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New Blake/Moorcock Article

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  • New Blake/Moorcock Article

    Mike and Community:

    The article "Fractal Fantasies of Transformation: William Blake, Michael Moorcock, and the Utilities of Mythographic Shamanism" has just been published in Extrapolation (Vol. 45, No. 4).

    The article compares William Blake's epics and the Scond Ether Trilogy as a point of departure for examining the possibilities for mythographic shamanism and various Miltonic and Wittgensteinian correlatives.

    The article drops some rather neat bombs. The first is the "Milton Bomb" in the middle of page 423. The second, the "Blake-Moorcock Bomb" is dropped at the top of page 427.

    The article is based on a paper I gave at Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole's Gothic revival mansion outside London (now St. Mary's College). I read the paper in Walpole's library, which is an appropriate enough place to talk about MM and Blake, eh?

    Last I heard the conference director was preparing a collection of papers read at the conference (which was titled "Blake and the Popular") to be published by Palgrave. I rather suspect my "Milton Bomb" lead the editorial staff to reject my paper for the anthology. The "Blake-Moorcock Bomb" probably jostled them a bit too, or so it would seem from their smokey "reader's report". My Blake is not necessarily their Blake. Ah well, truth must take precedence over academic opportunity, I always say. And besides, I have a few other rabbits to pull out of my hat: I certainly don't need to rely on Blake's . . . what's the word--"importance" tra la . . . to form the astral plane over which I shall spread the checker table cloth of my cosmic reputation. I wasn't there to advace the Blake industry, I was there as a man speaking to other men, to profess my knowledge of Willam Blake and Michael Moorcock!

    Extrapolation can be found in most research collections. The librarians should be putting it out as we speak. Web site at:

    http://fp.dl.kent.edu/extrap/

    I conclude with some images of Strawberry Hill.

    Peace and Good Health,

    Carter Kaplan







  • #2
    Hi! since i am new to Mike's site, i'm still getting to know everyone. i also love william blake but never had the opportunity (or necessity) to write about him.

    so! do you like Katherine Raine's volumes on him? my library wouldn't let me take them out, as they were in the "Reference" section. :roll: i got to "visit" with his watercolors and engravings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when it came through. *sigh* i'd like to see them again someday.

    Comment


    • #3
      Great news, Carter. It's always good when you keep the integrity of your ideas and still find an outlet for your work. Also good when MM's work gets the scholarly attention it deserves.

      As an aside, I read more on Blake after I read the earlier draft of you paper. Even though you are quite clear in your post, you actually understate how little your Blake resembles theirs.

      Regardless, good for you and good on you for resisiting academic conformity!

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd quite like to read that paper. :)

        Comment


        • #5
          It's spring break and I have some time to get back to this, finally. I saw that show Poet Girl mentions, and actually seeing Blake's illustration of the scene from Paradise Lost where Adam and Eve get booted out of the garden led me to some interesting conclusions, some of which I mention in my article, and some of which I'll put down here:


          Originally posted by Doc
          As an aside, I read more on Blake after I read the earlier draft of you paper. Even though you are quite clear in your post, you actually understate how little your Blake resembles theirs.
          Not at all, good doctor. My Blake is pretty conventional: what I describe as happening in his texts is a standard reading. Where I disagree with the Blake industry is the importance of their man as a source of sound thinking: sound theology, sound philosophy, sound intellectual history, sound literary criticism. In these areas Blake scores poor marks.

          Thing One and Thing Two I'll pass here, but I'd like to say something on Thing Three and Thing Four.

          Thing Three: Intellectual History. Blake is dead wrong in his criticims of Newton, Locke and Natural Religion. He doens't criticize the real Locke or the real Newton, but instead makes of them voodoo doll's into which he sticks his hyperbolic pins. This of course was the sport since Rousseau--and what fine careers Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Coleridge and the rest of them made out of this game. The Blake folks--their sense and their sensibility dulled by the broadcast "Woodstock stupor" that plagues the humanities--equate Blake's practice with there own hippie "postmodern" efforts to subvert plastic war mongering racist culture, and so on. Nope nope. They coudn't be more wrong here. You see, it's actually Locke and Newton that are the hippie corelatives. And Milton. Which brings me to Thing Four.

