?

Log in







The Marriage of

ghost-h1.gifghost-e2.gifghost-v2.gifghost-e2.gifghost-n2.gif 
 

and

cryst_h.gifcryst_e.gifcryst_l.gifcryst_l.gif







I found this week so interesting!! I have not loved any text like I did The Marriage of Heaven and Hell since I read George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four. I think Blake is so brilliant in expressing his radical ideas and in making fun of social follies in the meantime. I can only imagine how blasphemous and heretical the piece seemed in Blake’s time when even in the 21st century when we jave developed so much and have apparently opened up our minds to healthy discussion, some parts of this book can still make us cringe. One example that really shocked me and I’m sure would’ve shocked Blake’s readers back then was the line,

“Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”

 I was like “Whoa! Wait a minute, B!!” when I read this. That’s going a bit far but I guess that is part of his style, caricature. He is stressing the fact that we should follow the infernal energies and not restrain ourselves because

“Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained;” 

I found this pretty hilarious because it is so unusual. Apparently will power is a strength. Well that’s what we have been led to believe and that’s what the church has upheld for centuries. Now Blake comes along and claims that it is because the desires are not strone enough implying a detriment of character of those who do not just go for what they want. Pretty cool in a way. But I have to be a wet sponge now and say that we diod something like this in Christian ethics when we looked at the philosophical theories which have influenced Christian ethics. I found it interesting that Kantianism that encourages seeking pleasure and that everybody should do what makes them happy. The problem with this was that one person’s happiness may impinge on the happiness of another. I have to also stop an mention another philosophy that has sprung up because we also did it in Christian ethics when we did Kantianism but also because it relates to Blake’s beliefs in The Marriage. It is, if I remember correctly, Aristotelianism which promotes treating everybody as an “end” and “never as a means to an end”. I think this is a very beautiful philosophy and is very Blakean in that it recognises the Divinity of Man, of which Blake was such a strong believer, being the humanitarian that he was. "All deities", he says, "reside in the human breast" as can be seen on the plate above.
 




These are some of my favourite lines form this text:

PRISONS ARE BUILT WITH STONES OF LAW, BROTHELS WITH BRICKS OF RELIGION. This is a very strong belief of Blake’s. He was so ANTI-RULES and moral codes. He believed this just made people want to rebel all the more and made them feel guilty for things they shouldn’t. If religion didn’t have so many rules about monogamy and prudence, abstinence etc. people would not need to sneak away to brothels!!!!
I also love when Blake talks about the caterpillar choosing the best leaves upon which to lay its legs so the priest chooses the finest to poison with his pestilent rules and bondage.

IF OTHERS HAD NOT BEEN FOOLISH WE SHOULD BE SO. This is so true. Don’t mock someone who’s foolish because if they didn’t make the mistake you may have. We don’t only learn from our mistakes but we learn from those of others.

 

I could go on and on but I’ll stop there… I really enjoyed this and this is my favourite Blakean piece only because he packs so many universal ideas into so few words. FANTASTIC IT IS!!!!!

Literature Entry Week 11, Semester 2, 2008


 

Well I thought that it would be wise to dedicate this week's entry to Behrendt's essay that we are supposed to refer to in our Blake essay. Behrendt refers to a "third text" in Blake's illuminated books.  He says that relation between the visual and verbal text generates a "third text" or "meta-text". He calls it a "third text" because it is not simply the "sum" of the visual and verbal texts. It is a whole new text altogether. I understand what he is saying because a lot of the time the images don't simply illustrate what is written in the songs, they change and add extra dimensions.

I especially liked the way he said that we must
"digest" the texts because reading Blake is not just flat reading. It's something else. I think it has something to do with what MG claims as the power of poetry (that it does not merely comment on life, it actually embodies it). I always found that to be a very nice way of defining poetry and distinguishing it from other types of writing. Behrendt describes the process of "digest[ing] Blake as "a distinctly physical process through which we quite literally internalise the texts".



 

Digesting Poetry????




I have to add I think Behrendt describes Blake's purpose quite accurately:

"Blake seems in his art to be aiming at creating a hermeneutic community whose members sharea  common language".

I thought this was beautiful and that Blake would be very proud!! He seems always to strive for diversity and contrary interpretation.

I really enjoyed reading this essay.... Nice choice MG!

