Summary of my blog: Divine Child

the-divine-image-w-blake

Blake, the Divine Image

This semester was an invitation to explore the wonderful world of William Blake and also to do a detour to the artists, Brett Whiteley, the painter of “Alchemy” and David Malouf, author of “Remembering Babylon“.

On an emotional level, Brett Whiteley’s work of art: “Alchemy”, is still vibrating in every cell of my body, till today. I find admirable the ability he has for depicting what happens inside of him. Not only he seriously suffers the downside of addiction but as a true artist, he struggles considerably as he tries to grasp the meaning of life. On an intellectual level, David Malouf’s view of “what is a writer” allowed me to discover an interesting aspect of the genre of fiction. This opened my eyes, widely. I particularly loved the fact that Malouf uses Babylon and Jerusalem as metaphors to describe the place in which we live within ourselves, depending on our personal view of what the meaning of life is all about. What about you; do you like to think you live in Babylon or in Jerusalem?

Then, on the spiritual side, there is my friend William Blake, who I attempted, with all my heart, to understand in essence. I believe his texts carrying a sacred meaning and throughout this semester I have been delving through many of his writings:

Songs of Innocence and Experience was obviously a good starting point, as it asks whether the meaning of Good and Evil can be transcended or not? Then, in my entry called “A weak god”, I attempted to offer a creative interpretation, defending Blake’s personal view of god, completely different from that of the mainstream interpretation of the bible. That was the turning point and an invitation to explore the mystical side of Blake. On this matter, I hope that extrapolating on my celestial piece of poetry will allow the reader to get a glimpse of Blake’s vision! Afterwards, in analysing The Argument of Marriage of Heaven and Hell, I make an assessment of the way that Good and Evil are intricate in a way such that they cannot be separated one from each other. In this view, we shall ask ourselves: what, exactly, is a “just man”? In the end, I try to explain why Blake can be considered a Gnostic and following this logic, I make my case exposing the doubtful historical existence of Jesus.

Well, I do not know if I have really found the answers I was looking for, but, for sure, it was an exciting journey. And, for sure, I do feel that my perceptions are cleansed from the mundane rubbish of modern societies. Today, I feel confident exploring further Blake’s Visionary Imagination on my own, while continuing walking on the path of my spiritual revolution!

Thank you, Michael, for this fantastic journey!
And thank you, all the class : )

Advertisements

Remembering Babylon

(Task 9 Week 11)

Remembering Babylon book cover

Remembering Babylon, book cover. Chatto & Windus (UK), Random House (Australia)

David Malouf’s book, Remembering Babylon, explores the concept of whether we are in Babylon or Jerusalem. Babylon being a metaphor for a city-state that allows spiritual revolution. Whereas Jerusalem is a metaphor for a place where rules cannot, and must not be broken. Malouf “likes to think he is in Babylon” and, therefore, uses an uncommon style of writing. Some of his sentences are worth half a page length. I believe this connects to one of the things he said at the conference in class: he does not know exactly what he writes. It seems that, for him, the act of writing works at the subconscious level. It’s in the process of writing that he “brings the unconscious to the conscious mind”, as the psychologist Carl Jung would say.

Malouf explicitly referred in class to the idea that his writing was about putting on the paper “streams of thoughts”. That is why he chose to adopt such an unconventional writing style. Rather than using quotation marks he chooses to express his novel’s characters lines in indirect quotes. Therefore, he can express the characters’ ‘thoughts’ instead of solely narrowing the dialogues between characters in conversations which are constricting. In this way, he can add so much more substance to the story as this allows him to delve deep down into what makes the characters who they are in the book.

What makes the character ‘real’ in a book; is it what he says or is it how he thinks? Of course, it’s the latter but most of the time an author makes the character say things without explaining what they mean. Instead, Malouf depicts the character’s thoughts without interpreting them. That is why if you were to ask him what he meant by writing a certain passage he will tell you that he does not know; he is not the character of his book! Therefore, it is for the reader to make up his own mind.

