Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Flash page: William Blake's Jerusalem Explained: The William Blake Press: Cambridge 2007 --611 pages

When i lectured in an institute of education/teachers college (as head of school: liberal arts and sciences) we ensured we taught future educatrs that children must physically turn their heads one side right, and, the other side left when they cross a road, because the child has not developed peripheral, perceptual, vision and literally cannot perceive the cars coming from either side. So they walk out, suddenly, for if there is no car immediately in front of them they cross. This is an example of ‘restricted field articulation’....the child’s ability to scan is perceptually restricted, and their behaviour thereby modified, sometimes fatally. Moral scanning is concomitant.

Universally we experience restricted scanning. Without it we could not be an evolving identity, grow or age. Simply put, in love we transform our perceptions to scan in beauty and hope and joy within and without around us. By contrast, in fear, poverty, pain, confinement and depression, fear and anxiety are perceived, threat is universal and the spin or ‘vortex’ of such scanning leads to inwardness, paranoia and self-harm or harm to others. We say we can ‘turn things around’ by scanning more and more positive events and realities in our individual ‘vortex’. Blake calls the ‘spin’ about us a vortex. The vortex expands and contracts within and without us. His epics symbolise how his continuum of improved practical scanning of all he perceive is possible. His work helps show how his understandings led to his self-realisations in art and life.

Now we turn to Blake’s Jerusalem. He seeks to enhance our perceptual field articulations, and as with all great art, he succeeds. In Blake’s aesthetics art enhances individual perceptions. He is perfectly clear; to him the purpose of being is unity with God. We survive and improve our lives through love and hate, food and shelter, justice, art, science, feeling and thought, and above all through others, living in the image of God, which Blake called the human form Divine, best expressed in Plates 94-100

Blake’s genius in Jerusalem and The Four Zoas engages us in the movements of mind and perceptual scanning of consciousness within and without to a degree of comprehensiveness and insight not found in others. while he is profoundly christian his work explores human consciousness in ways comprehensive and universal.... for brief examples, we learn from Blake of the intricate mechanisms and articulations of the mind in process of birth, love, death, time and being ...we see his depiction of the multi-levelled action and reaction of act... and we perceive his unequaled symbolising of the fragmentation of consciousness, its levels of psychosis and healing ,and its integrations into reconciled unities

William Blake’s Jerusalem is a long and brilliant epic. Here is my conclusion: it will probably take a year or so to read Jerusalem; a reading target of one plate a day is racing through the work. How many books offer that kind of self-enhancement…in order that we might perceive more deeply and further? That is Blake’s gift to us all and his art expands our personal perceptual scanning. IIt's taken me a decade or so to decipher and then write Blake’s Jerusalem Explained and likewise, earlier, Blake's The Four Zoas Explained. It has taken that kind of determined effort to outline his story clearly. He is not impenetrable. These two epic books on Blake's christian myth will transform your perceptions of Blake's mastery of his mediums; Blake’s art and his poetry. It should help clarify Blake's explicit trinitarian christianity and his implicit and explicit visionary grasp of spiritual truths of human existence, nature, time and eternity

Once a reader has been through Blake’s myth from beginning to end then Blake reads swiftly and brilliantly, and we share great poetry, philosophy, drama and participate in a spiritual vision that spans, scans and re-engages us with the internal landscapes of our consciousness. As I write elsewhere, the reader is liberated into the practical act of reading an excellent story. Blake is well worth the effort needed to come to terms with his remarkably contemporary picture of humanity.