 

Literature Entry week 10, Semester 2 2008

 






The Marriage of


ghost-h1.gifghost-e2.gifghost-v2.gifghost-e2.gifghost-n2.gif 
 

and

cryst_h.gifcryst_e.gifcryst_l.gifcryst_l.gif







I found this week so interesting!! I have not loved any text like I did The Marriage of Heaven and Hell since I read George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four. I think Blake is so brilliant in expressing his radical ideas and in making fun of social follies in the meantime. I can only imagine how blasphemous and heretical the piece seemed in Blake’s time when even in the 21st century when we jave developed so much and have apparently opened up our minds to healthy discussion, some parts of this book can still make us cringe. One example that really shocked me and I’m sure would’ve shocked Blake’s readers back then was the line,

“Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”

 I was like “Whoa! Wait a minute, B!!” when I read this. That’s going a bit far but I guess that is part of his style, caricature. He is stressing the fact that we should follow the infernal energies and not restrain ourselves because

“Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained;” 

I found this pretty hilarious because it is so unusual. Apparently will power is a strength. Well that’s what we have been led to believe and that’s what the church has upheld for centuries. Now Blake comes along and claims that it is because the desires are not strone enough implying a detriment of character of those who do not just go for what they want. Pretty cool in a way. But I have to be a wet sponge now and say that we diod something like this in Christian ethics when we looked at the philosophical theories which have influenced Christian ethics. I found it interesting that Kantianism that encourages seeking pleasure and that everybody should do what makes them happy. The problem with this was that one person’s happiness may impinge on the happiness of another. I have to also stop an mention another philosophy that has sprung up because we also did it in Christian ethics when we did Kantianism but also because it relates to Blake’s beliefs in The Marriage. It is, if I remember correctly, Aristotelianism which promotes treating everybody as an “end” and “never as a means to an end”. I think this is a very beautiful philosophy and is very Blakean in that it recognises the Divinity of Man, of which Blake was such a strong believer, being the humanitarian that he was. "All deities", he says, "reside in the human breast" as can be seen on the plate above.
 




These are some of my favourite lines form this text:

PRISONS ARE BUILT WITH STONES OF LAW, BROTHELS WITH BRICKS OF RELIGION. This is a very strong belief of Blake’s. He was so ANTI-RULES and moral codes. He believed this just made people want to rebel all the more and made them feel guilty for things they shouldn’t. If religion didn’t have so many rules about monogamy and prudence, abstinence etc. people would not need to sneak away to brothels!!!!
I also love when Blake talks about the caterpillar choosing the best leaves upon which to lay its legs so the priest chooses the finest to poison with his pestilent rules and bondage.

IF OTHERS HAD NOT BEEN FOOLISH WE SHOULD BE SO. This is so true. Don’t mock someone who’s foolish because if they didn’t make the mistake you may have. We don’t only learn from our mistakes but we learn from those of others.

 

I could go on and on but I’ll stop there… I really enjoyed this and this is my favourite Blakean piece only because he packs so many universal ideas into so few words. FANTASTIC IT IS!!!!!


Week 9 Entry - Comment on Alwyn's Post

Hi Alwyn,
How are you? I am one of Michael's students at uni. My name is Bianca.
I think it's fantastic that you have created a livejournal. I liked your story. I can really feel your appreciation of the ordinary things in life. You pay great attention to detail and I like your description of the woman with the croc! That would have been funny to see... I think it's really nice that you notice all the people around you and I can really sense a value for human interaction in your writing. I know exactly how you feel by choosing not to swim and just endure the heat. I do that at the beach too. I won't go in the water until it's completely unbearable in the sun anymore. I've waited long enough for Summer! I wanna feel the heat!!!
Anyway, good luck with your livejournal. Feel free to look at mine and if you need any pointers or anything like that, uploading images and videos and things like that, I'd love to help.
Nice to meet you
Bianca

Literature Entry Week 8 Semester 2 2008

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary!! 

"Mary" By William Blake
A COLLABERATIVE POEM OF BLAKE”S BRILLIANT IDEAS

 

I found this poem extremely interesting and the varied interpretation sfrom the tut with MG were rather intriguing. After reading it again at home, in peace and quiet, I was most interested by, what I sees as, Blake’s allusions to his other works which were not mentioned by anyone in our tuts which seems strange. I thought that the line, “Her lilies and roses are blighted & shed”, alluded to Oothoon plucking the flower from the nymph in The Daughters of Albion and The Sick Rose which suggest that innocence has been lost or a first sexual encounter has occurred. The upper case “N” for night also reminds me of Night from “The Songs of Innocence”.  The Human Divine reminds me of The Divine Image song from The Songs of Innocence and its corresponding song The Human Abstract from “The Songs of Experience” because it emphasises how we have ruined the divine image of human form with abstract thinking, in this case ENVY, SCORN and DISDAIN.

