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Essays of Interest

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Philosophicals
Motto and Manifest
Teaching Forth, Here
A Lyric Poetry Work
Essays of Interest
A Note on Intent
Public Address

MILTON AND OLOLON

The matter regarding the six females is a good way to hook the interest of today's readers. To begin with, one must understand that the unfolding of the Fourfold system of describing the structure of human endeavor results in the realization that Blake has updated the Fourfold system of Aquinas and Dante (see Letter to Con Grande) for the period of the global war engulfing the Great Powers of the time. To contextualize, the Poem was largely composed at Felpham, where the fear of invasion was very much heightened, at a time when the civilizational structure of Europe was being hastily reorganized because of the transformation of war by the French. Blake is suggesting a quite transformative updating of the traditional schema for interpreting reality, as well as updating the schema for fourfold exegesis of scriptural texts. Like Milton and Dante, Blake clearly believed that he was writing Scripture and structured his language to reflect and embody his religious and political insights. One of those insights is figured through the character of Milton; another complex of insights involves the six-fold female, Ololon. It is simplistic to reduce the profundities of Book the Second to being “about” the wives and daughters of the actual, factual John Milton, but we must enter the POEM somewhere, so here is an explication of the Blakean fourfold structure as found in the metaphor drawn from John Milton’s personal life, the sixfold female.

1) Literal level= Ulro; the difficulties of intimate and family relationships in which the sense of being compelled to recover or rescue lost affections can cause one to "take off the Robe of the Promise" and enter into the hell-world of suffering, confusion, victimization and all the rest that goes along with being immersed in the Great Horrible Soup of Perdition. I understand the need to gather up and somehow make right and to make understandable the loose ends of loves and memories; one must enter into the Ulro, go into the arena of Eternal Death, venture onto the stage of History. There is a something fundamentally wrong in the fate of Ololon (the women whom one was close to, but more to the point, sexual Christianity) which is extremely troubling to Milton, a man of Vision and Imagination, and this compels him to his unexampled heroism.

2) Allegorical level= Generation. This level of interpreting Ololon uses her as if she were a character in a drama, both a microcosmic drama and a macrocosmic world-historical drama. She would in this sense be an allegorical figure such as are found in Spenser or Bunyan and would be considered as one personification with six allegorical manifestations. The concept of typological allegory is very important here because it is the way Milton and Blake experienced life and interpreted (and constructed) Scriptures. In this sense, Ololon is scattered in the deep, is splintered, dispersed. The typological language images Ololon as overwhelmed by the Sea of Time and Space, yet Milton chooses to descend into the Soup-Sea in order to recover and re-integrate "Her." This is his quest, his heroic obligation. Obviously we are looking at the fundamental Gnostic scenario of the Distress of the Sophia.


In another approach to the allegory, Milton (the expounder of the Creation and the Fall and the origins of fallen sexuality and the divisions between man, woman and the Divine) must CORRECT his own mythic structure of Adam, Eve, and all that-- Ololon-Sophia partakes in a macrocosmic drama in which the Creation of the material universe IS the Cosmic Fall, a fundamentally Gnostic theodicy central to Blake's correction of Milton’s theodicy. Blake holds that this Fall has little to do with sexuality and moreover that existence of evil in the world is not Mankind’s fault.

3) Tropological level = Beulah. Ololon here is Sexual Christianity, or Monotheistic transcendence as manifested in three forms in the ancient world, and three forms in the modern world. These would be the wive- and daughter- religions troped out from the life of Jesus and his attempt to restore First Temple practice. If I were to characterize these universalisms, I would characterize the "wifes" as the Roman, Eastern, and Gnostic forms of Catholicism. The three daughter-religions may have been branches of Protestantism or Blake may have meant a more distinct troping in his view of religious history. 

