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Anderson Tang

Professor Garcia

English 190

April 30th, 2018

Did I Waste Four Years? You Tell Me.

When I first began my adventure as an English major, I was very singular in the thought that my intentions were to only look out for myself, to me, no one, and nothing else mattered. Every obstacle I encountered was dealt with by myself, and if I failed, I failed by myself. I felt like I did not need anyone, and that if I failed, I could only hold myself accountable for, because I was not good enough alone. To me, it just meant that I needed to work harder to improve myself. The learning outcomes provided by the English Department seemed simple, it seemed like child’s play, by now, you’ve probably figured by now that I was very snobby, obnoxious, and ignorant. I was very closeminded to the thought of the idea of opposition, that if I did not have friends, or work with anybody, my college career would go smoother. Through my years of experience here at this university, I am glad that I was proven wrong, working with people who became my closest friends and biggest supporters gave me a slap of reality. They made me realize that there is nothing wrong with receiving help from others, and that working with others actually makes life smoother and helps refine one’s thoughts. Because of them, I realized it before I took English 190, I realized that William Blake speaks the truth, “Opposition is true friendship.” I began to realize that by having friends who understand or relate to your background are vital because when neither of us agree with the other’s thought process, we can discuss, debate, and refine our ideas and beliefs.

Over time, I realized with the help of my friends, that the learning outcomes, and everything I once thought were child’s play required a more in-depth thought process, by opening up my mind, I realized that if I wanted to grow, I needed to become humble. I realized that the English department’s learning outcomes were the way they were for a reason, that it was more rigorous than what I was able to previously comprehend. By working with others, I felt that my knowledge began to grow, and I became more understanding of situations. I was under this impression that although there were multiple perspectives for texts, I never truly listened, nor did I understand that there were other correct answers. Though classes such as Advanced Shakespeare and Medieval Literature with Professor Brokaw opened my eyes to the possibilities of other interpretations to pieces of literature. Doctor Brokaw in my opinion is the best professor who can get you started to opening your eyes in a literary aspect.

While I feel like classes with Doctor Hakala, were the classes that made me improve the most. Classes with Dr. Hakala were the most challenging, and the kind that made me stress out the most. However, classes with Dr. Hakala were by far my most favorite because for a lack of better words, they broke me. Because they broke me, I felt like it created room to grow and reconstructed my way of thinking. Her method of teaching made it possible for me to become who I am today, somewhat more knowledgeable and humble than I was before. By the time I had the opportunity to have Dr. Hakala as my professor again, I was more than ready, I knew exactly what I needed to do to be what she expected of me. I really enjoyed English 100 with her, that class gave me the confidence to truly speak my mind and have a better method of formulating my thoughts. She gave me the tools to be a better student, and she made me want to be a better student.

 

Overall, I feel like everyone I encountered throughout my college career was some kind of opposition for me, and because of them, I began to improve myself. I realized how without my friend’s and professor’s opinions, I would not have found a better way to articulate my words and refine my thoughts. The learning outcomes for the English major are like William Blake’s work and every other author’s work, it seems simple in the beginning, but that’s because we are only attempting to scratch the surface. I would like to say that English 190 with Dr. Humberto Garcia has been the most interesting class I have taken by far, it honestly feels as if William Blake is the one teaching the class. I thought that it would difficult because we did not have free rein on our senior thesis, but now, I really enjoyed writing my thesis. By giving us a sense of direction, Dr. Garcia let us generally write what we wanted, but some of us chose to stick to the topic of William Blake. It was nice to be able to have a choice.

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Reflective Essay

Reflective Essay

One of the oldest and most influential justifications for the study of literature is that such study makes us better human beings.  While this is not necessarily true, the literary texts students have studied in and outside class present ethical conundrums, which force us to rethink our relationships with others, ourselves, and the social/natural world.

Instruction:

Write a 3-4 page essay in which you reflect on the development of your sense of ethics over the course of your undergraduate education, with particular emphasis on the impact, if any, that your study of literature has had.  Connect your reflection on your experiences as an English major to the principles outlined in the English Major Program Learning Outcomes (see below).  Point to specific examples that demonstrate your growth in these areas. Discuss, at some point in your reflection, the writing process and the evolution of your critical writing process from your first years in the program to the present. The essay also encourages you to wonder and critically engage with the purpose of the study of literature, to identify a common theme and driving question that you have discovered along the way.  The essay should not be confined to the topic of English 190, but could use Blake’s work as a critical lens for plotting your overall learning trajectory in the English program.

Please cite any sources you use (in MLA style).  The reflective essay is due on the course blog by 8:30am Wednesday 5/2, so it should be pitched to your classmates and the general, non-academic public (not just me!). Please categorize your posted essay under “Reflective Essay” and create specific and relevant tags (as many as you need).

