Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blake--A Vision of the Last Judgement-Part 2

Characters are dragged down to the Flames, their worldly possessions and symbols of their stations wrenched out of their grasps. As in all meaningful art it is insistent that it is not a story or a parable, but truth itself, uncorrupted by the influence or considerations of the quotidian. As such one buys it willingly enough, at least when he is alone with only the poet for company.

In one section of this vision the poet observes "Albion, our Ancestor, patriarch of the Atlantic Continent, whose history precedes that of the Hebrews & in whose Sleep, or Chaos, Creation began..." Assuming this is a great work, and I think it has definite qualities of greatness, then this particular sighting is important. Firstly because it implies that differences between disparate cultural units and their traditions--the English and the Hebrew say--have significance even is cosmic matters. Secondly because, as in many of Blake's poems, "Jerusalem" perhaps most famously, it insists on the especial importance and centrality of England, a nation not traditionally regarded as having much preponderance of religious genius, to the realization of the great Christian program. Blake clearly regarded this as a highly serious matter. Thirdly, because of the re-iteration that the vision is more true than the mental products of sensation or thought, and does not require to be answerable to those processes, which indeed can only dilute or corrupt the truth as seen in the vision. While I cannot say that I believe this to the last degree, I certainly take such visions when experienced by someone with an obviously powerful mind seriously. Even assuming that reason or science can plausibly explain the meaning of such visions, the mere circumstance of people having them, given that they seem to have become rather rare among the strong-minded, and that they so completely address and inform some deepest concern of the person having the vision, and sometimes that of people to whom it is related, makes inquiry into them a most worthy subject to me.

"...Poetry, Painting & Music, the three Powers in Man of conversing with Paradise, which the flood did not Sweep away." I like this expression.

"He who is out of the Church & opposes it is no less an Agent of Religion than he who is in it; to be an Error & to be Cast out is a part of God's design." A seductive thought; the spectre of being cast out is what makes it work most I think.

"We are in a World of Generation & death, & this world we must cast off if we would be Painters such as Rafael, Mich. Angelo & the Ancient Sculptors; if we do not cast off this world we shall be only Venetian Painters, who will be cast off & Lost from Art." This is what it means to have a strong opinion. It is not cheap, it is definitely not expansive, but it knows what it wants and what it believes, which is unfortunately about the diametric opposite of the way my own mind works.

"In Eternity Woman is the Emanation of Man; she has No Will of her own." If this be the case, I suppose it will be a bit of a shock to some people upon attaining eternity, on either the good or the bad side. Of course I suppose the more conservative/fundamentalist types still believe this to a degree and order their lives around the belief that the male is the representative type of all that is most essentially human; but I don't think the general secularist/agnostic type really can believe it anymore, even if the idea is attractive to him. His psyche has been broached, and this unshakeable belief in male superiority has been, at least in the case of himself, shattered. His understanding is such that he knows too many women who are indisputably stronger than he is to push aside the disturbing implications. This weakens the male religiously too of course.

I'm not going to go on. It is all so much claptrap, my commentary that is. Nothing is being brought to light. This particular piece of writing (the Blake) is full of definitions of abstract contents and precise delineations of spiritual circumstances which I thought would be interesting to write about but I find one has really nowhere to go with them. If Eternity exists, and Independent of Creation, even if only in thought, then the next question is, is it probable that it is anything like the way Blake describes it? which answer I suspect to be, probably not. Do Moral Virtues not exist, as he says, but are only Allegories and dissimulations? "You cannot have Liberty in this World without what you call Moral Virtue, & you cannot have Moral Virtue without the Slavery of that half of the Human Race who hate what you call Moral Virtue....Error is Created, Truth is Eternal. Error, or Creation, will be burned up, & then, & not till Then, Truth or Eternity will appear...The Last Judgement is an Overwhelming of Bad Art & Science." These assertions all strike me intuitively as true. There is no scientific or artistic argument put forth for the existence of men, or any other matter, that is ultimately more convincing than theological ones--the theological arguments are discounted primarily by negation, by either a failure of the imagination or the inflation of the intellect and ego to its debit. But then this depends on where you believe the source of whatever strength/intellectual power humans have possession of lies. But I cannot get into that today. I am busy, busy, busy & my ruminating power is not good.

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