Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Shrinking the Gap

Ezekiel talked to Blake about "the desire of raising other men to the perception of the Infinite" (MHH).

Here's a modern equivalent of Blake's famous conversation in the last place you might expect it:

The Gap stands for the relatively uncivilized (uh unglobalized) part of the world, with about 1/3 of the world's population. Or you might call it the global equivalent of America's Wild West, where the law comes out of the mouth of a six shooter. Half the time a brutal, barbaric terrorizing dictator makes the law, while the terrorized population struggle to get enough food to live.

20 years ago 2/3 of the world's population lived like that, but since 1980 only half of the 40% living on a dollar or less a day still do. It's called globalization.

I know it has worked a hardship on all the auto workers and such like who watched their jobs exported to South Korea or China or such places, but it has dropped the starvation in those places radically. So whether it's good or bad depends on whether America is all that matters to you or you have a more cosmopolitan outlook; maybe whether you're an "American Christian" or a plain Christian.

These insights came from a military analyst named Thomas P.M.Barnett, a man whose writings would cause the average good Quaker to avert his eyes. BUT-

Strangely enough near the end of his second famous book, called Blueprint for Action he reports a wealth of email from clergymen. (Once again we have to discriminate between "American Christian clergymen" and plain Christian clergymen.)

Barnett believes the Gap must be shrunk, and often through military intervention, after which investment and general "connectivity" begins to flow in, and with it law, and commerce, and wealth (for the gap and for those who invest in it). I might try exhaustively to explain the proposals he outlines in The Pentagon's New Map and Blueprint for Action, but I could do no better than to quote at length two paragraphs on page 270 of the second:

"Globalization will rule this planet or it will be ruled in pieces by forces far less beneficent than free markets and collective security schemes. We cannot turn off this hughly powerful process of global integration without triggering its opposite force-- disintegration. Such a decision to withdraw from the world would send it into a fracturing spiral of unprecedented magnitude precisely because the Leviathan's (American military's) departure from the global security system would create a power vacuum that other core pillars would feel compelled to fill with their own competing military activities. Globalization could easily split into a plethora of antagonistic blocs, replicating the [political] dynamics of the first half of the 20th century. Make no mistake-- the burden of picking up those pieces- yet again- would not somehow be magically outsourced to the rest of the world, but to our children and grandchildren....

"Americans need to see the world for the ties that bind the nations and economies together, and not simply fixate on the vertical borders that give the illusion that the pain and suffering of the gap can always be kept distant from our shores. [This is to help] citizens understand that connectivity is my main goal because an informed citizenry will ... demand ... better strategic global leadership from Washington and better understand the long term scope of this effort to shrink the gap."

I understand that he's saying in essence this is the only way to "win the war against terrorism". Although I don't totally agree with Mr. Barnett, I'm impressed with the fact that he (only, as far as I know) has provided a scenario for the future more hopeful than the prospect of continuous military activity to guard ourselves against what has been called the "axis of evil".

Many readers of this post may wonder what all this has to do with the quote from Blake. I may be just foolish enough to see a correspondence between Ezekiel's Infinite and Barnett's Connectivity. And I may be just foolish enough to think that Barnett's slant on peace may be more creative than that of droves of "knee jerk peace lovers".

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


This was central to Blake's evolving theology. It came to him at 42 and delivered him from his need to flog Old Nobodaddy; he had experienced the 'healing balm'. Henceforth he loved and adored Jesus, the bearer of Forgiveness.

In this form Blake experienced the new birth, which Baptists tell us occurs when you "accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior". For Blake (and for me) it came with recognition of God's love, and particularly in his case a feeling of being accepted (for me, too actually). The First Vision of Light described his jubilation at being accepted and called "thou Ram hornd with gold".

For Blake (and for me) this led to an excess of power. It appears that Blake had a sense of guilt that came to a head during his three years at Felpham (by the sea). He had been invited there by a fashionable poet and man of affairs named Hayley.

That was wonderful, but Blake soon found that Hayley proposed to "assist" him to becoming succesful by producing miniatures. Blake had struggled with the temptation to pursue worldly success instead of the "main chance", by which he meant artistic integrity (no doubt something all or most artists struggle with). Blake spoke of this in a letter to Cumberland dated 2 July 1800.