 

I also found it interesting that her reputation transforms from innocent to experienced and that there are two contrary views of Mary, which is very Blakean.

 

On another note, Mary reminds me of Jock McIvor in Remembering Babylon because she feels alienated puts on a different face to be accepted by her so called friends.

 

Her inability to differentiate between day and night also reminds us of the distraught Theotormon, in The Daughters of Albion who also cannot distinguish between day and night because of his overwhelming jealousy and insecurity because of Oothoon’s rape.

 

I thought it was interesting that Nicole thought it might be about Mary Magdeline and others thought it was about The Virgin Mary. These are both viable interpretations as Blake did refer to theological teachings in many of his works.

 

That’s all for now

Toodaloo...

Literature Entry Week 7 Semester 2 2008


This week we looked at a beautiful little poem from The Songs of Innocence called “The Little Black Boy”. The sad perspective that the child presents is one of racial discrimination of which he has obviously been a subject by his mother and surely other social influences (probably the “whites”). He feels as though he needs to justify his skin colour and this feeling of shame has probably indirectly come from his mother’s need for justification as she tells him about why their skin is black. I find the illuminations of these poems rather interesting though because the little boy speaks of he and the white boy relinquishing their clouds (skin colours) in the presence of God but the illumination shows the black boy still black and the white boy still white… What the? Has Blake accidentally forgotten what he wrote in his song or is he doing it on purpose to make a statement that such an ideal world of equality will never exist, not even in the afterlife??? I don’t think he would say that. But then again he is all “for” contraries. Perhaps in Blake’s idea of heaven, there still exist contraries and individuality of physical appearance and mind….??? Interesting…Also I was thinking why would the child want to be like the white boy, “And be like him and he will then love me”. Why would this sweet little boy want to be like this egotistic, little terror that can’t love anybody that is different to him. It is a real shame if all children would end up like this apathetic little white boy in the presence of God. And why doesn’t Blake use Jesus instead of God? I think I might have to read up on it because the figure in the image looks like Jesus. I think the poem would have retained its significance if “Jesus” was used throughout the poem instead of “God”.



The Shenanigans of Charmagne.
 
Damn this mascara! You’d think after $47.95 and corporations spending millions of dollars in brush technology, someone could come up with a mascara that was tear-proof. Why does a woman have to end up looking like a black-and-white cat-foot every time she tries to chop an onion? Now I’m going to have to start again. I hold my head back to avoid leaking black ink onto my satin dress or the onions on the board. I just want everything to be perfect for Cain. He’s the first man actually worth preparing a meal for. I just can’t believe I’ve finally done it. I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. And boy do I deserve him after what I’ve been through. It’s all finally paid off and I’m ready to start reaping the profits.
 
In my subconscious I always knew there was something better out there. It was just a matter of sifting through the men that came before him. Not like those other women who just settle. Nup. I’ve never been a settler.
 
An interior designer. Who would’ve thought? I guess it was the creative flair that was missing from those other losers. But it’s not just that. I can tick every box: articulate, athletic, gorgeous, sensitive, tough. And I know he’s smitten too. I knew it from the start. His eyes were in constant motion, unreservedly outlining the contours of my body. How could he resist? I had planned it precisely. I was in my most flattering, jade green camisole; my perfectly molded Bettina Liano jeans; and my tan-coloured kitten heels that provided that necessary, subtle lift without looking too dressed up for a lunch date. Cain wasn’t dressed too badly himself. It is so refreshing to finally find a normal guy that fulfills all the criteria.  Not like those other JERKS
 
Take Kevin for instance. I thought he had it all. He was so charming until the topic of food came up that awful night at Café Mix. With his lizard-like tongue, he did one quick round of his thin lips, then moving his saliva-drenched tongue off the roof of his mouth, he made the revolting sound of moist macaroni being stirred. I thought it may have been a one off, until they brought the crème Broulee. “Mmmm...num..num...” He exclaimed his enthusiasm at the dessert with a slurp of the excess spit. The dessert formed a paste in his open mouth, as he ventured the spoon towards mine, the grooves of his lips still visible. At that point, I had to escape. In the ladies’, as I stared at the bare white walls, in my mind I could see Kevin. At the dining table. At breakfast.  At lunch and dinner. Three meals a day. 365 x 3 = 1095 declarations of spat deliciousness. Argh! No. I couldn’t do it. I left him with the bill, turned back to reconsider and was reassured as I saw him in the dim candlelight, his tongue wrapped in the foil of the after-dinner mint. It was over. I went to the library, seeking some sort of distraction from what I had just witnessed.
 

