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

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Blake didn't have an aversion to Newton, Bacon and Locke; he was opposed to the ideas they represented to him. He used their names as a shorthand to express the positions and assumptions they professed. The Enlightenment was based on the assumptions these three men taught: Bacon that empirical data alone provided the foundation for judgement; Locke that the mind was a blank slate rather than an image of the Eternal; Newton that the only tool man required to make things right was his own reasoning power.
In Blake: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Northrop Frye, Jean Hagstrum made this scathing statement about Newton, Bacon and Locke as active functions of Urizen as he undermined humanity:
Page 154
"Urizen is also and active force. Dividing, partitioning, dropping the plummet line, applying Newton's compasses to the world, he creates abstract mathematical forms. Like Locke, he shrinks the senses, narrows the perceptions, binds man to natural fact. Like Bacon he creates the laws of prudence and crucifies passion. He is the man neoclassical psychology and ethics have delivered into our hands - a passivity, a receptacle, a 'soul-shuddering vacuum,' an abominable void,' an 'unknown, abstracted, brooding, secret' power of dark negation."

Bacon, Newton and Locke symbolized the principalities, and powers, the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness against which we wrestle.
Four Zoas, Night I, PAGE 3, (E 300)
4 lines of Greek text; Ephesians 6: 12

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high
The battle that raged within man's brain was the effort to put aside these propositions which had come to dominate his culture and infected each individual with false assumptions which undermined his ability to sense the activity of his own Soul and to allow the Christ Within to be manifest in the way he chose to live. This could be accomplished:
not by rational demonstration but by faith,
not by memory but by inspiration,
not by concealing but by revealing,
not by doubting but by affirming.

Milton, PLATE 41 [48], (E 142) 
"To bathe in the Waters of Life; to wash off the Not Human
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.               
Who creeps into State Government like a catterpiller to destroy
To cast off the idiot Questioner who is always questioning,
But never capable of answering; who sits with a sly grin
Silent plotting when to question, like a thief in a cave;
Who publishes doubt & calls it knowledge; whose Science is Despair   
Whose pretence to knowledge is Envy, whose whole Science is
To destroy the wisdom of ages to gratify ravenous Envy;
That rages round him like a Wolf day & night without rest
He smiles with condescension; he talks of Benevolence & Virtue
And those who act with Benevolence & Virtue, they murder time on time
These are the destroyers of Jerusalem, these are the murderers
Of Jesus, who deny the Faith & mock at Eternal Life:
Who pretend to Poetry that they may destroy Imagination;
By imitation of Natures Images drawn from Remembrance
These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains

Which Jesus rent: & now shall wholly purge away with Fire
Till Generation is swallowd up in Regeneration."

Jerusalem, Plate 70, (E 224)
"And this the form of mighty Hand sitting on Albions cliffs
Before the face of Albion, a mighty threatning Form.

His bosom wide & shoulders huge overspreading wondrous
Bear Three strong sinewy Necks & Three awful & terrible Heads
Three Brains in contradictory council brooding incessantly.      
Neither daring to put in act its councils, fearing each-other,
Therefore rejecting Ideas as nothing & holding all Wisdom
To consist. in the agreements & disagree[me]nts of Ideas.
Plotting to devour Albions Body of Humanity & Love.

Such Form the aggregate of the Twelve Sons of Albion took; & such
Their appearance when combind: but often by birth-pangs & loud groans
They divide to Twelve: the key-bones & the chest dividing in pain
Disclose a hideous orifice; thence issuing the Giant-brood
Arise as the smoke of the furnace, shaking the rocks from sea to sea.
And there they combine into Three Forms, named Bacon & Newton & Locke,
In the Oak Groves of Albion which overspread all the Earth.

Imputing Sin & Righteousness to Individuals; Rahab
Sat deep within him hid: his Feminine Power unreveal'd
Brooding Abstract Philosophy. to destroy Imagination, the Divine-
-Humanity A Three-fold Wonder: feminine: most beautiful: Three-fold"

States and their alternatives:
NEWTON - trust your reasoning power OR trust your intuition (imagination,)
BACON - give the sense world exclusive control OR see the limitations of the world perceived by the senses,
LOCKE - deny existence of the Eternal OR turn to the realities which are imperishable.

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