          Thing Four: Literary Criticism. Blake's reading of Milton is horse manure. As he treats Newton and Locke, so too does Blake make Milton into a strawman. The reason, I believe, has to do with Blake's efforts at promotion. All the problems Blake addresses were solved by Milton. Indeed, Blake's knowledge of the problems Milton addresses, and the solutions to those problems, were taken from Milton in large measure. So on the one hand Blake is copying his ideas out of Milton, and on the other hand he has to criticize Milton in order to give his "original" ideas some weight. So he misrepresents Milton (deliberately, or just gives him a lazy reading) and then says: "Ah ha! I William Blake the true and inspired bard of Albion in the name of Jesus do rattle my magic bone and descry errors in the great John Milton, which I here in the name of Jesus do correct everywhere with my original illumianted works, the song of eternity and spining spheres and thunderbolts criss-crossing the yawning tiger-filled deeps for the benefit of all peoples amen amen blah blah blah..... "

          I was taken in by this stuff when I was younger but in my late thirties my head began to clear; I gave Milton a good reading, and saw that Blake was full of hot air. Now that hot air might have been deep and those skys tiger-filled, but it was all air nonetheless.

          Now (what, Thing Five?) as an antrhopologist, and as a mythographer (Thing Six) Blake is pretty good. But he GOT IT ALL FROM MILTON. Blake's "radical" Christian notions were common in those days. Blake is expressing antinomian and gnostic ideas that most people were keen on--from Milton, to Jonathan Edwards, to Jonathan Mayhew, to Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, the stuff drives all three of the Great American novels: The Scarlett Letter, Moby-Dick, Huckleberry Finn. It's all post-Calvinist modern thought, and the poet who first gave it a good think and mapped it out was Milton. Locke put it into pedestrian language and it drove the constitutional monarchy that formed under William and Mary. And these were the very ideas that informed Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Mayhew, and Thomas Jefferson, who used them as a lever to realize American independence.

          Now that said, in terms of Thing Five (Antropolgy) Blake has a few useful things to say. But his anthropology--chiefly his understanding of the function of mythography--is right out of Milton.

          As for Thing Six--Blake's mythography--I think he is in over his head. Too confusing, and much of it turns on his misreading of Milton. I do believe, however, that Blake is a fine lyric poet. A fine minor lyric poet.

          The Blake people should do well to abandon their psychadelic nostalgia, give Milton a good read, then go read Jefferson, Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain, and for goodness sake tell their students that their poet is not to be taken seriously.

          Anyway, before I forget: my article quotes the Q&A forum. So, not only does the article discuss MM and the Second Ether, but it mentions some of MM's sharp shooting in the Q&A forum too.

          Comment


          • #6
            From your position as stated here, do you find any points of similarity between your view of Blake and that of Bloom in his essays on Blake's "creative misreading" of Milton? I think Bloom published it in The Anxiety of Influence, but it has been quite a long time since I looked at it.

            I'm not sure I buy Bloom's central thesis, but he makes a few observations that seem similar to yours, in places.

            LSN

            Comment


            • #7
              L:

              Thanks, I'll have a look.

              CK

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Carter Kaplan
                L:

                Thanks, I'll have a look.

                CK
                I haven't unearthed my copy of Bloom's book, but I found a reference to it here:

                http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/hopki...old_bloom.html

                I noted in passing that Bloom's introductory essay to the selected poetry of Coleridge in the Signet Classic series discussed this issue, and alluded to Blake as being among those "strong poets" (as he called them) who creatively misread Milton.

                Similarly, in Bloom's intro to the Signet Classic edition of the selected poetry of Shelley, he wrote, "I think that a fresh reader of Prometheus Unbound is best prepared if he starts with Milton in mind. This holds true also for The Prelude, for Blake's epics, for Keats's Hyperion fragments, and even for Byron's Don Juan, since Milton is both the Romantic starting point and the Romantic adversary." He then goes on to talk about how, as is the case for Blake's Milton, in Shelley's mind, Prometheus Unbound was an attempt to "save Milton from himself." This is apparently all tied up with Bloom's theory of creative misreading.

                If I could locate my copy of Bloom's book, I wouldn't need to do this sort of oblique literary archeology, and could check his primary statement on the subject of Milton and Romantic poetry. Sorry. I'm working off a 30 year old memory here.

                ---

                By the way, Carter, if you'd be interested in submitting any work to Perdix's planned magazine, Prototype 1, you'd be more than welcome.

                Details for Prototype... may be found in the "Enclave" forum.

