Saturday, March 31, 2012

Salem State Beat Treasures Resurface

[Allen Ginsberg, April 5, 1973, at Salem State College, via Salem State Archives flickr]

Last year, you may recall, we reported on a wonderful trove of Beat materials on-line, courtesy of Salem State College - the audio (and video) archives from their April 1973 Jack Kerouac Symposium, organized by John McHale (this was the very first academic conference on Kerouac, following his death in 1969). The conference featured Allen, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, John Clellon Holmes (all, notably, "characters", featured in Kerouac's books), along with then-Kerouac-biographer, Aaron Latham, Lowell acquaintance, Professor Charles Jarvis, and Northport, New York acquaintance, artist Stanley Twardowicz. Unfortunately, the technology (RealOne Player) proved to be less than satisfactory. We are happy to report now that the material (courtesy You Tube) is swiftly becoming available. Check out the extraordinary Beat treasures on SSU's You Tube channel here.

SSU has also made available an illuminating Flick'r page of images from the occasion. That portfolio of photographs may be accessed here.

Among the works up so far: Allen on Jack - "The Town and City Sonnet" by Jack Kerouac recited by Allen Ginsberg ("I dwelled in Hell on earth to write this rhyme,/I live in stillness now in living flame.."); from "The Scripture of the Golden Eternity" - Number 64 - ("a direct transcription of his (Kerouac's) own transcendental experience"); "The Moment's Return" ("referring to a myth in Kerouac's Dulouz legend.."); "The Shrouded Stranger" ("which was conceived about the same time as Kerouac's Dr. with, I think, one line written by Kerouac..");"Why Is God Love, Jack?" (a direct address, from 1963); Fragment, 1956; Ignu ("Ignu was a word invented by Kerouac.."); Memory Gardens (an elegy for Jack, "a note coming from Kerouac's funeral in Lowell.."); Sunflower Sutra, The Lion for Real - and, accompanied by the harmonium, "Pull My Daisy", "Prayer Blues", and, "to finish with a Buddhist mantra" - "Gate" - the Perfect Wisdom Sutra (after initial requisite interruption by Gregory!)
Gregory Corso's own contributions are also very well worth catching, readings from Mexico City Blues here and here; a reading of the last stanza of "Elegiac Feelings American" ("for the dear memory of John Kerouac"), and recitations of old favorites, "The Last Gangster", "Sea Chanty", "The Mad Yak", and "This Was My Meal".

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 67

Another Ginsberg "tat" (we know how you love these!) to lead off - a "strophe" (or part of a strophe) from "Howl" (did you know that "Howl" was originally called "Strophes"?) - "America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe".."I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his automobiles more so they're all different sexes".
& here's a tattoo from that poem - Ginsberg's "America".

Tom Sturridge, oh Tom Sturridge! We have to confess we were a little underwhelmed when they released the Tom-Sturridge-as-Allen On The Road poster. After all that Daniel Radcliffe hoo-hah - (but we're still, like you all, eagerly anticipating the upcoming release of the film, scheduled for release in France, May 23, almost certainly debuting at Cannes, a week or so earlier).

Allen's posthumous fame as a movie character! - who would have thunk? (well, who would have thunk so soon?)

"In. The streets look for Allen, Frank, or me. Allen/is a movie.." (Ted Berrigan, from his poem "Red Shift", composed circa 1976)

The Many Cinematic Faces of Allen Ginsberg - Emily Temple surveys the phenomena over on Flavorwire (unaccountably omitting consideration of the afore-mentioned Tom Sturridge) - "we're still pretty fascinated by any portrayal of Ginsberg on screen, however flawed it may be".

Not forgetting documentaries (most especially, not forgetting documentaries!)
The OMC Gallery for Contemporary Arts in Huntington Beach, California, is currently showing "The Beat Hotel and Other Images Made From The Future by Harold Chapman,
Selected Vintage and Period Photographs from 1947 to 2012". Most of these images are being presented for the first time in the United States. Meantime, on the East Coast (premiering today!), Alan Govenar's documentary, The Beat Hotel (featuring Harold as the focal point and Scottish artist, Elliot Rudie) opens - "British photographer Harold Chapman's iconic photos and Scottish artist Elliot Rudie's animated drawings capturing Ginsberg, Orlovsky, Corso, Burroughs, Gysin, (Ian) Sommerville and (Harold) Norse just as they were beginning to establish themselves on the international scene, bring The Beat Hotel to life on the screen. The memories of Chapman and Rudie interweave with the first-hand accounts of French artist Jean Jacques Lebel, British book dealer Cyclops Lester, and (the then) 95 year old George Whitman (patron of Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, who passed away earlier this year). Together with the insights of authors Barry Miles, Oliver Harris, Regina Weinrich, and Eddie Woods, among others, they evoke a time and place where Chapman, mentored by Cartier-Bresson, roamed around Paris photographing nuns, bums, and the idiosyncracies of street life (and) Corso took scissors to Marcel Duchamp's tie in a Dadaist statement, while Ginsberg kissed his knees..." A trailer for the film can be viewed here. Sandra Bertrand's preview/review in GALO magazine is available here.

Another trailer for a documentary - Melanie LaRosa's The Poetry Deal: A Film With Diane Di Prima has just been made available here.

- oh and Jack Kerouac's The Sea Is My Brother, which we wrote about some months back, is finally being published in America. You can read David Ulin's even-handed review (from the LA Times) here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bernard Kops and The International Times Archive

Publication of Bernard Kops' lucid memoir/poem, On Meeting Allen Ginsberg In Tel Aviv 1961, in the current newly-reconstituted, digitalized, cyber-friendly, International Times, set us to wondering about that bastion of "the underground", (as it was once deemed) - "IT" - England's provocative and pioneering "alternative newspaper" (now gloriously accessible, its extensive archives - every single issue! - freely available, on-line. For hours of nostalgic browsing, click here).

The issue shown above is reasonably late (dating from 1973) and features the bulk of what would subsequently be published by Donald M Allen's Grey Fox Press as the Gay Sunshine Interview. For facsimile reproduction see here and here and here.

Other Ginsberg gems from the archive include, a November 12 1966 address from Arlington Street Church, Boston - here and here, and his 1967 essay, Reflections on the Mantra, and his 1968 interview with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The International Times Archive was founded by Mike Lesser in 2009. An annotated and illustrated bibliographic review of IT 1966-1996 by Chris Brook can be found here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

William Blake Class - 12 (Urizen concludes)

Well, okay, so what is it all finally? Let's see, Urizen is wandering through space, exploring his dens, striding over the cities, creating a cold shadow - "Like a spider's web, moist, cold, and dim,/Drawing out from his sorrowing soul" - walking over the cities in sorrow - "..a web dark and cold throughout all/The tormented element stretched..", "(And the web is female in embryo./ None could break the web - no wings of fire,/ So twisted the cords, and so knotted/The meshes, twisted like to the human brain/ And all called it The Net of Religion." - (compare this with) "Soon spreads the dismal shade/ of Mystery over his head/ And the Caterpillar and Fly/ Feed on the Mystery" (from "The Human Abstract") - "Caterpillar and Fly", creatures that feed on corpses - "Feed on the Mystery/ And it bears the fruit of Deceit/ Ruddy and smooth to eat/And the Raven.." - who eats corpses - "..his nest has made/In its thickest shade/ The Gods of the earth and sea/ Sought thro' Nature to find this Tree/ But their search was all in vain.." - Couldn't find it in the external universe, or couldn't find it in actuality, because it only grows in the human brain - "There grows one in the Human Brain". And then, a relative poem, a poem relative to that, "A Poison Tree" (parallel to the poem by Pushkin) - "I was angry with my friend/ I told my wrath, my wrath did end,/ I was angry with my foe,/ I told it not, my wrath did grow./ And I watered it in fears" - that he'd find our how mad I was with him - "Night and morning with my tears/ And I sunned it with smiles/ And with soft deceitful wiles/ And it grew both day and night/ Till it bore an apple bright/ And my foe beheld it shine/And he knew that it was mine./ And into my garden stole/ When the night had veil'd the pole/ In the morning glad I see/ My foe outstretched beneath the tree." - So these are little mini-dramas of Urizen, of applications of the Urizonic temperament.

