Thursday, May 6, 2010

Relocating the Fragments (Part IX of the 'Blake Project')

'I see the Four-fold Man. The Humanity in deadly sleep
 And its fallen Emanation. The Spectre & its cruel Shadow.' Jerusalem

In the course of the Fall, various illusory entities are conceived through an identification of something inside the Self with something completely outside of the Self, which is non-existence; thus, though femininity is actually an integral element of the original man,  she takes physical form when man mistakes his creation, his own identity for something beyond himself; these 'illusory entities', taking on characters in Blake's cast, consist of the different roles and obstacles that play a part in confronting the psychic self. As these are figures conjured in delusion, the task of the presently deformed individual is, inevitably, either: (1) their reconciliation with total consciousness, or (2) their immediate destruction.

The first order of personification is the Emanation, which represents an inner portion of the preconditioned individual that has been dislocated from its true place.  The emanation has become an extension of the perceiving self, and is therefore an object of beauty that the perceiver longs to identify and reconcile with himself. This idea finds a Classical precursor in Plato's Phaedrus, where the one horse driving the chariot strives upward in a clam and determined temperance while the other rushes madly toward the ground in sensual violence. The meaning of this all resides in the method of pursuit: will consciousness observe the emanation rightly and give serenades in gentle innocence; or will it perceive this portion of itself as merely sensual, a physical body to enjoy in plain and riotous pleasure? While Blake ultimately sees a different means than Plato, who is far more conventional in his advocation of a serene asceticism, both are agreed inasmuch as beauty belongs more to an innate 'vision' than it does to an instinctual attachment to the flesh.

'Awake! Awake Jerusalem! O lovely emanation of Albion
Awake and overspread all nations as in Ancient Time
For lo! The Night of Death is past and the Eternal Day
Appears upon our Hills: Awake Jerusalem, and come away.' Jerusalem

For each of the primary psychic components, there is another that forms during the Fall; this is called the Spectre. One purpose of the spectre is to depict a clouded and disfigured representation of the original identity; for example, spectres of Urizen, whose right place is as 'schoolmaster', manifest themselves as Bromion, Jehovah, 'Nobodaddy', even as 'Urizen' himself, in typical Blakean confusion. All of these characters share an ugly penchant for collectivized order based on 'jealousy', social tyranny, and moral absolutism; they are usually dramatically opposed by Los and the powers of imagination, or by Orc and the ferocity of adolescent desire. Another purpose of the spectre is similar to that of the emanation, where it is a separate body yet part of the perceiver, and yet is different in its constitution, intent, and modes of behaviour. The spectre brings out the negative qualities dormant in the individual and tries to use these to dominate him; this is why the spectre is, in the allegorical style of Hawthorne, the archetypal doppelg√§nger. The spectre is active and often malevolent, aspiring to distract the subject from his emanation, his other half, which contrasts deeply with the passivity of the emanation herself.  Milton combats his spectre Satan, for example, who attempts to preserve his governance over Milton  in a way much like how a virus controls its host body; Satan, or 'Selfhood', is the Jungian 'shadow', and is defeated through its direct and uncompromising appraisal. Milton does exactly this; by finally facing (or becoming conscious of) Satan as the dark and inverted hero figure, and beseeching the aid of the highest power to 'cast off Selfhood' (the realization of humility), Milton, having approached and conquered the deepest nightmare of his being, is at long last amongst the 'Redeemed' of humanity. 

'There is a Negation, there is a Contrary
The Negation must be destroyd to redeem the Contraries
The Negation is the Spectre, the Reasoning Power in Manifestation                                                      
This is a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal                                                                         
Spirit; a Selfhood which must be put off & annihilated always
To cleanse the Face of my Spirit by Self-Examination.' Milton a Poem

The human self is at the center of the cosmos, an imaginative eye peering at everything surrounding it; a gloomy shade at the corner of perception gradually coalesces into into an oppressive darkness, suffocating the self beneath an elusive myriad of spectral forms. But then, shining visions erupt, piercing the worldly shell covering the mind's eye, informing humanity of a greater, transcendent realm; informing humanity that its existence is not actually meaningless. This force of darkness is Blake's antagonistic world of Spectres and Shadows, the illusory images born of a fallen race; the occasional glimpses of a higher state are the Emanations, the perennial reminders of (1) humanity's original state, and (2) of our persisting telos that perpetually beckons us to places beyond the mundane prison of time and space. When we earlier declared that the perceiving individual must either reconcile or destroy these exteriorized images, we were not telling the entire truth; for, in true reconciliation with the emanation, which once again resolves the crisis between the internal and the external through their reunion, the harmful and threatening aspects of the spectre are immediately destroyed, leaving the embattled individual finally at peace with both himself and the mysterious world surrounding him. Thus, psychic reconciliation necessarily includes the idea of destroying that which does not inhere in the fundamental framework of man's total Self.

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