Friday, January 29, 2010


June Singer, in her book Seeing Through the Visible World, explores Blake's 'perilous path' in conjunction with Jung's individuation (although she doesn't doesn't mention that term). She associates the dangers of exploring deeper levels of consciousness with encountering the lonely and uncertain struggles of the 'just man'. The reversals of definitions and values which occur as we explore the hidden aspects of the psyche are reflected by the 'just man's' journey on the perilous path.
MHH, Plate 2, (E 33)

She further uses plate 17 of MHH to illuminate the threats in the
"struggles between the side of ego-consciousness and the lesser known shadow side, or in the conflict between inner opposites of the masculine and the feminine, or in the battle between oneself and the tribal gods with their repeated demands for fealty, devotion, and sacrifice."

Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 17, (E 40)
"An Angel came to me and said. O pitiable foolish young man! O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art going in such career.
I said. perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your lot or mine is most desirable
So he took me thro' a stable & thro' a church & down into the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro' the mill we went, and came to a cave. down the winding cavern we groped our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appeard beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this immensity; but I said, if you please we will commit ourselves to this void and see whether providence is here also, if you will not I will? but he answerd. do not presume O young-man but as we here remain behold thy lot which will soon appear when the darkness passes away
So I remaind with him sitting in the twisted root of an oak. he was suspended in a fungus which hung with the head downward into the deep:"

Blake gives an apt warning of the difficulty and danger of undertaking the alteration of the psyche which is initiated by choosing to explore the invisible world.

Which will we choose: the 'perilous path' or the 'paths of ease.'

In the Illuminated Blake, Erdman uses these words to describe this image; "A living form from the abyss".

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