Student: I never know what attitude to take about that one.

AG: That one? that poem?

Student: Yeah

AG: (Well), I think it's a description of the growth.. the questioner, who sits so sly, the description of the secrecy.. One of the problems of Urizen is secrecy. He has to be secret because it's all his own conception, it's all for himself. So, secrecy, hypocrisy. But I think it's a very straightforward analysis, psychological analysis, of how you get even, if you're into getting even, how a diplomat would get even - that's that Nixon-ian line, "don't get mad, get even". Yeah..I think it's an accurate description. I've gone through this a million times - spreading snares and baits for people to swallow, like a hook.
What (exactly) did you mean.. not what did you mean..but, in what sense didn't you know how to take this?

Student: Well, now I understand. I had read it as..(combatative)..

AG: Well, it is addressed to (someone specific), to knock someone off, but it's analysis of how we're knocking people off all the time - or analysis of how Blake recognized in himself that element of knocking people off by flattering them.. And it may be that he was going into a relationship with a friend, William Hayley, who was his patron, and told him to... He'd
probably just recently met Hayley, and Hayley gave him a pension, sort of, and said, "Why don't you come out and get out of London? You've been living here all your life. Go out in the country. I'll support you. I'm a poet, you're a poet. I need somebody to illustrate my works, you're a great illustrator. You come live out there, I'll give you money, and we'll set you up in a whole household in Felpham near the ocean. You'll do my illustrations and you won't have to depend anymore on the commerce that you've got in London. It'll be an ideal existence, and I'll be living a mile from you and we're going to form a commune or community". So he did do that. But in the biographies there's some element here in that situation that Hayley was interested in Catherine Blake, but was also interested in William Blake in a funny way, and was always calling him over in the middle of the day or night, when Blake was busy on "Jerusalem" or "Milton", saying, "I just have this new poem that I wrote, William, and I want you to illustrate it for me. It's the "Death of a Mouse", or I've got "Ode to Thunder"". And Blake would look at it and say, "Well, there's a good line here, or there, and there's another good line there, but, you want me to illustrate it?". "Yeah, we'll have some money at the end of the week. And so I'll give you your pay at the end of the week". And then, at the end of the week, the money would come in. So hayley got into this antipathetic symbiosis with Blake and entered into his symbolism, entered into the symbolism of the "Four Zoas" and "Milton" and "Jerusalem" in this kind of relationship. (Because) Blake was dependent on him and loved him, but at the same time hated him, and at the same time Hayley had some kind of repressed claim on Blake's eternal balls in some way, and was feeding him and supporting him. And finally, Blake couldn't stand it anymore, and he left this paradise and went back to London, had a break with Hayley.. And there's a bunch of little poems about Hayley in the satires, little tiny satire poems that you'll..
So, in other words, I'm reading this ("A Poison Tree") as Blake's self-revelation of his own psychology. Not so much a how-you-go-about-killing-someone-by-his-own-hypocrisy, but his own analysis of his own nature (from which he drew it) - "In the morning glad I see" - see, I see - "In the morning glad I see/ My foe outstretched beneath the tree." - This is "Songs of Experience", remember...Well, "the road of excess".. So, those all fit.

                                                             [William Hayley (1745-1820)]

Then, now.. "the inhabitants of those cities" - Chapter IX - "Then the inhabitants of those cities/ Felt their nerves change into marrow,/ And hardening bones began/ In swift diseases and torments,/ In throbbings and shootings and grindings/Through all the coasts..." - So it's now the panorama of the whole world entangled. It's created, and entangled in Urizen's net of religion and materialist creation - "- till weakened/ The senses inward rushed, shrinking/ Beneath the dark net of infection" - And that correlates with Blake's constant theme of, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is, infinite", or (elsewhere) in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", he talks about the world being shrunk to our perceptions, or that line we had before, about the two little eyeballs and their closed caves concentrating everything so that the great slime of material heaven appeared like translucent air. Remember that line the other day? - "Till the shrunken eyes clouded over.." - oh, here it is - "Till the shrunken eyes clouded over/ Discerned not the woven hypocrisy/But the streaky slime in their heavens/ Brought together by narrowing perceptions/ Appeared transparent air" - [At this point, a great din is heard from a nearby motorcycle starting up and Allen begins to improvise] - "And the snarling groaning hissings of air through the machines of Urizen's nostril appeared to the mortal eye like the groaning of a motorcycle taking off from its station"! - "for their eyes/ grew small like the eyes of a man/and in reptile forms shrinking together/ Of seven feet stature they remained." - That's really great there, I think, that "in reptile forms shrinking together". So this human worm has finally emerged. Has anyone ever had a vision of people looking like reptiles, outside of LSD? (on LSD, everybody's had that!). I think almost everybody's had reptilian visions of organic creation, I think it's a real perception (I've had it without it (without LSD), actually).. Well, (so), this is the polypus (sic) - but now he's comparing the human form (which is not generally seen as polyp-ist) to this kind of reptile octopus - "and in reptile forms shrinking together" - these infinites are now only seven feet tall - "Six days they shrunk up from existence/ And on the seventh day they rested" - This is why (Harold) Bloom says it's a satire, really out-and-out satire. This is, of course, the Age of Reason. It's the Church, and the "Net of Religion" is really a heavy, strong thing. And maybe the whole thing is (that) he's just having fun with the whole conception of the idiocy of a Jehovaic central Urizonic power that everybody's actually worshipping in those days - and God and King.

Student: Caustic?

AG: Yes. Maybe caustic at times. My idea is that he's actually analyzing the process, the psychological metaphysics of creation. of the subjective phenomenology of creation.. that is, first blink and (then) the coming out.. Occasionally, it has applications to material politics, (to) the political world (and), occasionally, (it) bursts into satire, or.. "caustic" is the right word - "And they blessed the seventh day, in sick hope:/ And forgot their eternal life" (page 207) - "And their thirty cities/ In form of a human heart/ No more could they rise at will/In the infinite void, but bound down/ To earth by their narrowing perceptions" - The "thirty cities" - the correspondence, or the comparison here, is that there are thirty cities in Egypt, is what's suggested. This is the exile, in Egypt, into this organic world, this sick (world). The eternal life is over, shrunk into material form, so to speak. Egypt, the thirty cities of Egypt...
Blake is being of the Devil's party here.. So he's turning the Book of Genesis upside down.. And "..bound down/To earth by their narrowing perceptions" - If you get to page 210, you see Urizen bound down with cords and chains. "His hands and feet are occupied with marking or copying his book, but with the web become a Net of Religion that none can break, twisted "like to the human brain"" - "They lived a period of years/ Then left a noisome body/ To the jaws of devouring darkness/ And their children wept and built/ Tombs in the desolate places/ And formed laws of prudence, and called them/ The eternal laws of God/ And the thirty cities remained/ Surrounded by salt floods, now called/ Africa (it's name was then Egypt)./ The remaining sons of Urizen/ Beheld their brethren shrink together/Beneath the net of Urizen;/ Persuasion was in vain,/ For the ears of the inhabitants/Were withered, and deafened, and cold,/ And their eyes could not discern/ Their brethren of other cities./ So Fuzon called all together/ The remaining children of Urizen;/ And they left the pendulous earth:/ They called it Egypt, and left it./ And the salt ocean rolled englobed." - "Pendulous earth" - Milton has a phrase, "the pendulous globe", by the way, [ "pendulous round earth", actually] (so), relating back to Milton.
I'm not quite sure where this goes in terms of plot. I believe he drops the four elements, the four children of Urizon, in his mythology. Fuzon comes up again in (the Book of) Ahania, the next book, as a sort of rebel, the Christ-like Promethean rebel against Urizen. Urizen's own product rebels against him. The energy born out of Urizen, the fire born out of Urizen, the changes (fire) born out of Urizen rebel against him in the Book of Ahania, who's an emanation of Urizen.