The truth cannot be expressed with words. Language is beautiful but it presents a limit to what can be said. Words a perfect to convey a message but a message in itself cannot hold the value of truth. Truth can only be found by the mind that is willing to explore the nature of what is said as it relates to his personal condition. Bribes of truth can be found through the psychoanalytic process of an introspection but the real truth can only be discovered through meditative states and self-exploration. Malouf’s depiction of what happens in the head of his characters offers a breach that the reader needs to explore for himself.

Malouf’s uncommon way of writing is pretty Babylonian to me, and this supports well his first statement; of course: Malouf is a man of integrity. I was glad, also, because I like to think I’m in Babylon, too. The world is not ‘fixed’ but, instead, it is constantly evolving. Even the spiritual world evolves. In my view, “Remembering Babylon” is about remembering that we are all actors of our lives and that we are contributing to that spiritual revolution!

David Malouf Confidential

(Task 8 Week 10)

David Malouf Portrait

David Malouf Portrait

Today’s conference by David Malouf was outstanding! I was so grateful and honoured to meet an Australian writer of this stature in person. It was a great opportunity to listen to him answering the class’ questions. It was great because it allowed me to grasp the author’s mind. I’m interested reading a book only if the writer’s commitment is such as to elevate his skill to the level of being an art.

In saying that, I am aware that there are different views of what art is. There are always some people hiding behind the Postmodernist view arguing that same dull idea that “everything is relative”. In such a view, everything can be considered a good writing and anything can be considered a work of art, even the most hideous production. Instead, when asked the question “what is a writer”, David Malouf, nobly but pragmatically answered that a writer is someone who writes about a subject in a way that it can be understood by the people.

Besides, Malouf explains that “history is what is told and what is recorded. However, most of what is recorded actually never happened”. Do we not always hear about the story of the conquerors? In addition, “many parts of the history are simply missing”. Therefore, the author emphasises the importance of fiction since this genre can serve to speak the truth. Whereas history books are written in a way that is pretty dull and boring, a work of fiction allows spelling the history in a fashion that grips with the reader.

I was always questioning the place and the credibility of the books of fiction on our shelves and I never thought about a work of fiction in this way, before today. So, I found this idea truly enlightening and I will seriously think exploring this medium of fiction in my own writing nowadays.

Peer review T8 27/10/16 (Dani)

https://danielognenovski96.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/week-eight-remembering-babylon/

Dani, I love the thought you came with: “if we allow something to be what it is, to simply exist, it can neither be good nor bad”. Exactly, existing is a natural state and no judgment should be directed towards something that is simply existing! Like you say there is no question of applying a moral value to a state of being since it is not directed by voluntary actions. However, further in the text, in the point you are attempting to make, you state two sentences that seem to contradict each other: “there need not be a distinction between good and bad” and “we need not take sides”. Is it possible not to make a distinction between good and bad? Or, rather, is it that ‘we should not’ make such distinctions? This would confirm what you say about not needing taking sides. See you Dani : )

Peer review T7 26/10/16 (Audrey)

https://barefootfairy42.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/1119/

Audrey, as always when I read you, I feel carried away in a world of wonders and of beauty: “White has studied the little quirks, mannerisms and thought progressions of humanity, as well as the candid interactions and the deep inner workings of the soul.” This is not because you are talking about a great story but because you have the ability to spot the enlightening moments and to render them with a delicate texture that makes them even more magical! Also, more pragmatically, I like the way that you present Patrick White’s “Riders in the Chariot”, nailing the résumé around an account of the interrelationship of the four protagonists. That’s a good way of doing it : ) Perhaps, you want to rectify the two typos in paragraph 4 line 4. Anyway, I miss you and I hope to see you soon, perhaps for a coffee in Surry Hills?

