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Read e-book online Blake, Kierkegaard, and the Spectre of Dialectic PDF

By Lorraine Clark

This learn lines affinities among the past due prophetic poems of William Blake and the paintings of the thinker Soren Kierkegaard. either characteristic thoughts (the Spectre fought by means of Blake's poet-prophet Los, and Kierkegaard's thought of "dread") embodying a spirit of philosophical negation, skepticism, and dialectic which the writers sought to withstand. Lorraine Clark makes use of Kierkegaard's philosophy to light up Blake's prophecies, exhibiting that either provide the foundation for a profound critique of romanticism, whereas themselves participating of a few of the beliefs and tensions valuable to our figuring out of the romantic flow.

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Extra resources for Blake, Kierkegaard, and the Spectre of Dialectic

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Sin is the perversion or negation of value distinctions, for to worship someone or something other than God is to hold it up as equal or superior in value to God. It is to upset the proper hierarchy of values. For Blake throughout most of his career, not idolatry but hierarchy (what Blake calls "jealousy") is the sin - that is, division jfr^r se, God's selfishly possessive withholding, via his prohibition, of his own knowledge and superiority. And it is the division between the sexes which keeps them in perpetual "torments of love and jealousy," fruitlessly trying either in torments of desire to cross the unpassable gulf, or in acts of selfish possessiveness and "chastity" to fix it more firmly between them.

The prohibition is Milton's "wirey bounding line," what shapes the key ideas of Paradise Lost. It is a line of decisive differentiation, of qualitative distinction, a line which seemingly fixes an "unpassable g u l f between God and man, man and woman, and heaven and hell. Yet this gulf for Milton does not mean that man is inherently The Spectre and the logic of error 33 fallen: the sin is not divisionary, but "idolatry," substitution of the wrong alternative for the right. Sin is the perversion or negation of value distinctions, for to worship someone or something other than God is to hold it up as equal or superior in value to God.

Milton's qualitative divisions between God and man, reason and passion, might lead to the tyranny of abstraction - God and reason - over life. Yet the mediation of these divisions could only be effected within some higher unity which negated the energy of the contraries in an equally tyrannical abstraction from life. Further, mediation was an even greater danger to life than was division. For this spectre of false unity looked too much like the Los of true unity, and this hypocritical parody was far more dangerous than open opposition.

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