Student: "Fuzon called all together/ The remaining children of Urizen"? Fuzon? (he's the eldest son)?

AG: Uh-huh.. let's see. I remember there was a little note on that and I didn't cover it as I was going over the text, so let me look it up. [Allen consults Damon] - "Fuzon - "first begotten, last born" of the Sons of Urizen" (Urizin 23:18).." - It doesn't really say why - "First begotten, last born" is just quoted. Is that an echo or paraphrase of some Biblical phrase? - "First begotten, last born"? Well...

Student: "In the beginning was the word.."?

AG: Okay.. Well, it's fire anyway [from Damon - " (Fuzon) represents fire in the quarternary of Elements"] - Fuzon never reappears after the (Book of) Ahania. Fuzon never reappears in the later books. Blake doubtless realized that (Fuzon) Passion is not the child of Reason, therefore in (the book), The Four Zoas, Urizen's antagonist then becomes Luvah (instead of Fuzon). Furthermore, it is Jesus who is crucified on the Tree (and not fire or Passion). I don't know. So what we're having here in this Blake's first real deep probe into the ultimate nature of the psyche and the creation of consciousness, actually,his "Book of Genesis" for consciousness itself. (And) there are a a few earlier books which deal with some similar symbols, but Urizen, I guess, is the first deepest, classic probe, which begins setting the stage for the rest of his mythology. He tries to finish it off in the next two books, to try to tie these loops together, and these myths together - "(The Book of) Ahania" and "The Book of Los".

We have one more class, Friday. What I'd suggest is that you check out Ahania and Los, see what he does with that. Maybe we'll take five or ten minutes to go over them in the next class - the plot, to review their plot, and then what I'd like to do is abandon our structures and just go through "Milton" and "Jerusalem" and just read you various purple passages, heroic passages, from those books, to give you a taste of those books, some taste of the philosophy (but without going into a detailed analysis of the symbolism, as we have done here, except when we can do (that) fast), just to get you into those books, because the ones we've gone through these (past) two weeks, have not been very interesting really. They're really hard, mental, tough, Urizonic, dry seed works. They're terrific poetry occasionally (in fact, they're great, they're really great), but Blake then unfolds and becomes mighty and rhetorically beautiful and golden-tongued and syllabically interesting and vowels become roarers and there are great philosophic passages that develop (through "Milton" and through "Jerusalem). In fact, I was thinking yesterday I'm almost sorry I took you through this torment of "Urizen", because it was kind of dry in a way, and it's hardly an introduction to get you on into Blake, except you've gone through the worst now. You've gone through the worst of Blake in the sense of the difficult, (the) thorny, the thorniest.

Student: I was just thinking, in that last passage, (Fuzon kind of gathers up) the children, and drives them from Egypt in a kind of prophetic flight...

AG: Yeah.

Student: (And so) perhaps part of (some part of) a (wished-for) Paradise is regained..

AG: Oh yeah. It's actually Blake's first attempt to have a revolt against Urizen, and, in the next, Fuzon throws a ball of all his passions - sex, (he) throws sex back at Urizen and splits Urizen in two, and Urizen gives birth to pleasure, which he thinks is sin, and then he takes Fuzon - he reminds him of that - fire, that change, and he gets together some kind of lightning-bolt out of... I forget what it was he made his lightning-bolt out of. What?

Student: Stone?

AG: A poison stone. Let's see, what was that poison stone? The serpent. A serpent of desire. He took the poison. Urizen takes all his desire and turns it into poison - a snake - symbolized by a snake - and makes a moral law to repress his desire, which is a poison stone - and throws it on Fuzon, and then takes Fuzon's body and puts it on top the Tree of Mystery, in a crucifix position. So Fuzon is, say, the energy born, the fiery energy born of Reason's creation, but that energy reminds Urizen of the original - of sex (which is outside of reason and non-reason), and so there's this battle. But actually, it's a kind of weird symbolic battle growing out of Blake's symbols, so finally he abandons this particular set of symbols. He doesn't abandon Urizen, he just abandons these children of Urizen, and has, in the later books, Urizen fight Luvah (heart emotions). In other words, as Damon suggests, it's inappropriate for them to be having a battle, sort of like Cronos and Uranus, the battle of the father-son castration of Time (remember, Chronos (Time) is castrated by [Allen, understandably, confuses Cronos and Chronos here]... I think it's Time eats his children, but (and) then one of them castrates him.. I've forgotten the myth..but anyway..).. I think Blake was seeing this as too closed-in to have everything cominf out of Urizen. So that, in the later books, in the next, later books, the opposites were then Tharmas-Urizen, Los, Urthona and Luvah. So he brings Luvah in to do battle. So that was the Book of Ahania. You can get that yourself. Wanderings in the wilderness. The birth of moral systems.
And then in the Book of Los, what happens? - Oh, the Book of Los, according to Damon, retells the story of Urizen's creation from Los' point of view. So it's a short form of it.
(Eno will come in there. She's the aged Mother of Eternity. She's the eternal view. She's the one who's viewing all this. Prophetic power.) So it would be the creation of the body (including lungs and everything), retelling of the whole creation thing, from the point of view of Los. And it ends, "Till his Brain in a rock and his Heart/In a fleshy slough formed four rivers" - the senses - smell-sight-taste-touch - "Obscuring the immense Orb of fire/ Flowing down into night: till a Form/ Was completed, a Human Illusion/ In darkness and deep clouds involved" (there ends the Book of Los) - Let's see if there's anything important in here. Well, give me about five minutes, and we'll be done with "Los" and then we can go on to "Milton" next time..
Los is seen from Eno, aged mother (an anagram of Eon (Aeon)), an eternal view. The description of Urizen's desire is interesting(on page 90) - "Coldness, darkness, obstruction, a Solid/without fluctuation, hard as adamant /Black as marble of Egypt, impenetrable/Bound in the fierce raging immortal./And the separated fires froze in/A vast solid without fluctuation,/Bound in his expanding clear senses" - So that's the same conception of evil as opacity, as constriction, as a shrinking of senses, solidification, opacity, can't-see-through-it. This is quite interesting - "Solid/ without fluctuation" - it's almost very philosophical, scientific - a conception of evil, or Urizen, or Rudra, or an ego, or self-hood, as a "Solid/ without fluctuation" (well, there's some fluctuation in it, but, it's mostly composed of supposed solids without fluctuation, until you look at it very carefully, and you realize (that) they're all fluctuating waves, and there is no solidity, there's just the appearance of solidity). The reason Los has to create Urizen into a form is because Truth has bounds (Error has no bounds) - "Truth has bounds. Error none; falling falling/ Years on years, and ages on ages/ Still he fell through the void, still a void/ Found for falling day and night without end" - So that's an interesting re-application of that principle of why poetic Imagination had to make a form for unreasonable Error, for Reason's monstrous creation - because Truth has bounds. So if you take falsehood and give it a form, you can see it, bounded, and so you get some sense of the truth of it (whereas, if it's left formless, if you don't find Satan's system, if you don't discern, analyze Satan's system, then you're just dealing with big, vague, you-don't-know-what)
- Okay [ Allen continues] - "Incessant the falling Mind laboured/ Organizing itself" - Well, maybe we'll get a little into this next time, but it's 7 (o'clock) now, so let's quit.
So we're done now with the creation of the Urizonic universe. You might read "Ahania", or, at this point, just go on and read anywhere you want in "Milton" and "Jerusalem" - for fun!

