Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


British Museum
Illustrations to Edward Young's Night Thoughts
If you have ever made a black and white photograph by going through all of the stages from clicking the camera to viewing your completed picture, you should have a good grasp of the concept of images. You choose a subject to be photographed, adjust the camera, view the image through the viewer and click the shutter. Now you have an exposed piece of film which recorded more and less amounts of reflected light. You have created an image but it is not visible to your eye. You develop the film in chemicals which create on the film a visible image of the object which was visible through the camera. The image is however a reversal of the patterns of light in the object you wanted to record. So you use the developed film to expose photographic paper to the patterns of light. Finally the photographic paper is placed in chemicals which selectively record light and dark in the same patterns as were present it the object you saw through the camera.
The photograph is the image (without color) of the object which you wanted to record. However the process of creating that image involved a whole series of images which were stages along the way. The image which the lens of the camera collected and sent to the film when the shutter was opened, the invisible image on the exposed film, the reversed image on the developed film, the pattern of light which is sent from the enlarger to the photographic paper: all these, and more, are true images of the original object.

Variables which may occur throughout the process would have an effect on the final image so that multiple photographs of differing appearances could be produced by the same process from the same object.  

This account has been to demonstrate how the word 'image' can easily be used as a symbol with complex meaning. When Blake spoke of 'image of Truth' it was with the realization the Truth produces many images. Each image is partial and inadequate for encompassing Truth, but as images they are valuable illuminations of facets of Truth. Blake used the term 'imagination' more the the term 'image.' But imagination was to Blake the ability to manipulate images in order that Truth be revealed.

Blake's production of images in poetry and painting is only the tip of the iceberg. Blake saw the things he read, including the Bible, as containing images of underlying truth which could not be communicated literally. He related to the natural world as a source of images which explained eternal truth. His awareness of the language of images provided the connections through which he could draw together the pieces of Eternity scattered in time. Images to Blake were not simple reflections as we may see in our mirrors, but the way in which Eternity becomes manifest in time.

Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 8, (E 37) 
"Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth."    
All Religions Are One, Plate 3, (E 1)
"No man can think write or speak from his heart,
but he must intend truth."

Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 54, (E 31)
"The Voice of the Ancient Bard.

Youth of delight come hither:
And see the opening morn,
Image of truth new born.
Doubt is fled & clouds of reason.
Dark disputes & artful teazing.
Folly is an endless maze,
Tangled roots perplex her ways,

How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead,
And feel they know not what but care
And wish to lead others, when they should be led."
Marriage of Heaven & Hell, Plate 10, E 38
"Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd."

Jerusalem, Plate 55, (E 205)
"He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars 
General Good is the plea of the scoundrel hypocrite & flatterer:
For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars
And not in generalizing Demonstrations of the Rational Power.
The Infinite alone resides in Definite & Determinate Identity
Establishment of Truth depends on destruction of Falshood continually" 
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 562)
"All Life consists of these Two Throwing off Error 
continually & recieving Truth or Wise Men into our
Company Continually
What are all the Gifts of the
Spirit but Mental Gifts whenever any Individual Rejects Error &
Embraces Truth a Last Judgment passes upon that Individual" 
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 563)
"These represent those who tho willing were
too weak to Reject Error without the Assistance & Countenance of
those Already in the Truth for a Man Can only Reject Error by the
Advice of a Friend or by the Immediate Inspiration of God it is
for this Reason among many others that I have put the Lords
Supper on the Left hand of the [Picture] Throne for it appears so
at the Last Judgment for a Protection" 
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
"Error is
Created Truth is Eternal Error or Creation will be Burned Up &
then & not till then Truth or Eternity will appear It is Burnt up
the Moment Men cease to behold it I assert for My self that I do
not behold the Outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance &
not Action it is as the Dirt upon my feet No part of Me."
Annotations to Watson, (E 613)
"The Man who pretends to be a modest enquirer into the truth of a self
evident thing is a Knave   The truth & certainty of Virtue &
Honesty i.e Inspiration needs no one to prove it   it is Evident
as the Sun & Moon He who stands doubting of what he
intends whether it is Virtuous or Vicious knows not what Virtue
means. no man can do a Vicious action & think it to be Virtuous.
no man can take darkness for light. he may pretend to do so & may
pretend to be a modest Enquirer. but is a Knave"
Annotations to Bacon, (E 621)
"Self Evident Truth is one Thing and Truth the result of
Reasoning is another Thing Rational Truth is not the Truth of
Christ but of Pilate   It is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good &

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