[Milton-L] Regaining Paradise Regained

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Fri Nov 27 12:01:25 EST 2015


Do you think Blake is really anti-rationalist, though? I would say
that the *Marriage
of Heaven and Hell* and *The [First] Book of Urizen* argue that a synthesis
of reason, emotion, and imagination are the ideal, and that the problem is
that reason, following a Satanic model, has split off from the rest and is
trying to make itself God over all. MHH has a mini-apocalypse at the end,
showing the merger of an angel and devil, while Jerusalem gives us the same
on a grander scale.

So Blake's myth provides psychological commentary on England's social
structures using Blake's PL as a kind of template, and he updates Milton's
critique of post Civil War England for post French Revolution England with
his own combination of psychological, social, and political commentary. I
would say that Blake writes more deliberately and self-reflectively on
gender than Milton: I think Milton was primarily eros in his depiction of
Eve, but his eros took him quite a long way and in some interesting
directions.

I've been reading in and around Plato lately for a project, and what's been
coming up in recent criticism is that Plato's critique of poetry is really
a battle between eros and philosophy as the basis of an educational system.
Educating students in everything using Homer (poetry) has an erotic appeal
that Socrates would have us abandon in favor of a primarily rational
(philosophical) approach. I think Blake is critiquing a society in which
this educational model was winning out, at least as far as he saw things.
But this isn't to jettison reason. It's to make sure it maintains an equal
place alongside other, equally valued human capacities. Without contraries
there is no progression.

Jim R

On Fri, Nov 27, 2015 at 11:46 AM, Richard A. Strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
wrote:

> Wonderful quote from Blake about all of us as divine!  Thanks.
>
> But I'm afraid that systematic reasoning can indeed build lasting
> monuments.  Think of the work of Plato or Kant -- "Monuments of unageing
> intellect."   Blake is wonderful in many ways, but I do not think we should
> adopt or praise his anti-rationalism.  And I don't think, for what it's
> worth, Milton would do so.  (And, as I recall -- though I might be wrong in
> this -- in Blake's last prophetic book, *Jerusalem*, I think he came to
> some sort of imaginative reconciliation with the rationalists).
>
> RS
>
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