“(..) I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty both of body & mind to exercise the Divine Arts of Imagination. Imagination the real & external 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. (..)
(..) O ye Religious discountenance every one among you who shall pretend to despise Art & Science! I call upon you in the name of Jesus! What is the Life of Man but Art & Science? is it Meat & Drink? is not the Body more than Raiment? What is Mortality but the things relating to the Body, which Dies? What is Immortality but the things relating to the Spirit, which Lives Eternally? What is the Joy of Heaven but Improvement in the things of the Spirit? (..)
Let every Christian as much as in him lies engage himself openly & publicly before all the world in some Mental pursuit for the Building up of Jerusalem” William Blake, Jerusalem Plate 77 ” To the Christians”, The Complete Poems, Penguin Books 1977, pp. 797-798.
[Re-posted from the Old Site, original dd. December 1st, 2007. I have not rechecked the quote but encourage you to do so.]
Again not the most quotable of quotes, I guess it may even scare the few interested away – but I am not in it for success anyway, so: deal with it (to console you a bit I added below a hopefully more readable piece, down below).
[The interesting part of this piece is how I have come around on things religious, to a certain mildness, and how much of this mildness was present even in the bitterest of attacks where I attempted to have the criminal shoot itself, with his own gun.]
My interest in Christianity is quite limited. I am not, as Blake was, immersed in Christian symbols. I am – as most of you probably are – immersed in more modern neo-liberal symbolisms with their rituals of stress & strife and the sacraments of personal merit. The quote works as well when titled “To the Neo-Liberals”.
It is pointing to something which is not less radical now than it was then.
Blake – bless him – makes no excuses. Imagination, Art & Science make us who we are – and that is the only thing worth anything, at all. In an age where innovation is increasingly an instrument that ‘helps’ us achieve stuff (or, in most cases, merely ‘helps’ us neutralize an adverse effect of previous innovations) this is indeed radical. Much more radical than art for art’s sake because it is not the result that matters but the mere act of creation.
[I don’t understand the following break but left it because however abrupt it is: both what’s before and after the break is dear to my heart.]
But enough dwelled on today. Today will soon be in the past and nothing is more boring – less productive – than history is (when done ‘to get the facts straight’). The only significant aspect of history is that it invariably evolves to the future. The dynamic nature of our evolution culminating – for now – in humanity (& progressing continuously to more splendid creations) is something that is still not receiving the attention it deserves.
More than a century after Darwin people are still mostly mesmerized into pillars of salt in looking back and taking static snapshots for detailed analysis – and fighting over the subtler differences these snapshots cause in various beholders. I should not be ashamed (but I am) to write an unabashed story of how all of us will be delivered into eternal bliss when finally letting go of the static to be fully committed to the dynamic.
A thinker like Bergson was relegated to a 2nd tier list of philosophers for attempting to start with hard science to end up in something that was more than classical science. The Einsteinian curse, which condemns creativity to come up with the final clean fit of science to nature or vice versa, is proving to be a strong curse. We do not only want our houses to be clean, we expect our thought to be clean.
Nevertheless, analytical as I may be, logic and mathematics are just one result of human evolution & we need to be able to break the spell they have on us. Not by breaking logic and mathematics – that will not do – but by realizing that which makes us well and truly ourselves is what we can do beyond logic and mathematics. I was and am sceptical of anybody sceptical of logic and mathematics. There is a simple reason for this: in most cases those sceptical of mathematics are a bunch of raving new-age idiots that convinced themselves that life in the Stone Ages was somehow preferable. In all other cases they are dementing scientists in which the feeling of mystery surrounding mathematics outweighs reason.
I am not sceptical at all of mathematics (or as Blake would have it: Science), as it happens to be the tool to perform any Mental craftsmanship. I just believe that there’s something like Imagination that comes not only before reason but that also should come after reason. Imagination is the dynamic element; trying to analyze it in a mathematical way is what’s bringing me most mental joy.
That is where our target or purpose lies if target or purpose or adequate words to express it. I am not quite there. It is a real possibility that I won’t ever get there. I wouldn’t be spending time on this if I had it clear enough to tackle it head on.
[The idea of tones is below! In a rather pure form. Ah, once I will have time to work that out. I’m already happy about it now.]
In commonplace – the point is not getting there but going there. That´s why I read Blake, this ‘ mad hatter’ reminds me to be arrogant in trying to create. Because after all what’s needed is to publicly & openly engage in some Mental pursuit for Building of Jerusalem. Human life requires leaving a mark. Once I hope to be able to explain how we live on forever not via our thoughts our actions but literally as our thoughts – in the form of our thoughts.
Not in the form of written down thoughts or in an otherwise metaphorical sense but literally live on as our thoughts.
Your mad hatter.
[I keep the poem even if it seems utterly disconnected from what is above.]
Thy Summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush’d away.
Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?
For I dance
And drink & sing;
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.
Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.
[Whilst reposting this I was listening to Boenox, ‘Studio’ and ‘Styl-O-Phone’ (listen to the hobo and the percussion!), on V2 Music Limited.]