Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blake's Values

Although Blake's poetry is most often opaque and mystifying, to share the following values gives one a leg up on understanding.

Non material: no, anti materialistic: 'when you die, you die.' Blake would have laughed at that materialistic viewpoint: there are several kinds of death, and life, we die to live ((except a gain of seed fall into the ground (and die as a seed) it yields nothing.))

Anti-clerical: The Established Church in Blake's day was shot through with corruption. To go to the Established Church was to stamp your approval on social preference.
But Blake saw much to disapprove in the Dissenters churches. He saw that any church is an institution, with all the flaws of any institution: favoritism, privilege, 'politics', everything but brotherhood.

Anti-war: No peacenik of our generation has anything over Blake. He associated war with the State, the ultimate constriction of human freedom.

Political: a rabid democrat. He gloried in the American Revolution and felt the same toward the French Revolution until the guillotine came to the fore.

The bounding line:
"The great and golden rule of art, as well as of life, is this: That the more distinct, sharp, [P 64] and wirey the bounding line, the more perfect the work of art; and the less keen and sharp, the greater is the evidence of weak imitation, plagiarism, and bungling. Great inventors, in all ages, knew this: Protogenes and Apelles knew each other by this line. Rafael and Michael Angelo, and Albert Durer, are known by this and this alone. The want of this determinate and bounding form evidences the want of idea in the artist's mind, and the pretence of the plagiary in all its branches." (Descriptive Catalogue, E 550)

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