William Blake's The Four Zoas + Cameron Stallones' Sonic Assemblage

From Cameron @ssvfieldstudies:

“Here’s a recent project I’m working on for the FM, found a wonderful reading of Blake’s FOUR ZOAS from the 60’s, scoring it and assembling it as a radio play … might be a template of the sort of work we could collaborate on! … Happy to get Infinite Conversations involved in this little culture-jamming project.”

(if unable to access above link, try below)
Hour 1:

Hour 2:

This valiant production provided above is Cameron Stallones’ sonic stratum layered beneath/atop the stellar performance by the so-called Sydney Group, a top-notch performance reading recorded in the 1960’s of Blake’s fragmented The Four Zoas … this two hour composition is worth the listen. Orbiting around the Zoas’ microcosms and unearthly vocalizations from the Sydney Group are Stallones’ spheres of ambient landscapes and cosmic (dis)harmonies, launching this meta-production straight into the hearts of space.

A bit about Blake’s Four Zoas

In c. 1794-95 Blake secured a commission to produce engraved illustrations for a deluxe new edition of Edward Young’s popular long poem, The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality , structured as nine “nights.” Blake worked very hard on this commercial project, the largest of his life, producing over 500 large preliminary watercolors and over 40 engravings for the first and only published volume (1797) before the four-volume project was discontinued.

Out of this intense and undoubtedly disappointing episode emerged one of Blake’s most formidable creative efforts—a long narrative of nine “nights,” on paper and proofs of the Night Thoughts engravings left over from the Edwards venture. VALA , or The Four Zoas is epic and cosmic in scope, an attempt to explain the human situation—and to offer a vision of redemption based on a kind of corrected Christianity that requires a complex retelling of the mental, physical, and spiritual history of the world, one that, as Blake later put it, reads the Bible white where others read black—“a cyclic vision of life from the Fall to the Last Judgment . . . . in a single form the totality of what Blake came into the world to say” (Frye page 269).

from The William Blake Archive

@madrush, @johnnydavis54, @Geoffrey_Edwards and members of the @supermind (those who participate in the Savitri recordings): I see this as an opportunity to take some of our recordings to a wholly different level. The atmosphere created from the written word + the addition of an underlying score transmits the readings directly to the third ear. I would love to see a collaboration. Perhaps we can arrange a meetup with Cameron to talk Blake, epic poetry and all things cosmic?

Supplemental Materials:


Geoffrey is going to respond to Cameron. Thanks, Doug, for making the effort to triangulate from the margins. I think we need to find the area that is in between. We are working on Milton, the Fourth Book, and it is good to know that others are drawn to these Visionary Voices.


Enthusiastic listener here…will take my time today, with earphones in prone position. :slight_smile:
Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Four Zoas and artwork were a focus of mine at university with a prof who was a Shakespeare scholar, had us painting, composing/performing music, putting on plays, instead of taking paper tests. Terrifying and transcendent.


We are trying to create learning spaces like the one your professor created. The great Italian actor, Tomaso Salvini, was asked what was needed to play Shakespeare and he exclaimed," Voice! Voice! And more voice!" We are working with voice and body-mind centering, as we study Milton and this makes for a different kind of sense than the one we use in the library, chasing after footnotes.


Thank you, @Douggins and @ssvfieldstudies. I am eager to listen, and love recording stuff and collaborating. I am deeply enjoying our readings and Milton and Savitri—I also think we could write our own collective poetry & theater, spontaneously even, and culture jam from scratch. Maybe we are doing it already. Hopefully there will be an update from @geoffrey at the next Milton meet-up (2020-03-11T14:00:00Z) or we could touch on it then.


We have been working with body-voice dynamics in the last few Milton convocations. Previous generations had to learn how to break down the third wall in the theatre space ( think of Brecht, Thornton Wilder, Shakespeare’s soliloquies)and we can glimpse some of that work happening here, in our struggles in these digital worlds to breakthrough the flat screen, with it’s constraints upon and distortions of the effective, affective body. They had to learn, as we must, to “go meta” to the medium.

Milton is a great way to re-model our impoverished cultural landscapes, drawing upon this great epic, to reconnect to a body of knowledge that is on the verge of becoming extinct. Mary Oliver, the great nature poet of our time, laments the sad fact that many persons can’t catch the rhythms of poetry anymore. We are engaged in the basics, perhaps, making eye contact, engaging in somatic syntax, touching with the mind the slippery slopes of metaphor and motion. We are re-organizing our symbolic landscapes as we transition to a 2nd Order Culture. And when we reverse engineer this Milton epic, what will we know, then, that we can’t know now? This is delicate work and so I expect we will need to protect the space from contamination from too much, too soon. The future is arriving too fast. We need slow mind. The cognitive complexity of Milton can blow our fuses if we are not grounded. And if a Second Order Culture is co-arising in these fragile networks, can a Third Order be far behind?

And what was knowledge before it became lost knowledge?

Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep…_


Briefly need to say that I have much I would like to add to this conversation…this is a placeholder to thoughts I hope to articulate later today. Until then! Here’s to recognizing spontaneity; embracing terrifying and transcendent transmissions; and creating a second “oral” culture as you give voice to your day.


Second order occulture…the oral and oracular and the occult have many overtones…and the faces… it took me forever to get people to switch out of the gallery view ( a half dozen heads frozen in a box). I am glad to see that we have posted the whole face, the shoulders, the hands…the verbal and the non-verbal are important for communiques to occur that are not frozen in a constipated cognition from the neck up. The podcast, can be great, too, for some things, especially for multitasking while driving and listening at the same time. But I am very wary of that. I want to get out of car culture and the information dumping we are all prone to. I am not proposing more multi tasking. I like to slow down and enter the time warp that language provides as we go micro. Then when we have matched the micro-movements in another persons communique we can " go meta" in ways that Shakespeare would appreciate. We almost got that when we worked with Judith but the tech glitches spoiled that interview for me. I don’t think we served her or the group mind evolving a new aesthetic in a new medium as well as we could. As there is so little feedback going on I wish we could become more mindful of what is happening. It not about learning how to navigate the site, as Judith said, but about getting immersed. To get immersed we need to become master of the bio-culture, a new emerging theatre space, that rests upon waves of the ineffable that are captured by voice, eye, gesture, drawing…then a new oral culture, which is a lot like the old oral culture, would arise from the ashes of our crashing knowledge systems. I look forward to your thoughts, Doug, as we learn from our mutual mistakes. Can a form of social dreaming happen here? I worry that it may be too little, too late…


This could not be more true. Trouble is, our minds have already been seduced/captivated by “on demand” and Siri the E-servant…et al ad infinitum…
Bayo Akomolafe (Nigerian philosopher living in India) says explicitly that the more dire the times, the more slowly we must proceed…with everything
we do.

“On the ground, sleep sound” (W. Shakespeare) came into my mind as I was typing this…leaving it here with you all, to resonate.


I hope so, @johnnydavis54. I hope it is not too late. Maybe we are just on time, as the world economy is shutting down since it cannot cope with Coronavirus — the crown chakra of viruses! With public events cancelled, whole countries on lockdown, and everyone shut indoors, what else will there be to do but dream? Maybe the world will wake up to find there’s no problem with slowing down: we can ride the descending wave of history into a new age interdependent harmonious cohabitation on the Earth (until the next catastrophe). I am more concerned about how the economy of pain is being globalized, socialized, and leveraged. What can we do instead of capitalism? Why not us, now?