Saturday, 6 March 2010

A first: the chiastic structures of the Zoas and of Jerusalem

The basic Chiastic form is simple to describe..... ABC CBA is an example Biblical chiastic structure is complex, and termed Davidic, but it involves reading from the first and last lines to the middle lines. Thus A then the other A, B then the other B, then C and C. Developments of this literary pattern involve parallelisms and opposites. The Songs of Innocence and Experience are noted as chiastic by Jacobson back in 1970 and the parallelism between such poems as the two poems both named Holy Thursday are helpful for the seeing of both.

However the application to Jerusalem and The Four Zoas is presented as a theory of Blake's composition. Blake's use in the major epics is explored in definitive detail in the three books. Both major epics are seen as beginning in medias res, as continuing in chaos and incoherence and as ending in an inexplicable apocalypse. By contrast, I see the chiastic structure as the core to understanding Blake's The Four Zoas, Milton and Jerusalem.

Blake's four levels of vision, four-fold, three-fold, two-fold and one-fold are essential to always bear in mind. Blake uses the terms circumference, centre, zenith and nadir. Blake takes us from the circumference to the centre. There, Divine energy enters and reverses the vortex back to the circumference. In essence, this is the chiasmus. The chiasmus is a vortex, the energies within Albion are like a line in this vortex spiralling inwards to the centre. The spiral tightens and tightens till the energies compact and, and drained of energy, the centre condenses into one-fold death...the white dot at the centre. When Albion is so drained, Divine energy enter the centre of the compressive vortex. The intensities of infinite energy explode and the energies reverse to flow back, expanding in all direction from the chiasmus of the centre back to the circumference, where Albion enters into unity with Divine energy within, and without. Plates 94-100 in Jerusalem is the magnificent conclusion to each of the four unique chiastic vortices inerwovenn into one great four-fold Chaismus in four directions.

In the epics we see the 'finger of God' intervene at the chiastic centre. Divine intervention establishes the incarnation/crucifixion/resurrection event as infinite energy revealing and consuming finite energy. Thus the apocalypse is the revelation and movement though finitude in Divine self-sacrifice and forgiveness. After the chiastic reversal, the component energies are fed by Divine energy and find harmony and mutual unity as earlier they had collapsed into war and mutual predation till dead.

Thus the symbolism, the characterization, and the fulfillment of emanative unity in Blake's New Jerusalem follows the chiastic reversal at the centre and takes us to the circumference. It should be noted that the term back-to does not mean Albion 'returns' returns back to the earlier state before his collapse. It means Albion moves 'on to' the circumference, his divided masculine and feminine energies harmonised in Divine energy.