By John Beer
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Additional info for Blake’s Humanism
Apparent contradictions are reconciled when the warring elements are seen to belong to different levels in the structure of his vision. Blake uses his symbols in a sophisticated manner, relating them to the spheres of reason, energy or love respectively and then exploring the relationship between those spheres. About the visionary experience itself he is less sophisticated. The organization of his universe of symbols is carried out against a conviction that the exercise of vision corresponds to man’s profoundest insight into reality.
Returning home, Blake finds himself crossing the ‘abyss of the five senses’ which separates the two worlds. On this abyss a devil is writing two lines (adapted satirically from Chatterton) 13 which sum up the philosophy of Hell and its worship of energy: How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five? The soaring energy of the bird is a fitting symbol of the view that energy is the real link between man and the infinite, that twofold vision is the key to fourfold.
4 Under this new alignment of Blake’s ideas, the two main contending principles in the universe are those of restraint and liberty; while the three components of Tiriel, his tyranny, his lack of vision and his vague energy, are divided out, the first two being given to Urizen’s two sons, while the third is assigned mainly to the sphere of Leutha. These new forces are deployed in Blake’s prophetic book, Visions of the Daughters of Albion (a natural sequel to The Book of Thel), The name Oothoon is the only one in the book which does not have a Greek origin.