 

English Program Learning Outcomes:

  1. Interpret texts with due sensitivity to both textual and contextual cues.
  2. Articulate an appreciation of the aesthetic qualities of texts by the standards of their times and places.
  3. Demonstrate historical, geographic, and cultural empathy by reading texts written in other times, places, and cultures.
  4. Apply interpretive strategies developed in literary study to other academic and professional contexts.
  5. Write cogently and with sensitivity to audience.

Reminder: students will no longer need to submit blog posts.

I also want dedicate Patti Smith’s song, “My Blakean Year,” to my hardworking students, who have struggled to understand Blake’s works only to discover the joy of the poetic genius.

By the way, is this what female self-annihilation looks and sounds like?

here’s Patti Smith’s lyrics to the song:

“My Blakean Year”

In my Blakean year I was so disposed
Toward a mission yet unclear Advancing pole by pole
Fortune breathed into my ear Mouthed a simple ode
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road
In my Blakean year Such a woeful schism
The pain of our existence
Was not as I envisioned
Boots that trudged from track to track
Worn down to the sole
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road
Boots that tramped from track to track Worn down to the sole
One road was paved in gold
One road was just a road
In my Blakean year
Temptation but a hiss
Just a shallow spear
Robed in cowardice
Brace yourself for bitter flack
For a life sublime
A labyrinth of riches
Never shall unwind
The threads that bind the pilgrim’s sack
Are stitched into the Blakean back
So throw off your stupid cloak
Embrace all that you fear
For joy shall conquer all despair In my Blakean year
So throw off your stupid cloak
Embrace all that you fear
For joy shall conquer all despair In my Blakean year

The engraving from William Blake’s Plate 49 depicting Los engaged in sodomy is a non-secular subject in which Blake explicitly alludes to (but does not name) the tyrannical government in power- most likely of Napoleon’s, but openly assigned to treat authorities such as our current Trump presidency. Along with the anthropocentric charges, “Who creeps into State Government like a catterpiller to destroy,” (Blake 202) this is the first time he directly compares beasts to the government, unambiguously describing the animal-like phenomenological action of “creeping,” and introducing simile structured against the sentence object, “to destroy.” Blake introduces Los as apparently being fellated by the authorial self. The editorial footnote describes Blake’s own transgressing images from Milton Book I to Book II, which is an interesting digression due to not only Blake’s own presence in the story, but also because the content of his process- on being destroyed ironically from one book to become part of the sequence or essence of another. Another detail that seemed out of place was the background of Plate 47 in which a woman with big, wavy, hair surrounds Los, within the circumference of his halo. Is Oothoon gazing upon the male bodies performing, perhaps for erotic desires?

IMG_0923

Los’s left arm curls back into a thinking position, his hand covering Oothoon’s face. This relates to Los’ love for revolution, “To cast off Bacon, Locke & Newton from Albion’s covering […] To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration,” (202). Both Los and Oothoon are juxtaposed versus the Enlightenment thinkers, and described much in the same way Blake has chosen to draw her, as requiring a deconstructing of layers in order to see her, to “cast off,” the hand of Los, and while Blake’s conventional critique of Royal Academy influencers and thinkers of the French Revolution, in consideration of his previous demonizations of regicide and anthropomorphic metaphors about both the Church and State, is not presented here in the usual compartmentalization by images of war and in descriptions of cosmic connections between Los, the author and the various geographic pinpoints to retell Blake’s dreamlike vision of how “Before Ololon Milton stood & perceivd the Eternal Form,” (Blake 200), other relativism to Milton and Blake’s allegorical characters represent London’s existence and subtending, religious themes which form the plot-like conventions of systemic storybuilding. The plates enabled for Blake a mimetic exploration, and thus the ultimate nationalistic gesture in which he envokes “Inspiration” with a capital ‘I,’ alongside traditional, religious imagery, while drawing this Inspiration to visually depict males performing oral sex acts in conjunction with the “State Government,” (202) and explicitly actualizes a metaphysical, self-annhilation using homoerotic imagery that evokes Milton’s biographical trials and the sense of Los’ war in Jerusalem, while simultaneously persuading the more abstract and conscious limits of his (French) reader’s political and social perceptions with an overtly associated logos of symbolic, non-fertile sexual intercourse. The images falling under Victorian censorship need to be re-examined, including Oothoon’s overlooked, feminine presence. It is said that ‘the devil is in the details,’ where does Milton lie in this engraving of Blake’s threesome with Los and Oothoon? The males in Plate 49 are being subjected to the matriarchal gazing which satirizes Europe’s war with Jerusalem, and under the shadows of Beulah, subjects Blake to not only fellatiating Los himself/a simulation of Blake’s political imagination/America’s own prophet, but also to the actual treatment of readership for his representing in negative connatations the personal notions of liberty through pubically demonstrated symbolic gestures, generally thought not to be displayed in either religious or political institutions. Blake’s genius is sensuous, and not to be confounded by the devout, religious practices which frequently swayed inspiration for the author in the eighteenth century.

