A period to life, death, heaven, and hell!
There is no God: hail, brother! and farewell!
Glory and praise to thee, O Satan, in the height
Of Heaven, where thou didst rule, and in the night
Of Hell, where conquered, dost dream silently!
Grant that one day my soul ‘neath Knowledge-Tree
Rest near thine own soul, when from thy forehead
Like a new temple all its branches spread.
This is not to absolve the world of its ugliness, or to deny that truly fearful things exist in it. But some of these things can be overcome–on the condition that we build an aesthetic on the overcoming rather than the fear.
I recently attended a gay dance/poetry performance of uncompromising hipness: the one black dancer in the troupe had to pretend to fuck a dead sheep.
Part of my self-induced stupidity, I confess, is to believe (& even feel) that art can change me, & change others. That’s why I write pornography & propaganda–to cause change. Art can never mean as much as a love affair, perhaps, or an insurrection. But…to a certain extent…it works.
Fuck! Shit! Let me come
Aleister Crowley, Leah Sublime
E.P. Thompson’s Witness Against the Beast is a wonderful piece of history and criticism. Its subtitle “William Blake and the Moral Law” might have more accurately been “William Blake Against the Moral Law,” since that is the position expressed in Blake’s works. Thompson points the fact out again and again, while noting the earlier critics who have managed to ignore it.
“Inheritance,” the first of the book’s two sections, paints a cultural backdrop for Blake in the world of English antinomian religion. The second “Human Images” treats Blake’s biography and works in relation to that tradition and to the Republican and Deist impulses of the late eighteenth century. Thompson focuses on the Songs of Innocence and Experience, with some attention to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and commissioned paintings. He is very sympathetic to Blake, and avers himself to be a “Muggletonian Marxist” (the first term referencing an antinomian sect which may have influenced Blake through his family). At the same time, he seems careful not to project his own ideas onto Blake — much more careful than most Blake critics of my reading — and not to rashly infer lines of influence or authorial intentions.
The fifteen black and white plates in the book are very well chosen. In the course of illustrating Thompson’s points, they also make up one of the best possible collections of Blake’s images on such a small scale.
“Where are you going, so meek and holy?”
“I’m going to temple to worship Crowley.”
“Crowley is God, then? How did you know?”
“Why, it’s Captain Fuller that told us so.”
While this sort of thing is styled success
I shall not count failure bitterness.
See also The Star in the West.
I see your cheek grow pale and cold,
Then flush above.
Kiss me; I know that I behold
The birth of Love.
Aleister Crowley, A Valentine, ’98.
Old-fashioned love, yet you feel it a fountain
Springing for ever, most pure;
Old-fashioned love, yet as adamant mountain
Solid and sure.
Aleister Crowley, A Valentine (Feb. 14, 1897.)
Dear love, dear wife, dear mother of the child
Whose fair faint features are a match for mine,
Lurks there no secret where your body smiled,
No serpent in the generous draught of wine?
Aleister Crowley, Rosa Inferni, I in Gargoyles