William Blake

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Descrição da editora

When Blake spoke the first word of the nineteenth century there was no one to hear it, and now that his message, the message of emancipation from reality through the 'shaping spirit of imagination,' has penetrated the world, and is slowly remaking it, few are conscious of the first utterer, in modern times, of the message with which all are familiar. Thought to-day, wherever it is most individual, owes either force or direction to Nietzsche, and thus we see, on our topmost towers, the Philistine armed and winged, and without the love or fear of God or man in his heart, doing battle in Nietzsche's name against the ideas of Nietzsche. No one can think, and escape Nietzsche; but Nietzsche has come after Blake, and will pass before Blake passes.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell anticipates Nietzsche in his most significant paradoxes, and, before his time, exalts energy above reason, and Evil, 'the active springing from energy' above Good, 'the passive that obeys reason.' Did not Blake astonish Crabb Robinson by declaring that 'there was nothing in good and evil, the virtues and vices'; that 'vices in the natural world were the highest sublimities in the spiritual world'? 'Man must become better and wickeder,' says Nietzsche in Zarathustra; and, elsewhere; 'Every man must find his own virtue.' Sin, to Blake, is negation, is nothing; 'everything is good in God's eyes'; it is the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that has brought sin into the world: education, that is, by which we are taught to distinguish between things that do not differ. When Nietzsche says: 'Let us rid the world of the notion of sin, and banish with it the idea of punishment,' he expresses one of Blake's central doctrines, and he realizes the corollary, which, however, he does not add. 'The Christian's soul,' he says, 'which has freed itself from sin is in most cases ruined by the hatred against sin. Look at the faces of great Christians. They are the faces of great haters.' Blake sums up all Christianity as forgiveness of sin:

'Mutual forgiveness of each vice,

Such are the gates of Paradise.'

The doctrine of the Atonement was to him a 'horrible doctrine,' because it seemed to make God a hard creditor, from whom pity could be bought for a price. 'Doth Jehovah forgive a debt only on condition that it shall be paid? ... That debt is not forgiven!' he says in Jerusalem. To Nietzsche, far as he goes on the same road, pity is 'a weakness, which increases the world's suffering'; but to Blake, in the spirit of the French proverb, forgiveness is understanding. 'This forgiveness,' says Mr. Yeats, 'was not the forgiveness of the theologian who has received a commandment from afar off, but of the poet and artist, who believes he has been taught, in a mystical vision, "that the imagination is the man himself," and believes he has discovered in the practice of his art that without a perfect sympathy there is no perfect imagination, and therefore no perfect life.

Biografias e memórias
14 de outubro
Library of Alexandria

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