Friday, October 01, 2010

The Inner Life

Blake's life, like all our lives, is made up of an outer
life of various sorts of pursuits and an inner life of
non-material pursuits, such as prayer and other forms of
worship. Most of us are more disposed toward the outer
life. In contrast Blake's inner life took up most of his
time; he considered the outer life of relatively little consequence.

I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet" (Vision of the Last Judgment;
Erdman 565)

All of Blake's magnificent creations came of
course from his inner life.To understand Blake and read him 

intelligently we must have some command of our own inner life. 
For him it came naturally, but we have to make some effort for it. 
Our inner life begins with learning self control (which was said to be the last of the fruits of the Spirit). A friend of mine, Elizabeth O'Connor wrote a book entitled Search for Silence which helped me move into the inner life better than anything else I know.

The inner life can only be expressed metaphorically. Everyone, even Blake, was forced to use metaphors: the language of the inner life is completely metaphorical, poetic, mythopoeic.  So who do you suppose is most likely to have a robust inner life?

Religious folk? Well Blake wasn't so warm about them.  In MHH he referred to them as the Elect, using heaven irony. As for religious professionals he poured the heaviest scorn:

"The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity;
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounc'd that the Gods had order'd such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.
MHH, Plate 11)
No, he said artists!
"Let every Christian as much as in him lies engage himself
openly & publicly before all the World in some Mental pursuit for
the Building up of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Erdman 232) and

"A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man
Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian
....The unproductive Man is not a Christian much less the Destroyer
(The Laocoon; Erdman 274)

Everyhone has an inner life, but it may be 'ulroni' or heavenly, lust or worship, Martha or Mary, materialistic or heavenly depending according to your disposition (See also Damon pp 416-17).  Call it God's will or your will. Blake was guilty of both forms, but he  leaned strongly toward the heavenly.  To be blakean involves doing the same.

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