-Bradley Dexter Christian

 

When observing the images of male-to-male oral sex, what can be assumed is that there is two figures, but another perspective could be that there is something else -something mystical taking place.  In other words, what I took from it is that while we see two figures -men- doing acts to one another it is really supposed to represent the inner and outer being of one person. To be more specific, the figures are really of a man, in the state of Beluah, giving pleasure back to themself, that “self” is the inner feminine in them.  When Ololon asks, “Is this our Feminine Portion, the Six-fold Miltonic Female?” (Plate 49/42, line 30); to me, she is being concrete in her question. The “Feminine Portion” being the feminine within the inner self, thus the outer being the male portion.

Towards the end of the poem, it  eludes to the end of time taking place and that one will soon be facing one’s own doom -more so, Milton facing his own doom.  At this point, he refers to “his shadow,” showing up by his side at the cusp of the self-annihilation taking place. He says, “and my Sweet Shadow of delight stood trembling by my side (plate 50/43, line 28).  This too gives reference to a duality, and again a notion that the “self” is what Milton is actually in constant connection or contact with. After self-annihilation comes a euphoria in a sense; a resurrection occurs of the truest of one’s self and   

In the image this connection is what the illusion of male-to-male oral sex is referring to.

 

-Marcy

 

Giving head is a process. Beyond just the physical act, male-to-male oral sex transports us into a different realm. A realm beyond, what William Blake calls “mental fight.” Self-annihilation, the arrival at true, honest, uncensored self-reflection is the apocalypse. What we do once we arrive at Eternity determines our resurrection.

People have been dying, awaiting the second coming. But William Blake urges us to “Judge then of they Own Self: they Eternal Lineaments explore:/What is Eternal and what Changeable? & what Annihilable!/The Imagination is not a State: it is the Human Existence itself” (lines 30-32).  Since everything that is created is destroyed, we must venture into Eternity and save ourselves.

The engraved images of male-to-male oral sex appear to be divine, with rays of light blasting, in all directions, from the men. Two different people, yet the same person. One foot in the “real world”, one foot in Eternity. William Blake has unlocked our path to resurrection, towards healing and coming to love ourselves, in one of the most accessible, user-friendly, free methods. Homosexual oral sex is the bridge to Eternity, a necessary trip for our self-annihilation.

 

 

blake-milton-2

Pay close attention to the positioning of the feet in the engraved images.

– Israel Alonso

The two plates below depicting oral sex show oral sex between two unidentified individuals. The first plate shows oral sex as a form of domination. The woman is slumped over, as though unconscious. One hand supports herself on the man’s shoulder. The other is limp. The man pulls her close, entwining his arms around her. She appears helpless while he is bathed in light. 

The second plate not only appears to show two men engaging in oral sex, but two of the same man. That is to say, this is an incidence of auto-fellatio. If the above plate depicts oral sex as a form of domination, then it can be said that this auto-fellatio is a domination of the self. While the dominated woman is clothed, neither of the “selves” depicted below are clothed. They are clothed only in the flames of the sun; they are clothed only in Los. The auto-fellatio is entirely consensual, with the kneeling self turning his head, in full control of his body. The standing self’s hands are free, as though to show that they are not forcing anything upon anybody.

The women below are clothed only in sun and flame as well. They are in harmony with one another. They have cast off all except inspiration. The plate reads,

“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 Albion’s covering.
To take off his filthy garments & clothe him with Imagination,
To cast aside from Poetry, all that is not Inspiration.”

To achieve self annihilation is to wash away reason and rationality, to cast off clothes, and to accept nakedness, sexuality and Los.

