myth, an adequate surface through which the deeper meanings may be revealed (145). Whether one agrees or disagrees with Butter is of little importance: the fact is that the Puritans saga constitutes the penultimate step towards Blakes complete understanding of realia.

4.5. The Religious Level: Jerusalem


Finally, the fourth level is the religious one. Its target is the totality of ontological contents, and therefore this niveau translates fourfold vision. Its defining element is spiritual redemption, perceived as cosmic unity. One may find its textual application in Jerusalem (1804-20), whose symbolism is based on a combination of English and Biblical imagery (Fearful Symmetry 372), according to Frye. 30 Susan Matthews too acknowledges the double function of Albion: the figure of the British people, Albion, takes on an odd role as both national and universal figure (94). On the other hand, David Aers opines that the convergence of poetic, eschatological, and religious senses in the compound figure of One Man has perilous implications: It encourages a vision which substitutes a world of generalized symbols and abstractions for the world of concrete individuals and historical existence which Blake explored so magnificently in the body of his work (Sex, Society and Ideology 42). The main reason for which I cannot share Aerss opinion is that, in Blake, once vision has reached its climax, individual
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determinations are effaced, and human life is perceived in unity, not in diversity. Therefore, what we encounter here is not a perpetuation of traditional forms of domination masquerading as the benevolent transcendence of division (Sex, Society and Ideology 42), but simply a reorganization of individual live on a superior ontological scale, as part and parcel of the Divine Body. Herein lies the complex problematic of the Messiah. Quite predictably, the paradigmatic figure at this level is Jesus, whose redemptive presence is invoked more than once, and who marks the entire plot of the epic as the materialization of visionary harmony: Come O thou Lamb of God and take away the remembrance of Sin (E 200). I am indebted to Leslie Tannenbaum for having called attention to the seventeenth (climactic) plate of the Job series, wherein Blake juxtaposes a quotation from Job (42:5) with two from John (14:16-18 and 14:20). Thus, Tannenbaum concludes, Blake clearly equates the process of vision the combined ability to see and hear with the process of identifying with Christ. In other words, to see and hear God is to become God; the union of the senses within the body of the perceiver imitates the wholeness of Christs body and effects a union with that body (83). This is how, in my own interpretation, Christ is transformed into a symbol of fourfold vision, simultaneously acting as a liberating instance of power at multifarious levels of poetic interpretation. Jerusalem, Blakes intended magnum opus, is centred on the idea of spiritual liberty, its end being soteriological. In Blake, knowledge, art, and religion are essential constituents of the vast domain of visionary Imagination, which constitutes the Body of Christ. Thus, the three classes of vision, as well as the three levels of significance, are reconstructed within the fourth, and the circle is complete (social liberty too is reorganized, on a superior scale, as spiritual liberty). The whole epic brilliantly narrates Albions self-sacrifice (the sacred annihilation of the gross ego stands for the rejection of Satan) and the restoration of the pristine unity of all forms of being.

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I must equally signal the elaborate metaphor describing Golgonooza, the city of Art and Manufacture, built by Los31 in the British empires capital, on the very banks of the Thames: Therefore Los stands in London building Golgonooza (E 153); Here on the banks of the Thames, Los builded Golgonooza (E 203). 32 The reader recollects that I have offered a primary interpretation of Golgonooza (insofar as this facilitated the apprehension of the Blakean spatial parameters) in the third chapter of my study, whilst dealing with the paradox of vision and with the time/space polarity. However, it is high time that I enlarged the interpretative sphere, and provided additional details. I might also have discussed the pivotal role which this metaphor comes to play in Blakes uvre in the previous subchapter, whilst tackling the problematic of Milton. Nevertheless, since the poetic and religious significance of the city are enhanced in Jerusalem,33 the symbol itself grows in importance in proportion to the gradual unveiling of the secrets concerning the mechanisms and functions of mystical ecstasy, manifested as fourfold vision. As Damon deftly notes, in Jerusalem, Blake adds the elaborate description of the four gates, each leading to the four worlds of Eden, Generation, Beulah, and Ulro (Blake Dictionary 165). Since I interpret Golgonooza in terms of religious transformations induced by the acquisition of fourfold vision, the explanation suddenly becomes clear. The city is quadripartite inasmuch as it embodies the highest visionary form possible. At the same time, the four gates mentioned by Blake open towards all the other variations of vision, thereby enabling the ecstatic human being to perceive the universe per se: Fourfold the Sons of Los in their divisions: and fourfold, The Great City of Golgonooza: fourfold toward the north And toward the south fourfold, & fourfold toward the east & west Each within other toward the four points . . . (E 156).
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All the symbolic components of the city, animate and inanimate alike, are fourfold; they simply reflect the ontological nature of their religious order of things (the Divine vision), thereby mirroring their own status: And every part of the City is fourfold; & every inhabitant, fourfold (E 157). Blakes Golgonooza is, indeed, his own version of the New Jerusalem, the sacred city of fourfold vision, the eternal haven of the seers. Nevertheless, there is a slight difference between the poets city and the description of Jerusalem found in the prophet Ezekiel. In Blake, it is the western gate, toward Eden, which is walled up, till time of renovation (E 156), implying that the final secrets will only be revealed during the Last Judgment. However, in Ezekiel, it is the eastern gate which comes to acquire a prominent eschatological role, due to is relationship to the Messiah: The eastern side of the Temple area, and the gate that was and is called Golden and still stands there today, acquired a profound Messianic significance. It was there, by tradition, that Jesus entered the city, and still there that, faces turned toward the east, Jews, Christians, and Muslims await the coming of Ezekiels prince as Mahdi or Messiah (Peters 34). If I were to push my analysis even further, I may say that Golgonooza can be interpreted as a totalizing textual metaphor for Jerusalem. On the one hand, the epic comprises four chapters, each opening toward the other, which mirrors the description of the citys four gates, on the other, it is a text about spiritual creation and redemption, which reiterates the primary functions of Loss citadel. To put it in other words, I believe that it was one of Blakes intentions to convert the initial meaning of Golgonooza as a purely artistic construct into an elaborate replica of a Jerusalem reborn, of a new spiritual abode wherein vision may reign supreme. Thus, Golgonooza encapsulates the poets innermost intention of converting the secular into the sacred, thereby foretelling Mircea Eliades mythological theory, according to which the sacred, although obfuscated by the profane, dwells on within the latter until it erupts forcefully. If we preserve the terms

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of the critical equation, the profane only seems to dominate the sacred, but, in reality, it is subservient to the formers order. I do not think that Christopher Hamptons critical opinion of Jerusalem, breathing intense pessimism and implying a dialectic of continued renewal and of incompleteness (66), is accurate. According to Hampton, Blake is sceptical insofar as individuals in society are concerned, for, given their perversity of passions, they must always fail to achieve his vision of Jerusalem (66). On the contrary, I believe that Blake never ceases to be an optimist, fiercely defending the ideal of a perfect community, hosted in the bosom of the Eternal Man and rendered free by the stifling of the human ego. In the end, it may be said that Golgonooza borrows the shape of a mandala (a Sanskrit word designing the circle), a geometric figure encountered conspicuously in Oriental religious aesthetics as a spiritual common denominator, functioning on the premise of harmony and ideal communication. Following C. G. Jungs minute psycho-analytical descriptions of these phenomena, Christine Gallant justly notes that mandalas express the idea of order and balance. Many take the shape of rotating spheres; other mandala motifs are gardens, eyes, wheels, cities (56). Additionally, she points out that the majority of individual mandalas have as their center the Anthropos, or Universal Man (56). In my opinion, this is in perfect accord with Blakes view of Golgonooza as containing the material bodies of man and woman, 34 thereby functioning as a substitute for the human species or, even more eloquently, as the spiritual body of Christ. This conclusion works in tune with my initial statement that Jerusalems first and foremost concern is with universal religion, as a poetic exemplification of fourfold vision. That the poem must be viewed as an actualization of a religious teleology becomes evident from the introductory passage in Chapter 1, To the Public: I also hope the Reader will be with me, wholly One in Jesus our Lord . . . (E 145). The predilection for integrating all levels of human manifestation into the Saviours
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kingdom is again evident in the description of the gnoseological triad (Wisdom, Art, and Science) which characterizes [t]he Primeval State of Man (E 146). Whilst, in the introduction to Chapter 2, To the Jews, the author urges the Hebrews to [t]ake up the Cross . . . & follow Jesus (E 174), in the prefatory lines to Chapter 3, To the Deists, he advises against the heresy of Natural Morality or Natural Religion, whose followers are the Enemies of Christianity (E 200). The preface to Chapter 4, To the Christians, proclaims Blakes lifelong belief in the imaginative perception of absolute religion, as a free exercise of ultimate visionary power: 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 (E 231).35 Stuart Curran briefly enumerates some of the hermeneutic hurdles which the reader must eliminate in order to understand the poem: richness of biblical referentiality that seeks to accommodate the scriptural mythos to epic traditions . . . an extensive historical allusiveness, and . . . the development of Blakes own myth in lengthy episodes (Poetic Form 176). It should be added that, in this epic, one of the most obvious obstacles to proper interpretation is represented by its very poetic language, which is, according to David Wagenknecht, not only complex and rich but extraordinarily dense and economical as well (258). Wagenknecht insists that, in this epic, language to an extraordinary degree is (italics in the original) form (258). My corollary to this is that Blakes obsession with enlightened semantics develops common English language into a sui generis idiom, which sometimes suppresses the aesthetic in order to substitute it for the religious. In this sense, the epic indeed displays a high degree of didacticism, but only to the extent that any mystical apologia falls prey to auctorial intentionality sooner or later. On the other hand, A. C. Goodson, starting from Robert N. Essicks argumentation in William Blake and the Language of Adam, that the poets visionary forms are complex iconic constructions incorporating, but also sublating, natural language

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(Goodson 10), observes that Blake dispenses as much as possible with the machinery of language, associated as it is with the fallen understanding, informed by the judgments of reason. . . . Imagination is immediate vision, reason and understanding intruders on the poetic moment (11). Because language must be somehow made to behave in the Promethean hands of the visionary, it is turned into something more than a mere poetic idiom. In Blake, words are fearful vehicles from Eternity. The prefatory lines to Chapter 1, entitled To the Public, contain an interesting piece of Produktionssthetik, a rare confession about the appropriate alternation of pedestrian, mild, and flamboyant passages which must be incorporated into the great epic as poetic necessity demands: Every word and every letter is studied and put into its fit place: the terrific numbers are reserved for the terrific parts the mild & gentle, for the mild & gentle parts, and the prosaic, for inferior parts: all are necessary to each other (E 146). Blake concludes by enumerating the chief features of the prelapsarian humanity, which, to my mind, are metaphors denoting fourfold, threefold and twofold visions respectively: The Primeval State of Man was Wisdom, Art, and Science (E 146). This implies that the primordial condition of man enabled the latter to cultivate his visionary skills, without being subjected to the castrating tyranny of single vision. The opening lines of Chapter 1 evince Albions selfishness and his jealous rage against his own Emanation, Jerusalem, who is destined to become the Bride of the Lamb. Albions numerous sons and daughters incarnate his rage, and, concurrently, demonstrate that multiplicity brings about conflict and desolation: They war, to destroy the Furnaces, to desolate Golgonooza: And to devour the Sleeping Humanity of Albion in rage & hunger. They revolve into the Furnaces Southward & are driven forth Northward
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Divided into Male and Female forms time after time (E 147-48). The series of divisions continues. Los himself divides into a masculine figure and its feminine counterpart, the resulting elements being two incomplete entities, i.e. a Spectre and an Emanation: Los heard her lamentations in the deeps afar! his tears fall Incessant before the Furnaces, and his Emanation divided in pain, Eastward toward the Starry Wheels. But Westward, a black Horror, His Spectre drivn by the Starry Wheels of Albions sons, black and Opake divided from his back; he labours and mourns! (E 148). Loss vision of the Four-fold Man deserves a brief explanation. These inflaming lines are, in fact, the creative selfs carefully disguised prayer to the originator of spiritual life himself, Jesus, in whose Divine Body humanity redeemed must find its deserved place. The awakening mentioned in the subsequent passage concerns the restoration of fourfold vision (which enables its recipient to transgress temporal confines) as an absolute instrument of knowledge, directed against the castrating and enslaving mental schemes devised by intellectuals the likes of Bacon and Newton: I see the Four-fold Man. The Humanity in deadly sleep And its fallen Emanation. The Spectre & its cruel Shadow. I see the Past, Present & Future, existing all at once Before me; O Divine Spirit sustain me on thy wings! That I may awake Albion from his long & cold repose.

