Category Archives: Myth

More on Murray and Witchcraft

Further to yesterday’s post on the Salem Witch Trials, the complete passage cited in that post is reproduced below.

What follows are a couple of further observations on Margaret Murray’s book and witch-craft.

I stumbled on something in the Masseys that may be important. The creative subconscious is potentially communicable, and so it’s different from the Freudian subconscious.  It’s social & not individual—it has links with Jung’s collective unconscious, but I don’t know what they are.  Finnegans Wake, anyway, is about that subconscious.  Reading Margaret Murray’s books on witchcraft [The God of the Witches (London: Faber and Faber, 1952), and The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1921)], one can’t believe any part of her argument that assumes an actual religious organization, but that some subconscious demonic parody of Xy [Christianity] was extracted from all those poor creatures under torture is quite obvious, and its consistency doesn’t surprise me: it’s the same kind of thing primitive tribes produce, often by self-administered torture.  The witch-finder himself was a psychopath, or soon became one by sticking pins all over naked women, and so they were linked in a communal dream. [Northrop Frye Notebooks for “Anatomy of Criticism,” CW 23, 288]

[The reference to the Massey Lectures: “Ordinary life forms a community, and literature is among other things an art of communication, so it forms a community too.  In ordinary life we fall into a private and separate subconscious every night, where we reshape the world according to a private and separate imagination.  Underneath literature there is another kind of subconscious, which is social and not private, a need for forming a community around certain symbols. . . . This is the myth-making power of the human mind, which throws up and dissolves one civilization after another” [The Educated Imagination, CW 21, 474).]

The myth of the devil is ultimately the myth of the rejected projection.  During the father-making-the-world phase the devil was Eros-Dionysus, & his dame the white goddess.  I can’t buy Margaret Murray’s thesis that the horned-god cult actually existed, but that obscene parodies of Christian rituals could be extracted by torture in an obscene parody of psychotherapy is obvious enough.  The false devil is the buried Orc, the pharmakos victim of the social anxiety-structure; the genuine devil is the prince of this world, & is usually identified with God. [The “Third Book” Notebooks of Northrop Frye, CW 9, 69]

[In The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921), Margaret Murray argued that what the Christian authorities called witchcraft was actually the survival, throughout the Middle Ages and up to the Reformation, of a pre-Christian fertility cult.  A copy of Murray’s The God of the Witches (Garden City: Doubleday, 1960), is in the Northrop Frye Library at Victoria College.]

In Joyce’s Ulysses we have a Jewish father-figure, a Christian (so to speak) son-figure, a mother-wife-whore figure, and a spiritual visitant whose name suggests fire and water (Blazes Boylan).  I think I see why HCE is Protestant: the descent into alienation is the real point of Protestantism.  Also, many great cultures have arisen from an invasion which split society into an ascendant & a subjected class, the latter producing most of the women, & their indigenous beliefs forming the dark half of the culture.  Thus Egypt; thus India; thus the North, where Grimm’s & Margaret Murray’s reconstructions of the submerged cult merge. [The “Third Book” Notebooks of Northrop Frye, CW 9, 268–9]

Quote of the Day: “History repeats myth”

All of the Ned scenes from Groundhog Day

I’ve been keeping my eye out for the source of this quote from Frye: “History doesn’t repeat itself; history repeats myth.”

Thanks to Bob Denham’s Northrop Frye Unbuttoned, I now have the complete quote, which comes from one of the late notebooks and appears in Collected Works 5, 164:

Why do people call me “anti-historical”?  I talk about myth, and it’s myth that’s anti-historical.  It’s the counter-historical principle, just as metaphor is the counter-logical principle.  History doesn’t repeat itself; history repeats myth.  (It’s not simple repetition, though: it’s not a da capo aria but a theme with variations.)  As I’ve often said, you never get logic in literature: what you get is what Susanne Langer would call virtual logic, a rhetorical illusion of logic.  Similarly you never get history in literature: you get virtual history, history assimilated to myth.


Helen Mirren as Elizabeth delivering her famous speech to the troops at Tilbury as the Spanish Armada approached, 19 August 1588.

Today is the birthday of Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603).