At first I’d thought I’d struck the lottery with Norman.
 
When I reached for William Blake’s The Songs of Innocence and Experience and saw his hand, I was taken aback by the face that the arm belonged to. His warm, mocha brown eyes peered up at me as our hands briefly touched on the cover. He quickly retracted his arm, “Pardon me“, he whispered, “it is yours, my dear. To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t bought a copy yet.” It wasn’t long before we were discussing and discovering the many meanings of Blake’s works over a hot cup of tea every Sunday afternoon. Meetings in the park soon turned to meetings at my place.  It was one Sunday afternoon when we were immersed in literary conversation about Bake’s The School Boy. He glanced down at his wrist watch and politely concluded our exchange, “Well, it’s getting pretty late, I’d better be off, my dear. Don’t get up, I’ll let myself out.” I felt a strange feeling as the words escaped his mouth. I didn’t want him to go. It was the first time I had ever felt like stopping a man from leaving. I knew I couldn’t object, without seeming desperate, so I let him slowly stand up and gather his books into his carry basket. As the door shut, I listened until I could no longer hear the soft pit pat of his moccasins in the hallway. I glanced over to where he had been sitting and an unexpected reflex lead my arm to seek some comfort in the warmth of where his body had been. As my arm made contact with the leather I felt an unusual texture. I glanced down to get a closer look and saw that the beige leather was strewn with tiny, black cat hair. I soon discovered it wasn’t just on the sofa, it was all over the apartment. Cat hair everywhere. On the handle of his tea-cup. In the bathroom sink. On the TV remote control. I looked around my living room and pictured myself surrounded by a motley crew of cats all meowing for their milk; and Norman frantically tearing out the Songs of Innocence, page-by-page, to line the giant kitty litter box.  Norman had to go.

 
It seemed after that, Mick was just what I needed: brute, masculine and active. And he didn’t own any cats. I couldn’t believe my luck on our first date when he suggested that we drive to Bundeena to have a beach-side barbecue. I was tired of being buried in Blake in the confines of my living room. At the beach, the sound of the waves crashing took me to a refreshing, new place: liberation. Skulling a VB with the sweat trickling over his Adam’s apple, slowly running down the veins of his thick neck to his sculpted pecks, sat Mick. There was something extremely appealing about the uncomplicated nature of this man. A list was needed.
  1. Drives a ute
  2. Wears thongs
  3. One word answers, “Yeeehhh”, “Nup”, “Dunno”
  4. Reads Hot 4s magazines
Then there was the drive home. As I pulled up to the petrol pump, he offered, “I’ll fill your tank, babe”. Practical too! He filled the tank ‘til he heard the click, approached me at my window and asked if I had cash or a card.
  1. Tight-arse.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Had he really just offered to fill my tank then asked for the money to pay for it? As I waited for him to return to the car with my change I had a vision. I saw my mailbox overflowing with Mick’s bills. I imagined myself receiving a reverse charged international phone call every now and again when Mick was low on cash, making endless trips to the Western Union Money Transfer while he lived it up on a beach in the South of France.  We drove home in a silence only broken by the occasional “What’s wrong, babe?” and repaired with my repetitive replies, “Nothing”. That day when I dropped Mick off I dropped him for good.
 
I am suddenly jolted out of my spiral of thoughts by the sound of the phone. My heart speeds up as I let the mandatory “I’m not holding my breath” rings sound out, with my hand floating an inch above the receiver. It must be Cain calling to say he’s almost here.
“Cai… I mean… Hello, Charmagne speaking?”
“Hello, Charmagne. It’s Cain.”
“Oh, hi. How are you?”, I reply, trying to sound as casual as possible.
“I’m well but I don’t think I’ll be coming over for dinner.”
My manners escape me, “Why not?”
“Well, it’s just that... I don’t think you’re quite my type.”
“What do you mean, I’m not ‘your type’?”
“Well, if you must know, it was what you wore the other day when I took you out for lunch”.
“What was wrong with what I was wearing?”
“Hasn’t anybody ever told you? Blueand greenshould never be seen without a colour in between.”
I could not believe my ears. The nerve of this guy. How can anyone be so picky? So intolerant? I was shocked at his superficiality. What did he expect? Perfection?
“Excuse me? Is this some sort of a joke, Cain? How can you judge a person’s entire character on such an insignificant detail?
“Well, to tell you the truth, it’s not just that.”
“What else then?”
“If you’d really like to know, I have a list.”

