Oh, Blake’s mysteries and conundrums! His mythology full of alternative gods, angels and demons! Urizen, Enitharmon, Luvah, The Great Red Dragon, Tornado-Zeus. The whole twisted cosmogony explaining the origins of the universe in a way so groundbreaking, so different, so unorthodox that even now we could not decide whether Blake was ‘just’ a poet or was he an apostle.
Always against the tide. Never surrender. The public was making fun of him but Blake has lived his life amongst angels, not plebs. He was experiencing intense visions from as early as the age of four until the very end. He claimed without a doubt his art is appreciated and enjoyed by Archangels in heavens.
Heretic on his own
Back then it was definitely a matter of bravery to reject the Church and organised religion in favour of self-invented heresies. In my opinion, Blake’s beliefs were closest to different factions of Gnosticism. In ancient times, it was one of the greatest religious systems, now almost entirely godforsaken.
There is no way to explain it in a few sentences but let’s try anyway. Christian gnostics considered all the material world as an evil created by the Demiurge or Old Testament god. We, people, are prisoners of his realm but thanks to divine spark trapped in the human body we could break the chains and return to The Light.
Therefore the Five Books and Gospel are not complementary but contrary to each other. The first one is the work of the Demiurge (in Blake’s mythology – Urizen); it is The Law limited by reason, authority and justice. The latter is a revelation of true, unknown God annunciated by Jesus Christ, who is the Saviour of humanity.
Rejection of science
Blake has rejected not only the orthodox religion but also a new powerful cult of science. For him, the Newtonian description of universal laws, ideals of rationalism and empiricism were the denial of truth and life itself. He hated them.
Unfortunately for him, Blake has lived at the times when reason and science ultimately prevailed and started shaping the future of mankind. It is somehow refreshing to realise that he dared to use the name Newton – the god of the new era – as an epitome of intellectual depravity, narrow-mindedness and error.
Key to the artist
Blake’s art prints, illustrations and engravings are inhabited by creatures of his imagination but for him they were as real as his wife. And if you are open-minded enough all Blake’s horrors and wonders could become real for yourself as well. Your imagination is the key to his world.