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For Bacon & Newton sheathd in dismal steel, their terrors hang Like iron scourges over Albion, Reasonings like vast Serpents Infold around my limbs, bruising my minute articulations (E 159). Chapter 1 ends with a purely religious supplication, written in the epics exalted vein, whereby the creative self theatrically implores the Pantocrator to wash away human sins, and to restore man to his prelapsarian condition: Descend O Lamb of God & take away the imputation of Sin / By the Creation of States & the deliverance of Individuals Evermore Amen (E 170). Moreover, the visionary insists that JERUSALEM IS NAMED LIBERTY AMONG THE SONS OF ALBION [capitalization in the original].36 The introductory lines to Chapter 2, dedicated To the Jews, represent an attempt to trace a preposterous genealogy, according to which the Britons are the direct descendants of Abraham, Heber, Shem and Noah, who are supposedly Druids. However, the poet holds that all human beings are bonded by a common spiritual cause, embodied by Jesus: Ye are united O ye Inhabitants of Earth in One Religion. The Religion of Jesus: the most Ancient, the Eternal: & the Everlasting Gospel . . . (E 171). After a series of rather conventional quatrains, the creative self urges the Jews not to be oblivious of their glorious ascendancy, and, par consequent, to walk in the footsteps of the Lamb, therefore to return to mental realities. Chapter 2 records Albions endeavour to destroy Jerusalem, aided by his twelve sons, who spring from his bosom as soon as he has fallen asleep. The Giant is deluded by spiritual error, and fails to acknowledge the capital importance of the Divine Vision, which is the textual translation of Blakes fourfold vision:
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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! Turning his back to the Divine Vision, his Spectrous Chaos before his faced appeard: an unformd Memory (E 174-75). It is the Divine Familys sermon that enables Albion to look upon himself as essentially one in nature, simultaneously implying that the former and the latter are consubstantial, being part and parcel of Jesus. The corollary to this thesis reads that, mainly because of the varying degrees of phenomenological perception, man is prone to vacillate between unity and multiplicity: We live as One Man; for contracting our infinite senses We behold multitude; or expanding: we behold as one, As One Man all the Universal Family; and that One Man We call Jesus the Christ: and he in us, and we in him, Live in perfect harmony In Eden the land of life, Giving, receiving, and forgiving each others trespasses (E 180). Albions Emanation, Jerusalem, takes refuge in a Grain of Sand in Lambeth (E 183), a world defying empirical space and time precisely because its roots are visionary, a locus which, according to Harold Bloom, is Blakes own imagination: Oothons palace is Blakes own poetry (E 936). However, this metaphor must be connected with the symbolism encrypted in Auguries of Innocence: To see a World in a Grain of Sand (E 490), and in Milton (the daily Moment which the Evil Forces are unable to track, E 136). The latter context is reproduced almost verbatim in Jerusalem:

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There is a Grain of Sand in Lambeth that Satan cannot find Nor can his Watch Fiends find it: tis translucent & has many Angles But he who finds it will find Oothons palace . . . ... Here Jerusalem & Vala were hid in soft slumberous repose (E 183). This chapter closes with the fervent prayer of the creative self for the remembrance of Sin to be dispelled by the omnipotent Jesus. Although conventional and repetitive, the lyrics are not entirely devoid of sarcasm. The creative self pokes fun at the expense of the malevolent holy men, whose blunt condemnation of peccatoris is far more horrendous than the vices themselves: Come then O Lamb of God and take away the remembrance of Sin (E 200). The prefatory lines to Chapter 3, entitled To the Deists, undoubtedly prove that Deism is anathema to Blake, who does not refrain from underlining that Natural Religion and Natural Philosophy constitute the Religion of the pharisees who murdered Jesus (E 201). He further claims that Europe has been ravished by this Religion of Satan, and by its famous worshippers, i.e. Voltaire, Rousseau, Gibbon, Hume, etc. Of course, what the vox auctoris defends here is the unlimited degree of liberty afforded by fourfold vision, which unleashes the imaginative forces in man, together with the absolute perception of the sacred. Consequently, the language of the philosophes seems too artificial, too mechanical to facilitate the advancement of knowledge, and does very little indeed in the way of averting the visionarys odium. The Song of the Lamb is one of the most suggestive epithalams in Blakes poetry, imitating the patriarchal tone of the Pentateuch (consider, for instance, the pivotal role played by the enumeration of proper nouns). Just as YHWH scolds and then comforts his chosen people, Jesus weeps over Jerusalems sorrows, promising her a brighter future. The polysyndenton is again
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reminiscent of the Vetero-testamentarian rhetoric: And I will lead thee into the Wilderness in shadow of my cloud / And in my love I will lead thee, lovely Shadow of Sleeping Albion (E 210). Shortly afterwards, Jerusalem relishes her promised peace, for it is the Divine Voice, i.e. Christ, who urges Jerusalem to shun the pitiful Visions of terror & woe (E 211), and instead to turn to the visionary truth of God: Behold: in the Visions of Elohim Jehovah. behold Joseph & Mary / And be comforted O Jerusalem in the Visions of Jehovah Elohim (E 211). Jesuss role as an action-catalyst is made explicit more than once throughout Blakes text; a relevant instance is found in this chapter. He makes no attempt to obscure his nature, stating that, ontologically, he surpasses single vision (individual perception). The only way whereby he can be approached is the Divine Vision: Jesus replied. I am the Resurrection & the Life. / I Die & pass the limits of possibility, as it appears / To individual perception. . . . (E 213). At the end of Chapter 3, The Lamb again manages to confine evil within its boundaries by creating breaches in Babylon the Great or the Abomination of Desolation, the fearful compound of the Twenty-seven Churches or Heavens: 37 But Jesus breaking thro the Central Zones of Death & Hell / Opens Eternity in Time & Space; triumphant in Mercy (E 231). Due to the seemingly omnipotent character of error in its spiritual form, the Divine Vision itself undergoes a series of convoluted metamorphoses. My view is that the symbols are growing in intensity, from the innocuous flame (initial stage of grace) through the more elaborate pillar (Mosess guidance) and wheel of fire (Ezekiels prophecy) to the globe of blood, suggesting at once human sacrifice and Christs passions. The restoration of the supreme form of vision lies with Jesus: The Divine Vision became First a burning flame, then a column

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Of fire, then an awful fiery wheel surrounding earth & heaven: And then a globe of blood wandering distant in an unknown night: Afar into the unknown night the mountains fled away: (E 219). The introductory lines to Chapter 4, dedicated To the Christians, revolving around Blakes already well-established demonyms, cast light on a versified visionary episode, centred on the description of the Wheel of fire. The latter embodies Caiaphass dark religion, which is nothing else than the Natural Religion preached by the philosophes. Jesus is the only agent that may create Nature from this fiery Law, / By self-denial & forgiveness of Sin (E 232). The vision of the creative self reveals an intricate Ezekiel-like piece of machinery, designed with a view to consuming the entire visible (and, implicitly, invisible) creation, including the Sun and the Moon: I stood among my valleys of the south And saw a flame of fire, even as a Wheel Of fire surrounding all the heavens: it went From west to east against the current of Creation and devourd all things in its loud Fury & thundering course round heaven and earth (E 232). The vision of The Covering Cherub is made up of separate images brought together into a powerfully suggestive construct.38 This is reminiscent of Baroque figures, sculpted in shiny metals, like gold, and adorned with precious stones, gems which become articulate whilst they serve to identify the supreme false idol, the incarnation of Selfhood. Damon believes that The Covering Cherub is the final error, the last enemy to be slain (Blake Dictionary 93), the false dogmas of the Church Militant (Blake Dictionary 94). He also
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directs the interpretation towards the biblical tradition initiated by the prophet Ezekiel, who uses this formula to denounce the prince of Tyre (Blake Dictionary 93). 39 In my interpretation, The Covering Cherub embodies the reverse of Christ, an upset icon, bringing about desolation and ruin instead of the Divine Vision. This view is commensurate with the creative selfs explicit suggestion in verse II: Thus was the Covering Cherub reveald majestic image Of Selfhood, Body put off, the Antichrist accursed Coverd with precious stones, a Human Dragon terrible And bright, stretchd over Europe & Asia gorgeous In three nights he devourd the rejected corse of death (E 248). Finally, Albion realizes the absolute visionary truth, i.e. that it is Selfhood, under the deceitful guise of The Covering Cherub, that wages war against Jesus. The agent of destruction is again made explicit thanks to a gem-related simile: 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 (E 255). Christs subsequent retorts bring into focus an astonishing definition of man according to Blakes usual standards. Thus, God and Man are con-substantial, their relationship being that of Brotherhood, and their ontology being modulated by Love: And if God dieth not for Man & giveth not himself Eternally for Man Man could not exist. for Man is Love: And God is Love: every kindness to another is a little Death In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood (E 256).

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Once Albion has been enlightened by Jesuss words, he elects to abandon his Selfhood, and, consequently, the Furnaces of affliction are turned into Fountains of Living Waters. A general spiritual awakening ensues, and, before the eyes of Christ, Albion is restored to his primordial, fourfold condition: So Albion spoke & threw himself into the Furnaces of affliction All was a Vision, all a Dream: the Furnaces became Fountains of Living Waters flowing from the Humanity Divine ... . . . Then Albion stood before Jesus in the Clouds Of Heaven Fourfold among the Visions of God in Eternity (E 256). Albions call to his Emanation is one of the most beautifully carved quatrains in Blakes poetry, a religious paean of regeneration, using deceptively simple imagistic dyads (Night vs. Day): Awake! Awake Jerusalem! O lovely Emanation of Albion Awake and overspread all Nations as in Ancient Time For lo! The Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day Appears upon our Hills: Awake Jerusalem, and come away (E 256). The subsequent panorama of the fourfold humanity constitutes the reification of the epics pivotal idea, the materialization of the foremost visionary form. What the creative self implies here is that, once the senses have been properly cleansed through spiritual ablutions, they are allowed direct insight into the ultimate ontological form of things, which renders reality in a fourfold manner. The metaphor expressing the dim Chaos translates the formerly opaque nuances of the surrounding universe, suggesting,
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via chromatic and topological adjectives, that the enlightened sight is the true informer of the liberated human intellect: And every Man stood Fourfold. each Four Faces had. One to the West / One toward the East One to the South One to the North. the Horses fourfold / And the dim Chaos brightend beneath, above, around! (E 257). Chapter 4 concludes both with the religious awakenings of Albion and Jerusalem through Christs spiritual mediation, and with the supreme merging of all beings into one total form, infinite in scope and divine in nature, embodying a genuine pax messianica. David Punter interprets Blakes apocalypse not as the end, but as the new beginning, in which real tasks may be achieved, as opposed to the unreal ones which absorb our time in a social formation governed by the cash nexus and by the division of labour (Active Evil and Passive Good 26). Punter fails to enumerate these real tasks, being interested only in pointing out the social dimension of Blakes poetry. Nevertheless, one may easily note that salvation is achieved by mystical reunification, and that the saga of separation ceases therewith. Creation, which constitutes a mere prolongation of an ontological error (primordial division), comes to an abrupt end, as perishable existence is transmuted into Eternity. Basically, everything continues to exist in illo tempore: All Human Forms identified even Tree Metal Earth & Stone. all Human Forms identified, living going forth & returning wearied Into the Planetary lives of Years Months Days & Hours reposing And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality. And I heard the Name of their Emanations they are named Jerusalem (E 258-59).