Frye in Notebook 8 reflects on the consequences of the defining moment of the Elizabethan Age upon Elizabethan culture:

Before the Armada the best brains, Spenser and Sidney, thought in terms of a Protestant United Front, hence the Duc d’Alencon business.  Spenser never really got over this stage.  The Armada itself shifted the emphasis: true, it had sailed with the Pope’s blessing to destroy a heretic kingdom, but it had banked heavily on a religious revolution in England, & it must have been difficult for the Protestants who had lived through that hideous period to forget that the Catholics had turned out to fight for England & had thereby placed their religious liberties in the hands of Elizabeth.  So it seems probable that the theatre represented a Catholic-Anglican truce against Puritans, the idea being that Protestantism had come not to destroy but to fulfill Catholicism by allegorizing its literalism, as in Spenser.  This truce, if it existed, could hardly have lasted long after the Gunpowder Plot.  Then a strong anti-Spanish, anti-Catholic middle-class nationalism comes up (Middleton, B & F [Beaumont and Fletcher]); the king-fool appears more frequently, possibly because bourgeois insistence on plain sense is breaking down the allegorical synthesis based on the King & Queen; but I think the theatre stands fundamentally for the national establishment.  Cassius, the Puritan revolutionary, love not plays & hears no music.  Aramado in L.L. is the Armada: the date means the word would irresistibly suggest that to an audience.  (CW 20, 110)

Frye on Elizabeth, the Armada and myth in The Secular Scripture:

Myths are usually assumed to be true, stories about what really happened.  But truth is not the central basis for distinguishing the mythical from the fabulous: it is a certain quality of importance or authority of the community that marks the myth, not truth as such.  The anxiety of society, when it urges the authority of a myth and the necessity of believing it, seems to be less to proclaim its truth than to prevent anyone from questioning it.  Thus the Christian myth of providence, after a battle, is often invoked by the winning side in a way which makes its truth or secondary importance.  The storm that wrecked the Spanish Armada was a providential event to the English, but a natural event to the Spaniards.  Elizabeth I issued a medal quoting the Psalms, “God breathed with his winds, and they were scattered”; Philip of Spain said to the survivors, “I sent you forth to fight with men, not with the elements.” (CW 18, 14-15)

French Revolution: “September Massacre”

History Channel documentary on the French Revolution, above

Today in 1792 the September Massacres of the French Revolution began as part of the escalating mob violence that had increased all summer.  By the time it was done, half the prison  population of Paris had been executed.  The clergy in particular was prone to sporadic attacks, with a number of Catholic bishops murdered.

For Frye, this violent political shift represented a radical shift in the social mythology of authority:

The cosmos of authority lingered until the eighteenth century, although of its two pillars, the chain of being and the Ptolemaic universe, the latter was in ruins by Isaac Newton’s time.  The chain of being was still in place for Pope early in the eighteenth century, but Voltaire was very doubtful about the echelle de l’infiniti, which he recognized to be a facade for the authority of the status quo.  And under the hammer blows of the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution, the ladder as the spatial metaphor for the axis mundi, and as a cosmic vision guaranteeing the birthright of established authority, finally disappeared. (CW 4, 124)

Frye Alert: Sci Fi Frye


Frye appeared as a character (above) in Marvel Comics’ The New Defenders in a story called “The Pajusnaya Consignment.”

iO9, a science fiction blog (“We Come from the Future”), cites Frye in a post today: “How many definitions of science fiction are there?”

[Science fiction is] a mode of romance with a strong inherent tendency to myth.” — Northrop Frye.

Here’s Frye on “parallel world” science fiction:

I’ve been reading, more or less at random, in science fiction for varieties of the parallel-world conception which seems to me a possible exit from the present up-down mythical universal dilemma.  Reincarnation is now being trumpeted as practically established scientifically; it isn’t, and I still think there’s a fallacy buried in it somewhere, but there’s probably a pattern it fits.  I read the four volumes of Philip Jose Farmer’s “Riverrun” series, but they were a bust.  Now I’m reading Zelazny’s two-volume “Amber” series, which at least has better patter.  They seem to me a development of the Eddison series, where the ideal world is conceived as an archaic one, reminding me of Lawrence’s proposal that if men wanted to fight they should repudiate modern hardware, get into armor and have a good old heroic hack.  Eddison isn’t quite as silly as that sounds, but his fantasy world is simply the old chivalric-romance one back again.  We seem to be in an age of neo-Ariosto. (Northrop Frye Unbuttoned, 254)

