Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Few, Very Few, Questions On Blake and Nietzsche

Me to Roger:

So here are two sets of questions. In Blake we have the vindication of conventionally considered evil--evil for Blake the energy arrayed against the forms of order. Isn't The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell a vision of an encompassing reality that inverts received notions of morality in order to create that encompassing vision, so that, for example, the youth will no longer pine away with desire and the pale virgin will no longer lie dead shrouded in snow? 

But then doesn't that embrace of the energy of evil have to be put together with Blake's morality as evident in his social outrage, itself instanced, for example, by a poem like London? For I have no understanding of anything nihilistic in Blake. I can imagine an understanding of his metaphysics such that that reconciliation--his embrace of evil and his outrage at injustice--can be well understood. Maybe the answer is in "the palace of wisdom?"

Also, Blake's lamb doesn't reemerge in some new vision of innocence, does it?

The second set of questions concerns differentiating Blake from Nietzsche in arguably important ways, even while seeing some obvious confluences, following from the first set of questions. As there seems to be no suggestion of nihilism in Blake, there is a universal association between Nietzsche and nihilism. The nature of that nihilism, if that's an accurate characterization of a fundamental part of Nietzsche's thinking, may be controversial but that controversy presupposes nihilism's important existence in his thought.

I'm unaware of anything in Nietzsche's work analogous to Blake's social outrage, no railing against against the suffering of the meek and the downtrodden including what may be the subject of Blake's most savage indictment--the often mortal exploitation of children. Rather, Nietzsche appears not only indifferent to what fires Blake's ferocious indignation, he envisions his ubermenschen, if necessary, being cruel and heedless in their fulfillment of their lives, and riding herd by autocratic rule over the masses, whose mediocrity Nietzsche despised, as he despised mediocrity itself, which he saw democracy as institutionalizing. So where Blake envisions liberating and uplifting the weak and the downtrodden, Nietzsche condemns them to what his metaphysics decrees to be the necessity of their fate. 

And so isn't the spirit as child at the end of The Three Metamorphoses qualitatively different from what Blake finally envisions in both his earlier and later work, in which, he calls for self sacrifice and forgiveness, very unNietzschean like virtues?

Nietzsche drives, does he not, to a kind of private virtue and liberation, in which truth is relative to whatever the self-creating spirit as child creates out of itself in rolling perpetuity:

 ....The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a sacred Yes. For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred Yes is needed: the spirit now wills his own will; the world's outcast now conquers his own world...

And, finally, given Nietzsche's  dismissive indifference to social suffering as injustice, in contradistinction to Blake's outrage at it and incorporation of its remedying in his redemptive vision,  isn't Nietzsche's spirit as child rather precious?

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