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Robert N. Essick defends a very interesting thesis, according to which the characters in the epic seem like human personalities for brief passages, but they expand or contract into polymorphous personifications of psychic or cosmic categories resisting both stability and definition (Jerusalem 251). Indeed, this metaphorical instability translates both the gradual regeneration and the final restoration of the Divine Vision, which eludes any rigid, definitive attempts to grasp its ultimate meaning, if there be any. Last but not least, mans continuous ontological expansion and contraction in Jerusalem helps us to intuit that, in Blakes conception, the anthropic element acquires both a material presence and a spiritual one, establishing an enduring connection between the macrocosm and the microcosm, between the transcendent and the contingent universes. To summarize my explication de texte in this final chapter, I need to say that, after evincing important aspects entailed by Blakes complex process of translating ideas into metaphors, I have focused on the interpretation of the four types of vision, as these are instantiated in the artists main poems and epics. Thus, single vision corresponds to the social level of understanding reality, as exemplified by America, by Europe, and by The Song of Los. Twofold vision stands for the metaphysical stage of reflecting realia, as exemplified by The Four Zoas. Threefold vision corresponds to the aesthetic level of understanding reality, as exemplified by Milton. Last but not least, fourfold vision stands for the religious stage of reflecting realia, as exemplified by Jerusalem. I must now put an end to my exegetic construction. However, after writing the conclusive lines to my research, in which the onus is on me to recapitulate the main critical steps undertaken to address the complex and stimulating problematic of the artists visionariness, I wish to shift the readers attention to a more delicate and often neglected aspect of Blakes poetry, which is, of course, related to its intrinsically visionary nature, i.e. the problematic of Orientalism, or, better put, the question of Oriental references in the poets often confusing thought.
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Notes to Chapter 4
The reader should bear in mind that, although Blakes poetry is didactic enough to invite a more mathematical approach, it is not my intention to draw exegetic schemes with the exact instruments of geometry. The process of translating ideas into metaphors is still an essentially deliberate one, although the creative self executes it purely at the whim of inspiration at times. 2 However, although not quoting Blake in the context and making no reference to his symbolism, M. H. Abrams does identify a structure shared by several religious poets, a biblical paradigm set in opposition to the Greek and Roman mythe de leternel retour, if I may employ Mircea Eliades phrase. The pattern consists of four steps: a beginning (the fiat of creation), a catastrophe (the fall of man), a crisis (the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ), and a coming end (the abrupt Second Advent of Christ as King, followed by the replacement of the old world by a new heaven and a new earth), which will convert the tragedy of human history into a cosmic comedy. (Apocalypse 344). 3 According to Damon, the four books of Urizen are ascribed the following themes respectively: sociology, war, love, and science (Blake Dictionary 424). 4 Saree Makdisi deftly notes that, for Blake, historical experience and time itself are never homogenous, and one of the purposes of this kind of anti-history is to seek out the heterogeneous and the unexpected in the present, as well as to imagine the unimaginable projected into any number of possible (or impossible) futures (Romantic Imperialism 3). 5 For the role played by revolution in Blakes political thought, see the brilliant volume Blake, Nation and Empire, edited by Steve Clark and David Worrall. 6 The third poem represents, simultaneously, a prequel and a sequel to the two versified prophecies. 7 Behrendt continues: In these three works Blake marshals his verbal and visual forces to present for infernal reading a documentary history that aims to reveal that the events of the latter years of the eighteenth century are presages of the millennium that is imminent, that is in fact unfolding, and that it has been foreshadowed in the artifacts of both Christian and pre-Christian cultures (105). 8 Although one may hasten to infer that Blake downplays the idea of Revolution altogether, this is not true. Revolution is inevitable on a material scale insofar as it is mirrored by rebellion on a spiritual one. 9 David Fuller considers Africa a spiritual history . . . of decay, the shrinking of humanity under the influence of its major philosophies and religions, particularly Judaic legalism, Greek abstraction, Christianitys passivity . . . and the militarism of Norse mythology (53).
1

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See E 722. For a comprehensive presentation of Orcs paradigm, see Hobson passim. It is perhaps significant that Raine equates Orc with Isaacs son, Esau (or Edom), holding that Blakes whole symbolism springs from Swedenborg (I 337-38). The same opinion is also held by Tannenbaum (see 131-33 et passim). 12 George Quasha equates Orc with political revolution (17). 13 For a perceptive analysis of the poem, see Ansari 46-54. 14 For more details, see the Appendix to my study. 15 Erdman takes Blakes own handwriting au pied de la lettre, accepting the year 1797 as the composition date of the poem. He further elaborates on its title metamorphoses: Vala translates Blakes Wordsworthian wish to penetrate the veils [italics in the original] of Nature (Prophet against Empire 293), whilst The Four Zoas evinces the artists Coleridgean desire to understand the Four Mighty Ones in the psychic alchemy of every man (Prophet against Empire 293). 16 Naturally, this assertion must be read in light of Fryes own definition of apocalypse, which is a sui generis one: The apocalypse, we suggested, was a vast metaphorical structure in which all categories of reality, or what was later called the chain of being, are identified with the body of the Messiah (Myth and Metaphor 106). 17 Moreover, Lincoln insists that the epics history of fallen civilization can be divided into two major phases, which parallel each other (From America to The Four Zoas 223), the artistic caesura occurring in Night the Third. 18 For more details in this respect, see Damon, Blake Dictionary 143, and E 948-67. 19 Jean H. Hagstrum notes that Blake uses the term several times, always in the most pejorative sense conceivable (Romantic Body 141). 20 The Aged Mother is, obviously to my mind, Eno, a character whose lament is placed at the outset of the Book of Los. Brian Wilkie and Mary Lynn Johnson think that she is almost surely some kind of primal state of consciousness to which the poet has privileged access (14). 21 See supra. 22 In a letter to George Cumberland, dated 6 December 1795, Blake wishes to prove to the Abstract Philosophers that Enjoyment & not Abstinence is the food of Intellect (E 700). 23 The reader should remember that Blake believes in the inherently evil character of reason, as emphasized by Crabb Robinson in his diary: reason is the only evil or sin (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 447), a dictum pasted in Robinsons unpublished Reminiscences (1852) (Bentley, Jr., Blake Records 705). 24 For a summary of the plot, see Frye, Fearful Symmetry 316. 25 According to Damon, the main purpose of the epic was avowedly to correct Miltons errors (Blake Dictionary 276), which, given the fact that they are incorporated into Paradise Lost, properly pertain to the field of aesthetics,
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although they concern ethics to a certain degree. Damon further notes that the poem is a criticism of Miltons ideas and of their effect on Blake (Blake Dictionary 277). Concurrently, the poem is autological: it is concerned with its own poiesis. 26 Other forms of liberation (social, political, even erotic) are also inherently present in Blakes poetry, and, according to Andrew McCann, these are associated with sometimes dangerous forms of violence or unreason (16). However, these types of liberatory manifestoes should not be mistaken for the untrue discourse of virtue. As David Morse keenly observes, the latter is particularly dangerous precisely because it pretends to be idealistic and creative (Age of Virtue 256). 27 For additional details, see E 154 28 See supra. 29 For an interesting parallel between Miltons self-annihilation and the ZenBuddhist doctrine of extinction, see Hatsuko Nimii passim. 30 For a cogent presentation of the poems structure, see Frye, Fearful Symmetry 357-58. 31 The reader remembers that Los incarnates Poetry in its highest degree. However, one should note that the figure of the poet as architect is not Blakes invention. Indeed, a medieval English writer, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, in his thirteenth-century book, Poetria Nova, develops an interesting analogy between the art of building a house and that of penning a poem. For more details, see Preminger, Hardison, Jr., and Kerrane, Classical and Medieval Criticism 388-89. 32 One must bear in mind the fact that, in Milton, Golgonnoza is described to comprise Britain in its entirety: From Golgonooza the spiritual Four-fold London eternal / In immense labours & sorrows, ever building, ever falling, / Thro Albions four Forests . . . (E 99). 33 Anne Janowitz ventures to write that Jerusalem, Blakes communitarian epic, is a deeply urban poem (91). 34 See also Damon, Blake Dictionary 162. 35 For an analysis of the four prefaces to the epic, see James Ferguson passim. 36 The same assertion is pasted intentionally in Chapter 3: And Jerusalem is called Liberty among the Children of Albion (E 203). 37 The Twenty-seven Churches (Heavens) constitute the perversion of religion in its inextricable connection with war. Damon believes that they represent dogmatic Christianity in its successive aspects (Blake Dictionary 85). 38 In my opinion, the Covering Cherub is the reiteration, on a superior scale, of the hermaphroditic figure of Satan in The Four Zoas. For a brief description of the latter, see supra. 39 According to Damon, Tertullian and other Church Fathers also believe that The Covering Cherub is Satan (Blake Dictionary 93).

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Conclusion
Partly due to space constraints and partly due to a commitment to that principle of economy known as Occams razor,1 I conclude this work, not before summing up my attempt. This book has started from a basic assumption concerning Blakes unsystematic system, and has proceeded thence by a critical interplay, involving both a theoretical debate and an extensive process of explication de texte, to the demonstration of my interpretative thesis. Obviously, I have sought to offer a synthetic frame of interpretation apt to counter such differences as might have arisen during the analytical process. Whilst striving to create my research instruments which have proved essential to my critical approach, I have refrained from embracing points of view which may have led to a strongly articulated ideological analysis. Whenever I have encountered a specific problem concerning ideology, I have always preferred a simpler explanation to a contentious one. 2 One of Michael Ferbers critical considerations has been instrumental in tackling the often delicate issues that arise when studying Blake: Blake may seem particularly resistant, finally, to a specifically ideological analysis. His difficulty and eccentricity kept him even from readers of his own times who shared his social status and political allegiances; his effect on readers now, even after all the scholarly attempts to attach him to familiar traditions, begins with a strong impression that he is like nobody else in the world. That his idiosyncrasies will test any comparative or triangulating method, however, is no reason to shrink from trying it. Rather the opposite: his obvious orneriness may help keep the method honest, and his very difficulty may be the best place to begin (6).

Bearing in mind Ferbers warning, I have avoided adopting a prescriptive perspective in criticism, be it historical, neostructuralist, archetypal or psychoanalytical.3 In the first three chapters, I have undertaken to demonstrate that a scientific scrutiny of Blakes visionariness must be premised on the examination of three important aspects: the self, the visioninducing agents, and the product of the latters influence, i.e. vision proper. Subsequently, a fourth dimension must be added to this theoretical triad, i.e. the textual analysis of Blakes visionary productions. The self is an elusive concept, but, given its capital importance in my theory of artistic creativity, I have sought to clarify it semantically with a view to converting it into a prominent exegetic tool. Distinctions are extremely important at this theoretical level. Firstly, I have attempted to draw a genealogy of the concept, and have concluded with a series of remarks on the nature of the self in vision. Afterwards, I have differentiated between the empirical self (corresponding, to a large extent, to the epistemic one) and the creative self, that, in the aggregate, make up the self in vision. The aforementioned dichotomy echoes the distinction between the moi biographique and the moi crateur postulated by theorists in the field of French poietics. 4 These conceptual refinements of the original premise of a unitary self have urged me to examine closely the ontological contents of the creative self, that constitutes the sine qua non element in the artistic process. I have also shown that Blake is not artistically at ease with himself until he has designed an opposite, if complementary, representation, against which spiritual war can be waged successfully. This crucial figure pertains to Urizen, projected as a mirror-image of Los/Blake, and the conflict faithfully translates the clash between the ego, as the fallen expression of the creative/spiritual personality, and the self, as the ultimate, sacred image of identity. Finally, I have drawn a list of prominent qualities in Blakes creative self, including such characteristics as complete sincerity, dedication to a concurrently aesthetic and

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moral cause, inflexibility, electivity, and supreme power, granted by the absolute command of knowledge. In the case of vision-inducing agents, I have spoken of two main phenomena: imagination and inspiration. Whilst the former constitutes an inner capability, stemming from the deep strata of the individuals resources, the latter represents an outer capability, superimposed on the subject by transcendent factors. In the case of inspiration, I have also differentiated between indefinite forms, wherein the ontological status of the agent remains unclear, and personified aspects of afflatus, displaying an independent, if experientially contestable, identity, that include God, angels, demons, saints, prophets, various spirits, and the Muses. I have also evinced that, in Blake, one should not hasten to speak about the dominance of either agent, but, rather, concentrate on the conjunction of these elements at both the empirical and the creative levels, if one wished to gain a more credible insight into the development of the artists visionariness. At the outset of the chapter, I have not forgotten to dwell on Blakes putative madness, and have emphasized that, despite its alluring outward features, this topic is an ideological cul-de-sac, bearing no relevance whatsoever to the hermeneutics of his art. Before tackling the problematic of vision, I have briefly dealt with Blakes religious milieu, focusing on the rather elaborate doctrine of inward religion. Subsequently, I have presented the concept of vision as a binary one, encompassing both empirical (those visions that address the senses and the intellect, but are not transferred to a scriptive level) and aestheticized aspects (those visions that exist primarily as written documents; in Blake, however, they may or may not have been preceded by a factual experience). In either case, my demonstration has striven to be faithful to the poets texts, from which I have cited conspicuously. I have also evinced that Blakes visionary works of art (primarily, the textual production) are characterized by the following elements: irregularity, simplicity, acheiropoieton, para-visuality and para-verbality, absoluteness, art-religion synthesis, aesthetic telos:
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to generate an intense feeling of exuberance in the audience, ontological telos: a spiritual consonance between the creative self and its audience, prophetism, and apocalypticism. In parallel, I have examined the primary features of Blakes paintings which define Blakes general attitude towards life and aesthetic creation. My investigation has continued with the analysis of the paradox of vision entailed by Blakes thought, as well as with an explanation of the latters deeply embedded dialectic, in the absence of which the artists intimate convictions would be rendered unintelligible. Finally, after emphasizing the role which the cardinal numeral 4 comes to play in the poets work, my critical discourse has been centred on the definition and examination of Blakes four types of vision (single, twofold, threefold, and fourfold), as these are explicitly described in a letter to Thomas Butts, dated 22 November 1802. The fourth chapter of my study has been devoted to a textual analysis of some of Blakes main works, an enterprise which has attempted to complete the task set by the previous chapters. It is my idea that Blakes four visionary classes are transferred to a textual level according to their central characteristics. Thus, America, Europe, The Song of Los correspond to single vision (the social level), The Four Zoas exemplifies twofold vision (the metaphysical stage), Milton corresponds to threefold vision (the aesthetic level), and, finally, Jerusalem exemplifies fourfold vision (the religious stage). When analysing these poems and epics, I have focused on their specific visionary contents, leaving aside a number of other aspects which, albeit significant in other contexts, acquire a lower status in the order of my critical demonstration. 5 However, if I have elected to give prominent thought to some vision-related aspects, this has not been done at the expense of other equally significant characteristics. On the contrary, whenever opportunity has risen, I have tried to single out and to exploit passages, characters or plot developments which might facilitate the readers proper understanding of Blakes poetry.