Frye’s “Closed Mythology” of Authoritarianism

Former Nixon aide John Dean talks about “proto-fascist tendencies” in the Bush administration and the Republican party

There is a lot of discussion these days among concerned old-school American conservatives about the “epistemic closure” that has become so apparent in the Rush Limbaugh-Fox News universe; that what now passes for conservatism in America is actually an antic form of nihilism that believes in nothing but obtaining and holding on to power at any cost.  Its chief weapons are the propagation of lies, confusion, fear, and resentment.  It is notable that two of the leading voices on the issue of epistemic closure are not American born and raised: one’s an ex-pat Brit, Andrew Sullivan, and the other an ex-pat Canadian, David Frum — both from countries with a strong, moderating Tory tradition.

I was a little disappointed to find that Frye evidently has nothing to say about Theodor Adorno and his notion of the “authoritarian personality,” but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least glance at how Adorno and his co-authors frame the issue. The traits of the authoritarian personality are common and readily identifiable.  Those traits are:  “conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and “toughness,” destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sexuality (sexual repression).”  The authoritarian personality is therefore highly predisposed to follow the dictates of a strong leader and traditional, conventional values.

Does this really require much elaboration?  We see these symptoms being played out on the right every day, and the further right you go, the more pathological the behavior becomes.  Take just one example, “exaggerated concerns over sexuality (sexual repression).”  It has become part of our satirical lore over the last few years that, the more homophobic the Republican/conservative/evangelical leader is, the more likely he will be outed for engaging in closeted homosexual activity (nicely bringing the principle of “projectivity” into play).  The list is too long and the details too sad to bother lingering over.  But if you are somehow unaware of the phenomenon, here’s a short list of some of the more notorious figures: Rev. Ted Haggard, Sen. Larry Craig, Dr. and Rev. George Rekers.  They’ve added to our lexicon phrases such as “wide stance” and “long stroke.”  The case of Rekers, the most recent outing, is especially disturbing because he’s both a psychiatrist and a minister — as well as the co-founder of the repulsive Family Research Council — who for decades has claimed that homosexuality is a psychological disorder that can be treated and “cured.”  In May he was spotted returning from a ten day European vacation with a 20 year old male prostitute who confirmed sexual relations with Rekers.

The self-destructiveness of the authoritarian personality would be a matter of pity if it weren’t so devastating in its wider social implications.  The epistemic closure of the authoritarian mindset will collapse in on itself eventually — but, as demonstrated by the recent world-wide financial meltdown brought about by derivative instruments designed ultimately only to make money for the brokers, the wider public is not necessarily spared the consequences.

Frye has his own version of epistemic closure, which in The Modern Century he calls a “closed mythology”:

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Frye on Bardo


Cross-posted in the Robert D. Denham Library

In Mahayana Buddhism, bardo, a concept that dates back to the second century, is the in-between state, the period that connects the death of individuals with their following rebirth.  The word literally means “between” (bar) “two” (do).  The Bardo Thödol, or “Liberation through Hearing in the In-Between State,” distinguishes six bardos, the first three having to do with the suspended states of birth, dream, and meditation and the last three with the forty-nine-day process of death and rebirth.  In The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which is the principal source for Frye’s speculations on bardo, a priest reads the book into the ear of the dead person. The focus is on the second three in-between states or periods: the bardo of the moment of death, when a dazzling white light manifests itself; the bardo of supreme reality, in which five colorful lights appear in the form of mandalas; and the bardo of becoming, characterized by less-brilliant light. The first of these, Chikhai bardo, is the period of ego loss; the second, Chonyid bardo, is the period of hallucinations; and the third, Sidpa bardo, is the period of reentry.

