William Blake's Great Task: The Purpose of

William Blake's Great Task: The Purpose of "Jerusalem"

by Andrew Solomon

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Overview

William Blake's Great Task: The Purpose of "Jerusalem" by Andrew Solomon

"Jerusalem", the last and most fully developed version of Blake's personal myth, is recognized as an important part of our cultural heritage, apparently full of deep meaning. But exactly what that meaning is has been little understood. At first sight Blake's poem lacks narrative continuity, presents no clear argument and shows little structural cohesion, while his illustrations, beautiful though they are, are often difficult to relate to the text. Yet underlying its baffling surface there is a coherent and relatively simple pattern, and this reveals in a unique way the psychological and spiritual processes that shape our lives and give them direction.

Blake wrote of Man's "Fall into Division and his Resurrection to Unity". The pattern symbolized by the Fall occurs inevitably in every human life and it accounts for all that is evil and destructive in human behaviour and all the inner conflicts by which we are torn. While we cannot avoid it, it is open to us as individuals eventually to rise above it, to become free of those conflicts and of the compulsive behaviours associated with them.

This is not just another academic interpretation. Blake's myth is considered here in a way that explains our conflicts and their origins in the delusions that we cling to. It leads to the point of letting go of the central delusion, that concerning one's own identity, or "ego", which is a supremely challenging act of self-liberation - Blake calls it the "annihilation of the selfhood" -leading to the "Resurrection to Unity".

Blake's art and poetry help to evoke disruptive forces active within us which we prefer to keep hidden, but which we need to face intelligently if we are to become free ofthem. Not surprisingly, many people find this disturbing

but it can be immeasurably rewarding. Nowadays there is considerable interest in Eastern teachings which have a similar purpose

but our typical Western starting point, conditioned by centuries of Judaeo-Christian teaching of an external law-giving God, is different from that of, say, Buddhists or Hindus, for whom the supreme authority is to be found within. Blake's myth reflects Western conditioning and the particular patterns that result from it, which we may be able to recognize in ourselves

but its end-point, freedom from all conditioning, is universal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780952221128
Publisher: Palamabron Press
Publication date: 10/27/2000
Pages: 260

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