(Class and tape ends here - Randy Roark notes: "The complete tape, labelled 4/17/78, the final class of this workshop, which is indexed "Discussion of Illustrations in Urizen and Milton (and) Readings from Milton" is (unfortunately) indecipherable" - so this Blake 1978 teaching and transcription (segmented into 12 sections) is concluded here)

Monday, March 26, 2012

William Blake Class - 11 (Urizen continues)

From "The Book of Urizen" (continues). "Cold he wandered on high, over their cities" - (See) Plate 27B to see Urizen "wandering..over their cities", maybe. Page 209. In a great night darkness sky, pushing the ball of Reason, that ball of fire, in front of him. In the colored illustrations (page 209 of the Illustrated book), I think that's Urizen "wandering over the(ir) cities".. - "In weeping and pain and woe/And wherever he wandered in sorrow/ Upon the aged heavens/ A cold shadow followed behind him/Like a spider's web, moist, cold and dim,/Drawing out from his sorrowing soul,/The dungeon-like heaven dividing/Wherever the footsteps of Urizen/Walked over the cities in sorrow" - On Page 209 you have that. What's interesting is "A cold shadow followed behind him/Like a spider's web, moist, cold and dim,/Drawing out from his sorrowing soul" - That may be that trailing, sort of web-like embryo web drawn out from the sorrowing soul which follows Urizen wherever his footsteps take him over the cities, in this illumination, in this picture (that's Erdman's interpretation of the pink webbing in the colored illuminated version of this). You get it in black and white here

- "Till a web dark and cold throughout all/The tormented element stretched/From the sorrows of Urizen's soul/ (And the web is a female in embryo.)/ None could break the web - no wings of fire" - Consciousness here is consciousness of the eternal universe again. (And) the webbing here - "the web is a female in embryo.)/ None could break the web - no wings of fire" - "So twisted the cords, and so knotted/The meshes twisted like to the human brain./ And all called it The Net of Religion" - Now the "Net of Religion" you get on page 207 (at least that part which is embryonic, twisted - his vision of interlinear foliage, worm-like). There's an unusual admixture of flying insects and humans also. A gowned human figure descends beside the human brain.

Those little notes that Erdman has there - "Urizon's daughters are disobedient to his "iron laws" and seem, from his "darkness", the brood of monsters and worms...(A) winged creature at the top has a human head close to a face with a human hans which clutches a horn-like worm...and may belong to some of the large scaly coils that loop toward and around the daughter reclining at the lower left, her body extends like an almost human thigh across the page, not scaly but ringed" (that's Erdman's description of that picture) - "And all called it The Net of Religion".
A parallel to this would be in Songs of Innocence and Experience - it'll give you another statement by Blake of pretty much the same view of how "the Net of Religion" rises - "Pity would be no more/ If we did not make somebody Poor" [from "The Human Abstract'] - "Pity would be no more/ If we did not make somebody Poor". "Pity would be no more/ If we did not make somebody Poor/ And Mercy no more could be/If all were as happy as we/ And mutual fear brings peace/ Till the selfish loves increase:/ Then Cruelty knits a snare,/ And spreads his baits with care./ He sits down with holy fears/And waters the ground with tears/ Then Humility takes its root/ Underneath his foot.." I think we read this the other day.

Student: What book is that in?

AG: That's (page) 227 of the Erdman.

Student: What's the name of that?

Student: That line, "And the web is a female in embryo" (in "..Urizen") - What exactly, do you think did Blake mean by that?

AG: I don't know. He must've been a sexist! No, actually, it's more complicated - I think by the time we get to "..Ahania" and the whole thing, he'll have some explanation, I think. But I think you'll have to finish it off all the way to Jerusalem before you'll (fully) understand it. Okay, what it is, is, to put it (in a) short form, I think I know the answer to that, as a question, for Blake. He's saying that the material universe, though it may be passed through by the traveler through Eternity, nonetheless, the material universe, the vegetable universe, is not real, or is not the eternal place, only the Imagination is eternal. And that Urizonic Imagination has created this thing - with ganglia, nerves, webbings - that it's the projection of the eternal (or an eternal), it's a projection, or emanation of Urizen, and of Reason, and of Imagination. He's putting them as the men, and the projections as the women (which is the traditional thing). Shiva, and Shakti, the creative principle - and then the projection - Maya - that you dance with Maya, the female, Mother Maya - that you dance with the Illusion. So that's sort of classical actually, that's tradition...No, no, wait a minute, I'm just Blake unique in his eccentricity on this point? or is he (just) falling in with some traditional form?..But he didn't know that tradition. I don't think (he knew it) too well. He wouldn't have known the... well, maybe he knew a little of the Hindu Shiva-Shakti-Maya tradition. He was probably getting it more from the Gnostic versions, in which, maybe, Sophia, would be the emanation of the Abyss of Light (the word would be "emanation"). But Wisdom again. Wisdom or Knowledge - Awareness of an outer world (if you could make that equivalent). Awareness of an outer world is also, in the Western tradition, considered feminine. "The Word" - "In the beginning was the Word" - Sophia - And that's feminine in a way. There is that tradition. He resolves it by saying that Eternity has both male and female in it, together, at once. And it's only when the male and female get separated that there's a split. And the resolution, ultimately, is when Albion rises, in the Book (of) Jerusalem. When Albion rises, I believe, the emanations of the Four Zoas are joined with (those energies), and then does Jerusalem become one with Albion, Jerusalem, (that) emanation, becomes one with Albion, (one with) the whole being. And Albion himself is neither male nor female, finally, but both (or, at least, there is one alibi like that, there's one Blakean alibi that goes in that direction).

Student: Isn't the Kabalistic Adam Kadmon, like Blake's image of Albion, hermaphroditic?

AG: Adam Kadmon is hermaphroditic?..I see.. Well, yes, then - Except that, remember, he (Blake) is making fun of the Adamic myth. He's saying that Albion, the whole man, is composed of Urizen, Urthona, Los, Tharmas (the body), and Luvah (the heart), in proper balance. And when they're in proper balance, they're no longer separated from their emanations, they're at one with their emanations. So it's all one being, but it's a non-material being, I guess. It's a being, purely in some imaginary (form), it's in the realm of the Imagination, or, it's not in the vegetable, perishing, world. But when you create a vegetable, perishing, world, you've got a whole bunch of webs - spider-webs, ganglion, nerves - this cloak. That's why it's so appropriate - this cloak of Urizen, as he's pushing through, exploring all his dens and caves, trailing this great network robe of eyeballs and ventricles and spider-webs and nervous systems, and, later, in.. I don't know what book it is, but, probably "Milton" or "Jerusalem", there is a description of the great polypus - P-O-L-Y-P-U-S - the polypus of Eternity, which is the ultimate of that, the ultimate of the vegetable (universe), the unreal, vegetable, transient, suffering, universe, which is this enormous polypus. How do you pronounce "polypus" in English? - Polly-pus? Poe-lip-us?