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To sum up, I must say that, as I have striven to explain throughout this study, Blakes artistic conception is premised on an intricately devised unsystematic system, comprising four main levels (social, metaphysical, aesthetic, and religious). I have also shown that this quadripartite ensemble and the distinct types of vision (single, twofold, threefold, and fourfold) in Blakes thought are interconnected, and must be analysed accordingly. Thus, my exegesis evinces Blakes complex profile as a poet and thinker, and, at the same time, attempts to offer a fresh starting point for a systematic academic approach to his work in general. Simultaneously, the reader should acknowledge and forgive the inevitable incompleteness that is inherent in the case of each and every demonstration, for there is hardly any critic who can lay claim to being a homo universalis, and remember that my work may be regarded as little more than a hopefully clear introduction to one of the most difficult yet rewarding themes in the history of poetics. It is my opinion that Blakes poetic construction as a whole reiterates Schellings conception, that [m]ythology is the necessary condition and first content of all art [italics in the original] (Philosophy of Art 45).6 This is mainly due to Blakes mythopoetic consciousness as an artist: Blake could distort myth, or make his own myths as substitutes for the accepted ones (Fraser 211). It is through a continuous invention of mythological figures or, at least, through a permanent refreshing of traditional ones that the omnipotence of art is asserted. This, in turn, is a precondition for the absolute liberty obtained at a painfully high cost of the genuine creator, who wrestles with systems so as to free humanity from those systems.

Notes to the Conclusion


William of Occam expressed his doubts in relation to the futile multiplication of interpretative patterns, and defended a thesis according to which the simplest explanation is the best. 2 The reader remembers that, throughout my study, I have used the term ideology in its neutral sense, and only referred to it with utmost care. For more details, see note 78 to the third chapter. 3 Nowadays, virtually every literary decade brings about a complete reassessment of Blakean exegesis within a given context. An excellent example in this sense is Blake in the Nineties, a volume edited by Steve Clark and David Worrall. 4 For additional details concerning the field of poietics, see the first chapter of my study. 5 The reader must be aware that, in each and every case, all precautionary measures have been taken with a view to avoiding the betrayal of the poetic message. 6 Schelling is by no means the only one who makes such a claim, although he is one of the most illustrious and, even more significantly, can be numbered amongst Blakes contemporaries.
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The problematic of Blakes Orientalism invites special treatment for two main reasons. Firstly, it allows us to consider the artists work within the context of non-European cultural and religious traditions, which, albeit regulated by different codes of understanding reality, seem to display several points daccroche with Blakes thought. This proves that, far beyond the realm of conscious literary borrowings (surpassing the putative direct influence exerted by a then forlorn and mostly isolated cultural mode), there lies a special, universal forma mentis, which C. G. Jung would have called archetype, manifesting itself in different spiritual milieux. Secondly, at least one issue directly related to Orientalism may be linked to Blakes visionariness: Zen Buddhism. Within the scope of the latter, the concept of satori translates the English poets idea of fourfold vision, which can now be pictured as the ultimate soteriological stage, in both Western and Eastern intellectual heritages. In order that the topic under consideration could occur to us in due strength, one must furnish not only concrete examples and parallelisms between Blakes thought and Oriental tradition, but also an appropriate historical and philosophical background, apt to shed some light on the intricacies inherent in the theme.

A.1. Theoretical Considerations


Before applying the concept to Blakes work, one must define Orientalism per se. I must confess, at the very outset of my analysis, that I find the very term highly disputable. Not only does it yield several, even contradictory, interpretations, but it fails to furnish that scientific exactness which constitutes a prerequisite for any operational semantic tool. It is not very easy to trace the origin of the term accurately, albeit it brought forth an entirely

independent school of thought, complete with mannerisms and pseudo-formulae, which, as yet, has shown no sign of fading away. It is a fact that each and every civilization attempts to accredit the idea that its ethical patterns are essentially the best possible. 1 However, there are two ways of accomplishing this. Whilst Eastern cultures are not interested in transgressing their frontiers, obsessed as they are with the autotelic assertion of their own identity, Western cultures are genuinely attracted by alterity, by the idea of spiritual difference, whether to fulfil a Utopian quest or simply to justify their own ways. This is essentially the conviction embraced by Allan Bloom: The scientific study of other cultures is almost exclusively a Western phenomenon, and in its origin was obviously connected with the search for new and better ways, or at least for validation of the hope that our own culture really is the better way . . . (36). As far as Allan Bloom is concerned, the reason for non-European ethnocentrism is obvious: Men must love and be loyal to their families and their peoples in order to preserve them. Only if they think that their own things are good can they rest content with them (37). In one of his last books, Edward W. Said offers a seminal definition of an essentially threefold concept of Orientalism. Saids conclusive interpretation unveils a refined reconsideration of the term in question: As a department of thought and expertise, Orientalism of course involves several overlapping aspects: first, the changing historical and cultural relationship between Europe and Asia, a relationship with a 4,000-year-old history; second, the scientific discipline in the West according to which, beginning in the early nineteenth century, one specialized in the study of various Oriental cultures and traditions; and third, the ideological suppositions, images, and fantasies about a region of the world called the Orient (Reflections on Exile 199).
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However, in regard to the semiosis of Orientalism, one has to clarify a crucial aspect: that of the inclusion or exclusion of the Middle East from the semantic equation under consideration. Needless to mention at this point that the entire cultural life of Europe (and Blakes poetry is obviously included here) rests upon the authority of the Bible, in the sense that almost all Western writers have either embraced its ideas enthusiastically or rejected them flatly. Apparently, no-one has been strong enough to deny the influence exerted, one way or another, by this controversial collection of sacred texts. Thus, the problem which looms large is quite simple: to what extent is the Hebrew culture Oriental? Considering the facts that, after the diaspora, not only a religious code, but also the Jews themselves travelled throughout the continent, and that their cultural feats became indistinguishable from those of the natives, often surpassing them, can one still speak about Orientalism in this case? I am inclined to answer in the negative. In this respect, let me draw attention to one of Hannah Arendts observations, according to which, since the inception of European history, the Jews had belonged, for better or worse, in misery or in splendor, to the European comity of nations . . . (153-54). At any rate, if one wishes to simplify (without necessarily distorting) the whole issue, Orientalism may be said to signify the study of the Orient, more precisely, the intellectual relationship which may be established between Eastern and Western institutions, schools of thought or individuals. Even so, ever since Said advertised his authoritative conception, according to which Orientalism is an elaborate discourse fashioned by western culture in its insatiable quest for imperial domination, the term has carried negative connotations. Michael J. Franklin opines that Said adopts the very discursive structures which he anathematizes; he decries rigidity and the imposition of generalization, only to produce a concept of Orientalism as a sinister, singular, and transhistorical discourse . . . (48). I must stress, however, that my concern here is not to enhance a dispute
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which has been going on for quite a long time, but to shift attention to the pristine meaning of the term, originally connected with the simple idea of interest in the East. At first, the term was entirely devoid of negative traits, translating the European Romantic authors boundless passion for the empires in the East. In this context, Raymond Schwabs study, The Oriental Renaissance, is seminal. The French essayist asks himself: Will it still be possible to speak of Romanticism, of the nineteenthcentury, of the modern soul without recording the consequences of the Oriental Renaissance2 in all provinces of the mind? (473). One of the authors subsequent questions is even more radical, but nevertheless perfectly relevant: was Romanticism itself anything other than an oriental irruption of the intellect? (482). As Schwab further argues, Romantic writers are no longer satisfied with the modus vivendi tyrannically imposed by the Hellenistic and Roman traditions,3 according to which tertium non datur: a thing may be either good or bad there is essentially nothing in between, and, instead, embrace the Oriental (especially Hindu) conception, according to which there exists a fundamental unity of all contraries, a harmony underlying each and every system of beliefs. The degree of intellectual (y compris artistic) liberty afforded by the new perspective is unprecedented, and the aesthetic elation which is brought forth therewith has no match in the history of ideas. It is at this particular point that our examination of Blakes Orientalism must properly commence, since the artists obsession with the complementary character of contraries has already become a critical clich. After carefully considering the seminal aspects of the theme, I may be able to offer a tentative definition. It has no claims to definitiveness or absoluteness, but, rather, to partial clarification. In Blakes case, Orientalism may be applied, cum grano salis, only to India and to the Far East, particularly China and Japan. It is the influence exerted by these three great cultural areas that must be looked into, indeed, should this influence be proved in a conclusive manner.4 After all, an attentive researcher should
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not be misled by the shallow arguments provided by geography. The latter is simply another variable in a literary formula whose boundaries are forever changing according to arcane reasons. Thus, I am of the opinion that Orientalism should designate, within the Blakean semantic sphere, the artists possible knowledge of certain Eastern myths, symbols, and representative figures, as well as the manner in which these archetypal figures act in the poets imaginary, thereby informing the poetic texts proper. Therefore, my interpretative approach will be orientated, with the hope that this will prove a fertile interpretative ground, towards common metaphors and leitmotifs, as well as towards striking visual and philosophical parallelisms. 5 Piloo Nanavutty believes that Blake had a vast corpus of Orient-related texts at his disposal, and that his main concern was Hindu thought: In keeping with the folklore writers and mythologists of his time, Blakes predominant interest is in Hindu philosophy and Hindu cosmogony, particularly where these concerned the Creation and the Fall of Man (169). In addition to this, if we consider Erdmans note which acknowledges that Blake may have read the Bhagavad Gita in Charles Wilkinss translation (Prophet against Empire 146),6 we have all the main ingredients of a metaphysical feast. 7 At least one name in Blakes unfolding mythology bears the mark of Indian influence: Tharmas, the Zoa representing the Senses, seems to have sprung from the Sanskrit word Tamas, designating the grossest and basest tendency in man according to the Bhagavad Gita. However, since the Senses and their imperative control are directly connected with the idea of morality, I suggest a parallel etymology: Dharma, the Sanskrit word for Divine Law and Order, the cosmic principle which supports life per se. This is just a starting point for a discussion which yields numerous interpretations. David Weir traces a very useful genealogy of the term in the context of Blake studies, emphasizing that critics interest in the artists putative Orientalism originates in Damons 1924
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research, which is followed by Denis Saurats Blake and Modern Thought (1929). Afterwards, Frye certainly played a decisive role in establishing the existence of a certain parallelism, if not actual influence, of Oriental philosophy and mythology on Blakes thought. Weir admits that the most important contribution to this intricate topic pertains to Kathleen Raine, who published her monumental two-volume book, Blake and Tradition, in 1968. Another significant, albeit contestable, work is Charu Sheel Singhs William Blake in the Light of the Hindu Thought (1981). To these authors cited by Weir, one may add Piloo Nanavutty, with William Blake and Hindu Creation Myths (1968), Mark S. Ferrara, with Chan Buddhism and the Prophetic Poems of William Blake (1997), which I shall discuss heareafter, and, last but certainly not least, Steve Clark and Masashi Suzuki, who edited the proceedings of the 2003 Blake in the Orient Conference in Kyoto, under the title The Reception of Blake in the Orient (2006). Once these preliminary exegetic operations have come to an end, let me further examine a few important aspects concerning Blakes possible filiations with the East. The first topic which rises to my attention is the extremely complex problematic of Zen (Chan) Buddhism.