 

The Shenanigans of Charmagne.
 
Damn this mascara! You’d think after $47.95 and corporations spending millions of dollars in brush technology, someone could come up with a mascara that was tear-proof. Why does a woman have to end up looking like a black-and-white cat-foot every time she tries to chop an onion? Now I’m going to have to start again. I hold my head back to avoid leaking black ink onto my satin dress or the onions on the board. I just want everything to be perfect for Cain. He’s the first man actually worth preparing a meal for. I just can’t believe I’ve finally done it. I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. And boy do I deserve him after what I’ve been through. It’s all finally paid off and I’m ready to start reaping the profits.
 
In my subconscious I always knew there was something better out there. It was just a matter of sifting through the men that came before him. Not like those other women who just settle. Nup. I’ve never been a settler.
 
An interior designer. Who would’ve thought? I guess it was the creative flair that was missing from those other losers. But it’s not just that. I can tick every box: articulate, athletic, gorgeous, sensitive, tough. And I know he’s smitten too. I knew it from the start. His eyes were in constant motion, unreservedly outlining the contours of my body. How could he resist? I had planned it precisely. I was in my most flattering, jade green camisole; my perfectly molded Bettina Liano jeans; and my tan-coloured kitten heels that provided that necessary, subtle lift without looking too dressed up for a lunch date. Cain wasn’t dressed too badly himself. It is so refreshing to finally find a normal guy that fulfills all the criteria.  Not like those other JERKS
 
Take Kevin for instance. I thought he had it all. He was so charming until the topic of food came up that awful night at Café Mix. With his lizard-like tongue, he did one quick round of his thin lips, then moving his saliva-drenched tongue off the roof of his mouth, he made the revolting sound of moist macaroni being stirred. I thought it may have been a one off, until they brought the crème Broulee. “Mmmm...num..num...” He exclaimed his enthusiasm at the dessert with a slurp of the excess spit. The dessert formed a paste in his open mouth, as he ventured the spoon towards mine, the grooves of his lips still visible. At that point, I had to escape. In the ladies’, as I stared at the bare white walls, in my mind I could see Kevin. At the dining table. At breakfast.  At lunch and dinner. Three meals a day. 365 x 3 = 1095 declarations of spat deliciousness. Argh! No. I couldn’t do it. I left him with the bill, turned back to reconsider and was reassured as I saw him in the dim candlelight, his tongue wrapped in the foil of the after-dinner mint. It was over. I went to the library, seeking some sort of distraction from what I had just witnessed.
 
At first I’d thought I’d struck the lottery with Norman.
 
When I reached for William Blake’s The Songs of Innocence and Experience and saw his hand, I was taken aback by the face that the arm belonged to. His warm, mocha brown eyes peered up at me as our hands briefly touched on the cover. He quickly retracted his arm, “Pardon me“, he whispered, “it is yours, my dear. To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t bought a copy yet.” It wasn’t long before we were discussing and discovering the many meanings of Blake’s works over a hot cup of tea every Sunday afternoon. Meetings in the park soon turned to meetings at my place.  It was one Sunday afternoon when we were immersed in literary conversation about Bake’s The School Boy. He glanced down at his wrist watch and politely concluded our exchange, “Well, it’s getting pretty late, I’d better be off, my dear. Don’t get up, I’ll let myself out.” I felt a strange feeling as the words escaped his mouth. I didn’t want him to go. It was the first time I had ever felt like stopping a man from leaving. I knew I couldn’t object, without seeming desperate, so I let him slowly stand up and gather his books into his carry basket. As the door shut, I listened until I could no longer hear the soft pit pat of his moccasins in the hallway. I glanced over to where he had been sitting and an unexpected reflex lead my arm to seek some comfort in the warmth of where his body had been. As my arm made contact with the leather I felt an unusual texture. I glanced down to get a closer look and saw that the beige leather was strewn with tiny, black cat hair. I soon discovered it wasn’t just on the sofa, it was all over the apartment. Cat hair everywhere. On the handle of his tea-cup. In the bathroom sink. On the TV remote control. I looked around my living room and pictured myself surrounded by a motley crew of cats all meowing for their milk; and Norman frantically tearing out the Songs of Innocence, page-by-page, to line the giant kitty litter box.  Norman had to go.
 
