Saturday, April 13, 2013

Three books in the post

I wonder if there is a nearby chapter of Book buyers Anonymous I could join. Today saw three (separate) deliveries. I must stop (or pause at least)!

I bought a second hand copy of Kathleen Raine's 'The Human Face of God: William Blake and the Book of Job', beautifully produced by Thames & Hudson (though all the illustrations are black and white) which, to my surprise, I have not read before. It was Kathleen who gave me a key to understanding Blake and to whose friendship I owe an immeasurable debt giving me, as it did, a trust in my own aesthetic judgements, a renewed confidence to be myself and a wonderful, replenished supply of fruitcake and whiskey (...we often skipped the tea...). I especially wanted to read her closing chapter comparing Blake's interpretation of Job with Jung's since, following my recent re-reading of Jung's 'Memories, Dreams, Reflections', Jung's interpretation of man's role in making God conscious has been on my mind.

This plays into the second arrival: Edward F. Edinger's 'Ego and Archetype' as the classic account of what Jung described as the path of individuation, the journey to psyche wholeness that centres the ego in the Self that is itself an imaging of the divine. The ego is a necessary condition of coming to realisation (rather than simply an illusion) in this account. We are meant to be uniquely our selves, this particular person, yet enfolded in a deeper unity. We do not lose identity in the divine 'oneness', we fully express it.

That captures a real element in the third arrival, "Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan'. Ryokan is the most beloved of Japanese poets and the most eccentric of Zen masters. The poetry captures a paradox of a person wholly transparent in the Spirit and yet wholly themselves. A person who disappears:

"If someone asks
 about the mind of this monk,
 say it is no more than
 a passage of wind
 in the vast sky."

and yet who dances, here, present, fully now, uniquely:

"Won't you sing?
 I will get up and dance.
 How can I sleep
 with the timeless
 moon this evening?"

No comments:

Post a Comment

That Wondrous Pattern

When I was at school, a friend encouraged me to read both the poems and the (three volumes) of autobiography of the poet and Blake scho...