4) anagogical = Eden. On this level of the Poem, Ololon is a single woman, a real person just as Wisdom was a real woman to the authors of the Wisdom literature. Just as the Poetic Genius “himself” is the real subject of poetry, so encountering Wisdom-- whatever she may actually be-- is the purpose of the poet/prophet on the level of Milton or Blake, for how can one aspire to canonicity if one has not met Wisdom? Yet Wisdom, in my existentially-based view, is rather like the Poetic Genius: they move through the inspired, but remain themselves, re-enacting in the lives of those rare few whom they choose a dance, a play, a musical work-- the meaning and significance of which is known only to them, and is incomprehensible to us though we may be momentarily used as vehicles through which they romance. Their fleeting use of individuals to greet each other should not be confused with sexual transport itself, as what is often thought to be the personal experience of the Divine through sexual transport is at root merely a marvelous biological phenomenon. Though wondrous and valuable, such religious experience is but the hem of the garment, an intimation of immortality-- but only an intimation. There is no room for sacrifice, for passion, for death in awareness of what have been called the Bride and the Bridegroom: whatever the Two are, and whatever they are doing here, is beyond life, beyond spirit, yet is knowable. The Marriage of the Bride and the Bridegroom is only an image, a story that points toward them and what they are doing. 

Though set in a particular historical context, Milton- like Dante, like Blake, like others- devised and labored over ways to tell of the spiritual growth necessary to perceive the anagogy, the perilous passage one must traverse as one builds a structure to communicate what may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is the fundamental artistic problem, as relevant to Emerson as to Monet. The test of the Canonical is whether a work—in art, in literature, in music, in scripture- contributes to our knowledge of the Two as they manifest in past, present, and future. 

Manhood and Womanhood as a single mass and as manifested in individuals are but a medium for the Two. Even the Blessed experience Them AS PERSONALITIES-- with distinct and discernable character, motives, and histories-- perhaps once or twice in an entire lifespan.

All we know from our edifice of clues is that we, fit but few, are transient tools in the hands of She and He, using us to leave very complicated clues.


And yet, to come down from the rarefications of the admittedly strange, how can Blake’s fourfold structure be put to pragmatic and efficacious use in our world? How can we update the Dante-Aquinas systematization of the levels of language to be practicable in the present, here in America?

First, I would suggest that our legal system is, at root, based on an odd assemblage of Cartesian dualism, Freudianism, and current ideas regarding social maturity. To be essentially reductive, a person is processed according to whether they are an “innie” or an “outie.” The basic questions used to determine whether one receives first-floor law or second-floor law comes down to a tripartite question: Do you believe in God? Are you real? And are you a professional? In a few words: Do you get what’s going on in the world of socially capable adults? If so, then a different level of legalities applies, legalities formalized using a different, more elevated, level of language and of discourse. This is the level of life and language termed ‘Generation’ by Blake, as distinguished from ‘Ulro’ which is the semi-hell of the Great Horrible Soup of Perdition.

I would suggest that Blake posits a fourfold social structure in which four levels of social differentiation have each their own characteristic use of language. To apply this in the realm of the law, it is easiest to point out that the societal world and legal language of the third level is troped from the Constitution and its first derivative, the United States Code. This is the level of life and language termed ‘Beulah’ by Blake.

It is therefore also extremely important that there be an anagogical level of society, centered upon the motives for using language which deals with spiritual and philosophical verities in the context of History. Anagogical discourse involves mental struggle predicated on competence in a world of personal and social involvement where we are actively determining the course of history. Blake stresses that this is not a level that involves “corporeal war.” This is the level of life and language termed ‘Eden’ by Blake.

Unfortunately, America has not developed this level with proper seriousness. The Congress, lamentably, has abandoned its role in furthering and controlling the ongoing American Revolution. As a result, advancing the visionary context of the Founders is not a structural part of our society, our Government or our legalities. It would seem more respectful to that visionary context of the Founders if the current American leadership— in political, military, scientific, religious, business, media, educational and academic sectors-- provided the guiding philosophy of governance and of our national purpose within the context of spiritual history as it manifests itself in the material world. 
In the framework of this discussion, we Americans must have a protected strata of our social and governmental structure which embraces anagogical awareness and which systematizes anagogical insights so as to publicly manifest the intricate profundities of anagogical living. 

