Tag Archive: William Blake


Self-Love

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

 

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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.

 

 

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

– Israel Alonso

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

In William Blake’s The Song of Los: Africa, Adam and Noah are an odd combination to put as contemporaries given that Adam is about 8 or so generations away from Adam acording to the bible (Adam father of Seth, Seth father of Enos, Enos father of Kenan, Kenan father of Malalel, Malalel father of Jared, Jared father of Enoch, Enoch father of Methuselah, Methuselah father of Lamech, and Lamech father of Noah). However, Noah and Adam have more in common in this work than one would think.

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In this piece Adam, Noah, Moses, Abram, and Jesus are mentioned, however, the first images we see are of Adam “standing in the garden of Eden” and Noah “on the mountains of Ararat” (109). Placing Adam and Noah in this setting shows how they can be contemporaries. Adam in the garden of Eden is the first human creation, and thus the promise of the future. Noah in the mountain of Ararat, is in the setting where the Ark was rested. These mountains also symbolize redemption and a new cycle and a promise for a better future (with the slaughter of all the ‘bad’ people on Earth).Then when they see Urizen give his oppressive laws to the Nations: “Adam shuddered! Noah faded!” (109) This illustrates how Urizen is oppressing the creativity of such characters. Noah and his sons represent music, art, and poetry “three powers in man conversing with paradise” (or Adam perhaps) (LJ, K 609). Thus, Adam’s paradise is still able to be accessed through the tradition of art, or Los, and cannot be oppressed by Urizen, even if Noah and Adam are generations apart.

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However, this is only surface level comparison for Blake. Another thing that makes Adam and Noah contemporaries in their respect is their gender ambiguity.  Where Noah’s descendants all the way to Abraham would be “Female-Males, A Male within a female hid as in an Ark & curtains” (Mil 37:38-40; J 75:13-15). Similarly, Blake thinks Adam originally was of both sexes. Blake argues the sexes were not created until the creation of Eve, therefore Adam was both female and male. This ambiguity of sex relates back to Los that is more about the freedom and creative and free. The singularity of one gender then would not be a free expression, but a restrictive injustice.
-Beyanira Bautista

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

The Female Touch

     Enitharmon, who it has been notioned to represent Marie Antoinette, is the embodiment of both the Womens’ force, while at the same time indicating that such a force is not a conducive one.  It is a rarity to have a woman in power, in any context, during this era; however, through Blake’s work, we see an antipode of such a parameter taking place. Her paradoxical/unfamiliar stance was a call-to-action to generate a revolution during a time when Christian ruling via the monarchy was the the status quo.  

    As noted in Blake’s Poetry and Designs, this obscurely written call-to-action, titled Europe: A Prophecy (1794) was a “prophecy for a revolutionary era because it demonstrates how much there is to rebel against and how sorely this languorous, effeminate society is in need of a cataclysmic awakening” (96).  While the term effeminate can exhibit a negative connotation, it supports the storyline Blake uses to counterpart what is going on during this time; thus, Enitharmon symbolizes that effeminate governing.

    When Enitharmon slept: “She slept in a middle of a nightly song/ Eighteen hundred years: a female dream!” (lines 4,5. P. 101).  This metaphor of a slumber translates to the lull in revolutionary progress. Before we understand what this means, we must approach this as a feminist critique so as to not necessarily decode the poem, but to ask ourselves why Blake chose to use the female (woman) motif to deliver this history lesson.  

     The use of the woman motif is used in several ways; we see this at the opening of “Preludium”: “The nameless shadowy female rose from out the breast of Orc: Her snaky hair brandishing in the winds of Enitharmon/and thus her voice arose” (98). The figure goes on to express her dissatisfaction with the current conditions she is enduring. This could possibly be the woman figure that represents a more humble and nurturing one -the one that France is in need of versus the one that seems to be more fixed on handling political matters in an aggressive way. And since Orc represents the French Revolution, this could be his inner being calling out for help, explaining: “I wrap my turban of thick clouds around my lab’ring head/ And fold the sheety waters as a mantle round my limbs/ Yet the red sun and moon/ And all the overflowing stars rain down prolific pains” (99).  What this could possibly translate to is that the female shadowy figure also represents loyalty to her mother country, but there has not been any reciprocity in that action.

