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Raine on Blake

Friday, 11 Feb 2022

Raine on Blake on Dr John Dunn. Raine on Blake

Verbatim from Kathleen Raine

Blake called for an interiorisation the Worlds of Eternity, which are the inner spiritual worlds, which in a materialist culture have been virtually denied and excluded.

The reality of these worlds was, to Blake, beyond question. He calls upon us to reverse the premises of materialist thought, and reaffirm man as a spiritual being and the cosmos in which we live as a great spiritual universe.

Blake challenged reason insofar as, at the end of the eighteenth century, in the materialist world into which we were entering, reason had in fact claimed supremacy. In fact reason was enthroned as a divinity in Notre Dame in Paris at the time of the French Revolution. There was a tremendous human hubris, a dismissal of the true divinity within man which, in Blake’s terms is the Imagination. (Raine quotes Blake)

And all the Arts of Life they chang’d into the Arts of Death in Albion.

The hour-glass contemn’d because its simple workmanship

Was like the workmanship of the plowman, and the water wheel

That raises water into cisterns, broken and burn’d with fire

Because its workmanship was like the workmanship of the shepherd,

And in their stead, intricate wheels invented, wheel without wheel,

Toperplex youth in their outgoings and to bind to labours in Albion
Of day and night the myriads of eternity: that they may grind

And polish brass and iron hour after hour, laborious task,

Kept ignorant of its use: that they may spend the days of wisdom

In sorrowful drudgery to obtain a scanty pittance of bread,

In ignorance to view a small portion and think that All,

And call it Demonstration, blind to all the simple rules of life.

One can call Blake a Gnostic in a general sense, not in a sectarian sense, because he drew his system from many sources; but he was a Gnostic in the sense that it was based on an exact knowledge of what one must call an excluded tradition.

Blake held the view, which has since become very widespread through the woks of Jung, that the structure of what we may call the human psyche, the inner universe, was fourfold. There are, for Blake, the Four Zoas, which correspond to Jung’s Four Functions of Reason; Intuition, Feeling and Sensation; and these Four Functions make us very marvellously personified in figures we all know, of which the villain of Blake’s my this Urizen. Urizen puts bounds to the universe. It is a bounded universe, it is measured, it is the universe of quantity, if you like, the Reign of Quantity, length, breadth, height, weight, its the measurable universe, and it is bounded. He puts a circumference to the universe. One sees him in that very fine late engraving of Blake, of God creating the universe with a pair of compasses; he is bounding it. Whereas the universe of the imagination is unlimited, not bounded.

Posted by John Dunn.

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