Tag Archive: Los


Milton wants to celebrate self-love through the journey of sexual liberation, breaking away from the Urizen state of mind that “dares to mock with the aspersion of Madness/Cast on the Inspired, by the tame high finisher of paltry Blots” (202). The madness of course being the image offered through plate 47: two men–one enjoys the pleasure of another’s giving.

As we’ve discussed in class, the act of Self-Annihilation is no annihilation at all; it is meant to liberate the person in action–in this case through masturbation and/or sex with the member of the same sex. Therefore, in order for there to be a contrary state of mind, there ought to be the destruction of negations. In other words, you can’t know your true sexuality until you’ve experimented with it i.e., with yourself, others of same sex, and others.

So when Milton “come[s] in Self-annihilation & the grandeur of Inspiration”, he is reaching the orgasmic transcendence that is offered through the imagination of Los, by throwing away his filthy garments from Albion’s covering through reason (202). Then, and only then, can one stand at the entrance of the void outside of existence–and through the practice of imagination–see it as a womb: the birth of the Eternal Death of Albion.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

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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

A Hunger for Revolution

In William Blake’s “The Tyger” from Songs of Innocence and Experience is the essence of opposing energies of anything deemed guiltless.  In further analysing its twin poem “The Lamb,” we see this notion of opposition even more; the moral that is to be taken from having engaged in both texts, is that humanity possesses both sides: innocent and sinfilled.  

The “Tyger,” therefore, symbolizes not only the sin, and/or darker point of view of the world, but it represents the truest aftermath of a world that is full of injustice, inequality, and oppression.  It is the response to the push back of a society that are oppressed and marginalized -positioned in such a way because of the unabating greed of a higher power.

Hence, in the line “The Tigers couch upon the prey & such the ruddy tide” (Europe 18/15:17), we can conclude that the Tiger is responding to the 1800 years of dark times, when none of the political and/or societal issues were being resolved in France -the poorer were becoming poorer, and the rich were becoming richer; specifically, the monarchy. . The Tiger was essentially released from those shackles that represent oppression; full of rage and hunger; having an insatiable appetite for that of revolution.  This is a counterpart, really, of the apocalypse found in Revelations in the bible. In this manner, we see that the “prey,” therefore, are the very people who were greedily living out their lives, at the cost of the loss of everyone else. The blood is what has been spilt by the mass chaos taking place from the outbreak of the revolution -those from both sides.

The Tiger, furthermore, deviates from simply being seen as the darkness of the world; but, instead, transform into a victor.

Image result for tyger william blake

-Marcy Martinez

Urizen is ultimately weeping about the same thing: the emergence of Los, or, revolution of the peoples through the ashes of long forgotten imaginations. His rule over the world is coming to an end, which is why in “Africa”, he “gave it into the hands of Newton & Locke” (110); “it being the ideology of reason. Urizen tasks the new scientists with the notion of rationalizing the world through reason in order to make the world an objective truth. He weeps in “Africa” because he sees that the situation is quite frankly out of his hands; he alone cannot fight to create a world that is known–not felt.

Therefore, when he cries at the end of “Asia”, he has ultimately seen the “call for fires in the city” that rebells against his tradition of rational, and is watching as the system he’s created falls (110). Though the “Song of Los is Ended”, the revolution had just begun for the people, as this poem/song is a call for resistance against the enormous wings of Urizen and his order. His system was full of misery that worked towards subjugated its peoples; it “turn[s] man from his path [and] restrain[s] the child from the womb” (111). So then, his final weep is full of despair, and he knows that the tradition he’s created is finally over.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

Enitharmon’s dream was gendered as female because of its connection to Los; hitherto, Europe was ruled and dictated by a man’s dream, hence: “eighteen hundred years: Man was a Dream!” (12/9, line 2, 101). The logic of reason, or the ideology understood through the character Urizen, had been the contemporary order of society. Therefore, by gendering Enitharmon’s dream–and waking from it–there is this sense of anew. She was awakened to share her dreams with others, leaving Man that was a dream, in the past.

The dream itself opens with a sense of power being exerted by Enitharmon, calling onto her sons to “tell the human race that Woman’s love is Sin” (101). Here, the mother holds the power over her sons, dictating what they do and say, shifting the beholder of power from man to woman as a form of anew to come. Now, it can also be seen as Enitharmon uses her sons for their voices as men, in order to be heard by the old society and shift towards the new–which still reaffirms ideologies of the past. Though this is what will ultimately cause the “sons of Urizen [to] look out and envoy Los”–the sudden shift in power from man to woman, that is (100).

