September 20, 2007


Caption: "The pride of the peacock is the glory of God."--Blake

One of William Blake's stranger short works is The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which was written between 1790 and 1793. For him, Heaven seemed to symbolize reason and passivity, while hell meant energy and activity.

Note: Blake's theology, like his art, is highly idiosyncratic. To say the least.

He believed that people need both:

Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason Evil is the active springing from Energy.
Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.

Here's part of the text (minus the art).

Some of his most striking passages are from a section of this work called The Proverbs of Hell. These are short, kind of Zenlike epigrams that seem to anticipate the insights of Freud, Nietzsche, and others. Here's a sample:

Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.

A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.

Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with the bricks of Religion.

What is now proved was once, only imagin'd.

One thought fills immensity.

The eagle never lost so much time. as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

Pretty strong stuff, huh? More is on the way tomorrow.

POSSIBLE MOTIVE IN THE MEGAN WILLIAMS CASE. This is from today's New York Times.

DON'T TELL MY QUAKER EMPLOYERS, but El Cabrero is a big fan of Machiavelli, who has an undeservedly bad reputation. He supported republican forms of government and was even tortured for it. One theme of his was that it was a really bad thing for republics to rely on mercenaries. Speaking of which...

RISKS OF ORGANIZING: According to an international federation of labor unions,

Nearly 150 labour activists were killed worldwide in 2006, a new global trade union said in a report Tuesday outlining a rising tide of violence and harassment against unionists across the globe.

The number killed of activists killed rose to 144 from 115 in 2005, while 800 were injured or tortured and more than 5,000 arrested and 500 jailed, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said.A single country, Colombia, accounted for more than half the victims with 78 unionists killed last year, according to the ITUC’s first annual survey of rights violations since being founded in November 2006.

ARE YOUR FARM ANIMALS TERRORISTS? Don't worry--the Bush administration and big agribusiness are on the case! As Jim Hightower puts it, "This is Animal Farm meets the Marx Brothers!" On the other hand, I trust our goats about as far as I could throw them...

HEALTH INSURANCE A GROWTH INDUSTRY. According to the Economic Policy Institute's latest snapshot:

Economist Paul Krugman and many others have suggested that the health insurance industry has a lot to do with the excessive cost of U.S. health care. As Krugman describes the industry, an important part of its business model is collecting premiums while denying deserving claims and seeking out reasons to exclude patients from coverage they need. It takes a lot of extra employees to do this socially questionable work, and the industry's employment has grown like a weed over the past 10 years.

From August 1997 to August 2007, employment in the health insurance industry grew an astounding 52%, from 293,000 to 444,000.... During the same period, employment among physicians, nurses, and others who provide health services or work to support them grew half as fast, by 26%, from 10,387,000 to 13,042,000. Employment in the economy as a whole grew even more slowly, by only 12% over the same 10-year period... The ratio of health insurance industry employees to health service providers grew from 28 insurance employees per 1,000 provider employers, to 34 per 1,000.



Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Very interesting. I wonder if Blake encountered a Chinese traveler who spoke to him of Yin-Yang?

El Cabrero said...

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? He was one genuine odd duck. Good though!

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