 
It seemed after that, Mick was just what I needed: brute, masculine and active. And he didn’t own any cats. I couldn’t believe my luck on our first date when he suggested that we drive to Bundeena to have a beach-side barbecue. I was tired of being buried in Blake in the confines of my living room. At the beach, the sound of the waves crashing took me to a refreshing, new place: liberation. Skulling a VB with the sweat trickling over his Adam’s apple, slowly running down the veins of his thick neck to his sculpted pecks, sat Mick. There was something extremely appealing about the uncomplicated nature of this man. A list was needed.
  1. Drives a ute
  2. Wears thongs
  3. One word answers, “Yeeehhh”, “Nup”, “Dunno”
  4. Reads Hot 4s magazines
Then there was the drive home. As I pulled up to the petrol pump, he offered, “I’ll fill your tank, babe”. Practical too! He filled the tank ‘til he heard the click, approached me at my window and asked if I had cash or a card.
  1. Tight-arse.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Had he really just offered to fill my tank then asked for the money to pay for it? As I waited for him to return to the car with my change I had a vision. I saw my mailbox overflowing with Mick’s bills. I imagined myself receiving a reverse charged international phone call every now and again when Mick was low on cash, making endless trips to the Western Union Money Transfer while he lived it up on a beach in the South of France.  We drove home in a silence only broken by the occasional “What’s wrong, babe?” and repaired with my repetitive replies, “Nothing”. That day when I dropped Mick off I dropped him for good.

 
I am suddenly jolted out of my spiral of thoughts by the sound of the phone. My heart speeds up as I let the mandatory “I’m not holding my breath” rings sound out, with my hand floating an inch above the receiver. It must be Cain calling to say he’s almost here.
“Cai… I mean… Hello, Charmagne speaking?”
“Hello, Charmagne. It’s Cain.”
“Oh, hi. How are you?”, I reply, trying to sound as casual as possible.
“I’m well but I don’t think I’ll be coming over for dinner.”
My manners escape me, “Why not?”
“Well, it’s just that... I don’t think you’re quite my type.”
“What do you mean, I’m not ‘your type’?”
“Well, if you must know, it was what you wore the other day when I took you out for lunch”.
“What was wrong with what I was wearing?”
“Hasn’t anybody ever told you? Blueand greenshould never be seen without a colour in between.”
I could not believe my ears. The nerve of this guy. How can anyone be so picky? So intolerant? I was shocked at his superficiality. What did he expect? Perfection?
“Excuse me? Is this some sort of a joke, Cain? How can you judge a person’s entire character on such an insignificant detail?
“Well, to tell you the truth, it’s not just that.”
“What else then?”
“If you’d really like to know, I have a list.”
 

LITERATURE ENTRY WEEK 5, SEMESTER 2, 2008

Visual Literacy in Blake's Art
I know this is an anachronismbut I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I wonder if we could apply Kress and Van Leuhen’s framework of visual literacy to Blake’s paintings. We have recently been studying this in English C & T and I often try to look for vectors, salient features and symbolic colouring in Blake’s art. For those who have never studied visual literacy before I’d like to give a brief overview of the framework that I prepared for an English C & T assignment. Then I will attempt to apply what I have learned to a selection of Blake paintings.
 