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

William Blake’s Europe a Prophecy ends with an epic war in which Los and Orc prepare to fight:

But terrible Orc, when he beheld the morning in the east
Shot from the heights of Enitharmon;
And in the vineyards of red France appear’d the light of his fury

Orc is the embodiment of rebellion as opposed to Urizen who is the symbol of tradition, therefore it makes sense that Orc would prepare for epic war along with Los (who is the creative imagination) . Los is also the father of Orc (and Enitharmon is his mother). Therefore, when Orc is born to Enitharmon in the beginning of the work, he is called the “horrent Demon” (100) to illustrate his deviation from tradition, and (perhaps away from what is considered religious because tradition and religion are part of the government in Britain). However, the symbolism or Orc and Los working together after Los becomes Urizen’s slave and partner, is immense because it marks the corruption of organized religions. Enitharmon’s 800 year old sleep is also a symbol of the repressed female figure that gave birth to rebellion.
The significance of this epic battle in relation to Blake’s prophetic version of Britain is that Blake is looking at Britain and examining the ways that Europe is repressive like Urizen, and its  failure of enlightenment is causing it to be the polar opposite of America (or what Orc is symbolizing) the energy of revolution and change. However, like Orc, America could be repressed and limited in a way, similarly to how Enitharmon was holding Orc back, even while she was pushing him to be a rebellious figure.
The “vineyards” of red France create an allusion to the French revolution that at this time is seeing the light of Orc (or revolution). The color symbolism of a “red France” is indicative of the immense blood shed that will take place. It is also foreshadowed in the birth of Orc: “And we will crown thy head with garlands of the ruddy vine”,”red stars of fire”, and “the sparkling wine of Los” (101). The poetic imagination then has to be marked with death and destruction because its mission is to destroy Urizen. However, this bloodshed would go on longer than William Blake or anybody would have expected.
-Beyanira Bautista

Upending Revolution with Government

An increasingly common theme we begin to see among Blake is his hatred of limiting rules and regulations, that patronize the imagination if not stifle it completely. Thomas Paine in his various works appears to echo these same sentiments, albeit through the lens of the political. In his book, Common Sense, he writes that “government even in its best state is but a necessary evil” (Paine 24) that serves as a contrast to our vice, “restraining” it. This seemingly coincides with Blake’s ideology about rules, reason, and logic (Urizen) bounding the wayward imagination (Los). The two Blakean images that are reoccurring throughout his works that comprehend the dichotomy between rules and freedom are that of Urizen and Los. These two figures, which symbolize the bounded mind in the form of Urizen and that of the unbounded mind in the form of Los are described in their poems, the titles of which are reflective of their personalities: “The Song of Los” and “The Book of Urizen”. While Blake appears to be in favor of Los, he does not neglect the authority and benefit of Urizen, similar to how Paine recognizes that government has a righteous purpose, despite the fact that it has the capacity for corruption. This is the perhaps the most strident point Paine highlights in his book The Rights of Man Part I, that man has the right to augment the government if the people decide that that form of government is oppressive or unbeneficial to them. He also takes care to note that a government is not an end-all-be-all solution, it does not exist to create boundaries and systems for the “end of time” (Paine 24) and “every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it” (Paine 25). This starkly contrasts Blake’s image of Urizen, because Urizen is meant to be infinite and eternal (Blake 115), being present at the site of creation to divide, measure, and coordinate. What makes this interesting is that Paine would be in favor of dismantling Urizen and creating him to suit the necessities of the individual, whereas Blake appears to make Urizen conquer over his subjects and those who rebel against him (spoiler!), offering commentary in Paine’s political realm: order will always conquer over anarchy, no matter how noble the motive.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

It is has been well established that Blake’s poetic genius attempts to get us out of our Urizen state, and ultimately reach that state of Los. In Blake’s annotations of Watson’s “Apology for the Bible” he reinforces that idea by claiming that “Our judgement of right & wrong is Reason” (Blake, 456). Thomas Paine seems to align with Blake’s belief that our reason is what prevents us from progressing. In Paine’s “The Age of Reason”, he makes radical claims toward the form of government, and the ways in which it ultimately limits a society.

