Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Imagination of Los / The Writing on the Gate




Muy estimado

I had the colored plates of Jerusalem in my hand! Explain the gaps again. "To the Public," with edits of a chisel upon copper, those passions Blake said he had or hadn't in the act: "You who are no longer Dear," he didn't say, "you who no longer Read, who cannot forgive what you do not love." No, he just removed them from existence. He gouged out "friendship," he struck out "blessing," he took out "love," that marred man.
    So the Jerusalem gouges take up the most space, absent, we may say, the heart growing fonder. We project these explanations on his act of aggression. It was a negative space just before Plate Three that began with Jerusalem's frontispiece of Los, the arch man entering the door behind the door! So don't blame Blake, blame Los and the doors, the symbolic doors! "For whoever enters these gates unsanctified," says the sign above the entrance, but the gate is Neither that plate as originally inscribed or...
    The lines are now expunged, not from anger this time, but from art. Black and white writing remains on the columns in other copies, like a public inscription over the door where before the world began, the void that wraps around those who enter to give them birth. Above that doorway it once read, 

There is a Void outside of Existence, which if entered into
Englobes itself & becomes a Womb"
Jerusalem his Emanation is a Stone laying beneath
O behold the Vision of Albion.

But in this birth into a void outside existence, into this birth that becomes womb that leads to death, there is an inscription on the left column. But it is reversed. It reads, 

gnihtyrevE sti sah
!deaD gnipeelS eht fo ertcepS O nimreV

[Everything
has its
Vermin O Spectre of the Sleeping Dead!]

What does that mean?
Remember that Passover when they marked the pillars of their homes, the porches with blood so that the spirit of death would pass over? The inscription over the doors, the writing on the pillars here like blood is visible to the angel. It is if Los celebrates some Passover, but expunged. On the right of the door is the writing of nemesis for Los, but with also the stigmata of sufferings that include Blake, Hopkins, and anyone else who will enter into the door of death: 

"he entered the Door of Death for Albion's sake Inspired
The long sufferings of God are not for ever there is a Judgment. 
Ask some questions of this. Are the dead sleeping when they wake? We know. If the void becomes a womb, when is it born, after entering the door of death, the door of life and death?
    So Los enters "the void," that being the door. He and it are pictured in the frontispiece of Jerusalem. He already has one foot inside. Zooming in, that X on the back of his hand is a mark of his being set apart. He is branded, and to what end? It is much in the same sense as the blood on the lintels. His is a pass over. He looks to one side where his foot enters. His opposite hand is raised in a gesture of defense, a last look to his right before he enters. He carries a globe of light the better to see. We would call it a lantern but all of these images are heavily symbolic.
    We should call him an Orpheus descending were he not more vehemently an image of Christ, who before the world began had told the Father that he would enter, actually enter the door toward earth, "the path of life." Blake's fiction compounds that fact. And for Blake, as Yeats would have it, Los can be Imagination shuttling back and forth between the two worlds of life and death, carrying water, bearing the light between the two worlds. Winding and unwinding, Blake calls them the void and the existence.
    If we may call them what we will then let them be that which was and that which ever shall be. It isn't just life and death. Death is a fantasy of the facile. They who believe it do not even remember being born and they barely remember their death when it is swallowed up. Is it presumption to talk of the before and after? Only to the young who have not lived into the after. The old know the illusion of the before, the shot of pure energy, the wave they rode into the future, and when they get there what do they see. Ha! That is Los. Why don't philosophers make something useful of themselves and tell us what we were before and after. None of these words appear on the plate either.
    That Frontispiece with its alert on the side of the door casts a warning about the kind of world we enter, and inexactly of the world to come. Blake reversed the writing, and in this case wrote invisibly. This is because what we see, we don't see, because he took it off, he erased it but left the words in other copies. Reversed writing! Invisible writing. Palimpsest writing. The sum of these together is like a message encoded. Turn Los around, it begs to say, so he can exit the world he enters. Then the frontispiece is life fulfilled the more. Now he is again like the Lord, but this time not entering the path of life, but exiting. It is an image of resurrection. Exiting the tomb of fruition he led captivity away over the great trail of being for the recovery of the lost. Lost. Los. Those worlds are travail. Blake is hung in space in the "Memorable Fancy" of the Marriage. He says the angels of archetype of the "infinite Abyss," are "vast spiders" "which flew or rather swum in the infinite deep," most terrific shapes sprung from the unkempt deities of "Powers of the air." These unkempt deities we hardly know at all.
    In his imagination Los unpurified has gone and come from the labyrinth under ground. Even though this is written over and over in ancient texts it is as foreign now to science as space aliens. Over is under. Black is white. Visible is invisible. This day, left is right, visible is invisible where Los sees "the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent," the "head Leviathan," "red gills," in the Memorable Fancy of the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. These are what Orpheus saw when they tore his limbs. How do we know? How do we not know? Is death mere peace? We rule it off, wall it round with doors. Blake used a compass, but the measuring rod with us is with the poets who died with a knowledge of the deep, but "this appearance was no more."
    We call Los a Dayman to identify him with Messiah. Blake's Dayman is not afraid in this world of change. "I [Blake, Los] found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moon light hearing a harper who sung to the harp." Is Los a paper Blake? Is Blake's apparition an angel? Does Los speak for himself? Is he as free of Blake as Blake is of Swedenborg to find the dark, Los, who goes more deep until worlds end until his back leg is in the darkness as the body steps forward into light? Whether you see the writing on the gate or not, it is now at the gate (Plate 35) where
mortality begins to roll the billows of Eternal Death Before the Gate of Los / Albion fled". (J 39:8)
Albion disbelieves why the rivers are sick of creation's groan (Marriage, "A Song of Liberty") for the adopted son. The adopted son is that one who becomes what he was to have been all along. but will the 

Immortal mansion of Man, for ever be possess'd by monsters of the deeps: And Man himself become a Fiend, wrap'd in an endless curse? (J 40:27)
It is for reasons such as this that they call Blake's Jerusalem a discontinuous narrative. Would we read the text beneath the text as well? This reconstruct is argued about for the sake of argument. Anything but believe and walk! Believe what, walk where? Oh gollish Galatians who hath bewitched you? Albion produced "serpents whose souls are flames of fire." We already know that, but then "The Merciful-One" And the Divine Family wept over him as One Man" and were One in Him" Human Divine, Jesus the Saviour, blessed for ever and ever."
    To say it in pure English, in "the rough basement, / Los built stubborn" language (36).
    One step over the threshold and Los concedes sensuality, deliverance, passion, morality and asides to the deists. He relocates England in Jerusalem, Jerusalem in England. They used to talk of illuminated books, but all who are illumined now see, even if they don't, that all live in a temporal eternity with writing of the invisible world all around, as David wrote of Messiah to come after David died who before earth existed. Beyond and in, outside and within we consummate simultaneity in the oppositions to which we are born my friend. May the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost be with you. I am your devoted
Giambattista Marino

I am still your devoted
Giambattista Marino


See also Jerusalem Blake.



The Imagination of Los / The Writing on the Gate
AE Reiff
September 2012


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