Tuesday, June 20, 2017


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts

Larry posted this to another of his blogs in 2007. Ellie added the picture and quotes.

At the age of six William Blake was sent to school. The first day he observed the
schoolmaster birching one of the students. Without a word he rose gathered his belongings and left. That is the history of his formal education.

Education as we understand it performs two functions:

1. to teach the elements of reading, writing and arithmetic.

2. to 'socialize' the pupil: train him to know and conform to the conventions of his society.

For most people the second function is by far the most significant.

William Blake taught himself the elements, but seems to have remained largely independent (and in fact innocent) of the second function.

Rather than live in the "mind forg'd manacles" as most people do, he examined every value and judged it on its own merits, which meant that he ignored many of society's dictates.

The ultimate rebel, his guidance came from what he (and his wife) called Heaven, or the Visions coming forth from the recesses of his own mind.

He deplored the tabula-rasa teaching of Locke that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. In contrast Blake believed that the child was born with adequate direction from whence he came until he made the fatal choice of 'running with the pack', with more in fact from within than he could ever hope to gain by sensory experience.

Much of Blake's wisdom is esoteric in the extreme; even completely opaque to the conventional mind. In contrast revolutionaries of every type heard it gladly.
"I must create a system or by enslaved by another man's."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 46, (E 26)
"I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet             
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man, 
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear 
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse" 
All Religions Are One, (E 1)
 PRINCIPLE 4. As none by traveling over known lands can find out
the unknown.  So from already acquired knowledge Man could not
acquire more. therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists

There is No Natural Religion, (E 3)
  "VII The desire of Man being Infinite the possession is Infinite
& himself Infinite
     Conclusion,   If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic
character. the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the
ratio of all things & stand still, unable to do other than repeat
the same dull round over again
     Application.   He who sees the Infinite in all things sees
God.  He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only.

Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is"

Milton, Plate 15 [17], (E 109)
"Thus is the heaven a vortex passd already, and the earth
A vortex not yet pass'd by the traveller thro' Eternity." 

Jerusalem, Plate 10, (E 152)
"Therefore Los stands in London building Golgonooza
Compelling his Spectre to labours mighty; trembling in fear
The Spectre weeps, but Los unmovd by tears or threats remains

I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Mans           
I will not Reason & Compare: my business is to Create

So Los, in fury & strength: in indignation & burning wrath
Shuddring the Spectre howls. his howlings terrify the night
He stamps around the Anvil, beating blows of stern despair
He curses Heaven & Earth, Day & Night & Sun & Moon               
He curses Forest Spring & River, Desart & sandy Waste
Cities & Nations, Families & Peoples, Tongues & Laws
Driven to desperation by Los's terrors & threatning fears

Los cries, Obey my voice & never deviate from my will
And I will be merciful to thee:"

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