“…therefore all such clauses, acts, or declerations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do—nor the power to execute—are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself…” (Paine, 25). 

Paine essentially is against the ways in which government forms laws because it takes away people’s freedom. This reminded me a lot of a particular passage of Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake says, “I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning” (Blake, 79). My interpretation of this reflecting back on Paine’s radical claims on government, was that the Angels in this case are those in power (political figures, bishops, etc) because they believe the laws and beliefs they force upon society are the “right” way thus, making them feel entitled or the most wise. However as we now know, it is these “wise men” and reason that restricts society to feel “free to act for itself…”, instead society acts according to what those “wise men” tell them.

In terms of the French Revolution those people who destroyed the Bastille, and demanded change, as well as the head of King Louis XVI, acted upon their own judgment and will, completely defying the rule of the monarchy. In other words, they were sick and tired of those “wise men” so they did something about it. Power to the people!

C8B393B2-6C6B-4A73-ABA0-C380D8DD2B65.jpeg(Blake, 79).

The image above I felt really represents those “wise men” crushing societies’ ability to prosper. I wish I found one that depicted a representation when society finally acts for themselves.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

Religion stifles the expression of man as it contributes to a more logical way of thinking and keeps them from looking deeper into the depths of one’s imagination. With imagination, one opens to a world where creativity guides the mind without the need to overthink it. In the article Young William Blake and the Moravian Tradition of Visionary Art by Marsha Keith Schuchard, they take a look at the Moravian tradition and speak about the arts in the way that take the logic from them. She states that “the hymns of the Moravians are full of ardent expressions, tender complaints, and animated prayers; these were my delight. As soon as I could write and spell, I imitated them, and before I was thirteen I had filled a little volume with sacred poems.” There is this emotional invocation from the “expressions” and “complaints” having of a more subjective approach to the arts. These arts become “sacred poems” that continuously interlock with one’s life hence making this a more personal connection with the reader than that of the act of logic. It is here that William Blake makes a separation between imagination and reason or how he likes to call them Los and Urizen. The two serve to be more of the classifications of humanity and their split in them from being truthful. As seen in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, he states “The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence and now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth the causes of its life and the sources of all activity, but the chains are, the cunning of weak and tame minds which have power to resist energy”(). It is here that Blake mentions again the split of logic and imagination and one of them tends to restrict man from their truths. They are like two opposite ends of a rope and there is always someone tugging at them trying to sway them one way or another. It is possible that maybe having these two forces pull at them that they could learn to use both in order to expose further realistic themes in life. It again reflects the ideas that Reynolds presented in my past blog post about duality and the need to understand two sides.

-Alexis Blanco

Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was a religious reformer better known for as a bishop of the Moravian church. He along with other Moravian followers believed in the the importance of our five senses, and the idea that attaining a relationship with God lies not in following order and practices, but through more of a spiritual experience, body and soul can we truly get closer to god. Marsha Keith Schuchard’s article focuses on the potential Moravian beliefs Blake may have had by close reading some of his work. Schuchard describes that “…pious and self-righteous standards of behavior, which led to hypocrisy and joylessness, were not proper expressions of Christian worship” according to Moravian beliefs (Schuchard, 85). She further explains that Moravians instead beileved in the concept of Herzensreligion (religion of the heart) in order to help us “sensate Jesus’s love and to identify with his wounds…” (86).

From what we already know of Blake, he believed that in order to achieve the true poetic genius, we must stray from Urizen, which thus leads us closer to Los. By looking at Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, we can observe certain passages which not only emphasize the idea of Urizen and Los, but portray Blake as a Moravian believer. Specifically in the passage where he tells us of a conversation he has with the prophet Isaiah, he says “Isaiah answer’d “I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover’d the infinite in everything…” (Blake, 74). The idea of the senses is emphasized here, by Isaiah denying that God exists in a solid, bodily form, which most people make him out to be. We can see this by the many religious depictions of God himself through art such as paintings, sculptures, etc. Blake here illuminates the idea that God exists in an “infinite” form. In order to truly be one with God or the “infinite”, we must be spiritually connected to our five senses. By embracing what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell, we will not only discover God’s true form, but we would finally have achieved Los in which Blake highly stresses us to reach . 

Although there are other passages within The Marriage of Heaven and Hell which leads us to believe Blake was a Moravian believer, this specific passage truly captures that essence because Blake portrays a biblical prophet as his own infernal opposite.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor