Monday, February 04, 2019


British Museum
Illustrations to Young's Night thoughts
William Blake and Crabb Robinson attempted to communicate with one another but there was a language barrier between them. Blake's mind was occupied by a perception of the infinite and he could only speak the language of allusion, metaphor and reference to the non-material. Joseph Campbell had a similar problem with an interviewer who insisted that myth was a lie. Campbell demonstrated to him the difference between a simile and a metaphor to show that metaphoric thought can't be contained in prosaic speech.

Irene Langridge in her book William Blake: A Study of His Life and Art Work, published in 1904, used a conversation between Blake and Robinson to shed light the use of natural speech and spiritual speech. Natural speech approaches a subject from the exterior: to speak at a spiritual level one must enter into the subject and speak from the relationship which one establishes. 

Here are quotes from page 64 of William Blake: A Study of His Life and Art Work:
"In Blake’s conversations with Crabb Robinson, this mystic view of Christ is very apparent. “On my asking,” writes Mr. Robinson, “in what light he viewed the great questions of the duty of Jesus,” he said, “He is the only God. But then,” he added, “and so am I, and so are you.”
Keeping this point in view,—Blake’s belief in the identity of the Spirit of God behind all phenomena, the homogeneous character of the great creative Energy or Imagination expressing Itself through various forms and organisms,—another extract from Crabb Robinson’s diary will help us still nearer home to Blake’s point of view. He writes: “In the same tone, he said repeatedly, ‘The Spirit told me.’ I took occasion to say, ‘You express yourself as Socrates used to do. What resemblance do you suppose there is between your spirit and his?’ ‘The same as between our countenances.’ He paused and added, ‘I was Socrates,’ and then, as if correcting himself, ‘a sort of brother. I must have had conversations with him. So I had with Jesus Christ. I have an obscure recollection of having been with both of them.’ I suggested on philosophic grounds the impossibility of supposing an immortal being created an a parte post without an a parte ante. His eye brightened at this, and he fully concurred with me. ‘To be sure, it is impossible. We are all co-existent with God, members of the Divine Body. We are all partakers of the Divine Nature.’”
The latter words seem as ordinary and orthodox as on first reading his assertion that he was Socrates seems wild and mad. But all Blake really meant (and I think Crabb Robinson only half took his meaning) was, that the vegetative universe being a mere shadow, so are the accidents of personality, the age one is born into, the organic form which incloses the spirit. So his personality and that of Socrates, their imprisonment in the “vegetative” life were differences of no account, being transitory. But he and Socrates were one (or at least related) at the point where their spirits (the eternal verity) touched, and melted each into the other.
He understood the Bible in its spiritual sense. As to the natural sense, “Voltaire was commissioned by God to expose that. I have had much intercourse with Voltaire, and he said to me, ‘I blasphemed the Son of Man, and it shall be forgiven me, but they (the enemies of Voltaire) blasphemed the Holy Ghost in me, and it shall not be forgiven them.’” This affords an instance of the manner in which Blake intuitively probed beneath the appearance, and divined the spirit beneath, discarding the fact or body with which it clothed itself. " 

Laocoon, (E 275) 
"If Morality was Christianity Socrates was the Saviour"
Description of Last Judgment, (E 554)
"The Hebrew Bible & the Gospel of
Jesus are not Allegory but Eternal Vision or Imagination of All
that Exists <Note here that Fable or Allegory is Seldom without
some Vision Pilgrims Progress is full of it   the Greek Poets the
same but Allegory & Vision ought 
to be known as Two Distinct Things & so calld for the Sake of
Eternal Life   Plato has made Socrates say that Poets & Prophets do
not Know or Understand what they write or Utter   this is a most
Pernicious Falshood.    If they do not pray [it] is an inferior Kind to
be calld Knowing    Plato confutes himself"

Letters, To Butts, (E 730)
"Thus I hope that all our three years trouble Ends in
Good Luck at last & shall be forgot by my affections & only
rememberd by my Understanding to be a Memento in time to come &
to speak to future generations by a Sublime Allegory which is now
perfectly completed into a Grand Poem[.] I may praise it since I
dare not pretend to be any other than the Secretary the Authors
are in Eternity I consider it as the Grandest Poem that This
World Contains.  Allegory addressd to the Intellectual powers
while it is altogether hidden from the Corporeal Understanding is
My Definition of the Most Sublime Poetry. it is also somewhat in
the same manner defind by Plato.  This Poem shall by Divine
Assistance be progressively Printed & Ornamented with Prints &
given to the Public--But of this work I take care to say little
to Mr H. since he is as much averse to my poetry as he is to a
Chapter in the Bible"

ON HOMERS POETRY, (E 269)            
"Every Poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why Homers is
peculiarly so, I cannot tell: he has told the story of
Bellerophon & omitted the judgment of Paris which is not only a
part, but a principal part of Homers subject
  But when a Work has Unity it is as much in a Part as in the
Whole. the Torso is as much a Unity as the Laocoon
  As Unity is the cloke of folly so Goodness is the cloke of
knavery  Those who will have Unity exclusively in Homer come out
with a Moral like a sting in the tail: Aristotle says Characters
are either Good or Bad: now Goodness or Badness has nothing to do
with Character. an Apple tree a Pear tree a Horse a Lion, are
Characters but a Good Apple tree or a Bad, is an Apple tree
still: a Horse is not more a Lion for being a Bad Horse. that is
its Character; its Goodness or Badness is another consideration.
  It is the same with the Moral of a whole Poem as with the Moral Goodness
of its parts Unity & Morality, are secondary considerations &
belong to Philosophy & not to Poetry, to Exception & not to Rule,
to Accident & not to Substance. the Ancients calld it eating of
the tree of good & evil.
  The Classics, it is the Classics! & not Goths nor Monks, that
Desolate Europe with Wars."

John 19
[6] When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
[7] The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
[8] When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;
[9] And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
[10] Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
[11] Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
[12] And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.


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