Peer review T6 20/10/16 (Sarah)

https://sarahroumie.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/week-7-riders-in-the-chariot/

Sarah, I found your story really intriguing and I love it! The guy with the appearance of a druggy who reveals himself to be charming. The mother with the appearance of a righteous women who reveals herself to be less virtuous as she pretends to be. The striking axis of this revelation being the pretentious attitude of the mother looking at the appearance of the guy! What an excellent rhetorical shift : ) Now, concerning improvements, that is what I would do. Why are you using an italic style in the first portion? The story of the guy is spelled by a narrator, the same as for the story of the woman. Both portions should have the same font style: “normal”, not italic. Also, you might want to reread the whole text as it contains many typos and grammatical errors, especially in the second portion. Take care!

Jesus never existed

(Task 7 Week 9)

cosmic_tree-alchemy-nazirene-org

The cosmic tree, retrieved from Nazirene.org

In “A Vision of the Last Judgment”, Blake explains that “Imagination is a Representation of what Eternally Exists, Really and Unchangeably” (Norton, p.433). This text is fundamental as it brings a new understanding of what an Image is in Blake’s mind to the reader. Blake uses common words although he assigns them with very different meanings. As we said before, Blake’s Jesus is not the earthy man but the “Celestial entity” (The historicity of Jesus Christ, Richard Carrier). The real Jesus, or Phoster, is an elemental entity made of pure energy. Christ is therefore real and should be seen from a non-materialist perspective, as was understood by the early Christians. True Christ is a Celestial Being and the production of time is a celestial event. “Eternity is in love with the productions of time” (Plate 7; Norton, p.72). We can easily connect Blake’s Vision to the Myth of Creation of Pistis Sophia (see: Pistis Sophia By G. R. S. Mead, p.34).

For the purpose of our discussion, let us look closely at an extract of Blake’s writing:

The Nature of Visionary Imagination is very little known and the Eternal nature and permanence of its ever Existent Images are considered less permanent than the thing of Vegetative and Generative Nature. Yet the Oak dies but Its Eternal Image and Individuality never dies, but renew by its seeds, just so the Imaginative Image returns by the seed of contemplative thought … This world of Imagination is the World of Eternity it is Divine bosom which we shall go after the death of the Vegetated body (Blake, Norton, p.433).

Blake’s exposition (above) connects to the concept of the ‘imaginal being’. This concept describes not just the process of a mere evolution but a process of transmutation. This is true of a caterpillar transcending itself into the new form of a butterfly. Man’s body is only a vehicle for the soul to experience life on earth. Only afterwards does the soul leave the body to rejoin its true nature being the celestial universe which is also known as Blake’s Imagination, while the flesh of the body recycles within earth’s soil. The material body remains in the material dimension (the Earth): where else could it go?

Blake did not believe the words of priests who he considered imposters and he did not take doctrines for granted. The priests always thought of Evil (or Satan) as a hellish entity but “Satan literally means adversary” (Norton, footnote number 3, p. 70) and nothing else suggests that this force is bad. Satan is the expression of the spiritual dimension in opposition to the material dimension. He is the Cosmic Force and is also called “Daemon”, an active energy. Blake had direct revelations and was able to see the true nature of reality: life is not static but is dynamic. Blake is not emitting a judgment on the state of nature but is stressing the fact that we need both forces: “without contraries is no progression” (Plate 3)(Norton, p. 69). Blake knew that both Good and Evil are necessary for life to evolve.

When reading Blake we must be vigilant to not let our preconceived ideas take the step over Blake’s message. I believe that Blake used the term ‘Jesus’ in his writings only not to make it more complicate than it sounds. However, the proper term to define the Jesus that Blake is referring to is, in my view, ‘Phoster’: the elemental being, made of pure energy.