In Frye’s Bible lectures he mentions the bardo in connection with the issue of whether one can be released from various projections and repressions and so escape from the wheel of reincarnation, or at least have the possibility of escaping next time around if one will only be attentive.   There, he said,

The word “apocalypse,” the name of the last book of the Bible, is the Greek word for revelation.  That is why the book is called Revelation in English translation, and what John at Patmos sees in the book is a panorama of certain things in human experience taking on different forms.  There is an analogy which seems to be a fairly useful one in the Oriental scripture known as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. When a man is dying, a priest comes to his house, and when the man dies, the priest starts reading the Book of the Dead into his ear, because the corpse is assumed to be able to hear the reading and to be guided by what is said.  The priest explains to the corpse that he is going to have a progression of visions, first of peaceful deities and then of wrathful deities, and that he is to realize that these are simply his own repressed thoughts and images coming to the surface because they have been released by death; and that if he could only understand that they are coming out of his mind, he could be delivered from their power, because it is really his own power.  lt is also assumed that practically every corpse to whom this book is read will be too stupid to understand what’s going on, and will go on from one blunder to another until finally he wakes up in the world again: because the assumption behind it is one of reincarnation.  [CW 13, 587–88]

Otherwise, in his published writing Frye refers to bardo infrequently––once in The Great Code, once in A Study of English Romanticism, once in “The Journey as Metaphor,” and twice in “Yeats and the Language of Symbolism.”  In his notebooks and diaries, however, the word “bardo” appears more than one hundred times, and Frye’s own copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead contains some 240 annotations.  In Northrop Frye: Religious Visionary and Architect of the Spiritual World I point out that Frye almost always uses “bardo” in a telic sense: it represents a stage toward the end of the quest, and it is related to such ideas as epiphany, resurrection, recognition, and apocalypse––ideas that are omnipresent in Frye’s writings.  But his understanding of bardo warrants further study.

The following entries represent, I think, all of the places in Frye’s “unpublished” writing (now a part of the Collected Works), where the word “bardo” appears.  The “published” references are at the end.  The annotations have been omitted.  All material within square brackets is an editorial addition.

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Frye and Apocalyptic Feminism

On this date in 1913, militant suffragette Emily Davison was struck by King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby.  She died four days later.  She ran out onto the track (as you can see from the footage above) with a suffragette flag, which she evidently intended to attach to the king’s horse.

One of Frye’s entries in notebook 44 consists of this single sentence: “I don’t think it’s coincidence or accident that feminism and ecology should become central issues at the same time” (CW 5, 206).

A modified version of the phrase appears again in chapter six of Words with Power, “Second Variation: The Garden”:

Here we are concerned with the oasis-paradise of gardens and fountains that derives from the Biblical Eden and the Song of Songs.  It may be an impossibly idealized vision of a very tame aspect of nature, especially when in Isaiah it extends to a world in which the lion lies down with the lamb (11:6 ff.).  But it is the beginning of a sense that exploiting nature nature is quite as evil as exploiting other human beings.  Admittedly, the Bible itself has done a good deal to promote the conception of nature as something to be dominated by human arrogance, for historical reasons we have glanced at.  Contact with some allegedly primitive societies in more modern times, with their intense care for the earth that sustains them, has helped to give us some notion of how skewed many aspects of our traditional ideology are on this point.  But even in the Bible the bride-garden metaphor works in the opposite direction by associating nature and love, and I doubt if it is an accident that feminism and ecology have moved into the foreground of social issues at roughly the same time.  (WP 225)

As a matter of myth manifesting primary concern, the equalization of the sexes is implicit in biblical typology.  As a social and historical development, of course, it is all too often an ugly business typical of issues pertaining to power.  But the equalization of the sexes also has an apocalyptic dimension, as Frye’s rendering it in chapter six of Words with Power suggests.

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“The Key to all Mythology”



In one of the notebooks for his first Bible book Frye writes, “For at least 25 years I’ve been preoccupied by the notion of a key to all mythologies. I used to call this the ‘Druid analogy,’ & its components included Atlantis, reincarnation, cyclical symbolism.  But surely that’s all in the Bible, & the Bible as is (Atlantis-flood, reincarnation = historical repetition, etc.).  I think I have to make this book [The Great Code] the key to mythologies” (CW 13, 198).  By “Druid analogy” Frye means the religious myths and rituals of natural religion in its most primitive forms.  In another of his Bible notebooks he calls it the “pagan synthesis,” which is an analogy to the Biblical and Christian mythology.

In Fearful Symmetry Frye speaks of the myths of inspired bards of the ancient Druid civilization and the earlier myth of Atlantis, combined with the myths of the giant Albion and of Ymir, as containing “the key to all mythologies, or at least to the British and Biblical ones” (CW 14, 178).