Participants and Presentational Processes
·       Participants are people or objects in a picture. They can be human and non-human. If you are trying to figure out which are the participants in an image, complete the sentence, “This is a picture of…”
·       There are different types of processes that can occur between the participants in an image:
1)                 Processes described as actional are those in which one participant interacts with another (e.g. one participant is doing something to another person or thing).
2)               If the image has only one participant the action is a non-transactional process as there is nothing/nobody else to interact with.
3)               When the relation between two or more participants is the result of a look or a gaze, the process is described as reactional.
Colour
Colours can be used in images to create a particular mood or feeling. The symbolic meanings of colours can change from one image to the next. In one visual image, red may suggest passion. It another it may suggest danger.
Colour
Meanings associated
Blue
Peace, tranquillity, truth, dignity, power, melancholy, coolness, heaviness. Regarded as being therapeutic.
Yellow
Happiness, cheerfulness. Can denote caution, decay and sickness.
Red
Warmth, urgency, passion, heat, blood, excitement, danger and hostility. Used as an accent colour, it can promote expectations and quick decision-making.
Green
Growth, fertility, health, cheerfulness, vegetation, money. Signifies life, new growth, energy and faith.
Grey
Cool detachment, bleakness, and lack of intensity.
Purple
Wealth, royalty, sophistication, intelligence. Also the colour of passion and love.
Black
Death, rebellion, strength and evil. Associated with the supernatural, it can also suggest inner strength and determination, as well as power and formality.
White
Purity, chastity and cleanliness.
Black and White
Nostalgia, seriousness, truth, detachment.
Brown
Credibility, stability and neutrality.
Orange
Warmth, strength of personality. Associated with autumn, it also has broad appeal.
 
Perspective
·       In subjective images, everything is arranged for the viewer, involving them and encouraging a particular point of view. The participants are usually arranged to face the viewer.
·       In objective images, viewers are simply required to view what is going on in the image and are not involved in any way. Viewers would probably see the participants from a horizontal oblique angle (not facing the participants). This is to say, “You are not part of my world” giving the reader space and encouraging objectivity.
·       If the reader is positioned to see the back of a character, this suggests that the character is vulnerable or weak.
·       Vertical angles are used to show power.
·       High angles, give characters strength and authority.
·       Low angles give a character inferiority or weakness.
 
Lighting
·       Lighting in images gives meaning.
·       Shadows may suggest that something is concealed about a character.
·       Bright light might suggest a sense of hope.
·       The significance of a participant can be highlighted by directing light towards it (illuminating it).
·       Softer light can create a romantic mood.
 
Modality
·       Modality describes the degree of “credibility” in a visual text.
·       Modality is achieved through colours. The degree of modality depends on how real the colouring is. If an image is similar to the way it would really be seen through the human eye, then it has a high modality. If the colours appear to be unrealistic in terms of what they are depicting (e.g. a green sky) then this is low modality.
 
Vectors, Salience and Reading Path
·       Salience  is the “visual weight” allocated to elements in an image.
·       Salience is created through the use of things like size, colour, placement and distance.
·       The salient elements determine how our eyes wander around the page.
·       Vectors lead the reader from one element to another.
·       They may take the form of visible or invisible lines, like a gaze, pointed fingers, extended arms, an outstretched.
·       The reading path is taken through the salient elements of the image by way of the vectors.
·       The path begins with the most salient element and moves to other less salient elements.
 
Compositional Axes
·       The vertical axis of an image creates a structure called the given and the new.
·       The left side is called the given. Elements placed here are known and familiar to the viewer making this a good starting point for the message.
·       The right side is called the new. Elements placed here are representations of what is not known, and are crucial to the point of the message.
·       The horizontal axis creates a structure known as the ideal and the real.
·       The elements in the upper section are known as the ideal and are the more salient features of the image.
·       The elements represented in the real are more specific, factual or practically orientated information.
 
Gaze: Offer and Demand
·       The gaze of the characters can be referred to as an offer or a demand.
·       In an offer the viewer is watching what is going on in the image as an outsider looking in and the gaze of the characters is directed at other elements in the image.
·       In a demand a character will be looking straight out of the page at the view as if to say, “What do you think of this, viewer?”
 
Social Distance
·       Social distance is the term used to describe the proximity of the reader to the characters in the image.
·       If the image is a long shot it distances the reader from the characters.
·       If the image is a medium shot, this is a comfortable distance.
·       If it is a close-up image this can either be very intimate or confronting.


Application to Blake's Work
 
 
I think this image is a perfect example of the “given” and “new”. I can’t remember whether they are positioned adjacent in the original book of the Songs of Innocence and Experience but this is how I found them in Google Images. If this is so then it is a great example because the given information on the left is the “joy” which is the expected reaction of parents to the birth and infancy of a child. We expect all parents to be overwhelmed with joy for their children. Nurturing and affectionate as the image portrays. On the right we are shown the “new” information or the unexpected. “Infant Sorrow”. This is not the norm and comes as a shock because it does not comply with parenting conventions. The mother looks as though she doesn’t know what to do unlike the mother on the left page. She has her arms outstretched as though she is asking, “What? What do you want now?”