Monday, March 08, 2010

Blake's Moment of Grace

(This subject was also dealt with in Blake's Life.
The mind form'd manacles that he dealt with in various ways suggest that (in his own mind at least) he was largely free of them.)

With the Gnostics Blake believed that the Creator was an inferior (false) God; he had messed up the world pretty good. (You could find many people nowadays who might agree with that idea.):

Vision of The Last Judgment, E565):
"Thinking as I do that the Creator of this World is a very
Cruel Being & being a Worshipper of Christ I cannot help saying the Son O how unlike the Father
First God Almighty comes with a Thump on the Head
Then Jesus Christ comes with a balm to heal it."

Blake put these words in the mouth of Urizen:
"I am God from Eternity to Eternity"
(FZ1-12.23; E307)
( This is a fundamental archetype of Mankind, at least for Blake's culture and for ours.)

A mind form'd manacle indeed, but the one he struggled with for a long time was what he called the main chance. By that I think he meant the need for recognition of his gifts accompanied by an adequate income:
" I myself remember when I thought my pursuits of Art a kind of Criminal Dissipation & neglect of the main chance which I hid my face for not being able to abandon as a Passion which is forbidden by Law & Religion"

He rocked along for twenty years writing jewels and painting masterpieces--both of them rather uniformly ignored by the public; also by other poets and painters.

In 1800 an affluent poet named Hayley offered a house near the sea for Blake and his wife, a real beneficence! He hoped to make a successful artist of Blake painting miniatures; he discouraged Blake's poetry. Blake had already suffered similar attitudes from many, but none had been more beneficent.

We might consider this Blake's last temptation, and he passed it. Note in this letter to Hayley:
"Suddenly, on the day after visiting the Truchsessian Gallery of pictures, I was again enlightened with the light I enjoyed in my youth, and which has for exactly twenty years been closed from me as by a door and by window-shutters.."

The letter reveals that Blake had "annihilated the Selfhood" to the point where he could forgive Hayley for his insensitive insistence that Blake follow his (inferior!!) artistic direction. For Blake it led to the moment of grace, where, his negativities overcome, he could simply appreciate Hayley's hospitality.

Henceforth the 'inferior God' no longer had terrors for Blake; he was too filled with the new God he had found: Jesus, the Forgiveness. He changed from the stern prophet to the happy bearer of good news; he became the ram horn'd with gold.

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