A.2. Zen Intuitions


Blakes Zen is still a matter of critical dispute. My purpose here is not to cut the Gordian knot, a feat altogether impossible, but to shed some light on a number of controversial issues linked to the theme. The only study devoted explicitly to the problematic of Zen (Chan) Buddhism and the poetry of Blake pertains to Mark S. Ferrara. Its author focuses on the significance of the four Zoas, particularly on the function of Urizen (whom he interprets as the
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embodiment of the human intellect, that bars mans access to the Divine Vision). He then centres his discourse on the semantics of the Divine Vision, which also entails the restoration of the Zoa Urthona. Ferrara implies that the recipient of this vision is enabled to perceive reality per se, as a fundamental unity in multiplicity (65). The scholar ventures to equate the Sanskrit concept of Prajna, denoting the supreme means of attaining nirvana, the dynamic wisdom of discriminatory realization, with Blakes Divine Vision, and provides the following conclusive explanation: Once external objects are viewed as manifestations of ones own mind, a profound identification can take place which unifies the once bifurcated experience that interprets only in terms of subject and object. Blake and Chan both realize this profound identification as the necessary ground of human experience (69). Although I basically agree with Ferrara, I do not share his method of investigation, which does not benefit from a sufficiently strong conceptual framework, therein lingering no more than a shade of Jungian psychology. One of the most respected students of Buddhism and the foremost disseminator of Zen ideas in the West, D. T. Suzuki, admits that Zen is the most irrational, inconceivable thing in the world (13). Whilst it defies logic, [i]t must be directly and personally experienced by each of us in his inner spirit (13). This is why all commonsensical definition must be readily dispensed, in order that we may intuit reality in an unmediated manner. Naturally, all these considerations seem to point to the fact that, given its unnamable nature, Zen eludes definition and extrapolation. Zen is the way of life itself: being one with the surrounding reality, immersed in it, in a perfect stance of harmony. It teaches us that life is not about money, competition or vain rational feasts, that human happiness is not to be discovered inside books. Instead, the ultimate goal is the realization of ones true nature, this bringing about liberation and spiritual fulfilment. Even apparent contrarieties vanish instantly once the mind of the seeker has been purified. Suzuki writes: One may ask, Why these
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contradictions? The answer is, They are so because of tathata. 8 They are just so because they are so, and for no other reason. Hence, no logic, no analysis, and no contradictions (268-69). That is why, when experiencing satori, the mind resolves to accommodate logical contradictions: all the opposites and contradictions inherent in nature are, according to Suzuki, united and harmonized into a consistent organic whole (84). Intuiting this Zen manner of articulating reality and its ontological components, Blake too writes, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, that Without Contraries is no progression (E 34), and that Opposition is true Friendship (E 42). The outcome of these overtly paradoxical statements is that polarities are inherent in a state of harmony, and that, indeed, the existence of the latter is inconceivable in the absence of the former. Until the poetic mind has shuffled off the outer layers of binary logic, it cannot gain insight into the intimate strata of realia. One brief note about the relationship which may be established between the microcosm and the macrocosm is not without relevance here. A Zen master asserts that [u]nless you have been thoroughly drenched in a perspiration you cannot expect to see the revelation of a palace of pearls on a blade of grass (apud Suzuki 139). Again, Tai-hui says that, when experiencing the pinnacle point of the enlightening process, you will see the spiritual land of the Enlightened One fully revealed at the point of a single hair, and the great wheel of the Dharma revolving in a single grain of dust (apud Suzuki 144). These sentences reverberate (naturally, independent of the auctorial will) in the opening quatrain of the Auguries of Innocence, which shows that reality is defined through consonance and ontological symmetry. Once the doors of perception have been cleansed, the self can have the fully fledged experience of realia, free from the distortions incurred by the vegetative eye: To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
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Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour (E 493). The experience of the union between the microcosm and the macrocosm constitutes the supreme mystical moment. When describing the features underlying this moment in Zen or satori (what one may roughly call enlightenment), Suzuki employs no less than eight different concepts: (1) irrationality, (2) intuitive insight, (3) authoritativeness, (4) affirmation, (5) sense of the beyond, (6) impersonal tone, (7) feeling of exaltation, and (8) momentariness.9 These characteristics are also valid in the case of Blakes fourfold vision. Thus, irrationality in satori and in fourfold vision points to the moments non-coherent and non-logical determinations (one should remember Blakes often selfcontradictory statements). The intuitive insight refers to the experiential dimension of the supreme moment, in the sense that the self sees whatever it is that needs to be perceived (I need not stress here the importance of numerous visionary accounts in Blakes case). Suzuki does not forget to add that this seeing is of quite a different quality from what is ordinarily designated as knowledge (104). Authoritativeness underlies the definitive response brought forth during the mystical experience (let us remember that this is also one of the central features of the Blakean creative self). Affirmation constitutes an essentially pantheistic view, according to which the ontological components of realia are allowed to function without interference. The concept may be loosely translated as the minds unconditional acceptance of the world. It is also Blakes firm belief, as expressed at the end of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, that every thing that lives is Holy (E 45). The sense of the beyond is the natural outcome of both satori and fourfold vision, in that they both lead to the absolute truth (in Blake, this is embodied by Christ, the epitome of the human-divine essence). The impersonal tone raises claims to a universal, sapiential poetic message, wherein ideas are rendered without a complicated metaphorical layer. Copious
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examples of this may be found in Blakes letters, especially in those in which he describes first-hand visionary experiences by employing an everyday descriptive language, devoid of the quasiincantatory formulae of his artistically-designed prophetic utterances. The feeling of exaltation arises when consciousness is free to flow without spatial or temporal impediments In Blake, this is attained in Eternity, and the subtext of many of his poems or letters evinces this trait. Finally, momentariness evokes the suddenness of the intense visionary experience: it comes and goes randomly, in the absence of expectation (whenever there seems to be a pattern of control, the illusion soon dissipates). One should pay due attention to the radiography of the visionary moment of inspiration in Blakes Milton (E 127). Things, however, do not stop here. Suzuki further speaks of two methods which the controversial Zen master carefully employs in order to cleanse the mind of his devotee, thereby enabling the latter to experience the truth of spiritual revelation. The first method is verbal, whereas the second is direct (expressed via the medium of concrete gestures). Since the object of these lines is a literary exegesis, I shall only concern myself with the former. More accurately, the verbal method comprises six different ways of expressing itself: (1) paradox, (2) going beyond the opposites, (3) contradiction, (4) affirmation, (5) repetition, and (6) exclamation.10 It is well known that Blake resorts to paradox whenever he elects to mock the decayed function of rhetoric. This paves the way for the second step, i.e. overcoming the opposites. Blakes dialectic posits a supreme synthesis, which is to be achieved by recognizing the simultaneous validity of two facts, propositions, states of affairs.11 In turn, this opens the perspective of contradiction (just like many Zen masters, Blake seems inconsistent with himself, taking pains to deny whatever he has just asserted). But, if one is careful not to take these facts au pied de la lettre, one grows to realize that life itself seems contradictory because the human intellect strives to understand it by sorting out and classifying its components, instead of grasping its essence in
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an intuitive manner, through contemplation. Affirmation is the natural consequence of the former step, since life must not be denied or contorted so that it may fit a hypothetical pattern, an ontological blueprint, but left to follow its due course, without any interference. It is at this level that the self understands the visionary validity of everything that lives, and this fact stems from spiritual liberation.12 The self cannot repress this exulting feeling, and needs to project it in exterior by means of repetition. In Blake, this occurs, for instance, in Milton, when the Bard repeats several times that his words are of our salvation.13 One should also bear in mind that the verbal expression of this state may also be an exclamation, albeit, in Blakes case, exclamatory sentences are much more meaningful than the Zen masters.14 Quite naturally, the reader may discover several other spiritual connections between the Zen masters ideas and the English artists poetic views, out of which an entire book may eventually grow.15 Still, Zen is not the only element which Blake may share with the Eastern world. The bestial metaphors the former uses in his Prophetic Books point to another fertile area of exegesis.

A.3. Visionary Bestiary: Animal Metaphors in Blake


Blake is by no means the first visionary poet to deploy animal metaphors with a view to enhancing the frame of his prophetic descriptions, nor is he the first who believes that a beast may embody some hidden human quality or vice versa. The history of religions abounds in similar examples. 16 Nevertheless, it is a particular feature of Blakes poetry which makes the latter stand apart from other visionary productions, and that is its concrete symbolism.17 One should bear in mind the fact that Blake is also
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an artist of visual representation, a pictorial genius. Therefore, his bestiary must display crude, as well as multicolour, patterns (if there be any pattern in the case of so imaginative a personality). As Blakes animal metaphors are extremely diverse, my survey will necessarily encompass a vast range of images, and refer to a significant array of myths. It is my opinion that Blakes poetic treatment of animal symbols parallels an Oriental frame of mind, which assigns definite qualities to different animals, interpreted as vahana, a Sanskrit term meaning vehicle or bearer.18 Margaret and James Stutley, in their massive and erudite Dictionary of Hinduism, note that vahana designates [t]he bird or animal on which a Jaina, Hindu or Mahayana Buddhist deity rides or is associated with (316). Although there exists a significant number of European texts, particularly the medieval Bestiaries, some of the best-known numbering amongst themselves those of Philippe de Thaon, Pierre de Beauvais, Gervaise, and Guillaume le Clerc, which focus on animals as allegorical figures in a Christian-oriented discourse, they draw mainly on the Alexandrinian Physiologus, an Eastern book itself, albeit written in Greek. Moreover, none of these texts are as old as that Indian tradition springing from the Vedic collection, which is the most important in terms of animal symbolism and the relationship between the sacred and the profane, a contact mediated by a vast array of allegorical beasts. After pointing out a few aspects concerning Blakes fourfold zoomorphic symbolism, my discourse will be centred explicitly on the possible parallelism which may be established between the poets main figures and the Indian beast pantheon. Needless to mention that these correspondences should be taken with a grain of salt.

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A.3.1. Beasts and the Fourfold Geography of the Sacred