In The “Third Book” Notebooks Frye writes that “Part One of this book, the Book of Luvah, to some extent recapitulates AC [Anatomy of Criticism] by taking the mythos of romance as the key to all mythical structure.  This incorporates the epic & the sentimental-romance speculations that got squeezed out of AC.  From here one could go either into Urizen, speculative mythology in metaphysics and religion, by way of Dante & the church’s thematic stasis of the Bible & the Druid analogy, or (as I favor now) into the applied mythology of contracts & Utopias (Tharmas) by way of Rousseau, William Morris,  & various second-twist prose forms, including those of St. Augustine. (CW 9, 63)

Frye made a valiant effort to provide a key to all mythology, trying to fit everything into what he called the Great Doodle, which was primarily his symbolic shorthand for the monomyth.  Originally Frye conceived of the Great Doodle as “the cyclical quest of the hero” (CW 9, 214) or “the underlying form of all epics” (ibid., 241).  But as he began to move away from strictly literary terms toward both religious language and the language of Greek myth and philosophy, another pattern developed, one with an east-west axis of Nous-Nomos and a north-south axis of Logos-Thanatos.  At this point the Great Doodle took on an added significance, becoming a symbolic shorthand for what he called the narrative form of the Logos vision: “the circular journey of the Logos from Father to Spirit” (ibid., 260) or “the total cycli­cal journey of the incarnate Logos” (ibid., 201). But the Great Doodle is never merely a cycle.  Its shape requires also the vertical axis mundi and the horizontal axis separating the world of innocence and experience.  These, with their numerous variations, produce the four quadrants that are omnipresent in Frye’s diagrammatic way of thinking.  In Notebook 7 he refers to the quadrants as part of the Lesser Doodle (par. 190), mean­ing only that the quadrants themselves are insufficient to establish the larger geometric design of the Great Doodle.

The Great Doodle has still further elaborations.  In the extensive notes he made for his Norton Lectures at Harvard (The Secular Scripture) Frye remarks self-referentially that in book 14 of Longfellow’s Hiawatha the heroine “invents picture-writing, including the Great Doodle of Frye’s celebrated masterpieces” (Notes on Romance, weblog).  The reference is to Hia­watha’s painting on birch-bark a series of symbolic and mystic images: the egg of the Great Spirit, the serpent of the Spirit of Evil, the circle of life and death, the straight line of the earth, and other ancestral totems in the great chain of being.  Frye elaborates his Great Doodle in a similar way, the Hiawathan “shapes and figures” becoming for him points of epiphany at the circumference of the circle—what he twice refers to as beads on a string (CW 9, 241, 245). The beads are various topoi and loci along the circumferential string.  They can be seen as stations where the questing hero stops in his journey (CW 5, 416) or as the cardinal points of a circle (CW 9, 147–8, 159, 177, 198, 200, 204, 249, 254).  Frye even over lays one form of the Logos diagram with the eight trigrams of the I Ching, saying that they “can be connected with my Great Doodle” (ibid., 209), and one version of the Great Doodle recapitulates what he refers to throughout his notebooks as “the Revelation diagram” (CW 13, 193), the intricately designed chart that Frye passed out in his Bible course.

The Great Doodle, then, is a representation, though a hypothetical one, that contains the large schematic patterns in Frye’s memory theatre: the cyclical quest with its quadrants, cardinal, and epiphanic points; and the vertical ascent and descent movements along the chain of being or the axis mundi. It contains as well all of the lesser doodles that Frye cre­ates to represent the diagrammatic structure of myth and metaphor and that he frames in the geometric language of gyre and vortex, centre and circumference.

