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My business is to create

Thursday, 10 Feb 2022

William Blake on Dr John Dunn. My business is to create

A picture from William Blake’s Jerusalem shows Los proudly surveying the results of his strenuous labour at the red hot forge. There is a spectre in the picture, an alter ego to Los, actually shown splitting off Los’s back. Los personifies the creative impulse, whilst the spectre personifies the nagging doubt about the worth of a creative vocation. If the creative act defines what it means to be human, then the spectre stands for a lower order of sub-human existence.

Los cannot escape the spectre, which

…fell shuddering before him,
Watching his time with glowing
eyes to leap upon his prey.

Los’s response is defiant:

I must create a system, or be
enslaved by another man’s;
I will not reason and compare:
my business is to create.

Los’s reality is born of active creative endeavour. He will not be dropped into the ready-made system of a distant Jehovah. To ‘reason and compare’ is the business of the followers of Urizen, not his.

© John Dunn.

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