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

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Moses Indignant at the Golden Calf
circa 1799-1800

Tate Collection
Blake Archive
Exodus 32

[1] And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

15] And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
[16] And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

[19] And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
[20] And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the
water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

[26] Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
[27] And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
[28] And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

Blake understood that the stage of psychological development of the time of Moses was earlier than is ours. The emphasis on assimilating a code of moral behavior is representative of the stage of developing a superego in the order of psychic evolution. Moses represented the period of cultural development when external and internal controls on the impulsive behaviors of the id had not yet been firmly established. The expressions of wrath by God and those acting for God, which were acceptable at the time of the Exodus, appear abhorrent to the mentality of Jesus.

The vision that men have of God reflects their own consciousness. Blake's fascination with the accounts of events in the Old Testament resulted from the insight into the evolution of awareness of the cosmic relationship of God and man which they provide.

Annotations to Watson, E 617
Watson 'every fact recorded in them may be true'
WB "Impossible for the facts are such as none but the actor
could tell, if it is True Moses & none but he could write it
unless we allow it to be Poetry & that poetry inspired
[P 16] If historical facts can be written by inspiration
Miltons Paradise Lost is as true as Genesis. or Exodus. but the
Evidence is nothing for how can he who writes what he has neither
seen nor heard of. be an Evidence of The Truth of his history
I cannot concieve the Divinity of the Bible
to consist either in who they were written by or at what time or
in the historical evidence which may be all false in the eyes of
one man & true in the eyes of another but in the Sentiments &
Examples which whether true or Parabolic are Equally useful as
Examples given to us of the perverseness of some & its consequent
evil & the honesty of others & its consequent good This sense of
the Bible is equally true to all & equally plain to all. none can
doubt the impression which he recieves from a book of Examples.
If he is good he will abhor wickedness in David or Abraham if he
is wicked he will make their wickedness an excuse for his & so he
would do by any other book"

From Fearful Symmetry, Northrup Frye:
Page 346
"Blake's poem [Milton] attempts to recreate the central vision of life, based on the Bible, which made Milton a great Christian poet...Blake is therefore, trying to do for Milton what the prophets and Jesus did for Moses: isolate what is poetic and imaginative, and annihilate what is legal and historical."

From Chapter Six of the Blake Primer, Larry Clayton:
"Although when we read without blinders, we can see their consciousness of God changing before our eyes. Note Abraham bargaining with God for the survival of his nephew in Sodom and Moses simply defying God if he refuses to forgive the worshippers of the golden calf. In the spirit of these two revealing passages Blake in his own recreation of the biblical story dramatically portrayed an evolving God consciousness, which the black book simply cannot permit. It was Blake's willingness to let the old die that made him notably ready for the new birth. The dark night of the soul had intensified until it became the Sickness unto Death."


No comments:

Post a Comment