                LSN

                P.S. Sorry for the shameless promotion. I've been hoping you'd drop in for some time now.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Doc
                  As an aside, I read more on Blake after I read the earlier draft of you paper. Even though you are quite clear in your post, you actually understate how little your Blake resembles theirs.
                  Originally posted by "Carter Kaplan"Not at all, good doctor. My Blake is pretty conventional: what I describe as happening in his texts is a standard reading. Where I disagree with the Blake industry is the [i
                  importance[/i] of their man as a source of sound thinking: sound theology, sound philosophy, sound intellectual history, sound literary criticism. In these areas Blake scores poor marks.
                  For what it's worth, that's a big part of what I was trying to say (although not very effectively :D ). You tear down the mythology surrounding Blake very strongly and convincingly.

                  I'm glad you're back around these parts. You've been missed. Hopefully classes are going well enough for you that your break feels like a break, and not a necessity!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    blake was angry with newton for forgetting God in all the science, i believe. his newton watercolor is respectful and hopeful despite blake's rantings.

                    as for mis-reading Milton, etc., we read what we lay our hands on and our mind interprets. blake was fascinated (jealous?) of Milton's daunting accomplishment of Paradise Lost. "Marriage of Heaven and Hell" is the natural progression. he's tacking on his interpretation, his feelings, the extension of what he'd just experienced at the hands of Milton, but i don't see Blake trying to correct it. (interpretation.) ;)

                    it isn't every day that someone creates a living breathing mythology, and i think what he did with Urizen and Los, Ahania, Orc, oh just EVERYONE is incredible. Honestly, Jerusalem does kind of make my head hurt after a while, but Blake never doubts for a second these beings are there, and how they came to be. that idea fascinates me most about William and i keep going back for more.

                    wow... hot air? okay. all the more for me then. ;)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Carter Kaplan
                      Anyway, before I forget: my article quotes the Q&A forum. So, not only does the article discuss MM and the Second Ether, but it mentions some of MM's sharp shooting in the Q&A forum too.
                      This may be the second confirmed citation of multiverse.org. Neat! Carter, were you able to avail yourself of the Q&A Archive too?
                      The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Anyone read Ackroyd's excellent BLAKE ? One amusing line refers to how certain writers of 'science fantasy' actually have visions, like Blake. These writers of science fantasy was me...

                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Doc

                          I'm glad you're back around these parts. You've been missed. Hopefully classes are going well enough for you that your break feels like a break, and not a necessity!
                          Hi Doc:

                          I have a new job. It is a “better� po$ition, but I am not working with grad students anymore and I don’t have literature classes, but I still have Philosophy and I will be teaching Western Civ. And, urrggghh! I have lots of Composition courses! I have been busy writing too. Not much time.

                          And Doc: You interested in co-directing an interdisciplinary (social sciences, humanities, Native American studies, anthropology, fine arts, psychiatry) conference of Shamanism? Maybe invite MM as keynote speaker?

                          (By the way, how many people would be interested in an on-line university course on MM’s work?)

                          Poetgirl:

                          My re-thinking Blake might have something to do with my own “anxiety of influence.� I was his "follower" for many years. I agree that he is fascinating, interesting and certainly inspirational. He is also wrong about a lot of stuff, however. My circumspection, too, has more to do with my interest in Milton. Specifically, I am grinding a political and academic axe. Blake is fine and fun, but he is a shadow of the real thing—a shadow of the real revolution. Milton and Locke are *the revolution*. That’s my point.

                          L:

                          Please contact me via e-mail so I can ask you about Prototype? ;-)

                          Berry:

                          Didn’t use the archive—used my own archive--but you raise a great point. The Q&A archive represents a treasury of important material that begs to be edited, discussed, written about, and so on. For all sorts of good reasons, MM is very promising academically: vis a vis postmodernism, modernism, modern western liberalism, culture studies, philosophy, romanticism, fantasy, commercial/consumerism/mass art/media studies, hyperspace/hyperart, cinema, mixed media....

                          I have a few coins to send off 5-10 copies of the article. Inform me as to your snail mail address, folks, and I will send you a hard copy. I’m at: [email protected]

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Carter Kaplan
                            L:

                            Please contact me via e-mail so I can ask you about Prototype? ;-)
                            I'll send you e-mail later tonight, but for now, if you are curious, the essentials may be found [broken link]HERE.

                            LSN
                            Last edited by Rothgo; 04-08-2010, 02:12 PM.

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