Laocoön, by William Blake

Where any view of Money exists, Art cannot be carried on, but War only

Blake’s extraordinary piece of graffiti art, 200 years before Jean-Michel Basquiat or Banksy. The words themselves seem part of the serpentine struggle, as if logos itself was implicated in the fall into division

 

The Text

At foot of plate

If Morality was Christianity Socrates was the Saviour

Laocoön was a priest of Apollo who warned his countrymen against the Trojan Horse, and was punished by the gods (Poseidon and Athena), who sent two serpents from the sea to kill him and his two sons. In some versions, the punishment was linked to some sexual transgression (which is significant in Blake’s interpretation). Pliny described the famous statue of the event, and said it was the work of 3 Rhodians: Agesander, Polydorus, and Athenodorus. The statue was spectacularly rediscovered in 1506 AD.

יה [Yod or Jehovah] & his two Sons Satan & Adam as they were copied from the Cherubim
of Solomons Temple by three Rhodians & applied to Natural Fact, or History of Ilium
Art Degraded Imagination Denied, War Governed the Nations

 

 

Encircling the three figures’ heads (left-right)

Evil

Good & Evil are
Riches & Poverty a Tree of
Misery
propagating
Generation & Death

The Gods of Priam are the Cherubim of Moses & Solomon: The Hosts
of Heaven

Without Unceasing Practise nothing can be done Practise is Art
If you leave off you are Lost

The Angel of the Divine Presence

מלאך יהוה [Angel of Jehovah]

In 1820 Blake made an engraving of the statue, crowding the background with symbolic epigrams. Blake reinterprets the central figure as Jehovah, or the ‘Angel of the Divine Presence’, with his two sons Satan and Adam; the two serpents binding them are labelled ‘Evil’ and Good’. Blake’s view was that this ‘Angel’ – the orthodox ‘God’ of popular religion – was actually an imposter, a rationalising ‘Emissary ‘often mistaken for God’, whose dissociated state of mind generates a number of divisive dualities – good/evil; light/dark; male/female; divine/human – to which he then becomes enslaved and entwined. Blake nicely underlines this syncretic connection between the Greek and Hebrew versions by referring to ‘The Gods of Priam’ as the “The Hosts of Heaven” – the military armies of angels participating in the original “War in Heaven” (i.e. the Human Brain), rather like the fierce ‘cherubim’ mentioned in the Bible. The implication is that Homer’s Iliad is actually a literalised and naturalised metaphor for an earlier inner (psychological or spiritual) struggle, as Milton intuited in Paradise Lost, between ‘Desire’ and ‘Reason’, the Left and the Right.

 

ΟΦΙουΧος [Serpent-holder]

HEBREW ART is
called SIN by the Deist SCIENCE
All that we See is Vision
from Generated Organs gone as soon as come
Permanent in The Imagination; Considerd
as Nothing by the
NATURAL MAN

‘The Gods of Priam are the Cherubim of Moses & Solomon’: cherubim were strange winged creatures, originally depicted as fierce guardians protecting secret entrances to the ‘holy’ places (i.e. the myth-generating spaces, from which a culture’s dominant stories emerge – such as the Hebrew ‘ark’ or the Delphic ‘omphalos’). Cherubim often appeared in twos, as binaries, and were connected with power, protection, and concealment. Blake’s astonishingly syncretic mind linked the Biblical cherubim (protecting the Ark, and the entrance to Eden), the Babylonian winged ‘Lamassu’ (often protecting doorways or gates), and the similarly ‘winged’ Greek ‘messenger’ god, Apollo (one of the main ‘gods’ of Priam). When Blake says that the Greek sculptors of the Laocoön ‘copied’ these archetypes and ‘applied’ them ‘to Natural Fact, or History of Ilium’, he means that they mistook transcendent psychological processes for literal, historical events and people – the mysterious Mental figure referred to as ‘The Angel of the Divine Presence’ becomes in the literalist, rationalising, and war-based mindset of the Greeks simply an historical priest, though it retains some of its underlying deeper metaphor, of a vaster struggle at work. It’s a sort of lost, rationalised ‘echo’ of a former truth – a feature so characteristic of all Greek philosophy, as Plato himself remarked. The Greeks also perverted the celebration of psychological or ‘Mental Fight’ into a glorification of actual, literal war: as Damon notes, “Blake’s prime objection to the Greeks was their glorification of war.”

What can be Created
Can be Destroyed
Adam is only
The Natural Man
& not the Soul
or Imagination

Good

לילית [Lilith]

“Good & Evil are Riches & Poverty, a Tree of Misery propagating Generation & Death”. It’s interesting that Blake links money with both Morality and the War Machine, as that is exactly how the current system of financial control and command operates (see the ‘Self-Attribution Myth’ below). Blake returns again and again to the corrosive and divisive, adversarial aspect of money-worship, as an inevitable consequence of the dualism generated by “the Fall into Division” – the fall into us/them, rich/poor, higher/lower – just like the similar religious origins of the ‘work ethic’ (another consequence of expulsion from Paradise, so we’re told) – all of which ensures, and perpetuates, the dominance of the psychopathic ‘Angel of the Divine Presence’ Emissary figure in our heads. Even more remarkably, he anticipates much later thinkers such as Marx, Deleuze, Graeber, and Conio, in recognising the link between rationalising thought and this system of quantifiable equivalences: that both money and thinking (left-brain systems of calculation and control) are rooted in a similar despotic, instrumental mindset (“Money, which is The Great Satan or Reason”). As Andrew Conio notes, under capitalism the “unconscious of money” perpetually manifests and resurfaces as violence (‘the War Machine’, structural inequality). As Blake put it, “Where any view of Money exists, Art cannot be carried on, but War only”.

Satans Wife The Goddess Nature is War & Misery, & Heroism a Miser

 

To left of plate

Spiritual War
Israel deliverd from Egypt
is Art deliverd from
Nature & Imitation

A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect : the Man
Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian
You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands if they stand in the way of Art

The Eternal Body of Man is The IMAGINATION, that is God himself
The Divine Body } ישע [Yeshua] JESUS we are his
Members

It manifests itself in his Works of Art (In Eternity All is Vision)
The True Christian Charity not dependent on Money (the lifes blood of Poor Families)
that is on Caesar or Empire or Natural Religion
Money, which is The Great Satan or Reason
the Root of Good & Evil
In The Accusation of Sin

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