At various places and at various points in time there have been cultures which have risen to this awareness and organized their societies accordingly. Such cultures characteristically have a threshold- whether imaged as a barrier, a hedge, a veil, a wall- and a method of initiation, a handshake. For example, in early Christianity the psychikoi were a distinct group from the pneumatikoi, the breath-ones, spirit-ones. 
It is an interesting anthropological question whether the God-image of any given anagogical culture arises from its world-view or vice-versa. The American Founders’ worldview centered on a transcendental entity known to them as ‘Providence’ and known by them in their experience to “signally intervene” in world affairs. 

American leadership needs to be aware in detail of the various formulations of worldviews which have emanated from anagogical cultures past and present. Then we can begin the process of working with others in the world community to craft a world structure worthy of Mankind’s best aspirations; the integral of Beulah can be reified if it can be envisioned by those- fit though few- who are anagogically fluent.

The horizon to which we should strive is provided for us by the structured clues which have been deposited by the fit though few who have had experiential awareness of the He and She. Ultimately, we might perhaps aspire to the Shakespearean.

“Go forth to the Great Harvest and Vintage of the Nations.”

Tim Backer
March 24, 2011
 
 
 
______________________
 
 
A NEW KIND OF MAN
 
The creation of a new kind of man: World history is permeated by this effort, though for most of us involved in history it is a new kind of men that is meant. I myself, working through my Independent Culture Production House, am seemingly no different.

Historically, specific individuals-- from Moses to Mohammed to Mao-- seek a transformed State: a place, territory, in which good numbers of men are to be, through control of parameters of life and thought, variables and actions and perspectives, molded by that State into a new kind of men. This seems to be the thrust of today's dominant national, international and supernational efforts, where technological alteration of body and mind-- human evolutionism-- is adding a new consideration to history's dynamics.

We can, though, think of the matter from another angle. States are manifestations of culture, and cultures exist through material reifications, through mental and spiritual reifications as well. To create a new kind of men, a transforming culture must be formed before forming a transforming State.

Many approach this as diagnosticians. Many approach this as evangelists or advocates or organisers or activists, in service of a defined worldview and its master plan. Many try to personally create culture products -- artworks, books, television programs, musical or poetic works -- that are reifications of their insights into the direction to go. Many approach this as thinkers, sometimes through communal thinkings such as scientific or military or religious endeavors. Many devote their efforts to controlling others' thoughts -- whether through goons, visible and invisible, and surveillance networks; or through cold-blooded force and intimidation; or through mass-media deceptions; or through blunt processes of political power.

Most, in this New Order of the Ages inaugurated in 1776, work within the context of a social movement. The most impactful examples of such movements are the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Nazi effort, and the Maoist Revolutions. All these have resulted in vast carnage, turmoil, and disaster. More benignly, we have "the Sixties" and human evolutionism and conceptual art and sexual mysticisms and so forth, and yet these are also merely movements. Probably, the social movement known as science has been the most impactful of all.

In our day, we have re-centered on an insight common to traditionalism, revolutionism, counter-culturism and scientific endeavor: If you want to create a new kind of men, you must first exemplify that new kind of man personally; you must, as yourself, be that man. This returns us to look at the "Great Men of History" traditions, and there are a few hundred men who have attempted to live as such a Man on the stage of history. From the Ancients to Napoleon, Washington and Lincoln, and onward to Freud and the "weird moderns", there are those who indeed do make this effort. And yet, the hill has not been crested and we are still what we are.

And so we may turn to the Culturists again, particularly to those who are themselves of the "new kind". Here also there are a good number of exemplars and a good number of attempts have been made to communicate knowledge of the topic, often figured in terms of how to become a creator of transformative structures or mechanisms or idea-complexes or perspectives.

Note: If we center on visionary motive rather than revolutionary or reforming motive, we get farther. Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Smith and William Blake and Paul McCartney have embodied the world of that New Kind of Man by being that new kind of Man.

And yet... deepest tradition insists that all attempts are conditional, provisional, wonders of our transitory life.

When we look pragmatically at who has, in modern history, generated in reality a healthy number of flexibly-structured, adaptive and resilient worldview-envelopes within which other men become this New Kind of Man, we have only two successes-- both individuals of a musically poetic cast: 

Shakespeare.
Beethoven.

So: for better or for worse, all is not lost.
 

Tim Backer, South Bend

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