Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gates of Paradise Picture 11

The title here is Aged Ignorance and what Digby called the couplet(?) was " In Aged Ignorance profound,
Holy and cold, I clipp'd the wings
Of all sublunary things,":
Aged Ignorance! What a piquant and meaningful name for so many things; it immediately calls to mind a white haired old codger sitting on a bench outside the country store spitting tobacco juice and pooh-pooh-ing anything new that anyone has been foolish enough to mention. (Not that country stores have a corner on aged ignorance; actually it's endemic; let everyone survey his own mind critically.)

Digby says on page 43): "This refers to the tendency to try to explain everything in life by the known." How about the man in the middle of the 19th century who lamented because he felt that everything possible had already been invented.

Wieman referred to it as the created good, at the expense of the creative event. There are many ways to express this fundamental truth of the human psyche; one of them is conservative vs liberal (generic, not necessarily political).

With those three lines and small image Blake can make us aware of this fundamental truth of the human psyche. We live in Plato's Cave, with "chains of the mind locked up", unable to move away from our prejudices, and only when we become aware of our deplorable condition do we have a chance to turn and look for the light. As AA can tell you, you have to hit bottom first.

In an earlier post (called Clipped) the matter was discussed in terms of the generation gap; some kids leave home at the earliest opportunity, and there may be good reasons for that decision.

3 comments:

ellie said...

"Perceptive Organs closed their Objects close"
The figure of Aged Ignorance resembles Blake's Urizen and the winged boy facing the sun could represent imagination. The boy is open to vision but the aged man is blind or shortsighted. The closing of the organs of perception have made it impossible for the aged man to receive vision of the invisible world or to be aware of it at all. His reaction is to deny its existence and to attempt to prevent the boy from pursuing the vision that is open to him.
Age and youth are pictured to symbolize the contrary positions but it is not the aging process that causes the "Perceptive Organs" to close. In fact the 'doors of perception' should open as the individual gains experience and practices seeing the infinite in all things.

Ellie

Susan J. said...

"one of them is conservative vs liberal"

hmmmm.... so conservative is bad, blind, ignorant, wallering in "created good", clipping the wings of youth and progress; and liberal is good, perceptive, intelligent, reveling in life's "creative events"... ?

But how might one compare the best of conservative/conservation/wisdom-of-age with the best of liberal/progressive/energy-of-youth -- and the worst of each with the worst of the other...?

Surely humanity should try to conserve and cherish the good that is, the legacy our forbears have bequeathed to us -- even as we delight in the creative present moment and what is happening good right now... I guess I've spent too much time among folks all too ready to toss out the Bible, the Constitution, tradition, history, thinking they can do better by starting fresh... it's the job of youth to think such thoughts, but how foolish it would be for the metaphoric elders to stand idly by and let a sound foundation be destroyed.

A foolish young person flying into danger or corruption or destruction needs the wisdom and guidance of those who have been there / done that... just as a healthy and well-grounded young person needs the encouragement and support of wiser elders; literally and metaphorically.

Blake himself is a such a wiser elder.... and y'all his stewards... :-)

Larry said...

I knew I would be called on that illiberal statement about conservatism. Everything you say is right and well grounded. I can say however that Aged Ignorance is conservative by its nature. And those still in Plato's cave, with mind forg'd manacles are conservatives.

I completely agree that there are good conservatives and bad liberals. Those two tags have been ill used so much that we might best abandon them.

In 1966 we moved to Winston Salem to work for the Probation Department. I bought a house and paid cash for it. Our boss made the comment that I was pretty conservative.

Yes, very conservative financially (like most of us who survived the ardors of the depression), but a flaming liberal socially.

I should withdraw the offending sentence from this post because it has to be like a red flag to people with conservative instincts.

And thanks again for all your comments.