Tag Archive: Jerusalem


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?

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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

 

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“is this the Death Couch of Albion?/ Thou goest to Eternal Death & all must go with thee”

This Comment is in response to kathcal’s “The Necessity of Going Down.” This comment serves to add more support in terms of textual evidence to her argument. The passage that was assigned is in sync with kathcal’s statements on the sacrifice of autonomy in order to obtain oneness with God.

Milton, in his opening statements of the passage refers to the sacrifice of autonomy: “This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal Spirit; a Selfhood which must be put off.” Milton wishes to cast off his self-hood in order to become one with God–only attained through self-annihilation. He wishes to, in essence, be the impetus for a greater movement towards self-annihilation, to  start a chain-reaction. He wishes to “to take off his filthy garments, & clothe him with Imagination.” In the passage he speaks to address a large scale of people that seem to shun his view of Imagination–he seeks to purify, to reveal.

It seems to Blake that the individual forms that we currently occupy–our self-hood–has made us quite…selfish (ha). He is calling for a global cleansing on the scale of the Last Judgment in order to bring about the New Jerusalem. Blake, through Milton, fears that the current generation is too corrupt and tainted–too concerned with false figures, rather than pure Imagination–to bring about the New Jerusalem: “These are the destroyers of Jerusalem, these are the murderers/ Of Jesus, who deny the Faith & mock at Eternal Life.” And connecting back to kathcal’s post, it ties closely with the spiritual calling others down to the river. His call for rebirth indeed mimics baptism–a “Regeneration.”

A decentralized religious anarchist?

It is unfair to locate Blake on a political spectrum because by strict definition his theory has nothing to do with politics, just like Thomas Paine’s theory has nothing to do with religion.

In A Song of Liberty from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake disdains any possible kind of system: empire, any kind of government either democratic or not, church, slavery, monarchy. So I think it might be safe at least to call Blake an anarchist. He does not support any type of institution because institutions set standards.

However, he is definitely not just an anarchist because there is something dominant in Blake’s theory: the Poetic Genius. For here we need to examine the position of religion in Blake’s theory. Blake is against centralized church and religious morality. But he is still a Christian and believes Jesus is an artist and as rebellious as him, as a man who break the ten commands. In the relationship between state and church, he deletes the existence of state and decentralizes church into personal practice. Nevertheless, the religion exists and exists as the ultimate goal of his theory: the New Jerusalem. So Blake is a religious anarchist.

If we characterize all the political theories during that time period as rational, then Blake is a romanticist. The practice of art and imagination, the essence of Poetic Genius are irrational. Blake’s theory of revolution is irrational, thus system does not exist. He calls for the Poetic Genius in everyman and the undisciplined environment. A categorization for Blake is shameful.

Blake’s new religion

By claiming All Religions Are One, Blake created a new religion himself, with utilizing Poetic Genius to present Prophecy and Art as its major practice. In this religion, he integrated all Gods, from whatever religions, as one. Therefore by assimilating all religions, he denied these religions’ original principles and recreated his own. True Men recorded their vision and imagination, through their own Poetic Genius, and delivered their understanding of this only and ultimate existence. All religions on this planet served as reflections of this highest existence. However, I would like to make no assumption about what this ultimate existence, the origin of all religion and the source of all Gods, exactly is. Unlike many other religions, Blake created a practice without a clear goal. His definition of divine and infinite, the highest goals of this religion, emphasize on the practice itself, not a practice of scientific analysis or logical deduction, but a practice of seeing vision. The practice of Poetic Genius in the form of Prophecy and Art enables one to see infinite. Nevertheless, as a Christian himself, where is the position of Christian religion in this interpretation when all religions are intrinsically the same? And what is the point to rebuild Jerusalem in the land of England if the goal is just to see the infinite?

 

Blake’s “Jerusalem” hymn performed by the London Symphany Orchestra at the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine (“Kate”) Middleton, April 2011

 

Discussion Question:

How did a hymn that calls for the radical remaking of England as the New Jerusalem become today a nationalist symbol of the British monarchy, the church and state establishment that Blake so much detested?