---The chaotic visions of William Blake, --- are typical British illustrations of the advent of the weird to formal literature.Revolutionary art and print technique are presented by William Blake who believed that artists and poets should reproduce their art themselves or lose out. Blake created his own form of publication as a method that combines both the Painter and the Poet in the late 1780s. Blake published his own work, moving beyond letterpress printing (set type) toward relief etching. Using quill pens and acid-resistant ink, he wrote his poetry onto copper plates and added vibrantly colored illustrations to complement the text. Blake put the plates in an acid bath that etched away any surface not covered with ink. After printing from the plates, Blake hand-colored the pages while his wife hand sewed them together into illuminated books.
When Victorians rediscovered Blake in the nineteenth century, they had no way to reprint the books, as originally produced. Art was neglected, his poetry was typeset, and Blake became famous as a poet. Several versions of his poetry have survived. Thanks to modern photographic techniques with color-corrected true to size images and accurate colors Blake's Chaotic visionary images have survived as well.
Despite many problems with the many available styles and formats I was able to reproduce some of the look and feel of the poetry's original format. I used selections from the online text of The Works of William Blake as well as well as many images to create web ready digital files. I created the Chaotic Visions of Blake by reuniting the poet and the graphic artist.
The books of Urizen, Los, Ahania and the later Visions of the Daughters of Albion present the major prophetic books of the Gnostic Saint, English Poet and Printer William Blake. Illustrated by Blake's own plates and printing process, they were originally published in the 1790s.
Urizen protagonist of the First Book is typically depicted as a bearded old man. He is one of the four Zoas that result from the division of the primordial man. The character Urizen in Blake's mythology, is the embodiment of conventional reason and law. Urizen or 'Your Reason' represents alienated reason as the source of oppression. Urizen bears architect's tools, to create and constrain the universe. Urizen is also depicted with nets, to ensnare in webs of law and conventional culture. Urizen's self created alienating and enslaving realm is that of religious dogma. Urizen the 'primeaval priest' is separated from the other Eternals.
Next in Blake's pantheon comes Albion and his 'emanation', or female equivalent, Ahania, who stands for Pleasure. Los and Enitharmon (poorly veiled caricatures) of the Biblical Adam and Eve create a space within Urizen's fallen universe to give birth to their son Orc, the spirit of revolution and freedom. The books are a parody of the Book of Genesis. Urizen's four sons Thiriel, Utha, Grodna and Fuzon correspond to the four elements of Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. The last Fuzon as fire plays a major role in The Book of Ahania. Three of his daughters are Eleth, Uveth and Ona. His sons are differently organised, in different poems: as the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and as builders of the Mundane Shell.
Urizen or 'Your Reason', is the accepted wisdom of his age characterized from popular conceptions of Yahweh or Saturn. He is derived from the Greek horizein, 'to set limits'. Urizen is not a benevolent creative diety. Urizen oppresses Orc, the revolutionary passion of creativity, who serves as a suffering saviour figure. Urizen is is the enemy of Luvah, the spirit of love. Depicted by Blake in the watercoloured etching 'The Ancient of Days', Urizen is the Demiurge of the Gnostic sects as well as of Speculative Freemasonry. Masonic symbolism of the square and compass are used to depict Urizen as God the 'Great Architect of the Universe'.
The First Book of Urizen
The Four Zoas
The Book of Ahania
The Book of Los
The Cry of Los
The Warrior and the Daughter of Albion
Jerusalem the Emanation of the Giant Albion
The Song of Los
The Gates Of Paradise
Selections From Milton