Tag Archives: Irish

My Business Is to Create

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews My Business Is to Create: Blake’s Infinite Writing [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Eric G Wilson, part of the Iowa Series in Creativity and Writing.

Wilson My Business Is to Create

In My Business Is to Create, Eric G. Wilson provides a score of linked meditations on the creative process, homilies on the work and works of William Blake. The result is a slender but inspiring book in which the contraries of writing and criticism, interpretation and creation, are brought into fruitful coincidence.

Each of the essays in the volume highlights anecdotes and apposite quotes from other writers, from Nietzsche to Adrienne Rich, to the point where sometimes it seemed like there were too many voices in play. Wilson’s view of Blake seems to be a robust one, and while it is certainly informed by extensive familiarity with other readers of Blake, it didn’t seem to need the intrusion of further “authorities,” especially given the personal and reflective tone of the study. 

My Business Is to Create contains numerous biographical passages, and it should be enjoyable as an introduction to Blake, as well as a reflection on his ideas about creativity and vision, and counsel to writers and other artists about how to put those ideas into play. 

Together with the Leveller social heresy about humanity’s “right to choose its rulers, rather than to rule,” Milton advocates for religious heresy (Gk. hairesis, “choice”) – where believers are required to give a reasoned account of their beliefs – an idea which is fundamental to his poetics of choice.

David Williams, Milton’s Leveller God [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Williams Miltons Leveller God social heresy right to choose rulers religious heresy believers required reasoned account beliefs poetics choice

How to Kill a Dragon

How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics by Calvert Watkins, a 1995 paperback from Oxford University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Calvert Watkins How to Kill a Dragon from Oxford University Press

“In How to Kill a Dragon Calvert Watkins follows the continuum of poetic formulae in Indo-European languages, from Old Hittite to medieval Irish. He uses the comparative method to reconstruct traditional poetic formulae of considerable complexity that stretch as far back as the original common language. Thus, Watkins reveals the antiquity and tenacity of the Indo-European poetic tradition.

Watkins begins this study with an introduction to the field of comparative Indo-European poetics; he explores the Saussurian notions of synchrony and diachrony, and locates the various Indo-European traditions and ideologies of the spoken word. Further, his overview presents case studies on the forms of verbal art, with selected texts drawn from Indic, Iranian, Greek, Latin, Hittite, Armenian, Celtic, and Germanic languages.

In the remainder of the book, Watkins examines in detail the structure of the dragon/serpent-slaying myths, which recur in various guises throughout the Indo-European poetic tradition. He finds the ‘signature’ formula for the myth—the divine hero who slays the serpent or overcomes adversaries—occurs in the same linguistic form in a wide range of sources and over millennia, including Old and Middle Iranian holy books, Greek epic, Celtic and Germanic sagas, down to Armenian oral folk epic of the last century. Watkins argues that this formula is the vehicle for the central theme of a proto-text, and a central part of the symbolic culture of speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language: the relation of humans to their universe, the values and expectations of their society. Therefore, he further argues, poetry was a social necessity for Indo- European society, where the poet could confer on patrons what they and their culture valued above all else: ‘imperishable fame.'” — back cover