The Visionary Imagination Week 1 2015: Seeing through not with the eye.

A great start to the semester! So glad to see the level of interest and attention to these important ideas, to these amazing composite art works of William Blake. Here are the complete visual images of the Nurse’s Songs in The Book of Innocence and The Book of Experience (always click on the image for an enlargement):

Blake's Nurse.001

You can source these and other Blake images directly from the Blake Archive, a fantastic site that contains a searchable, visual database of nearly everything that Blake ever produced (visually).  Our discussion on these poems focussed closely on how Blake was dramatizing the state of mind of both nurses and was showing how the stable, grounded, centred mind of the first nurse (in Innocence) led to a situation in which the children were free to express their joy in life. It was a joy that echoed through the hills and, by implication, throughout the world. In contrast, the nurse in experience, through her state of mind, managed to pollute the life-giving significance of the colour green, transforming it into a grubby, life-denying image of fear and jealousy. Such is the power of CONTEXT that can radically transform the meanings of words. So is it possible to see the nurse in experience as seeing only with they eye, in that she is concerned only with the socially acceptable aspects of the children in her care, while the first nurse (in innocence) sees through the eye, less concerned with how the children appear to others, more concerned with the experience of life, of freedom that are yearning for.

We also peeked in at Allen Ginsberg’s (This is link to Ginsberg singing the Nurse’s Song) extraordinary  hallucinatory vision of William Blake and also glanced at one of Blake’s most ardent fans during his lifetime Samuel Palmer. See also the following link: L

Blog Topics for Week 2

Creative: Write a letter either to Ginsberg or to Palmer telling them how their ideas have helped you to see what was really life-giving about Blake’s work. 

Critical: Describe the differences between the visual elements in the two poems about nurses. How do these differences seem to support the differences of meaning in each poem

Other: Create a topic of your own that builds on this week’s work and that includes also some reflections on your own personal experience that has somehow been illuminated by our discussion of Blake this week. 

Remember you also need to do at least one Peer Review each week. Be sure to copy and paste the Review as a new blog into your own blog and include the URL of the person you have commented on.

  2 comments for “The Visionary Imagination Week 1 2015: Seeing through not with the eye.

  1. August 5, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Hi Michael

    An email arrived from you about William Blake. This is the first time I have blogged on this site.Blake made an impression on me as a very young woman.I was fortunate to find myself sharing accommodation with others who had interesting private libraries.I had only read perhaps 4 books in my life when I came across a first edition of Blakes work. It was a beautiful thing.

    40 years later some of his work sticks in my mind. For me the most powerful and passionate piece was called The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I am pleased someone is studying Blake. I envy those who are engaging in the study of this poet.

    Im hoping that this message is sent to you Michael and not the whole world. I am still ignorant about navigating the internet.

    That Woman

    • August 5, 2015 at 7:56 am

      Thank you Rosemary, it is really good to hear that Blake has been an important part of your experience. Thanks for the comment.

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