Elsewhere, I have demonstrated the significance of the numeral 4 in Blakes visionariness, and enriched my analysis by pointing out the corresponding four types of vision. 19 For the moment, by focusing on Blakes employment of animal symbols as instances of the sacred, I intend to show that the aforementioned symbolism is by no means random, and that it is part and parcel of a visionary modus operandi, which extends far beyond the confines of theory. Thus, I am strongly inclined to believe that the artist envisaged geography in terms of organic symbols, although Blake can be integrated neither into the Greek tradition of natural philosophy (the pre-Socratics) nor into the German lineage of Naturphilosophie. In Jerusalem, for instance, despite the poets inclination towards obfuscation of readily available visionary truths, there is a transparent quaternary on the smaller scale: the Eagle corresponds to the north, the Fly to the south, the Worm to the west, and the Dove to the east. These petty animals pair the large beasts which had already appeared in Blakes chief prose work: . . . And I heard Jehovah speak Terrific from his Holy Place & saw the Words of the Mutual Covenant Divine On Chariots of gold & jewels with Living Creatures starry & flaming With every Colour, Lion, Tyger, Horse, Elephant, Eagle Dove, Fly, Worm (E 258). Nevertheless, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the quaternary correspondences are shifted to another level. If, in Jerusalem, one encounters four earth creatures on the larger scale, and three air
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creatures and one earth creature on the smaller scale, here, one finds four earth creatures on both scales. Thus, the Lion is assigned to the north, the Horse to the south, the Elephant to the west, and the Tyger20 (in Blakes transcript) to the east.21 Four other petty animals appear, i.e. the Rat, the Mouse, the Fox, and the Rabbet (in Blakes transcript). Since the latter series is not transmuted into another poem, I can only infer that the humble quaternary merely parodies the grand one. The poet takes into account two different perspectives: the microscopic and the gigantic, corresponding to the microcosm and the macrocosm. The microcosm stands for the sublunary world, dominated by fault, instinct, time, and death, whilst the macrocosm stands for the divine world of Eternity, which is the archetypal abode of vision, the spiritual axis of the universe. The main message, however, is consistent with the newly found ontological key of Blakes system, i.e. each and every being plays its part in Gods creation: The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbet; watch the roots, the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits (E 36). If one wishes to grasp the full span of Blakes thought, one must read this assertion in connection with that describing the cohesion of poetic parts in the prefatory lines to Chapter I of Jerusalem.22 It becomes quite clear now that the spectrum of analysis is broader than one may have anticipated in the beginning, and that the poets zoomorphism translates a visionary mode which is inclined to accept realia in its complete and often confusing diversity rather than to operate on a selective basis. A contrastive analysis of the animal pairs further clarifies their morphological traits. The first doublet in Jerusalem, LionEagle, displays protection, nobility, genius, but also spiritual wrath. The subsequent pair, Horse-Fly, evinces reason, but also thoughtless navet. The third couple, Elephant-Worm, again evinces nobility, but also propensity for frailty. The final tandem, Tyger-Dove, equates love, but also, in a decayed form, instinctual wrath. Nonetheless, the first doublet in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Lion-Rat, is a mere contrast of force and weakness. The
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subsequent pair, Horse-Mouse, constitutes another opposition, the two entities having in common the idea of swiftness and agility (though the former adds grace to its intrinsic qualities). The third couple, Elephant-Fox, emphasizes the antinomy between sincerity and cunning (the former is resolute, whilst the latter is utterly spineless). The final tandem, Tyger-Rabbet, embodies the binominal Courage-Fear. Whilst, in Jerusalem, the pairs are noble and creative, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the couples are marred by sarcasm and frivolity. A parallel analysis of these poetic tetrads points to the fact that Blakes bestial figures mirror, at least partially, certain zoomorphs which are found in the Indian pantheon. From the minor series, one may distinguish the avian metaphor for the Eagle, as well as the frail frame of the Rabbet. There are no less than four similar birds in Hindu mythology: Suparna, [a]n eagle or a vulture . . . noted for its strength and swiftness (Stutley 290), yena, [a]n eagle, hawk, falcon or other bird of prey (Stutley 296), Garutmat, [a]n eagle which protects one against poison and poisoned arrows (Stutley 96), and, most importantly, Garuda, [a] mythical figure having the beak and talons of a predatory bird and the body of a man, described as a harpy in Buddhism (Stutley 95). David Weir identifies the composite figure found on plate 78 of Jerusalem as an engraving of Garuda, Visnus vehicle: [b]oth Garuda and Blakes composite creature bear the head of a bird featuring the hooked beak of an eagle or a hawk . . . (81). On the other hand, though not intending to question Blakes originality, Keri Davies believes that [v]ery similar to the Garuda of Moors Plate 10523 are the winged, bird-headed riders of Jerusalem Plate 46 . . . (49). As concerns the Rabbet, OFlaherty notes that, in Hindu thought, this animal is associated not with sexuality or fecundity, as in the West, but with cleverness and fragility (259). If Blake does not necessarily imply that the Rabbet is quick-minded, he certainly intends it to be extremely fragile: hence its transparent pusillanimity.
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Interestingly, all the elements pertaining to the major series have corresponding ones in Hindu mythology. Simha, the Lion, is identified with sovereignty and given the title of lord, chief, hero, etc. (Stutley 276). Asva, the Horse, is [t]he symbol of luminous deities, esprecially the sun (23). In Aitareya Brahmana (VI.35), the sun metamorphoses into a white horse. Moreover, his chariot is pulled by seven golden horses (Stutley 23). The head of the horse is particularly sacred and potent. Among other things, it represents knowledge (Stutley 24). At once, everything becomes clear. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, horses are associated with sagacity and knowledge, 24 being surpassed only by the instinctembodying tygers: The Tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction (E 37). The golden horses of light belong to the god of reason. The striking parallelism is enhanced even further: Damon underlines that they pull the sun chariot of the redeemed Urizen (the Greek Apollo) in the fourteenth illustration to Job (Blake Dictionary 189). Subsequent examples of horse symbolism in Hindu scriptures cannot overlook the significance of Hayagriva, the horse-headed god played, in disguise, by the powerful Visnu. In his attempt to save the Vedas, which are hidden inside the head of the stallion Dadhyanc, the god metamorphoses into a horses head. Wendy Doniger OFlaherty further depicts the Vedic Stallion, as a symbol linked with fire through the rituals of the sun stallion and the sacrificial fire (239). Moreover, she insists that there are essentially two contrastive models: one in which the stallion, functioning as a symbol of the sun and the day, is set in opposition to the mare (embodying the moon and the night), and the other in which the same stallion stands in contrast with the bull, both bearing the same meaning as in the first scenario (255). Gaja, the Elephant, is a widespread character in Puranic mythology, in connection with rain (Stutley 88). Numbering four (later, eight), they support and guard the regions of the world (Stutley 88). As one may see, the obsession about tetrads is not only Blakes own. OFlaherty also points out that the elephant, especially the white one, serves as a symbol of royalty, as a
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symbol of the Buddha . . . (258). Albeit a symbol of fertility, it is never sacrificed. David Weir notes that Blake is said to have done a drawing of two elephant-headed figures that might have been modelled after the Indian god (83), Ganesa, that is often depicted as elephant-headed and with a prominent belly. Finally, the tiger is associated with the menacing Goddess Durga, being her omnipresent and powerful vehicle (sometimes, a lion replaces this traditional character in some Indian icons). My analysis evinces that the apparently paradoxical distribution of the aforementioned animals accounts for the similar geographical structure which Blake set at the core of his divine analogies. Thus, the dialectic of the sacred may be defined through a complex polarity of micro- and macrocomponents, inferior and superior elements, highly developed organic and primitive life patterns.

A.3.2. Ophiomorphic Symbolism and Psychological Exclusion: Orcs Reptilian Metamorphosis


The second part of my zoomorph study deals with Orc. 25 He embodies Blakes idea of Revolution and, according to S. Foster Damon, constitutes a lower form of Luvah, the emotions . . . because repressed love turns to war(Blake Dictionary 309). He is the elder son of Los and his consort, Enitharmon. 26 Although only the latter part of Orcs analysis directly concerns possible Oriental filiations, I think that the whole exegetic attempt is relevant in the general context of Blakes animal metaphors. Orcs reptilian metamorphosis has been generally interpreted as the degeneration of Revolution (Damon, Blake Dictionary 309). However, Morton D. Paley offers a more refined
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insightful comment, according to which, as a serpent in America, Orc can embody the cycle of historical recurrence . . . the serpent can also represent the possibility of millennial regeneration, suggested by the snakes annual casting of its slough . . . In addition, Orcs form has explicitly revolutionary dimensions (Apocalypse and Millenium 58). In The Four Zoas, it is Urizen, the jealous god of the Old Testament, who forces Orc to become a serpent and to hide himself in the foliage of the forbidden tree, the Tree of Mystery.27 Orc and Luvah, rebellion and sensuality, mingle, and the god of reason is baffled. The bitter knowledge brought about by Orcs transformation is symbolic of the Godlike State, wherein physical pain and self-consciousness are mandatory elements. According to Brian Wilkie and Mary Lynn Johnson, Orc as the serpent is the erroneous identification of energy with evil that has been perpetrated in so much of religious orthodoxy (150). As I shall further underline, this energy, called Kundalini in Hindu esoteric traditions, provides absolute, and therefore, in the eyes of the orthodox, dangerous, knowledge. The assertion of Wilkie and Johnson holds water particularly when one correlates it with that of Jeffrey Burton Russell, which points out that the concept of the Devil 28 displays a coherent historical development growing from pre-biblical roots through Hebrew and Christian thought into the present. The essential point of this tradition is that the Devil is a satan, an obstructor of the will of the good Lord. Satans basic function is to say, My will, not yours, be done (25). Despite the fact that Orc rebels against a self-asserted Demiurgos, he is essentially a victim (although Blakes poetic scope is much broader if not taken at face value), not an obstructor. Victimized though he may be, Orc is still a powerful symbol of complete spiritual transformation, a fact proved by the characters stubborn resistance to all forms of hermeneutic explanation: . . . Thou knowst me now O Urizen Prince of Light
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And I know thee is this the triumph this the Godlike State That lies beyond the bounds of Science in the Grey obscure Terrified Urizen heard Orc now certain that he was Luvah And Orc began to Organize a Serpent body Despising Urizens light & turning it into flaming fire Recieving as a poisond Cup Recieves the heavenly wine And turning affection into fury & thought into abstraction A Self consuming dark devourer rising into the heavens (E 356). It is quite obvious that everyone rejects Orc: Los, his father, who is jealous of his sons love for his mother, binds him to the ground; Urizen urges him to alter his shape radically (that is, to become estranged). These actions, forceful and hasty as they may be, are both forms of exclusion. I define the concept of exclusion in terms of opposition states, related to novelty, originality, and hidden meaning. One tends to reject whatever one perceives as perilous, utterly new, or incomprehensible. Thus, the basic features of the exclusion in Blakes Orc are the following antinomies: otherness (as opposed to identity) and deviance (as opposed to commonly accepted normality). Otherness and deviance are particularized in my discourse as traits of sexual, as well as spiritual, growth and initiation. I have drawn two distinct axes of significance. They both envisage the relationship between subject and its counterpart (otherness) from two clear-cut viewpoints. Horizontally, the hero opposes the ordinary society. Vertically, he is set against his own subsequent distant self, as a superior form of existence. In order to achieve this ideal state, the hero undergoes a complex process of initiation, which implies a double self-deprivation
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(Selbstentuerung): on the one hand, the giving-up of his initial body, on the other, his total abandoning to a higher authority, a fact which enables him to redefine the concept of liberty. The new corporeality and newly reached identity stage are, paradoxically, appropriated by Orc and, at the same time, perceived as alien, therefore as vivid metaphors for exclusion. This vertical development causes an alteration on the horizontal axis: as the hero proceeds towards his pinnacle point, the gap between himself and the others grows proportionally. Feeling mystically elected, he develops a sense of estrangement in relation to the profane world (rendered metaphorically by the god of reason). Simultaneously, by perceiving the change in Orc, most of the characters tend to reject him, as he is viewed to be the recipient of what could ultimately be perceived as an ontological deviance. Yet another type of response is at hand. Thus, the hero is transformed into the archetype of an exemplary stance, functioning as a comprehensive yet unattainable symbol of the psyche. However, the significance of Orcs metamorphosis cannot be fully grasped in the absence of a reference to Hindu mythology. Semantically, in Sanskrit, there is no difference between the snake and the elephant: both are called naga. The former embodies wisdom and spiritual evolution: secret spiritual techniques of contemplation speak about the awakening of a divine form of energy, Kundalini, figured as a serpent and coiled at the base of the spine, in the sacrum bone. When Kundalini gushes out of the fontanelle bone area, which is the apex of the head or the seat of spiritual salvation, the human individual is freed from material bondage and breaks free from the inexorable cycle of life and death, thereby attaining immortality and absolute knowledge of the sacred. Thus, Orcs ophiomorphic transformation may be interpreted in terms of radical personality alteration, functioning on the premise of ontological substitution. Concurrently, Orc attains a superior level of understanding phenomena, as his reptilian metamorphosis is determined by his
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father, Urizen, who, in his unfallen form, embodies true gnosis. However, Orcs instinctual slavery is presented only through the eyes of Urizen. It is only reasons perspective which is present in the text: the castrating, domineering attitude of a jealous god, who proves utterly incapable of sharing the joy of intellectual and spiritual discovery. The conclusion reads that Orc may well have gained access to a superior metaphysical scale, which is meant to replace the sterile function of reason by opening the gates of the senses to an altogether different state of affairs. The serpent body is, in Blakes terms, a metaphor for difference: he who masters both his sensorium and his intellect is transformed forever. No conventional representation of human identity can possibly surface this radical change. To sum up, I must say that Blake behaves ambivalently towards the figure of Orc. On the one hand, he downplays and debases its role, thereby paying tribute to a Christian convention according to which the serpent is a subversive icon, an image of the Devil. On the other, he remains faithful to his inner conviction that energy is a Luciferic force which, albeit apt to disrupt orthodox attitudes at a surface level, remains the only element able to guarantee both creative liberty and spiritual enlightenment at a deep structure level. It is at this point that Blakes thought meets Hindu tradition, identifying the ophiomorphic effigy with Kundalini, i.e. with the provider of absolute knowledge. My commentary in the Appendix has concentrated on the complex relationship between Blakes ideas and the illustrious Zen tradition in China and in Japan, as well as on the English artists rich visionary bestiary, which I have put in relation to the cultural paradigms of Hindu mythology. I have also focused on the analysis of Orc, an ambivalent character who, in my opinion, deserves full critical attention. Quite naturally, the demonstration may be extended ad libitum and one may provide numerous examples to further the aforementioned explanations. Throughout these lines, I have sought to demonstrate that Blake
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deploys animal metaphors in order that he could describe a state of affairs which otherwise might have been too intricate to be properly synthesized and/or pictured. Moreover, the elements that link Blakes thought to Oriental formae mentis are quite far from negligible.