There are other large frameworks that structure Frye’s imaginative uni­verse, such as the eight-book fantasy—the ogdoad—that he invokes re­peatedly throughout his career, or the Hermes-Eros-Adonis-Prometheus (HEAP) scheme that begins in Notebook 7 (late 1940s) and dominates the notebook landscape of Frye’s last decade.  The ogdoad, which Michael Dolzani has definitively explained (“The Book of the Dead: A Skeleton Key to Northrop Frye’s Notebooks,” in Rereading Frye: The Published and Unpublished Works, ed. David Boyd and Imre Salusinszky [Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1999], 19–38), is fundamentally a conceptual key to Frye’s own work, though it is related in a slippery and often vague way to the Great Doodle.  The HEAP scheme, in its half-dozen variations, is clearly used to define the quadrants of the Great Doodle, and there are countless other organizing devices, serving as Lesser Doodles, that Frye draws from alchemy, the zodiac, musical keys, colours, the chess board, the omnipresent “four kernels” (commandment, aphorism, oracle, and epiphany), the shape of the human body, Blake’s Zoas, Jung’s personality types, Bacon’s idols, the boxing of the compass by Plato and the Romantic poets, the greater arcana of the Tarot cards, the seven days of Creation, the three stages of religious awareness, numerological schemes, and so on.

All of these schematic formulations are a part of the key to all mythologies.  But where did they come from?  The came, of course, from Frye’s extensive knowledge of the literary tradition, the myths of literature arranging themselves in his expansive memory theater.  But they also came from Frye’s reading of the mythographers.

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Nicholas Graham: Myth and Metaphor


Responding to Bob Denham’s post

I would like to suggest that myth and metaphor are a higher form of question and answer.

Myth and metaphor operate on the level of Vico’s priority of poetry, the first level of language, and also the second level of language which is oratory.

Question and answer operate on the third level of language which is philosophical and on the lowest or forth level of language which is scientific or descriptive.

Myth and metaphor are what make poetry and oratory centripetal. Question and answer are what make philosophy and science centrifugal.

These two worlds of a) Myth and Metaphor & b) Question and Answer are perhaps what Blake had in mind when he wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

If we consider what makes Frye different from Derrida it is the fact that Derrida is a philosopher, using a different and constricted form of language; and the problem in the 70s was that the people who took over the English Departments were operating on the level of philosophy or the third level of language. What makes Frye shine, and stand apart, is the fact that he continued to opeate in terms of myth and metaphor: “to guard the vision in the time of trouble.” Blake’s Jerusalem. (See Michael Happy’s incisive article, “The Reality of the Created: From Deconstruction to Recreation”, Frye and the Word.)

Constructive philosophers like Leo Strauss and Bernard Lonergan, Gadamer, Heidegger, etc., provide accounts of the roots of our degraded culture and all agree with Heidegger that the only solution to our problems is to learn that on this earth we must learn to dwell poetically. But that is as far as they go. They do not rise to the higher level and operate, as Frye can, within the language of myth of metaphor.

Philosophical accounts of our culture are very helpful, if limited verbally, in attempting to recreate our culture. Lonergan provides us with an analysis of the levels of consciousness in terms four imperatives at four levels: Be Attentive, Intelligent, Reasonable, Responsible in his book, Method In Theology. This is hard to contradict unless we want to propose and promote their opposite. And he even devotes an entire book to examining the act of insight in his book, Insight, where we find a section on “The Longer Cycle of Decline”. This along with what Leo Strauss calls “The Waves of Modernity”, are what Frye terms, at a higher level, accounts of the roots of “single vision.”

The act of insight is what connects a question with an answers; questions evoke insights and without insights our answers are mere empty concepts.

An analysis of our culture in terms of myth and metaphor is what Frye offers us, but the question that remains to be examined is what connects myths and metaphors? It is the act of vision. So we must turn our attention to both the act of insight and the act of vision to find the double vision that our society so badly needs. Rollo May entitles his book The Cry for Myth, and James Joyce in the Circe chapter (15) of Ulysses calls our attention to the “intellectual imagination”.

Ironically, it was Rudolph Bultmann (student of Heidegger) who wrote so much about “demythologizing” who also made popular the word, kerygma, which is so central to Frye, who lifts it from the language level of philosophy and theology, and places it squarely in the context of and at the language level of anagogy, poetry and rhetoric.

As our individual acts of insights build up into intelligible emanations or philosophical theories over a lifetime, so our acts of vision, (which we express in poems, paintings, and love songs) create and recreate the visionary emanation that we identify with at the moment of death.

Similarly, a society lives or dies according to its vision. Such a vision is expressed, through the process of creation and recreation, in the Hebrew and Greek Bible, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and through what Blake calls his infernal or Bible of Hell.