For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise

For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise (2001) is an extended work for solo piano accompanied by Puppetsweat Theater's computer animations of William Blake's (1757-1827) drawings and illuminated manuscripts designed and executed by Leslie Weinberg and directed by Robert Bresnick. Blake's emblems and their associated texts, originally entitled For Children: The Gates of Paradise, were first published in a limited run in 1793. He later changed the title to For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise, and added several more drawings as well as a preface and concluding verse, publishing this version in 1818.The seventeen emblematic drawings and their commentaries depict the life of man from birth to death: passage through the four elements (water, earth, wind and fire), hatching as a child from the "mundane shell," encountering women ("What are these! Alas! the Female Martyr, Is She also the Divine Image?"), reaching for the moon of love ("I want, I want"), falling into Time's Ocean. After several other episodes he finally arrives at the death's door with Job's words: "I have said to the Worm: Thou art my mother and my sister." There a female figure is "Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife, And Weeping over the Web of Life." Blake concludes the cycle with verses addressed to Satan, in his role as the fallen Lucifer:

Truly my Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the garment from the Man
Evry Harlot was a Virgin once
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan

Tho thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine
Of Jesus & Jehovah: thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill