October 9th, 2008

sorrento

Literature Entry WEEK TEN: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (To Mariam)


I came across this video and thought ti was a nice sum up of some of the issues we've been speaking about in class. It combines both the images and the words to create that "third text" that we also have experienced throughout the course. Mariam, this video picks up on many of the aspects that you have brought up in your entry as well so i thought it would be a good doorway into tackling Blake's BIG questions in the Marriage.

I think both you and Jeff have mentioned some really great things that i have perhaps put on the back burner for the moment! Things like the "mind forg'd manacles" that Blake does tend to subvert in his overtly 'anti-organised society' works such as The Marriage. Sorry if that came out a bit lumpy, but in other words I am trying to pick up on Blake's discontent with an ordered universe because to maintain order, one is given rules, and when rules are given it means a sacrifice of the imagination and all things poetic because of the constraints that rules put on people's lives. So yes, I agree with your argument Mariam that Blake was attempting to challenge our trapped emotional, mental and social state.

When you said Blake "embraces limitless energy and spirituality" that so many of us to today still lack, it reminded me of the quote "IF THE DOORS OF OUR PERCEPTION WERE CLEANSED, EVERYTHING WOULD APPEAR TO MAN AS IT IS, INFINITE" (pg. 75)and the fact that seeing through the eye as opposed to with the eye allows many opportunities to come to fruition. As humans, innately flawed, we often limit our experiences to that of which we can touch, smell, taste, see or hear and thus we miss the very magic of such experiences because ignore our heart and soul. Even though Blake is one of us, what ultimately sets him apart is his instinctual touch with humanity and his deep understanding of what it is to be human. Malouf once said that the beauty of writing is that you can stop action and put it in slow motion to make the reader attend to the moment that has happened. this in turn makes the reader stop time and look closer and closer at the minute that radiates the extraordinary. SO often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our busy city lives that we forget to stop and appreciate the song of the bird that woke us in the morning, the faint smile line that has formed around a loved-one's eyes, the perspiring leaf or the amazing toothpick stalk that is growing out of a tree that had endured a horrific bush fire. We miss these things because we are human and if we didn't have people like Blake reminding us to stop and transform our inner beings, we would continue at such a pace that our deaths could only be of regret (as morbid as that sounds).



Now if we move to the idea that without contraries there would be no progression, i have to thank you for posting up John's comment about how a rose grows its thorns before its bud because i didn't know that and it speaks loudly to what Blake was portraying. As we know, one of Blake's, if not his soul intention for his literature, is to try and mend the division that occurred within man (the separation of his Zoas) to create a state of equilibrium. For Blake, to achieve his aim, he suggests that we need contraries and i couldn't agree with him more. How would you know love if you didn't know how terrible if feels to lose someone that you love? or how would you know saftey and comfort if you had never experienced fear and anguish? Why would you value your freedom if you didn't know what it felt like to be trapped? How would you know what is good if you didn't know what shape something evil took? All these are the contraries that Blake is speaking of that we need to experience in order to enjoy a full experience of life. We also know that the Enlightenment is the “Age of Reason” when emotions and desires were seen as destructive and many decided to follow only the path of logic by taking the ‘heart’ out of all things (“the colder or less ‘human’, the better” was perhaps the ideology). It was the time when Kant, a philosophical father of reasoning decided that utilitarianism should be the governing rule and so that morality lay in the hands of your ability to conform to our duty and fulfill responsibility. It was this exact mentality that Blake has effectively and satirically attacked in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. So Blake is a Romantic trying to regain a sort of unity that the Enlightenment sucked dry. Similar to the list I tried to create above, Blake says “Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence”. I tend to think that when Blake uses the word “energy” he isn’t just speaking about the physical exertion that links closely with the Enlightenment theory, but rather emotional energy like love or hate. What comes next is the reason why I think Blake is taking a good dig at the Logicians and Kant’s beliefs in particular. He says “Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell”, which if we know Blake a little, we can realize is something he would not believe because he is opposed to ‘reason’ ruling the body. While he is striving for goodness in the world, he does not seriously believe that you will find it in a detached life! Furthermore, by bringing religion into the picture, it gives Blake a chance to position it as a demonizing force that wills only one perspective – that which is ultimately good. I think he is condemning its black and white view of morality because of its disconnection from humanity. If organized religion truly understood human nature, it would realize that there is much grey in our lives.
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