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"Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets"

ByrnzieByrnzie Posts: 21,037
edited June 2008 in A Moving Train
http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/arts_culture/literature/william_blake_visionary

'William Blake was a visionary (but not a dreamer), aware of the realities and complexities of experience, particularly the poverty and oppression of the urban world where he spent most of his life. He had an amazing insight into contemporary economics, politics and culture, and was able to discern the effects of the authoritarianism of church and state as well as what he considered the arid philosophy of a rationalist view of the world which left little scope for the imagination. His critique was carried out by means of the language of the Bible, his own specially created mythology and the extraordinary juxtaposition of text and image in his illuminated books, by means of which he intended (as he put it) to "rouze the Faculties to act".

He abhorred the way in which Christians looked up to a God enthroned in heaven, a view which offered a model for a hierarchical human politics, which subordinated the majority to a (supposedly) superior elite. He also criticised the dominant philosophy of his day which believed that a narrow view of sense experience could help us to understand everything that there was to be known, including God. Blake's own visionary experiences showed him that rationalism ignored important dimensions of human life which would enable people to hope, to look for change, and to rely on more than that which their senses told them.

"Would to God that all the Lord's people were prophets", he wrote, thereby including everyone in the task of speaking out about what they saw. Prophecy for Blake, however, was not a prediction of the end of the world, but telling the truth as best a person can about what he or she sees, fortified by insight and an "honest persuasion" that with personal struggle, things could be improved. A human being observes, is indignant and speaks out: it's a basic political maxim which is necessary for any age. Blake wanted to stir people from their intellectual slumbers, and the daily grind of their toil, to see that they were captivated in the grip of a culture which kept them thinking in ways which served the interests of the powerful...

In 'London' he imagines himself like the biblical prophet Ezekiel, walking round the streets of Jerusalem and seeing people disfigured with "marks of weakness and marks of woe", as a result of poverty, injustice, hypocritical social convention and the stranglehold of emerging capitalism. He observed what he called the "mind forg'd manacles" of cultural conformity which stopped people reaching their potential...

Blake's vision was holistic. He criticised the way in which people (especially those of a religious bent) separated sacred and profane, instead of seeing each person as the place where these massive emotional and political forces were in tension. He insisted in his most outspoken work, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, that "everything that lives is holy". So, he challenged that view that there was anything special about the Bible, or a religious building, as compared with other literature, or other places, which could equally manifest the divine. His lifework was dedicated to exposing the extent to which infatuation with habits of thought, which sunder and demonise, prevent human flourishing.

Blake was indignant about those elements in the Bible which inspired, and had been used to condone, injustice. He didn't attempt to make the Bible internally consistent, or benevolent. He challenged its depiction of God as a remote monarch and lawgiver, and the use made of such imagery to justify authoritarianism. He saw the Bible being used as a means of keeping people in their places. So, subservience to what had been believed and done in the past ended up giving power to those who were responsible for knowing and transmitting these ideas, thereby eclipsing creativity and imagination.

Blake's vision was very different from those who appealed to the past, or to a sacred text. He was concerned with what human beings, created in the divine image, may be saying now, or struggling to articulate, as they moved forward in their lives. The Bible was not to be a kind of holy rule-book, therefore, according to which priests and rulers could police people, but a collection of "sentiments and examples" which engaged the imagination.

There was to be no contracting out of responsibility for biblical interpretation to priests and scholars. All people, inside and outside the churches, according to Blake, have the responsibility to attend to the energetic activity of the divine spirit in creation, in history, and in human experience. He wouldn't have wanted his words to become a sacred text, any more than the words of the Bible, but an ongoing stimulus to politics and religion in the struggle to realise that (as he puts it in Jerusalem) "every kindness to another is a little Death In the Divine Image nor can Man exist but by Brotherhood".
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    Very nice Byrnzie! :)
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thru' narrow chinks of his cavern."

    ~William Blake
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    CollinCollin Posts: 4,931
    Thanks for posting this, Byrnzie.
    THANK YOU, LOSTDAWG!


    naděje umírá poslední
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    What I love about this thread, and the article, is that it brings me full circle on some things. It reflects some of my own personal beliefs that are becoming holistic. In the past week or two, I've been consolidating some of my understandings into a whole picture that I'd not seen before. As these complete visions emerge for me, I'm humbled and excited at the potential and possibility that unfolds before me.

    As a Taurus, while I'm ruled by Venus and high ideals, I'm very down to earth and methodical. I tend to read practical and "true" works in order to balance the high visions I have. I don't read poetry, philosophy or other typically "refined" works. Nor am I an art connoisseur!! Even though I love to feel poetry, philosophy and art flow in and around me! Still, although I have a natural philosophical/artistic view, the philosophy I've read has been the wikipedia version! Or as filtered through the many "practical" self-help-type authors I've read for years!

    So..back to William Blake..years ago, I discovered the works of John Bradshaw, American self-help dude who brought the concept of the "inner child" and the lack inherent to the sweeping co-dependency of the masses to the front door of the mainstream. His training was religious (he'd studied to be a priest), and in philosophy, and psychology. His work was so brilliant, reality based and "whole-istic", and so consolidated the vast readings, seeking and healing I'd done for years into one package, that I was mesmerized. It was through John Bradshaw, that I came to know of the brilliant minds, such as Blake, who recognized the imbalance of the authoritarian "rational" and "objective" (male) energy, and understood the need to balance that out with the subjective emotional and spiritual energies. It was from John Bradshaw that I was able to move into final stages of healing, and to understand that in myself and most others, the basic human imbalance was that as put forth by the brilliant minds, such as Blake, who came way before us! It was amazing for me to behold, as I felt a synergy between my own inner subjective (symbolically feminine) senses, understandings, visions, and nature, and between these external teachings. And I learned the value of writing that speaks to one's very soul.


