Thursday, March 15, 2012


Information in the natural or physical world is accessed through the five senses. Even in the physical world the senses give us a rather limited range of data which we have learned to supplement with an array of electronic devices. Sense data to Blake was something of an impediment and a distraction. His attention was focused on visionary data which came to him through his imagination. Eternal Realities made themselves known to him through the ability to 'See Visions, Dream Dreams, & prophecy & speak Parables'. Blake was willing to set aside the things of this world in order to enter the world of Spirit and Vision.
British Museum
Drawing by William Blake
Etching by Luigi Schiavonetti
Illustration to Blair's "The Grave"

Descriptive Catalogue, (E 541)
"The connoisseurs and artists who have made objections to
Mr. B.'s mode of representing spirits with real bodies, would do
well to consider that the Venus, the Minerva, the Jupiter, the
Apollo, which they admire in Greek statues, are all of them
representations of spiritual existences of God's immortal, to
the mortal perishing organ of sight; and yet they are embodied
and organized in solid marble. Mr B. requires the same latitude
and all is well. The Prophets describe what they saw in Vision
as real and existing men whom they saw with their imaginative and
immortal organs; the Apostles the same; the clearer the organ the
more distinct the object. A Spirit and a Vision are not, as the
modern philosophy supposes, a cloudy vapour or a
nothing: they are organized and minutely articulated beyond all
that the mortal and perishing nature can produce. He who does
not imagine in stronger and better lineaments, and in stronger
and better light than his perishing mortal eye can see does not
imagine at all. The painter of this work asserts that all his
imaginations appear to him infinitely more perfect and more
minutely organized than any thing seen by his
mortal eye. Spirits are organized men: Moderns wish to
draw figures without lines, and with great and heavy shadows;
are not shadows more unmeaning than lines, and more heavy? O
who can doubt this!

Vision of Last Judgment , Year 1810, (E 555)
"The Nature of Visionary Fancy or Imagination is very little
Known & the Eternal nature & permanence of its ever Existent
Images is considerd as less permanent than the things of
Vegetative & Generative Nature yet the Oak dies as well as the
Lettuce but Its Eternal Image & Individuality never dies. but
renews by its seed. just the Imaginative Image returns
the seed of Contemplative Thought the Writings of the Prophets
illustrate these conceptions of the Visionary Fancy by their
various sublime & Divine Images as seen in the Worlds of Vision

Letters, to Thomas Butts, July 1803, (E 728)
"Now I may say to you what perhaps I should not dare to say
to any one else. That I can alone carry on my visionary studies
in London unannoyd & that I may converse with my friends in
Eternity. See Visions, Dream Dreams, & prophecy & speak Parables
unobserv'd & at liberty from the Doubts of other Mortals. perhaps
Doubts proceeding from Kindness. but Doubts are always pernicious
Especially when we Doubt our Friends Christ is very decided on
this Point. "He who is Not With Me is Against Me" There is no
Medium or Middle state & if a Man is the Enemy of my Spiritual
Life while he pretends to be the Friend of my Corporeal. he is a
Real Enemy--but the Man may be the friend of my Spiritual Life
while he seems the Enemy of my Corporeal but Not Vice Versa"

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