Student: Polly-pus

AG: Well, let me read you about the polypus, because that's relating to this whole symbol of webbing and horrible webbing. It's quite a monstrous notion [Allen begins reading from Damon] - "The Polypus is an aquatic animal with tentacles" - actually, originally - "There are various kinds; some are "colonial" organisms of individuals. Blake's first reference seems to be to a jellyfish, when he describes Los' lungs as "dim and glutinous as the white Polypus driv'n by waves & englob'd on the tide"" - (in the Book of Los - and it goes on - We'll get to that later) - [Allen continues reading] - "Next it could be a sea-anemone...In the color print "Newton" and on Jerusalem 28, it is depicted as a squid. However when Blake progressed from simile to symbol, he chose the "colonial" organism to symbolize human society in this world and its religion" - the "Net" - he grows one in the human brain - "It's source is the "dead" Albion. "As a Polypus that vegetates beneath the Sea, the limbs of Man vegetated in monstrous forms of Death" (from the Four Zoas. iv: 266) - "The Twelve Sons of Albion enrooted into every Nation, a mighty Polypus from Albion over the whole Earth" - I guess that would be the English empire (from Jerusalem) - "This worldly society is the antithesis of the Brotherhood of Man. "By Invisible Hatreds adjoin'd, they seem remote and separate from each other, and yet are a Mighty Polypus in the Deep" (Jerusalem 66:53) - Let me see if I can get a description of it, well.. - "Orc being the hatred men bear each other" - resentful hatred - "Then all the Males conjoined into one Male, and everyone became a ravening eating Cancer growing in the Female, a Polypus of Roots, of Reasoning, Doubt, Despair & Death, going forth and returning from Albion's Rocks to Canann, Devouring Jerusalem from every Nation of the Earth" (Jerusalem 69:1) - Anyway, you can check out the Polypus, it's a fantastic notion (and he's got paintings that include it) - "In Milton, the Polypus springs from Milton's Shadow of suppressed desires" - Milton's suppressed sex - "When the immortal poet slips into mortal slumber, his Shadow vegetates beneath his Couch of Death, "Like a Polypus that vegetates beneath the deep" (Milton 15:8). His error expands into the entire universe..."..the Heads of the Great Polypus. Four-fold twelve enormity, in mighty and mysterious comingling, enemy with enemy, woven by Urizen into Sexes from his mantle of years" (Milton 37: 60-38:4) - So it's like a grand conception. That webbing grows. And there's a lot of different paintings of it, of that conception, in Blake. And it's interesting to compare them, one to another, and, actually, another form of it is this one on (page) 207, with the humans and the worms intertwined.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Beat honcho, head of City Lights, turns 93 today! Happy Birthday, Lawrence! - A miscellany of links: Here's Lawrence reading in 2005 for the University of California at Berkeley. Here's a reading (in four parts) at DG Wills wonderful bookstore in San Diego from that same year (here, here, here and here). Here's Amy Goodman's interview with him in 2007 for Democracy Now!. Here's an interview on Italian television the following year (contrast Lawrence's Italian with his French (in the interview clip above, recorded many years earlier)). A 1988 radio interview (with Don Swaim) may be listened to here. A filmed interview (discussing his experiences in 1959 with the Chilean miners, recorded for a Pablo Neruda documentary) is available here. We mentioned it last year, and we'll mention it again - there's a fine 2010 interview in the magazine, Guernica ("a magazine of art and politics"). Poet, painter, publisher, life-long activist ("Poetry as Insurgent Art (I am signaling you through the flames"), we salute you - 93 unrepentant, unreconstructed, years! - We salute you - from your compadre and friend - with a series of Allen's photos:

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti in his office with pooch, Whitman photo, files, coat racks, book bags, posters, at City Lights up on balcony, B'way at Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, October 1984. Allen Ginsberg (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)]

[Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights Editorial offices, North Beach, San Francisco, May, 23 1988. Photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

[Allen Ginsberg's caption for the top image: "Bob Donlin (Rob Donnelly, Kerouac's Desolation Angels), Neal Cassady, myself, painter Robert LaVigne & poet Larry Ferlinghetti in front of his City Lights Bookshop, Broadway & Columbus North Beach San Francisco 1955 [sic: 1956]. Donlin worked seasonally Las Vegas waiter, Neal looks good in t-shirt, Howl first printing hadn't arrived from England yet, Peter Orlovsky held camera in the street, we were just hanging around." photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday's Weekly Round-Up 66

[Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, and Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr, on location, filming in the streets of Brooklyn, March 19 2012 - photo courtesy Huffington Post]

“The Beat Goes On" -oh no! oh yes, but, of course, someone just hadda use that as their headline! - Well, the orgy of press-coverage of Daniel Radcliffe donning tortoise-shell specs, tweed jacket, scarf, and all, to commence playing the role of Allen in the forthcoming (2013) John Krokidas movie Kill Your Darlings has left us...well (it has to be confessed) just a teensy bit..nauseous. "Daniel Radcliffe channels his inner geek for new role as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg", Eleanor Gower declares (accompanying one of the more comprehensive sets of pictures) in London's notorious Daily Mail, and, notwithstanding that "geek" thing, proceeds to report the news with a curious salacious (dare we say it? homophobic) slant - "The star (Daniel Radcliffe) is playing gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg today filming scenes with actor Dane DeHaan who plays Beat Generation member Lucien Carr. Daniel and Dane today filmed a scene which showed their characters bonding and holding hands. At one point they threw their arms around each other as they ran down the street. Another scene showed Dane lying on the floor with his head resting on Daniel's leg. The actors seemed comfortable in each others company, despite the close nature of the scenes and at one point shared a joke while sitting on the Brooklyn pavement.. "Close nature"? Goodness me! - We'd draw your attention to David S Willis's perspicacious observations from last December, when Radcliffe's participation was first announced - Homophobia in the Media's Treatment of New Ginsberg Movie, and that underlying fear (unvoiced by many) - to use suitable metaphors - that Harry Potter's "gone over to the dark side"!

Harry Poeter, Harry Hotter - the headline writer's task is clearly not an enviable one. Perez Hilton clearly needs his exclamation point when he's dishing the awful news - Harry Potter - The Poet!

Sometimes the header is just plain bizarre - Daniel Radcliffe's Ginsberg Hair Helps Him Shed Harry Potter . Sometimes, just catty - Daniel Radcliffe Plays Much Sexier Allen Ginsberg ("The casting gods continue to smile on Allen Ginsberg..."). The comparisons with James Franco (and, with, to a lesser extent, Tom Sturridge and David Cross (from I'm Not There) continue to abound. The International Business Times (of all places!) has the requisite gladiatorial combat - The Better Allen Ginsberg? - Daniel Radcliffe versus James Franco (you can vote on this singular non-event also at, should you desire).

