This week we began exploring Blake’s illustrations to the Book of Job alongside The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Only a few sets of original prints from The Book of Job engravings exist in the world and one of the sets is housed at the NSW Art Gallery, protected by humidity, and light for all to see till the end of time! But that is for next week! This week we were trying to understand the links between Job’s vision and Blake’s understanding of God, as an entity that doesn’t exist outside man, that doesn’t discriminate against the body, that doesn’t declare that some things are Good or Evil, that somehow is seen more in the Devil than in any effete, sanctimonious divinity. Job, in the Old Testament, actually seems to break free from a perception of God as a goody two-shoes. And Blake seems to hitch onto this aspect of Job as someone who proclaims a freedom from morality. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake presents Jesus as someone who “acted from impulse, not from rules” (Plate 23), and Blake also writes “in the Book of Job Milton’s Messiah is call’d Satan.” What this may refer to is that in the Bible Satan is the accuser of Job whilst in Paradise Lost the Messiah is the accuser of Adam and Eve: two accusers. Complex stuff! But when we see the first and last plates of Blake’s Job series, much will be revealed! Here is Satan smiting Job with boils: click on the image for a video feast:
So on to some questions for your weekly Blog:
1/ Write a short narrative account of your meeting with Mr William Blake at work in his studio on the plates for The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
2/ In the voice of Catherine, Blake’s wife, tell your husband what you think about the way he keeps his things organized in his studio.
3/ Take one of the “Proverbs of Hell” and write a short account of what you think it means and how you think it helps to explain an aspect of Blake’s thinking.
4/ Produce a collage of photographic images that reveal what it means to see through rather than with the eye.
5/ As usual, create your own entry based on any aspect of Blake’s work considered this week and on how it intersects with something in your own experience.