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|National Gallery of Art|
The Last Judgment
Pen & Ink drawing
In Blake's images of the Last Judgment he was portraying the passage of man through states. The individuals in the images are not distinct humans but mental conditions through which a person may pass along his journey. We each have an image of oneself. When we reflect on our lives we may recognize that we are not the same person we were previously. For instance when I was a student in college I was focused on my own intellectual development. As young mother of three little boys I turned toward nurturing the growth of the children who were in my care. I have passed through various states without relinquishing my identity as a Soul created in the image of God.
Along our journeys we may fall into states of selfishness, greed, prejudice, guilt, hostility, self-righteousness or other errors which cause a falling away from the Truth which is Eternal. Blake's image of the Last Judgment shows that falling away when an individual has entered a state of error. But the individual is not consigned to remain in hell; he may be released to continue in the upward phase of the cycle. States are a mercy which are created that man may become aware of his error and may be delivered to his Eternal Humanity.
On page 153 of Golgonnoza, Kathleen Raine states:
"The heavens, the hells, all the
possible states of the soul, are ever present possibilities
through which men pass. Blake did not believe that either the
heavens or hells are once-for-all assigned to human souls, but
rather that man is a 'mental traveller' who explores all the
possible states...But lost though he be in the hells, the
Traveller is not is not bound to remain in these dark states.
... The 'State called Satan' cannot be redeemed, but individuals can be redeemed from that state. There is, besides, a 'supreme state,' and this is the Divine Humanity, who is, for Blake, the God within."
Jerusalem, Plate 49, (E 199) "Yet they are blameless & Iniquity must be imputed only To the State they are enterd into that they may be deliverd: Satan is the State of Death, & not a Human existence: But Luvah is named Satan, because he has enterd that State. A World where Man is by Nature the enemy of Man Because the Evil is Created into a State. that Men May be deliverd time after time evermore. Amen. Learn therefore O Sisters to distinguish the Eternal Human That walks about among the stones of fire in bliss & woe Alternate! from those States or Worlds in which the Spirit travels: This is the only means to Forgiveness of Enemies" Milton, Plate 23 , (E 119) "We were plac'd here by the Universal Brotherhood & Mercy With powers fitted to circumscribe this dark Satanic death And that the Seven Eyes of God may have space for Redemption. But how this is as yet we know not, and we cannot know; Till Albion is arisen; then patient wait a little while," Jerusalem, Plate 13, (E 157) (But whatever is visible to the Generated Man, Is a Creation of mercy & love, from the Satanic Void.)" Jerusalem, Page 20, (E 165) "Jerusalem answer'd with soft tears over the valleys. O Vala what is Sin? that thou shudderest and weepest At sight of thy once lov'd Jerusalem! What is Sin but a little Error & fault that is soon forgiven; but mercy is not a Sin Nor pity nor love nor kind forgiveness! O! if I have Sinned Forgive & pity me! O! unfold thy Veil in mercy & love! Jerusalem, Plate 42, (E 198) "O! I have utterly been wasted! I have given my daughters to devils So spoke Albion in gloomy majesty, and deepest night Of Ulro rolld round his skirts from Dover to Cornwall. Los answerd. Righteousness & justice I give thee in return For thy righteousness! but I add mercy also, and bind Thee from destroying these little ones: am I to be only Merciful to thee and cruel to all that thou hatest? Thou wast the Image of God surrounded by the Four Zoa's Three thou hast slain! I am the Fourth: thou canst not destroy me. Thou art in Error; trouble me not with thy righteousness. I have innocence to defend and ignorance to instruct: I have no time for seeming; and little arts of compliment, In morality and virtue: in self-glorying and pride." Jerusalem, Plate 76, (E 231) "But Jesus breaking thro' the Central Zones of Death & Hell Opens Eternity in Time & Space; triumphant in Mercy Thus are the Heavens formd by Los within the Mundane Shell And where Luther ends Adam begins again in Eternal Circle To awake the Prisoners of Death; to bring Albion again With Luvah into light eternal, in his eternal day. But now the Starry Heavens are fled from the mighty limbs of Albion"
Michelangelo and states.