Even People magazine’s relatively even-handed coverage contains this curiously unthought-out sentence – “Though Jewish, Ginsberg was an adherent to mysticism” – Ever heard of the Kabbalah? - or Martin Buber, anybody?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

William Blake Class - 10 (Urizen continues)

[Allen, recapitulates from previous class]: I think we were somewhere around Chapter VII of (The Book of) Urizen. Orc has been born, the babe Orc, falling from Heaven on page 202 of the Illuminated works (and on page 203, we had Los, now looking more like Urizen, chains growing out of his body, staring down jealously at revolutionary young Orc, Urizen, at this point, is all wakened up, and by the cries - "The dead heard the voice of the child,/And began to wake from sleep,/All things heard the voice of the child,/And began to waken to life."
And Plate 228 on page 204 of the Illuminated, might show Urizen waking (among the other things he's doing, he's waking there) - " And Urizen, craving with hunger,/Stung with the odours of nature,/Explored his dens around/ He formed a line and a plummet/ To divide the abyss beneath;/He formed a dividing rule;/ He formed scales to weigh;/He formed massy weights;/He formed a brazen quadrant;/He formed golden compasses/And began to explore the abyss/And he planted the garden of fruits" - We had gotten up to that. That's actually the Garden of Eden. The "garden of fruits" - that's where Blake is paralleling Genesis. Since he's forming lines, plummets, compasses, divisions, the prosody here is kind of funny again, because it's that anapestic trimeter, and Blake becomes very conscious of being playful now with his fixed meter - "He formed a line and a plummet" - duh-dah-duh-dah-duh-duh-dah-dah. Duh-duh-dah-duh-duh-dah-duh-dah. Duh-dah-dah-duh-dah. Duh-dah-dah-duh-dah. - "He formed a line and a plummet/ To divide the abyss beneath;/He formed a dividing rule;/ He formed scales to weigh;/He formed massy weights;/He formed a brazen quadrant;/He formed golden compasses" - It gives one or two examples of "duh-dah-duh-duh-dah-duh-dah", and then "duh-dom-bom-buh-dah". Creating the hammer-strokes to create the universe - bom-bom-buh-dah -"He formed massy weights". So the prosody, when it gets to this "massy weight", gets less light, but, actually, gets like the hammer-blows, echoing the old hammer-blows of Los, but actually it's just Urizen getting his architectural structure in order and Blake architects the syllables in an interesting way right there,
So (as) Harold Bloom points out, he planted a Garden of Eden (Bloom also says that this (here) is a parody of Genesis). The other day, we were talking about what was Genesis, what actually happened in Genesis, so (today) we have a Bible here - the seven stages of Genesis (just to see if they relate at all) - Do you want to read that? Just the...

Student [reads from the Bible] - "In the beginning of Creation when God made heaven and earth, the earth was out of form and void with darkness over the face of the abyss and a mighty wind that swept over the surface of the waters. God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated light from darkness. He called the light day and the darkness night and that was the first day. And then the second day..."

AG: So what would that be? form? that first part..

Student: Light, and it looks like just light and dark - darkness from the void. "And then the second (day)..Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water. And God called the vault heaven. The third day, let the waters of heaven be gathered into one place so that dry land may appear. The fourth day, let there be light in the vault of heaven to separate day from night and let them serve as signs both for festivals and for seasons and years. And that includes stars. The fifth day, let the waters teem with countless living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of heaven. The sixth day, let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind - cattle, reptiles, and wild animals, all according to their kind. Let us make man in our image and likeness to rule the fish in the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all wild animals on earth and all reptiles that crawl upon the earth. And then on the seventh day, he rested."

AG: I don't know then whether there is any precise correlation. You can see just somewhat (of) a parody or satire. I don't like the word "satire", that Bloom uses, but there is, at least, a parallel, and Blake is taking off from that. Bloom, who is somewhat of a Urizonic intellectual, who's correlated every possible reference, sees it as (a) satire. And I was thinking about it the other day, and it does look like it is, maybe, a very grotesque.. maybe (the Book of) Urizen is just an English send-up, or satire, of "The Book of Genesis" - satire, from the point of view of really putting-down the notion of a Jehovaic central authoritarian figure. My own reading was that it was Blake's serious somber Beethoven-ian (intelligence) showing how the principle of Reason would create a universe around itself, going to complete excess and dragging everything with it to the limit, until it was limited by its own self-contradiction. Finding a limit it would have a form. That is, the limit would show the form. That is, the limit would show the form as Los, furthest-out imagination of what Reason could do if it was creating a Universe.. Bloom, when he's talking about it, sees it as just a satire on Genesis, or a send-up or take-off, Genesis, and a lot of other myths, including Prometheus. He sees it almost as a sly parody. There may be that element, but, what I was trying to point out is, that there is also an archetypal serious matter going on that anyone can get in their imaginations, or everyone has thought of when they're kids, which is, that if a thing rose in the void to create a universe, if a logical thing rose, Urizen, and was backed by all the possible power of the Imagination, how far could it go? Well it would go to the limit before it began contradicting itself and destroying itself, and that limit would be the form given to Urizen by Los (Imagination). And that has some parallels. It would fit in with Blake's notion, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom"(from "The Proverbs of Hell" in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"). That is, if you took crazy excess to its extremes, finally you'd reach a wall, or a limit, where excess would break itself down and reach a boundary. Through reading (the Book of) Urizen, (it) is the first time I've understood what Blake meant by "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" - or this is (at any rate) one angle of it. It's a famous aphorism, is that right? - "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" - but I had never thought of it from the ultimate, metaphysical psychological, point of view.., from the very beginning. I was thinking of it in Bohemian terms - that if you drink enough, you'll get wise, or something. But, on a much deeper level - for creation itself, for creation of the universe - the road of excess will lead to the palace of wisdom. Maybe. Yeah, that's one of Blake's most famous lines - "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" - or (also from "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell") "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise". If Urizen would persist in his own folly, he'd come to his own limits. Yeah..

..The Four Zoas..yeah, The Four Zoas.. The Four Zoas, or four basic principles, or four basic natures that go into man, are not, officially, part of the Divine Council (sic) though they have relations. And Los, is both representative of Urthona (or a) material representative of Urthona (Imagination) and also has the right to go into the Divine Council and speak. He's one of the Eternals there (that is, I guess, because the imaginaton is most free) and finally is the one thing that redeems the whole situation from the solidification that Urizen has made, from the solidified universe that Urizen has worked out with Los' help. Los' motive in doing that is to provide a form so it can be seen and dealt with, so it can become mindful. If it never had a form, it would never be mindful. It wouldn't be able to discern it or perceive it in any way or deal with it. And that, as I said before, relates to Blake's conception - if you want to know Satan, find his system, if you want to know evil, find out its system (which I think is a really intelligent thing). In other words, if you're mad at something, find out its system first...and..yeah..not merely from the point of view of being able to deal with it as a contestant, but also to be able to be compassionate..

Okay, so we've now got Urizen "exploring his dens" in Chapter VIII. Just before that (though), we have a thing that I don't quite understand. Maybe somebody can explain it? - "But Los encircled Enitharmon/ With fires of prophecy/ From the sight of Urizen and Orc./ And she bore an enormous race." - (So) Los made a veil or curtain around Enitharmon, apparently, and didn't want her to see Urizen and Orc, apparently. "And she went on to bear an enormous race" - I imagine not seeing what had already been born, not taking into account the horrors that had already been born. Do you have any recollection of what that was supposed to be? Los, encircling "Enitharmon/ With fires of prophecy/ From the sight of Urizen and Orc"?