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Notes to the Appendix


Drummond Bone notes that the Romantic affair with the medieval, or geographically with the exotic in particular the Orient can be seen not as a love affair with the Other, but as a love affair with the self masquerading as the Other (126). 2 In its authors definition, the syntagm Oriental Renaissance covers basically two centuries of the European history of ideas, i.e. 1680-1880. It is defined as the marriage of rediscovered knowledges and unprecedented creations; never before had it been so clearly a multiplication of points of comparison [italics in the original] (476). 3 The Greco-Latin culture is, according to Schwab, the prerogative of restricted groups, the property of an elite, a feature of class luxury that would be removed only with extreme difficulty (474). 4 The reader should remember that Blake travelled very little and, of course, never set foot in Asia. As John Phillips writes, the poet would only ever have actually been in [italics in the original] the Orient in visions . . . (298). 5 For instance, Kabirs poetry strongly resembles Blakes as far as the underlying structures and the rhetoric of enthusiasm are concerned. The following poem, closely resembling Blakes Auguries of Innocence, is a case in point:
1

Do not go to the garden of flowers! O Friend! go not there; In your body is the garden of flowers. Take your seat on the thousand petals of the lotus, and there gaze on the Infinite Beauty (3-4). Another example, echoing Blakes favourite idea of the macrocosm-microcosm relationship (see again Auguries of Innocence) from a slightly different perspective, is constituted by the following lines: The Supreme Soul is seen within the soul, The Point is seen within the Supreme Soul, And within the Point, the reflection is seen again. Kabir is blest because he has this supreme vision (7-8).
6

To support his conjecture, Erdman points to Blakes description of a painting executed in 1809, Mr Wilkin[s] translating the Geeta; an ideal design, suggested by the first publication of that part of the Hindoo Scriptures, translated by Mr. 273

Wilkin[s] (Prophet against Empire 146). On the other hand, Raine is certain not only of Blakes reading the Bhagavad Gita (published in 1785), but also of his having read it before 1795, which is the composition date of The Song of Los. 7 A more recent study of the influence of Wilkins s translation of the Bhagavad Gita pertains to Tristanne J. Connolly, who admits that because there is so little to go on, few critics pursue the connection between Blake and the Geeta . . . (145). 8 The concept of tathata is defined by Suzuki as the viewing of things as they are: it is an affirmation through and through (263). See also note 14 to the first chapter of my study. 9 For a cogent presentation of these chief features, see Suzuki 103-08. 10 For a complete demonstration, see Suzuki 115-29. 11 Consider Blakes numerous aphorisms in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, E 3345. 12 See the last sentence of the Chorus in A Song of Liberty, the concluding fragment of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, E 45. 13 See the relevant line in Milton, E 96 et passim. 14 See, for example, the series of pathos-driven exclamations and supplications in Jerusalem, E 147. 15 For instance, one may wish to pursue the intricate but rewarding hermeneutics of Zen poetics, taking as a starting point Muneyoshi Yanagis interpretation of Blakes poetry. In this sense, a useful tool may be found in three separate studies published respectively by Kazuyoshi Oishi, by Ayako Wada, and by Shunsuke Tsurumi. Oishi emphasizes that Yanagi was attracted by Blake all the more because his religious and philosophical system seemed to outstrip logical argument . . . (186). Let me also point out that Yanagi was the disciple of Suzuki. 16 Consider, for instance, the case of the Egyptian or the Mesopotamian pantheons, in which various divine figures are assigned animal traits. 17 However, this artistic propensity is permanently threatened by Blakes hostility to the natural world. In the words of Ashton Nichols, the poets anti-materialism disdained all forms of embodied spirit, a category that includes humans and all other aspects of animate nature as well: botanical, zoological, even insectivorous (132). Nichols adds that Blake may have distrusted nature in visionary terms, but he celebrated its physical beauty, its sensuous details and its crucial role in our awareness of our human place in the cosmos (132). 18 See also the fourth chapter of my study (the part devoted to the analysis of Blakes Europe). 19 See the third chapter of my study. 20 It is well known that the figure of the tiger has been rendered famous by a poem bearing the same title and found in Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The poems oriental feature is noted by Dr Benjamin Heath Malkin, in the prefatory 274

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lines to the book devoted to the short life of his brilliant infant, Thomas: Our bard [Blake], having brought the topic he descants on from warmer latitudes than his own, is justified in adopting an imagery, of almost oriental feature and complection (XXXVII). 21 For a good survey of Blakes possible sources for the portrait of the Tyger, see Ashton Nichols 128-32. 22 See E 146. 23 The author has in mind Edward Moors illustrated work The Hindu Pantheon, published in 1810, and containing 105 engraved plates. 24 Damon himself notes that, in Blake, horses represent Reason (Blake Dictionary 189). 25 For more details, see the fourth chapter of my study. 26 Nevertheless, in Europe a Prophecy, Rintrah, the symbol of divine wrath, is said to be the eldest: Arise! O Rintrah, eldest born, second to none but Orc! (E 62). 27 It should be noted that this episode constitutes Blakes account of the Fall, a reinterpretation of the Miltonic version of the original sin. 28 In parallel, Jeffrey Burton Russell offers an interesting list of nonhistorical arguments for the Devils existence: (1) The Devil manifests himself personally: there is a Devil-experience as there is a God-experience. (2) There is a universal human experience of the principle of evil. Some recent writers have spoken of natural diabology akin to natural theology. (3) The Devils existence can be demonstrated ontologically. (4) The Devils existence can be demonstrated a priori from certain theological assumptions. (5) The Devil is accepted on the basis of biblical evidence (23-25).

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Index
Abraham, 79, 231 Abrams, M. H., 60, 61, 82, 110, 135, 165, 185, 240 Ackroyd, Peter, 47 Adams, E. M., 29, 37 Adi Sankara, 125 Aers, David, 197, 223 Agrippa, Cornelius, 74 Ahearn, Edward J., 22, 111 Akenside, Mark, 74 Albertus Magnus, 73 Almond, Philip C., 125, 126, 180 Altizer, Thomas J. J., 123 Anaxagoras, 162 Angelico, Fra, 175, 186 Ansari, A. A., 241 Apollonius, 78 Aquinas, Thomas St., 73 Arendt, Hannah, 253 Argento, Dario, 130 Aristotle, 59, 79, 80, 86, 97, 109, 163, 185 Augustine, St., 61, 87 Aullus Gellius, 59 Bachelard, Gaston, 78 Bacon, Francis, 213, 222, 230, 231 Baldick, Chris, 36, 38 Ballanche, Pierre-Simon, 179 Barber, Malcolm, 168, 186 Beer, John, 47, 173, 183, 186 Behrendt, Stephen, 110, 194, 240 Bellin, Harvey, 181 Bentley, G. E., Jr., 11, 69, 95, 102, 103, 104, 108, 112, 127, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 138, 147, 180, 181, 186, 241 Berkeley, George, 79, 95 Berlin, Isaiah, 55, 82, 128, 145, 176, 187 Bernard of Clairvaux, St., 151 Birenbaum, Harvey, 122 Black Elk, 125, 180 Blake, Catherine, 99, 129, 133 Blake, Robert, 101, 182 Bloom, Allan, 252 Bloom, Harold, 167, 195, 198, 202, 203, 232 Blyth, R. H., 100 Boccaccio, Giovanni, 110 Bhme, Jakob, 34, 51, 61, 74, 102, 116, 117, 179, 185 Boethius, 59 Bone, Drummond, 273 Boulgakov, Serge, 111 Boutang, Pierre, 186 Bowles, Caroline, 69 Bowra, C. M., 74 Brice, Edmund, 117 Briggs, K. M., 106 Bromley, Thomas, 117 Brothers, Richard, 119 Brown, Marshall, 48 Brunelleschi, Filippo, 143 Brunetire, Ferdinand, 56 Buddha, 267 Bunyan, John, 74 Burke, Joseph, 134, 181 Butler, Marilyn, 150 Butter, Peter, 223 Butts, Thomas, 16, 62, 91, 100, 101, 111, 174, 175, 178, 182, 183, 184, 215, 246

Bygrave, Stephen, 58, 59 Byron, George Gordon, 108, 136, 181 Carlyle, Thomas, 40, 55 Chaucer, Geoffrey, 80 Cicero, 109 Cirlot, J. E., 170, 172 Clark, Timothy, 88, 110 Clark, Steve, 240, 248, 256 Clemens Alexandrinus, 111 Cleopatra,103 Coleman, Earle J., 33, 51, 125, 180 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 74, 75, 88 Collingwood, R. G., 71, 72 Collins, William, 74 Connolly, Tristanne J., 274 Cooper, David, 70, 108 Cowper, William, 61, 68, 108 Crawfurd, Oswald, 130 Crehan, Stewart, 142 Cumberland, George, 79, 241 Cunningham, Allan, 101, 103, 112, 130, 132, 133, 137 Curran, Stuart, 172, 228 Dabundo, Laura, 68, 111, 142 Damon, S. Foster, 11, 15, 20, 21, 45, 50, 58, 59, 60, 68, 76, 77, 108, 110, 111, 154, 155, 156, 164, 172, 173, 179, 185, 191, 195, 203, 205, 225, 235, 240, 241, 242, 255, 266, 267, 275 Damrosch, Leopold, Jr., 14, 15, 77, 82, 92, 121, 143, 169 Dante, 103, 205 David, 79 Davies, Keri, 265 Davis, Caroline Franks, 179, 180 Davis, Michael, 108

Deen, Leonard W., 44, 76, 156 De Luca, Vincent Arthur, 38, 46 De Man, Paul, 56, 62 Denis the Carthusian, 181 Descartes, Ren, 28, 35 Diffey, T. J., 108 Dunbar, Pamela, 117 Duns Scotus, 59 Drer, Albrecht, 143, 180 Eakin, Paul John, 26 Eaves, Morris, 20, 183 Edward III, 103 Edward of Woodstock, 103 Eliade, Mircea, 226, 240 Elijah, 46, 98 Eliot, T. S., 36 Elliott, Robert C., 27, 59 Else, Gerald F., 109, 111 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 38, 43, 95, 96 Engell, James, 33, 73, 74, 75, 109 Erdman, David V., 11, 15, 20, 60, 182, 195, 241, 255 Esau, 241 Essick, Robert N., 11, 42, 148, 228, 239 Esterhammer, Angela, 56, 183 Evans, Evan, 60 Ezekiel, 99, 129, 172, 226, 234, 235, 236 Ezra, 99 Fairchild, Hoxie Neale, 68, 111 Fehrman, Carl, 88 Ferber, Michael, 118, 179, 185, 243 Ferguson, James, 242 Ferrara, Mark S., 256, 257 Fichte, J. G., 28, 31, 32, 59 Fischer, Kevin, 179 Flaxman, Anna, 99

294

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295
Hardison, O. B., Jr., 110, 145, 242 Harper, George Mills, 172, 185 Hartman, Geoffrey H., 41, 50, 60 Hatab, Lawrence J., 187 Hayley, William, 44, 45, 61, 69, 98, 101, 102, 183 Heber, 231 Hegel, G. W. F., 52, 147 Herdman, John, 61 Hesketh, Harriet, 69 Hessen-Homburg, Friedrich V von, 183 Hill, Melvyn, 204 Hobbes, Thomas, 72 Hobson, Christopher Z., 241 Hlderlin, Friedrich, 56, 57, 108, 151, 160, 183 Homer, 59, 103, 145 Horace, 182 Hosea, 149 Hume, David, 28, 29, 58, 71, 233 Hunt, Robert, 69 Irenaeus, 168 Isaac, 241 Isaiah, 99, 149, 150 Izenberg, Gerald N., 59 Jacob, 181 James, William, 126, 180 Janowitz, Anne, 242 Jasper, David, 150 Jean Paul, 61 Jeremiah, 149 Jesus, 20, 52, 54, 79, 81, 85, 86, 97, 98, 101, 116, 117, 133, 145, 147, 148, 150, 151, 167, 168, 169, 172, 175, 192, 201, 202, 217, 218, 222, 223, 224, 226, 227, 228, 230, 231, 232, 233, 295

296
234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 240, 241, 259 Joachim of Flora, 165 Job, 224, 266 John the Apostle, St., 80, 224 John of the Cross, St., 51 John the Divine, St., 172 Johnson, Johnny, 69 Johnson, Mary Lynn, 55, 202, 205, 213, 241, 268 Johnson, Samuel, 116 Johnstone, Henry W., 27, 58 Joseph, 234 Jung, C. G., 172, 227, 251 Kabir, 273 Kant, Immanuel, 28, 29, 30, 59, 71, 72, 74, 108, 127, 128, 152, 180 Katz, Joseph, 186 Keats, George, 181 Keats, Georgiana, 181 Keats, John, 181 Keene, Donald, 182 Kerrane, Kevin, 110, 145, 182, 242 Keynes, Geoffrey, 11, 111 Kim, Jaegwon, 59, 70, 171 Kirkup, Seymour, 69, 133 Kitson, Peter, 136, 182 Klabes, Gnter, 160 Koshiro, Haga, 182 Kristeva, Julia, 121, 180 Lacoue-Labarthe, Philippe, 183 Laird, John, 27 Lambert, Malcolm, 186 Larrissy, Edward, 109 Lavater, Johann Kaspar, 94, 100, 167 Law, William, 116, 117, 179, 185 Leade, Jane, 117, 118 Lee, Francis, 117