    I am honoured to recognize and experience this glorious timeless interconnectedness of life.


    I love this:
    All people, inside and outside the churches...have the responsibility to attend to the energetic activity of the divine spirit in creation, in history, and in human experience.
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    ByrnzieByrnzie Posts: 21,037
    If you like this then you'll like 'The Gospel Of Thomas' - one of the banned books of the bible. Blake was heavily influenced by this. Gnosticism is what it is. Seems to make a lot of sense to me.
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    Byrnzie wrote:
    If you like this then you'll like 'The Gospel Of Thomas' - one of the banned books of the bible. Blake was heavily influenced by this. Gnosticism is what it is. Seems to make a lot of sense to me.
    I remember one of the first times you and I talked out here...we were both taking a similar "side" to some issue, and you were talking of "The Gospel of Thomas" and Gnosticism, if memory serves me. I speak to gnosis and "knowing" all the time, as the direct, experiential knowledge of the forces that are beyond the typical human experience.

    The Gospel of Thomas sounds like something I'd be interested in, although I'm largely unable to focus on a long read these days!

    Thanks, Byrnzie. :)
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    "Gnosis ... refers to knowledge of the second kind. Therefore, in a religious context, to be 'Gnostic' should be understood as being reliant not on knowledge in a general sense, but as being specially receptive to mystical or esoteric experiences of direct participation with the divine. Indeed, in most Gnostic systems the sufficient cause of salvation is this 'knowledge of' ('acquaintance with') the divine. This is commonly identified with a process of inward 'knowing' or self-exploration...

    According to depth psychologist Carl Jung he believed Gnosis was equivalent to his Theory of Individuation. Gnosis is believed to be the key to higher and altered states of consciousness." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism


    This is something I totally agree with.
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    catefrancescatefrances Posts: 29,003
    william blake was manic depressive. i find that the most interesting thing of all.... that his revelations could be due to what some people would call delusion.
    hear my name
    take a good look
    this could be the day
    hold my hand
    lie beside me
    i just need to say
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    william blake was manic depressive. i find that the most interesting thing of all.... that his revelations could be due to what some people would call delusion.
    Being diagnosed with manic depression, that doesn't surprise me at all....

    "Blake's own visionary experiences showed him that rationalism ignored important dimensions of human life which would enable people to hope, to look for change, and to rely on more than that which their senses told them."


    It's actually the rationalism that Blake apparently felt was a narrow view, that came up with the linear, limited view of illness, from which labels such as manic-depression sprung.

    According to the book "The Holographic Universe", those with so-called "delusions" are seeing into the fabric of nature.
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    catefrancescatefrances Posts: 29,003
    angelica wrote:
    Being diagnosed with manic depression, that doesn't surprise me at all....

    "Blake's own visionary experiences showed him that rationalism ignored important dimensions of human life which would enable people to hope, to look for change, and to rely on more than that which their senses told them."


    It's actually the rationalism that Blake apparently felt was a narrow view, that came up with the linear, limited view of illness, from which labels such as manic-depression sprung.

    According to the book "The Holographic Universe", those with so-called "delusions" are seeing into the fabric of nature.

    well thank fuck for that. i was starting to think my so called dysfunctionality had no purpose. ;):)
    hear my name
    take a good look
    this could be the day
    hold my hand
    lie beside me
    i just need to say
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    well thank fuck for that. i was starting to think my so called dysfunctionality had no purpose. ;):)
    ;):) *smiles and nods*
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    ByrnzieByrnzie Posts: 21,037
    angelica wrote:
    The Gospel of Thomas sounds like something I'd be interested in, although I'm largely unable to focus on a long read these days!

    http://users.misericordia.edu//davies/thomas/Trans.htm
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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    ByrnzieByrnzie Posts: 21,037
    angelica wrote:
    Cool. Thank-you!

    4 Jesus said, "The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live.

    For many of the first will be last, and will become a single one."


    Didn't Bob Dylan say something similar?

    The line it is drawn
    The curse it is cast
    The slow one now
    Will later be fast
    As the present now
    Will later be past
    The order is
    Rapidly fadin'.
    And the first one now
    Will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin'.
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    ByrnzieByrnzie Posts: 21,037
    From 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell':

    1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age
    2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
    3 Energy is Eternal Delight


    Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted brethren, whom, tyrant, he calls free: lay the bound or build the roof. Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that wishes but acts not!
    For every thing that lives is Holy.
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    angelica wrote:
    "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thru' narrow chinks of his cavern."

    ~William Blake

    One of my most favoritest quotes ever! :);) Nice thread, Byrnzie!
    If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

    Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
    -Oscar Wilde
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    barakabaraka Posts: 1,268
    Cool thread, Brynzie. I was really into Blake as a teenager. Have you ever read any Emanuel Swedenborg? If you dig Blake, you might find him interesting as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg
    The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance,
    but the illusion of knowledge.
    ~Daniel Boorstin

    Only a life lived for others is worth living.
    ~Albert Einstein
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    angelicaangelica Posts: 6,038
    baraka wrote:
    Cool thread, Brynzie. I was really into Blake as a teenager. Have you ever read any Emanuel Swedenborg? If you dig Blake, you might find him interesting as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg
    I know of Swedenborg through the writings of Helen Keller. They both talked of seeing spiritual realms in and among the "usual" reality, which fascinated me at the time. I'm happy to be able to see this at some points currently. And at others, to sense/feel this.

    "Some assert that Swedenborg lost his mind, suffering some sort of mental illness or nervous breakdown."
    "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." ~ Niels Bohr

    http://www.myspace.com/illuminatta

    Rhinocerous Surprise '08!!!
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