The pressure of Hayley on him to conform to worldly expectations was the last straw, and he returned to London a new man, no longer concerned about the approval of those who could reward him monetarily.

His best work came then with Milton and Jerusalem, but his new life is also expressed in the last part of The Four Zoas.

This experience of Blake's strikes me as a universal, applicable to many of us. The world calls, and God calls. Happy are those who hear and respond to the second call.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blake and the Bible

(Look also at Blake's Bible.)

If you think the Bible is inerrant, and that every word has one and only one meaning, then you don't need to read this any further.

Blake had an unparalleled freedom with the Bible. Northrup Frye referred to him as a Bible soaked protestant. He was Bible soaked, but the meanings he found in most of the Bible were distinctive and often unique: "Both read the Bible day and night,But thou read’st black where I read white."

Blake's 'white' reading will excite you and/or repel you. Or perhaps you will add your Blake to the canon; that happens.

1. The idea of Nobodaddy implies an explicit and emphatic rejection of the "sub-Christian" elements of the O.T.

Blake spent half his life figuring out who/what Christ was, after which he measured the quality and value of everything in the Bible in accordance with Christ's identity.

He rejected the thump on the head for the "healing balm".

2. He put the same value on his own visions (and vision) as he did the Bible. In visions he conversed with Isaiah and Ezekiel (see the second Memorable Fancy). My wife's favorite Blake quoted Ezekiel's conversation with Blake thusly: when Blake asked him why he behaved so erratically re living in his underwear and spending 3 months on his left side, etc., Ezekiel responded "'the desire of raising other men into a perception of the infinite". That has in fact became our calling in life.

To use slightly more orthodox terminology we could say the desire to get people thinking about Heaven (in it's larger meaning). That's a good subject for another post.

When our youngest was married (an outdoor Catholic marriage, I had a chance to read some scripture. I finished with the quotation from "Saint William Blake":
"Throughout Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me;
as the dear Redeemer said, this the wine and this the bread."

Blake was very free with his use of the Bible, as I, too strive to be, God willing.

There's much further information on this subject at Chapter Six of my Blake website.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jung and Blake

Records show a strange congruence between the development and psyche of these two men:

Blake saw the face of God in his window at four.
Jung dreamed of a giant turd dropping from heaven on the cathedral at four.
Both men had a critical attitude toward conventional Christianity; note Blake's "Nobodaddy" and Jung's departure from several generations of ministers on both sides of his family, and of course the 'turd dream'.

Both men were primarily visionaries and poets although Jung of course carefully disguised himself from those roles.

In particular you will note a strange coincidence regarding one extremely critical vision: Blake's four zoas and Jung's four functions. The functions appear to relate positively to the zoas:

Tharmas may be related to Sensation.
Luvah to Feeling.
Urizen to Thinking.
Los to Intuition.

How did this come about? We know that Jung had read Blake.
Rightly or wrongly he never gave Blake credit for the functions. To do that might have given away his mask as a scientist.

In studying the two men we note a close resemblance between poetic (and graphic) vision and scientific discovery. Blake was certainly not (much of) a scientist, and Jung was more of a visionary than he cared to acknowledge.

He came closest in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, written in his 80's and published posthumously. By that time he didn't care!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

For Blake Fans

“Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth.”, from the Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Here it is: the first blog (from at least) devoted to the works of William Blake. What ensues here will also appear in Ram Horn'd with Gold.

"Thinking as I do that the Creator
of this world is a cruel being, and
being a worshipper of Christ, I have to
say: "the Son! oh how unlike the Father":
First God Almighty comes with a thump on
the head; then J.C. comes with a balm
to heal it." (Blake's comments on The Last Judgment)

Blake damned Old Nobodaddy until his early 40's. From then on he blessed Jesus the Forgiveness.

He recorded that Moment of Grace in a letter to his friend and benefactor, Thomas Butts. It contained the famous poem where he was called "Thou Ram Horn'd with Gold.

I need your help for this ongoing project. Grace me with your objections, comments, suggestions or whatever, in the form of a comment here.