Student: (Protection?)

AG: Uh-huh.. Once man has fallen, generation is the only salvation. So it's an act of mercy to protect Enitharmon in her generation from seeing that is behind it, or to come? - Okay?
"Fires of Prophecy" - "Prophecy" is (sometimes) capitalized there. And the Prophet.. In A Blake Dictionary, he (Damon) has a long description of the role of the prophet which you might check - mainly, not that he knows that it's going to rain at ten o'clock tomorrow..but (that) he tells eternal truths from the heart. His definition of prophecy is interesting because it can apply to (Walt) Whitman and it can apply to modern poetry. Page 335 of the Dictionary - "Prophets are not foretellers of future facts; they are revealers of eternal is comprehensible then that in the very first tower of the Bastille before its fall a man was confined for writing "a writing prophetic" (in Blake's The French Revolution, he has that line). Blake's own two books with the subtitle "A Prophecy" were not prophecies in the conventional sense, as they were written after the facts, but they are prophecies in the poetic sense because they record the eternal formula of all revolutions" (and one thing that's hapening in this series of books is the "formula for revolution", I think I've mentioned it before, as Orc gets born...). Then Blake himself has a little annotation to the works of Doctor (Samuel) Johnson , in which he talks about what he means by the word "prophecy" - "Prophets, in the modern sense of the word, have never existed. Jonah was no prophet, in the modern sense, for his prophecy of Nineveh failed. Every honest man is a Prophet: he utters his opinion both of private & public matters.
/Thus/ If you go on So/the result is So/He never says such a thing will happen let you do what you will.." - In other words, he never says, "No matter what you (do), this will happen". He just says,"If you do this, then the result will be that". So, Blake has just pointed to cause-and-effect, or what we would call, in Buddhist terms, karma. So a prophet is someone who discerns karma, that's all, or cause-and-effect. He doesn't say, "No matter what you do, it's going to rain on you", or "You're going to break your leg" - "A Prophet is a Seer, not an Arbitrary Dictator" - That's a very clever phrase for the 18th century - "A Prophet is a Seer, not an Arbitrary Dictator" (that's from the Blake Dictionary, page 335 - "On Watson", apparently - his notations on Watson). Okay.

"But Los encircled Enitharmon/ With fires of prophecy/ From the sight of Urizen and Orc./ And she bore an enormous race." - Then Chapter VIII - "Urizen explored his dens -/ Mountain, moor and wilderness,/With a globe of fire lighting his journey" - So we've got him walking with a globe of fire, whereabouts, somewhere along the.. yeah...on page 205, the Illuminated.. that same globe..very similar to the globe that Los divided into. And those of us who were up at the library checked out the first plate of Jerusalem on page 280 - there's a Hebraic-looking fellow going into the tomb with the same globe - page 280 - 2-8-0 - I forgot, who is that supposed to be?

Student: Los

AG: Is that Los again? Los going into the tomb? You know that?. And just what's kind of interesting in this passage.. I don't know how much Walt Whitman, who was a kindred nature to Blake, knew Blake, but Whitman asked that his tomb be designed after this form. So Whitman's tomb in Camden (New Jersey) has this door, this door and some other Blake designs for the triangular roof of it - kind of odd and interesting - (a) little collocation of prophecy, and old bards taking their lineage from each, or looking to each other for lineage.

So we go through a whole creation cycle again, which I would say is again somewhat similar to the idea of "form, feeling, concept.." What have we got for this guy? - "form, feeling, concept...

Student: Perception

AG: ..perception and consciousness". No, how do they do it?

Student; "Form, feeling, perception, and consciousness"

AG: Is that what they use in the Prajnaparamita translation? Is that (it)?

Student: (I think so)

AG: Okay, I was looking over the terminology of that last night. I had used "form, feeling, discrimination, concept (concept-habit) and then, consciousness" - it's very complicated, they're shifty terms. The Prajnaparamita, the highest perfect wisdom sutra, I think, (has) form, feeling..

Student: (Chogyam Trungpa) Rinpoche, in, I guess, The Myth of Freedom, (says) there's form, feeling, perception, concept...

AG: Yeah, "concept" is the fourth, yeah...Okay..and I think (that) the new translation has something similar.

Well, this next little Chapter VIII goes through this again in a way. If you want to.. I have it analyzed in an odd way, so I'll go through that - "Urizen explored his dens -/ Mountain, moor and wilderness,/With a globe of fire lighting his journey,/A fearful journey, annoyed/ By cruel enormities, forms/ Of life on his forsaken mountains" - So you've got the establishment of these giant forms. Then, second phase of the "exploration of his dens", second stanza (so there's some change in his mind) - "And his world teemed vast enormities/ Frightening, faceless, fawning/ Portions of life, similitudes/ Of a foot, or a hand, or a head/ Or a heart, or an eye, they swam - mischievous/ Dread terrors, delighting in blood." - Third division - "Most Urizen sickened to see/ His eternal creations appear/ Sons and daughters of sorrow on mountains/ Weeping, wailing..." - Now four children come out of Reason, come out of Urizen - "First Thiriel appeared,/ Astonished at his own existence" - (A) picture of the four appearing is on page 206. Can you check that out in your pictures? - Thiriel, kind of cute-looking, blond airy, floating in the air, because he is air, pleasure, actually, in a sense. Air and pleasure perhaps? If this were to be considered the skandha of discrimination, or, what was that?, the third, third skandha?

