Wednesday, November 10, 2010
In 1946 W. P. Witcutt published a little book named Blake a psychological study. In his introduction he states: "It is only in recent years that the problems of mythology and symbolism have been attacked scientifically, by the psychologists of the school of Jung, and the instrument of the Jungian psychology can provide a key to understanding Blake." He proceeds to present the psychology of Blake himself and of Blake's writing in Jungian thought forms.
He describes Blake as an intuitive introvert. Witcutt quotes from Jung : "Introverted intuition perceives all the background of consciousness with almost the same distinctness as extroverted sensation senses outer objects. For intuition, therefore, the unconscious images attain to the dignity of things or objects."
"Introverted intuition apprehends the images which arise from the a priori, i.e., the inherited foundations of the unconscious mind." (Jung, Psychological Types) Page 24
Continuing with quotes from Witcutt:
"The intuitive introvert perceives, waking, what others only dream.' ...To the Intuitive poet Nature is a screen drawn across the face of reality; of value in that it provides symbols for his exuberant imagination to use."
"Blake's Four Zoas are not, then, peculiar to himself. They form a theme running through all literature though only Blake presents them as it were in the crude mythological form.
One function of the four is always dominant, with whom the ego or conscious self identifies itself; the other three are repressed into the unconscious, some more and some less. With Blake the dominant function was obviously intuition; in Blakean mythology this function is symbolized by the daemon Los."
"Jung opposes thought to feeling and intuition to sensation. A man of dominant thought represses feeling to the lowest place in his unconscious mind, and the intuitive does the same for sensation. Thought and feeling, and intuition and sensation therefore stand at opposite poles from one another."
"The thinking function in Blake's Mythology is personified in the figure Urizen, 'the Eternal Mind,' 'the Prince of Light,' the possessor of 'the steeds of Urizen, once swifter than light, which symbolize thoughts, and of 'the mountains of Urizen, once of silver, where the sons of Wisdom dwelt.' ...He is Zeus, the God of the soul, the lawgiver."
"The reasoning faculty was not Blake's strong point. He tells us himself that he repressed it. We cannot have it all ways, and the intuitive is not a reasoner. His value lies in the poetry - an everlasting of the English race - and in the light it sheds upon the inner structure of the soul. He is not a philosopher, but a guide to the inner world of symbols."
"Thought was not Blake's dominant function, but in all probability it was his secondary or auxiliary function. The auxiliary function, Jung tells us, partakes of the outward conscious attitude of the dominant function; that is to say, in Blake's case it was introverted. It is the nature of introverted thought to be original; not to derive from the thought of other men - or from facts - but from the array of unconscious images."
................................................................................Europe, Plate 2
"What to thought appears as an abstract concept appears to intuition as a symbol; thus Blake personifies thought itself as the kingly figure of Urizen. Thought processes are not the real object of poetry... High poetry is of two kinds, imaginative (or intuitive), and the poetry derived from the things of the senses, derived from the function of sensation; that is, derived from the two 'irrational' functions of intuition and sensation, irrational 'because their commissions and omissions are based not upon reasoned judgment but upon the absolute intensity of perception.'" ( quote from Jung, Psychological Types)
I have selected quotes from throughout Witcutt to show how he treats Blake as a person and how he treats the myth Blake created - both as stemming from the psychological profile of Blake's mind. Running through the passages are the concepts of intuition and reason which seemed to dominate Blake's self-perception and the subject matter of his writing.
Witcutt has taken the system of Blake and the system of Jung and examined them in such a way that each enlightens our understanding of the other. You may not agree with the system which Witcutt creates, but you may find that considering it stimulates your thought about your own system.
Annotations to Wordsworth's Poems (E 665)
"One Power alone makes a Poet: Imagination, the Divine Vision."
Jerusalem, Plate 77, (E 231)
"Imagination the real & eternal World of which this Vegetable
Universe is but a faint shadow & in which we shall live in our
Eternal or Imaginative Bodies, when these Vegetable Mortal Bodies
are no more."