The Gnostic Blake

(Task 6 Week 8)

god-creating-the-universe-by-william-blake

Urizen. Blake. Retrieved from Wikipedia.org

Gnosis means ‘to know’ in Greek. This concept is to be differentiated from blind faith. Blake uses symbols of Christianity although his language does not strictly conform to mainstream interpretations of the bible. “The Vision of Christ that thou dost see / Is my Vision’s Greatest Enemy … Both read the Bible day & night, / But thou readst black where I read white” (The Everlasting Gospel). Besides having been “inspired to draw his system by several sources including Milton, Diogenes, Socrates, Swedenborg” (Norton, p.67), the author claims refer not to mere beliefs but to an exact and divine knowledge. Blake rejects theologies like the Gnostics.

Blake repeatedly admitted to speaking with angels. This statement allows us to infer that the author was always connected with the spiritual. However, Blake’s art played an important role. It allowed him to explore in depth the connection with the divine: “The true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences” (Norton, All Religions are One, p. 5). Blake also states that “The Poetic Genius is the True Man” (Norton, All Religions are One, p.5). It is important to note that the author capitalises the word ‘genius’ (Norton, p. 475, p. 476, p. 478). This relates to “the attendant spirit allotted to every person at his birth” (OED). In other words, Blake’s “Poetic Genius” refers to the “Imagination”. When we consider this idea we must understand that in Blake’s vision, “Imagination” is literally the synonym of ‘the spiritual’.

Ranging in meaning, Blake’s treatment of the archetypes with The Four Zoas presented in Albion is very similar to Carl Gustave Jung’s Four Functions: reason, intuition, feeling and sensation. They constitute the structure of the human psyche being the inner-universe. The mythical figure of Urizen is the embodiment of ‘reason’ (one of the Four Zoas). In the 18th century while reason propelled a new age of technological advancement through science, the material perspective excluded imagination. Blake challenges the mainstream view and rejects the premises of the material thought, or ‘reason’. The world is not a ratio. “The world of eternity” for Blake is more real than the reality as we know it on Earth. In his painting “The Ancient of Days” (Europe a Prophecy, 1794) we see Urizen the demiurgic god having created the material world with a pair of compasses. The counterpart, “Los” (in Blake’s Mythology) is the true god, the one through which emanates the “Universe of Imagination”.

According to Blake the spiritual realm is Imagination and we are all connected through the collective imagination. Therefore, we are all connected in an all-inclusive universe meaning that “god is imagination” (Blake). Let us understand the word ‘spiritual’ as ‘that, which is not material’. Blake sees and acknowledges the reality of existence as superior in the sense of the spiritual and mental universe.

Peer review T5 04/10/16 (Lalee)

https://manizhalalee.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/blog-3-2/

Lalee! It’s been twice that I come across this beautiful little story. The first time I was so struck that I was unable to write a comment. I am charmed, again, today, but I will not let my chance pass away. ‘Level 9’ is such an interesting title. It makes me think of a futurist movie. Yet, in this futuristic atmosphere, you find a way to display such passionate emotions, reconciling two radically different worlds: a simple car park and a land of wonders. The reference to “Narnia” and the philosophical quote you chose are well grounded in the context of this highly poetical text of yours. I’m sorry for Michael but I don’t see anything I can criticise here. I could have commented on the familiar use of the “i” instead of “I” but I won’t, because I find this way of doing pretty aesthetic!

Peer review T4 22/09/16 (Carly)

https://carlysliteratureblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/poetry-vlog/

Hello, Carly ! I enjoyed watching this little film of yours. It is well made, I think. You even edited the video, translating into a visual “Blake’s Vision” by adding special effects. That is a good idea. You also read the poem with great clarity. Besides, your voice is really, really, beautiful : ) Well, I leave you with the benefit of your interpretation of the poem. But, perhaps, six minutes is just a little bit too long: try to make it in three minutes and a half, it would be great! Did you say ‘piss off’ at the very end, or is it that I didn’t understand well? —Though, even if it’s the case, I love it :)))