Although we didn’t have much chance to talk about this, hopefully in a later session we can try to come to grips with Blake’s understanding regarding the imagination and what it means or might mean. Tbh, I’ve found Frye’s Blake, especially in the context of the imagination, to be a corrective to thinkers like Wilber and books like A Course in Miracles, both of which or whom, at least to my interpretation today, do not seem to really emphasize the imagination, to the detriment of these books/authors. That might be a “strategic thing” - I don’t know exactly if talking about the imagination resonates with most people, if people care about imagination and vision. But it does with me, and for that reason I tend to like my Gnosticism mixed with some talk about that…thing, the imagination. Good ol’ Ashbery has a quote from his poem “The Recent Past,” where he writes, “Perhaps we ought to feel with more imagination,” and I’ve always loved that sense of feeling with the imagination.
I also think talking about the Blakean imagination is relevant for other discussions on IC and beyond. For example, although I have not been following too closely the conversation about quantum consciousness and entanglements, I skimmed a few entries a few days ago, and it seemed (I think this was the thread) that people were talking about, or hinting at, object-oriented ontology, or at least Graham Harman? I know virtually nothing about OOO, or for that matter Graham Harman, but the subject was sort of “hot” when I was in the PhD program for a year. Perhaps this is obvious, but fwiw Blake would think OOO is absolute nonsense, or cant. The emphasis on objects over subjectivity, the argument that there is some “mind-independent reality” (what a godawful, clunky phrase), the argument for philosophical realism as “speculative realism,” and so the desire to somehow topple anthropocentrism, all of this Blake would viciously ridicule, because all of this speculation comes from the imagination, and the imagination is what makes, for Blake, human being divine or holy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in Frye’s reading of Blake, there is no separation of the seer and the seen - that seems to be Frye’s definition of Blake’s Eden, the highest level of the imagination. If OOO is severing the seen from the seer (is it?), then this would probably be an example of Blake’s Generation, the level of imagination where there is a subject/object split. I think I shared this already, but here is an excerpt from Fearful Symmetry where Frye describes Blake’s Ulro, Generation and beyond (Beulah and Eden):
Forgive me if I’m caricaturing OOO - I would love to hear what people think about this. But my instinct and intuition tell me, from my slight acquaintance with OOO from my PhD days, that this this is the type of thing, pursuit, approach, orientation, stance, outlook that Blake would find arrogant, in its attempt to usurp anthropocentrism and foreground (rather weirdly, it seems to me at least) “objects.” In other words, when Blake writes, right before the Proverbs of Hell,
How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense World of Delight, clos’d by your senses five?
I think the point is that this immense World of Delight, when the senses are cleansed, opens for both the Bird and the seer, beholder, looker, watcher, etc. When the senses five are not clos’d, the argument seems to me, we also experience this World of Delight. But such a Delight would not be possible if there is a subject-object duality. If OOO is arguing for that in some manner, then Blake would satirize it endlessly as just one more hopeless academic fad or sterile intellectual exercise far removed for reality. If it is something different, however, I’d love to hear what people think.