     Being that with Enitharmon is a correlation with Marie Antoinette and Antoinette had a bad reputation known as running the country into the ground financially, as well as playing a part in great political decisions, we can assume then that Enitharmon’s slumber indicates the halt in social development and justice: “During her sleep, time is collapsed so that to her the birth of Christ, making the beginning of the European calendar, is the same event as the birth of revolution eighteen hundred years later” (Blake’s Poetry and Designs, 96).

   Hence, the use of the feminine (woman) is being used to symbolize a stunt in growth.  It is only until Orc resists against his mother that the revolution occurs. Thus, the woman motif, in this case, eludes to the notion of power, but at the same time disorganized power.

-Marcy Martinez

 

Not to become a one-trick pony here, but in Europe a Prophecy, Blake’s mythopoeia becomes once again very Nordic. These apocalyptic prophecies bear close resemblance to Ragnarök, the apocalyptic prophecies of Norse Mythology. Because the Eddas of Medieval Norse people are incredibly difficult to read, I will be citing Neil Gaiman’s well researched, modernized 2017 edition: Norse Mythology for this post.

One of the first Nordic references in Europe is the question “who shall bind the infinite with an eternal band?” (Blake 99). This eternal band, is quite similar to the binding Gleipnir, which is not a chain, but a ribbon, and is used to bind the monstrously powerful Fenrir. The binding of Fenrir is one of the key plot elements that takes place before Ragnarok. This reference to binding takes place in the penultimate stanza before the prophecy truly begins.

After that, the Europe prophecy proper begins with “The deep of winter came” (Blake 99). Ragnarok starts, “It will begin with the winter” (Gaiman 269). Next, Blake “awakes the thunders of the deep” (100), while “Jormungundr, the Midgard serpent, huge and dangerous, will writhe in its fury, closer and closer to the land” (Gaiman 271).

Tricksters of man arise next: “Urizen unloos’d from chains glows like a meteor in the distant north” (Blake 100).
“Loki, who will have escaped from his bonds beneath the earth, will be the helmsman of the ship called Naglfar” (Gaiman 272).

Next come the siblings who bring destruction.

“Arise O Rintrah eldest born: second to none but Orc” (Blake 101).
“All who see the brothers Fenrir the wolf and the Midgard serpent, the Children of Loki, will know death” (Gaiman 271).

The parallels continue as armies are raised on either side to fight the final fight. Many evils and horrors arise in both texts.

There is even a trumpet in both prophecies, though this can be contributed to Christian influence. Blake calls it “The Trump of last doom” (105), while Norse mythology refers to it as the Gjallerhorn.

But Blake’s prophecy ends in preparation. “Then Los arose, his head he reard in snaky thunders clad, and with a cry that shook all nature to the utmost pole, call’d all his sons to the strife of blood.” While Los calls his sons to battle, so does Odin. “Odin will ride at the head of their company. His armor gleams, and he wears a golden helmet. Thor will ride beside him, Mjollnir in his hand” (Gaiman 273).

It feels as though the line-by-line parallels between the two prophecies are uncanny. The uncertainty, however, raises one central question: was Neil Gaiman influenced by Blake? I would have to turn to Medieval Icelandic texts to unpack this question, but the parallels between Ragnarok and Europe A Prophecy are firm enough to justify the claim that Blake’s prophetic visions have Norse influence.

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

Religion and Politics

Blake engages with the French revolutionary debates in his “A Song of Liberty.” Thomas Paine, who also engages in those same debates, believes that “There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possess of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time’, or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it” (24). Both thinkers understand the connection between religion and government, or religion as political and politics as religious. Blake, through his work, acknowledges the unbreakable link between religion and the political, “20. Spurning through the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony law to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night, crying ‘Empire is no more! And now the loin & wolf shall cease’” (plate 27).

Both thinkers, while talking about the French Revolution have something to say about religion. Paine alludes to an “end of time” and a “commanding.” Similarly Blake alludes to “stony law.” The Ten Commandments are a reoccurring image in both thinkers’ work, alongside a celebration of moving away from a system that valorizes based on faith.

-Israel Alonso