Tag Archive: contrary


By examining the engraved images of what is clearly a depiction of a man performing oral sex towards another man is actually an engraving that is supposed to portray Blake’s encounter with Los (further explained in the footnotes).

By taking a closer look at the detail of both images, both of the men are presented almost as identical replicas of themselves. Looking at the engravings at first kind of creeped me out because my mind instantly tried to envision myself having sex with an embodiment of myself (literally)! However, after trying to make sense of Book Two of Milton (again a bunch of mumble jumble), I came to the idea that the engravings is actually a representation of self-annihilation through sexual liberation, aka masterbation. As we have previously discussed with other works of Blake such as The Visions of the Daughter’s of Albion, as well as his implications to Moravian theology, we already know that the idea of sexual liberation is suppressed and viewed as “sinful” primarily from religious institutions. However, our sexual liberation is that which aids us to break away from the limitations in which religion bounds us in.

At the beginning, Blake states that “Contraries are Positives A Negation is not a Contrary” in other words the idea of contraries is actually something that is crucial for human existence; i.e we must have up as well as down (Blake, 187). A negation on the other hand is what limits us from accepting the duality of everything that exisits in our natural world. He further claims that we must get rid of all negations in order for us to understand the existence and purpose of contraries.

“The Negation must be destroyed to redeem the Contraries. The Negation is the Spectre; the Reasoning Power in Man; This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway. To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-examniation…” (Blake, 201).

Could Blake potentially be trying to tell us that we must be like Jesus the “rebel”, in which  we break all form of rule in order to merge with the imaginative that we ourselves suppress within us?  This “negation” or surprising of sexual desires must be destroyed; we must be comfortable with the notion of “taboo” in order to redeem the contraries that for the most part lies within us, (hence the idea of the engraving of being Blake giving himself oral sex). And we all know, that sexual liberation is ultimately the gateway to eternal delight.

p.s, this is my attempt to try to make sense of this mumble jumble, I don’t know what I just wrote but this is probably how Blake felt after writing both books.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

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Ololon’s False Self-Identification

In forming a contrary, two opposing ideas or being create a new, fuller meaning in their relationship to one another.  Despite Ololon’s self-identification as Milton’s contrary, she does not fulfill this purpose.  Notably, Olonon’s self-identification as Milton’s contrary comes in the form of a question; even this status depends on his validation.  The question is paradoxical:  Milton cannot confirm this idea without asserting his higher position in the power structure.  Her question therefore means that any acknowledgement of the contrary would, in fact, render it invalid.

Both in this passage, and in Book I of Milton, Ololon finds her identity in Milton; as she earlier “lamented for Milton with a great lamentation” (Plate 24, Book I) and now concludes that she must go to Eternal Death to rejoin him (Plate 49, Book II).  As such, while she appears to choose the course of annihilation for herself, it is not true self-annihilation as the decision is based exclusively on her ties to Milton.  By predicating her own choices on those of Milton, she places herself below him in power; the two figures cannot then form a functional contrary.  While Ololon gains significance and purpose from her association with Milton, Milton’s function remains unchanged by this relationship.