Revealer of the Fourfold Secret

Flaxman, John, 99, 102, 104, 157, 183, 184 Francis of Assisi, St., 125 Fraser, G. S., 247 Frye, Northrop, 11, 15, 20, 33, 45, 48, 54, 77, 98, 120, 164, 172, 180, 202, 204, 216, 223, 241, 242, 256 Fulci, Lucio, 130 Fulford, Tim, 185 Fulgentius, 59 Fuller, David, 197, 216, 240 Fuseli, Henry, 69, 133 Geoffrey of Monmouth, 60 Geoffrey of Vinsauf, 242 Gervaise, 262 Gibbon, Edward, 233 Gilchrist, Alexander, 129, 130, 131, 186 Gleckner, Robert F., 39, 180, 219 Goodman, Nelson, 138, 139, 144, 182 Goodson, A. C., 228, 229 Goto, Yumiko, 182 Gourlay, Alexander, 174 Grant, Patrick, 72 Graves, Robert, 88 Gray, Thomas, 60 Green, Matthew J. A., 58 Grimes, Ronald L., 31, 122 Guillaume le Clerc, 262 Gunkel, Hermann, 60, 149 Gurney, Stephen, 166 Gusdorf, Georges, 28, 29 Guttenplan, Samuel, 30, 71 Hagstrum, Jean H., 139, 164, 241 Hampton, Christopher, 227 Hanke, Amala M., 153, 154, 155 Harding, Rosamund, 88, 110

Leeuw, G. van der, 97 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 71 Lerner, Laurence, 193 Lincoln, Andrew, 154, 202, 241 Linnell, John, 69, 133 Lister, Raymond, 141, 142 Locke, John, 28, 29, 58, 213, 222 Longinus, 145 Lot, 132 Lucan, 59 Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 66 Macrobius, 59 Makdisi, Saree, 11, 144, 240 Malkin, Benjamin Heath, 69, 274 Malkin, Thomas Heath, 275 Mani, 168, 169 Marcion, 168 Mary, 132, 234 Marx, Karl, 185 McCann, Andrew, 242 McFarland, Thomas, 72 McGinn, Bernard, 150 Macpherson, James, 60 Maritain, Jacques, 53, 87, 109, 110 Maritain, Rasa, 110 Matthews, Susan, 223 Mee, Jon, 11, 60, 179, 185 Meister Eckhart, 74 Michelangelo, 103, 143, 180 Milton, John, 8, 17, 20, 21, 26, 42, 45, 46, 57, 62, 74, 81, 90, 91, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 111, 149, 153, 155, 157, 164, 178, 192, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 220, 221, 223, 225, 232, 239, 241, 242, 246, 260, 261 Mitchell, W. J. T., 164, 165

296

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297
Paulson, Ronald, 184, 218 Peckham, Morse, 166 Peters, F. E., 226 Phillipe de Thaon, 262 Phillips, John, 273 Phillips, Thomas, 131 Philolaus, 111 Philostratus, 78, 109 Pickard-Cambridge, Arthur W., 59 Pico della Mirandola, 74 Pierce, John B., 182 Pierre de Beauvais, 262 Pindar, 103, 105 Plato, 42, 59, 78, 79, 80, 84, 87, 97, 104, 105, 109, 176 Pletcher, Galen K., 126, 180 Plotinus, 96, 97, 125, 167, 176, 186, 187 Plowman, Max, 203 Pope, Alexander, 184 Popper, Karl R., 27, 58 Pordage, John, 117 Preminger, Alex, 59, 60, 109, 110, 145, 182, 242 Prickett, Stephen, 119, 185 Priestman, Martin, 119, 179, 201 Proclus, 96, 109 Proust, Marcel, 36, 59, 216 Punter, David, 121, 200, 238 Pythagoras, 171 Quasha, George, 241 Raedt, Peter, 183 Raine, Kathleen, 16, 20, 77, 241, 256, 274 Raphael, 43, 143, 180 Rees, Abraham, 60 Reeves, William, 118 Reynolds, Joshua, 16, 42, 43, 62, 81, 92, 95, 134, 143, 153, 184 Rheinfelder, Hans, 59 297

298
Richey, William, 180, 201 Rieger, James, 37 Robert I, 103 Robinson, Henry Crabb, 95, 102, 121, 133, 147, 181, 241 Rodin, Auguste, 134 Romano, Giulio, 180 Roos, Jacques, 179 Rosn, Laurence J., 180 Rosen, Charles, 68, 108 Rosso, George Anthony, Jr., 214 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 233 Ruhl, Darrell, 181 Runzo, Joseph, 124 Rupp, Gordon, 117, 118 Ruskin, John, 40, 109 Russell, D. A., 78, 96, 105 Russell, Jeffrey Burton, 268, 275 Ryan, Robert, 52, 116 Rzepka, Charles J., 52 Said, Edward W., 252, 253 Saurat, Denis, 256 Scaliger, Julius Caesar, 59 Scharfstein, Ben-Ami, 126 Schelling, F. W. J., 28, 33, 43, 51, 59, 74, 75, 96, 145, 147, 183, 247, 248 Schiller, Friedrich, 176, 177 Schlegel, Friedrich, 59, 148 Schleiermacher, Friedrich, 28, 33, 34, 84, 85, 87, 124, 169, 213 Schwab, Raymond, 254, 273 Scott, Walter, 108 Scotus Eriugena, 75 Seillire, Ernest, 56 Semiramis, 103 Shaftesbury, 74 Shakespeare, William, 92, 102, 103, 217, 218 Sharp, William, 119

Revealer of the Fourfold Secret

Moor, Edward, 265 Morse, David, 67, 242 Morton, A. L., 179 Moses, 92, 103, 234 Mowinckel, Sigmund, 41 Muhammad, 55 Murray, John, 136 Myers, Jack, 36, 59 Nanavutty, Piloo, 255, 256 Nancy, Jean-Luc, 183 Newlyn, Lucy, 217 Newton, Isaac, 175, 196, 199, 213, 222, 230, 231 Nichols, Ashton, 274, 275 Nicolaus Cusanus, 160, 161, 162, 163 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 110 Nimii, Hatsuko, 242 Nishitani, Keiji, 59 Noah148, 196, 231 Nollekens, Joseph, 180 Novalis, 134, 179 Nurmi, Martin K., 61 Nuttall, A. D., 185 OBrien, Denis, 186 ODonoghue, N. D., 126 OFlaherty, Wendy Doniger, 265, 266 Oishi, Kazuyoshi, 274 ONeill, Michael, 47, 49, 60 Ostriker, Alicia, 136 Otto, Peter, 184 Oxley, William, 88 Pagels, Elaine, 168 Paley, Morton D., 133, 167, 267 Palmer, Samuel, 69, 186 Paneth, Ludwig, 186 Paracelsus, 74, 76, 102, 109 Passeron, Ren, 59 Patch, Howard Rollin, 179

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 50, 160 Shem, 231 Sheppard, Anne, 108, 109 Simms, Michael, 36, 59 Simpson, David, 198 Singh, Charu Sheel, 256 Smart, Christopher, 74 Smith, J. T., 101, 180 Smith, Mark Trevor, 160, 161, 164, 184 Socrates, 84, 104 Sosa, Ernest, 59, 70, 171 Southcott, Joanna, 119 Southey, Robert, 69 Sparrow, John, 185 Spector, Sheila A., 163 Spenser, Edmund, 180, 219 Spinoza, Baruch, 72, 75 Stace, D. T., 126, 180 Strange, John Clark, 129 Stutley, James, 262, 265, 266 Stutley, Margaret, 262, 265, 266 Suzuki, D. T., 180, 257, 258, 259, 260, 274 Suzuki, Masashi, 256 Swedenborg, Emanuel, 74, 80, 94, 95, 110, 162, 167, 168, 181, 183, 241 Symons, Arthur, 66 Tai-hui, 258 Tannenbaum, Leslie, 61, 150, 199, 217, 224, 241 Tatham, Frederick, 103, 129, 138 Taylor, Charles, 27, 58, 165 Tertullian, 242 Thespesion, 78 Thompson, E. P., 118, 119, 133, 179 Tillich, Paul, 84, 86 Trusler, John, 98, 106 Tsurumi, Shunsuke, 274

298

Index

299
Welburn, Andrew J., 123 Whitehead, Alfred North, 181 Whittaker, Jason, 60 Wilkins, Charles, 255, 273, 274 William of Occam, 243, 248 Winckelmann, Johann Joachim, 145 Winterbottom, M., 78, 96, 105 Wittreich, Joseph Anthony, Jr., 40 Wolfson, Susan, 214 Wordsworth, Dorothy, 102 Wordsworth, William, 39, 69, 81, 108, 241 Worrall, David, 240, 248 Wulff, David M., 21 Xenophanes, 96 Yanagi, Muneyoshi, 274 Youngquist, Paul, 108 Zinzendorf, Nicholas Ludwig von, 179

Turner, Denys, 124 Uccello, Paolo, 143 Ueda, Makoto, 18, 21 Varley, John, 131, 133, 134 Vergil, 59, 103 Vine, Steven, 123 Viscomi, Joseph, 11, 141 Vogel, C. J. De, 97 Voltaire, 26, 103, 233 Vries, Ad de, 171, 186 Wada, Ayako, 274 Ward, Aileen, 102 Ward, James, 69 Warton, Joseph, 74 Watson, J. R., 26, 220 Watson, R., 42, 94, 185 Webber, Andrew J., 61 Weber, Max, 41, 42 Webster, Brenda S., 66 Weir, David, 14, 255, 256, 265, 267

299

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Revealer of the Fourfold Secret

Critical Opinions
Well versed in the Classics and German and French philosophy and aesthetics which no doubt helped shape the course of his study, Catalin Ghita posits that an unsystematic system exists in Blakes visionary epics. He conducts a thorough explication de texte on them and finally succeeds in laying bare the complex, quadripartite structure of Blakes vision. The great value of the book consists not only in its central thesis, boldly proposed and persuasively demonstrated, but also in its detailed anatomy of Blakes esoteric texts. By proving the efficacy of close reading, there is no doubt that Revealer of the Fourfold Secret: William Blakes Theory and Practice of Vision is a significant contribution to Blake studies and will open a way for a new dimension in English studies in general. Professor Eiichi Hara Head, Department of English Literature, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University Catalin Ghita has impressed me with his extensive learning and his highlystructured and well-organized work. Though the subject of his research is in an area prone to arcane obfuscation, the book which he has produced, Revealer of the Fourfold Secret: William Blakes Theory and Practice of Vision, is unusually lucid and sensible in its efforts to display the forms of Blakes inspiration and the categories within which it can be understood. Not only is he a scholar of high distinction, he is also an unusual and original one too. Ghita is a person whose thought and writing, though steeped in the primary and secondary material for his field, preserves its own lineaments and integrity. Peter Robinson, PhD (Cantab.) Professor, School of English and American Literature, University of Reading

Catalin Ghitas systematic approach to Blakes visionarism is both lucid and thorough. In my opinion it marks a significant contribution to Blake scholarship. It is also a work which will be of considerable value for students and scholars of questions of poetic Vision and Inspiration more generally. Ghitas bold aim is to identify and to explicate the unsystematic system underlying Blakes visions and theories of vision. In order to do so he draws upon a variety of fields - not only literary theory, but aesthetics, hermeneutics, metaphysics, philosophy of religion and the history of ideas. Among the most significant and impressive achievements of Ghitas work is his ability to draw upon these diverse fields in order to synthesize an individual, distinctive and wholly convincing approach to his topic, an approach that will interest a wide range of scholars. Furthermore, Ghita writes with great clarity, precision and verve, making his work a pleasure to read. The book is elegantly and clearly structured, with careful close readings of texts from throughout Blakes career illustrating and illuminating Ghitas theoretical arguments. Without ever falling into dogmatism, Ghitas interpretation of Blake is persuasive, original and fully substantiated. This is a work which future writers on Blake and vision will be unable to ignore. Paul Vlitos, PhD (Cantab.) Lecturer, Department of English Literature, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University

302