Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Led Zeppelin – The Ride at Hard Rock Park has been in the news a few times, mostly about how much people paid to be in the first run on the rollercoaster.

According to Wikipedia, this is the logo of the rollercoaster.


It's clearly based on The Ancient of Days, William Blake's picture of God creating the world by dividing nature with a compass.

That's a magnificent picture and an enduring image, but it's generally regarded as a negative one.

The Ancient of Days is Urizen, not a god but Demiurge, a Gnostic god of this world who is unrelated to the real creator. As this website says , "Blake’s famous picture is not of God creating, with his compass, order out of chaos, but Blake’s diabolical principle of lifeless rationalism reducing reality to empty quantity."

This website goes further and explains how the Demiurge did not know he was not God. "Blake also looked into Gnosticism, using a form of the Demiurge to represent Urizen, who Blake identified as the God of the Old Testament and maker of the Ten Commandments. Blake's brand of Gnosticism built a different bridge between the Testaments, making the Hebrew scripture the anti-thesis rather than the prelude to the coming of Christ. The Demiurge was seen as the god of this world, who believed himself the only God because he had accidentally been created by the Sophia and was left alone in this world."

Urizen is in approximately the same pose as Blake's Newton, a scientist. His head is down at knee level as he concentrates on his dry piece of paper. The universe is above and behind him, but he does not see them. Blake didn't think much of scientists.

Newton's efforts are creating a lifeless, rational and joyless world, just like Urizen's.

In contrast to all this rationalism, I quote an early rider on the rollercoaster. She said, "I didn't puke and I didn't wet my pants so I feel like I did good."

Well, they do say the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.


Juli said...

I always learn something when I read your blogs. Thanks for expanding my consciousness without the evil after-effects of illegal substances. *g*

Malia said...

From Jackson Library
"Not a positive figure of authority, the name brings to mind "reason," which Blake saw in negative contrast to the power of creative inspiration."

Makes me wonder about why Zep would allow this image to be linked to them as they were embodiment of "the power of creative inspiration." Urizen acts as the "brakes" on creativity and innovation, keeping the world in stasis.
Zep never put the brakes on, or would you disagree?

Peromyscus said...

Malia: Exactly. I would say that Zeppelin's music and lyrics specifically address this and reject "Urizen" as an influence.

I tried to chase down a quote from Jimmy Page about the pernicious effects of scientific thinking and haven't found it yet, but I did find this one, on Aleister Crowley, which is pretty close:

"Because his whole thing was liberation of the person…. And that restriction would foul you up, lead to frustration which leads to violence, crime, mental breakdown, depending on what sort of makeup you have on underneath. The further this age we're in gets into technology and alienation, a lot of the points he's made seem to manifest themselves all down the line." P179, 180 Jimmy Page: Magus, Musician, Man by George Case. (From Godwin, Led Zeppelin: The Press Reports, Collector's Guide 2003)

Perhaps the logo reminds us that on a rollercoaster the lack of control, the lack of brakes, is only *apparent* - you're still dissipating your potential energy pointlessly, constrained by tracks, doing exactly what the creator of this little world wanted you to do.

If so, that's a bloody subtle sign for a fairground ride...

Juli said...

Perhaps allowing the image to be linked to something "Led Zeppelin" is one or more of the members' way of getting a point across, like the "Do what thou wilt" written on the third album. Throwing out a hint or two starts a mystery and a thirst to solve it. Before you know it, someone's figured it out, and the message it out there without any of LZ having actually said a word.


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