Ross Koppel

 

2 in 1

Sex is just a biological function that occur in nature, but for humans, sex has become a form of self-expression and the biggest aspect of one’s identity. A person’s virginity then becomes a person’s most valuable possession. To give up one’s virginity to another person is not perceived as self-annihilation, but giving it up to oneself is. With this, my understanding of Blake’s Book the Second is that the contraries that exists are actually one; that Los and Urizen are not two beings, but one. The two exists due to self-annihilation. Ololon says to Milton,

I see thee strive upon the Brooks of Arnon; there a dread
And awful Man I see, oercovered with the mantle of years.
I behold Los & Urizen. I behold Orc & Tharmas;
The Four Zoa’s of Albion & thy Spirit with them striving
In Self annihilation giving thy life to thy enemies. (200)

An individual’s contrary, or enemy, is awakened when they act upon self-pleasure. Milton says, “The Negation must be destroyed to redeem the Contraries” with the negation being the denial of wanting pleasure; the sin of masturbation (201). The two people depicted in each image are the same person. In the first one, there is a clear distinction between the skin tones of the two persons. The one performing the oral sex is white as if he were dead. He is being guided by the other man as a metaphor for the man’s awakening. Streaks of light is emerging behind him. In the second image, the man who was being led is now in full control of his own body. The light behind the man receiving the oral sex in the first image has blown into a full sun in the second image. We know that the sun is associated with Urizen; therefore, the images depict Los releasing Urizen, his own contrary, his enemy.

-Van Vang

HomoERECTUS

We have continuously talked about the act of sex being the act of liberation and how it gratifies the people into breaking from the Urizen state of mind, accepting Los. The image itself depicts a man receiving oral sex from another man as they are caught up in a state of transcendent liberation. They are caught up between the two worlds of Los and Urizen as one man is surrounded by this aura like essence. I have also compared how in other images Urizen tends to be depicted within a Sun while Los tends to be surrounded by flames and this man is caught in-between both. As I stated in my previous blog post this self-annhiliation is not really a literal death but rather an awakening to new ways of thinking. It serves to explore beliefs that this sexual experience between two people of the same gender create this destruction of the self. It strips away conventional ways of thinking and only then can the birth of their new self be had. Blake states that after

A moment, and my Soul returnd into its mortal state

To Resurrection and Judgment in the Vegetable Body

And my sweet Shadow of Delight stood trembling by my side(26-28).

Through the gratification of the act itself the “Soul” was able to comeback into the vessel that had turned into a “Vegetable Body.” The body is left numb from the sexual experience in order to make room for this free and creative way of thinking. He however has turned this experience as a “Shadow of Delight” something that has happened and is in the past. So is Blake trying to say that the liberation or “Delight” is only fulfilling for a while and once its over one will go back being stuck in the grasps of Urizen? That like sex it is temporary and once its over one goes back to the old way of living?

-Alexis Blanco

 “Milton will utterly consume us & thee our beloved Father” 

In Milton: Book the Second, Blake finds himself in the garden. Ololon meets Blake and then eventually finds Milton, and we find out that she is Milton’s feminine self. Blake express that Ololon’s position as a virgin is one that puts her in an “annihilable” state. And only by giving up her virginity is she free. Therefore, negation is necessary. This negation to preserve the opposite of Ololon turns out to be Milton. The negation is described as:

a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway

The false body means entrapment and annihilation, and destruction to the immortal. So, to deny negation is to remain unscathed by one’s sexual potential. The ultimate sexual potential at this time would in fact be male-to-male oral sex. In the later line, the need for nudity and for undressing lineaments that are like ‘arks & curtains’.

These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains

The ‘sexual garments’ hide the ‘human lineaments’ as illustrated in the image below, although, the person getting orally satisfied does appear to be wearing a small underwear-like garment. The background appears to be a sun because of the red flames encircling the yellow circle. However, the inside of the sun, where the yellow circle appears also has what appears to resemble many vaginal labias. Perhaps this could be a tie into another sexual organ besides what we assume is the penis, but perhaps the presence of the vagina is also an indication of the birth of this sexual act(the male-to-male oral sex). The person giving the fellatio is on their knees (which isn’t out of the ordinary), but the position in which they have their body facing forward and their head turned around is odd. The way that they are also looking into the other person’s eyes is a bit odd given the awkward position that they are in.

The identity of both of the participants is also ambiguous because the face of on figure isn’t visible since he is looking up. This brings into question the identities of the participants. An idea that came to me is that it could be Milton and Milton. Perhaps the ultimate way to not self annihilate is masturbation, which is sinful in even more ways that just plain male-to-male oral sex. However, I also think masturbation would indicate the ego/self righteousness. Another thought was that it was Ololon the “six fold Miltonic female”, but that would take away the significance of male-on-male oral sex. Another darker thought that arose was that the figures are either Milton and all of his followers, or (bear with me here) Milton and Blake. Given that throughout the first book, Blake is imitating the things he blames Milton of (ie. using women as objects, feeding into his own ego). It also makes sense to me because Blake is the person that Ololon goes to in order to be redirected to Milton. Therefore, Blake is perhaps acting as a link or maybe in more sexual terms: a vagina for Ololon to connect to Milton. Either way, this is extremely progressive for the time, and I had to stop myself from photoshopping Milton and Blake’s heads to this image.

Blake Milton 2

-Beyanira Bautista