File:Birth of the sons of urizen.jpg

Student: Perception

AG: (Yes, the) perception impulse - that is, liking, disliking, or indifference - Then these sons of Urizen could be considered Thiriel - "Astonished at his own existence/ Like a man from a cloud born. And Utha/ From the waters emerging laments/ Grodna.." - "Utha" is water, then - these are also the earth, air, fire, water - air, water, earth and fire, in that order - Thiriel, Utha, Grodna and Fuzon - From Reason springs these four elements, to create the dens of Reason, or crevasses or universes or aeons or spaces of the universe. But I'm comparing these four elements to Rasas - to moods, too, here. You could also say that Thiriel could be pleasure, Utha, ("from the waters emerging, laments"), displeasure, or rejection, and Groda ("rent (from) the deep earth howling -/ Amazed"), perhaps the animal indifference, or indifference (neither pleasure or displeasure, just sort of stupidity), which would be three reactions in that skandha of relating to the outside - by repelling it, or taking it in, or being indifferent to it, (before building up a whole set of habits, which then would build up a whole world of consciousness). Is this stuff about the skandhas too esoteric for the non-Buddhists here? It may be irrelevant, actually. It's just interesting to correlate the natural fall-out from the cracking (of) the atom of the first thought of existence in Blake's mind, or in (the) Buddhist mind.
"Grodna rent the deep earth howling -/ Amazed, his heavens immense cracks/ Like the ground parched with heat" - Fire. Actually, the blowing from heaven, you see the fire, in the illustration (on) page 206 - "Urizen's four sons, who disgust him by breeding form of life, are crudely element: flaming Urizen at the top, Thiriel, hair curly blue or brown, his head in a bubble of air, Utha, emerging "from the waters" and lamenting at once, and Grodna, climbing right up out of the parched earth, the cracks in which seem to him Heavens." - "Then Fuzon/Flamed out, first begotten, last born/ All his eternal sons in like manner;/ His daughters from green herbs and cattle/ From monsters, and worms of the pit" - This is being fruitful and multiplying - "He in darkness closed viewed all his race,/ And his soul sickened. He cursed/Both sons and daughters; for he saw/That no flesh nor spirit could keep/ His iron laws one moment" - So this is actually like Jehovah cursing Adam and Eve over the apple, dig? Jehovah's given out this iron law, "take anything you want, but leave this Tree of Knowledge". So Urizen - "..cursed/Both sons and daughters; for he saw/That no flesh nor spirit could keep/ His iron laws one moment." - Pretty smart. That would be the skandha of conceptions and habit, Urizen's habit-conception. Set. - "For he saw that if life lived upon death./ The ox in the slaughter-house moans,/ The dog at the wintry door,/ And he wept and he called it pity,/ And his tears flowed down on the winds." - Well, this is a kind of hypocritic(al) pity, according to Damon, because, after all, it was his own idea, this whole universe, his own insistency, his own creation, his own exploration. These children (of whom he's now horrified (by)), his own deeds, the entire material universe that he's stuck with, was (through) his own insistency, (and) he wanted to be created and born into a material universe, so now it's going to be like what it is, with its own limits. (And) now he's upset - "And his tears flowed down on the winds" - "The ox in the slaughter-house moans" and "The dog at the wintry door" - that's kind of interesting, because that really has some strange political connotation too. Does anybody know the poem "Let the Brothels of Paris be opened.. said the beautiful Queen of France" at all? Ever heard that?. It's actually very interesting.. I set it to a tune once [Allen begins singing - "Let the Brothels of Paris be opened/Said the beautiful Queen of France/And fife and drum..."] - I read that because it has "The dog at the wintry door" (which is one of Blake's great lines). I assigned that the other day, actually. A form of it is on (page) 490 - 1793 - about the French Revolution - Lafayette had taken part on the Revolution but Blake felt that Lafayette had been very ambivalent in his relationship to the King and Queen and had given them pity instead of really rejecting them (and so had sentimentalized and identified with the Urizonic King and Queen) and so there is another slight version. But let's look at this - "Let the Brothels of Paris be opened/With many an alluring dance/To awaken the Physicians thro' the city/Said the beautiful Queen of France" - There's another version of this around. Does anybody know where that is? - Yeah (so) well, there's two versions. Let's read both of them. I'll read this and then you read the other (or, then you give me the other) [Allen reads] - "To awaken the Physicians thro' the city/Said the beautiful Queen of France/ Then old Nobodaddy aloft/Farted and belched and coughed/ And said I love hanging and drawing and quartering/ Every bit as well as war and slaughtering/ Then he swore a great and solemn Oath/ To kill the people I am loth/ But If they rebel they must go to hell/They shall have a Priest and a passing bell/ The King awoke on his couch of gold/As soon as he heard these tidings told/Arise and come both fife and drum/And the [Famine] shall eat both crust and crumb/ The Queen of France just touched this Globe/And the Pestilence darted from her robe/But our good Queen quite grows to the ground/And a great many suckers grow all around" - Incidentally, the image of the suckers growing out of the tree of the Queen is like later in this poem the image of the suckers growing out of Urizen and him getting trapped in his own growths. I think we'll see that in another couple of stanzas. The "net of Urizen" (it's either here or in The Book of Ahania..Ahania..that it's related to that that at the end, or something?..yeah..for then in Ahania..wait a minute..well, we'll find out when we get to Ahania).
Yeah, there's actually a description of a tree growing (with), like, suckers all around. See, the upas tree (which (Alexander Sergeyevich) Pushkin also wrote of), some kind of very strange tree that you planted - it is poison and, at the same time, it grows into the ground and creates other trees, like suckers, into the ground. Actually, the Bo tree, the great Buddhist Bo tree, is somewhat like that in form. Then there's the classical, mysterious, poison upas tree. There's a very famous 19th century Russian poem by Pushkin about the upas tree also, a very Blakean poem, by the way, if you ever get a chance to check it out, it's considered in Russia a poison tree. It's like Blake's "Poison Tree", because we have Blake's poison tree also. Did I go through that last time? - "I was angry with my friend:/ I told my wrath, my wrath did end.." (from Songs of Innocence and Experience).
Well, we'll get to that next. First of all, we're in the middle of "But our good Queen quite grows to the ground/And a great many suckers grow all around" - "Who will exchange his own fireside/For the stone of another's door?/Who will exchange his wheaten loaf/For the links of a dungeon floor?", "Fayette beheld the King and Queen/In curses and iron-bound;/But mute Fayette wept tear for tear/And guarded them around", "O who would smile on the wintry seas/And pity the stormy roar?/Or who will exchange his new-born child/For the dog at the wintry door?" - Then, the other version is - "Fayette, Fayette, thou bought and sold/And sold is the happy morrow/Thou gavest the tears of pity away/In exchange for the tears of sorrow" - So it's a later version, a later working of the same poem, a kind of curse on Lafayette, because 'Fayette "gave.. the tears of pity away/In exchange for the tears of sorrow", and that's parallel to what was going on (with) the birth of Enitharmon, remember? Enitharmon, born from the creative temperament, Los, in a moment of pity, or (from) the horrific pity by Imagination, or (by) the Poet, when he sees the totally square Urizen, sees the beauty of square Urizen. So this version is - [Allen bursts into song, singing it to his melody] - "Let the Brothels of Paris be opened/With many an alluring dance/To awake the Physicians thro' the city/Said the beautiful Queen of France/ Then old Nobodaddy aloft/Farted and belched and coughed/ And said I love hanging and drawing and quartering/ Every bit as well as war and slaughtering/ Then he swore a great and solemn Oath/ To kill the people I am loth/ But If they rebel they must go to hell/They shall have a Priest and a passing bell/ The King awoke on his couch of gold/As soon as he heard these tidings told/Arise and come both fife and drum/And the [Famine] shall eat both crust and crumb/ The Queen of France just touched this Globe/And the Pestilence darted from her robe/But our good Queen quite grows to the ground/And a great many suckers grow all around" - "Fayette beside King Lewis stood/He saw him sign his hand/And soon he saw the famine rage/About the fruitful land/ Fayette behold the Queen to smile/And wink her lovely eye/And soon he saw the pestilence/From street to street to fly/Fayette beheld the King and Queen/In curses and iron-bound;/But mute Fayette wept tear for tear/And guarded them around/ Fayette, Fayette, thou'rt bought and sold/And sold is thy happy morrow; Thou gavest the tears of pity away/In exchange for the tears of sorrow/ Who will exchange his own fireside/For the stone of another's door/Who will exchange his wheaten loaf/For the links of a dungeon floor?/O who would smile on the wintry seas/And pity the stormy roar?/Or who will exchange his new-born child/For the dog at the wintry door?" - Well that's an expansion of "For he saw that life lived upon death/ The ox in the slaughter house moans/The dog at the wintry door/And he wept, and he called it pity/ And his tears flowed down on the winds" - So this is like a political/psychological, or a psychological, analysis of pity. In other words, it's the guy who created the situation, then laying down a story that it wasn't his fault, and (that) he's really trying to be helpful, and weeping, and (experiencing) real, actual pain - the realization of his own karma. And there's a political application in this, with his appreciation of Lafayette as bought and sold, emotionally, and the entire future world sold off by Lafayette's refusing to be severe and cut off from his aristocracy habit - "(M)ute 'Fayette wept tear for tear/And guarded them around". He gave the tears of pity away in exchange for tears of actuality, or sorrow, in exchange for tears of the sorrow of realization of how hopeless he and (the) King (Urizen) were.