Visionary Imagination, as expressed in the work of William Blake, Patrick White and Brett Whiteley, has given me a new way of seeing and understanding the world.
The English 329 unit Visionary Imagination has undeniably reshaped the way I see and understand the world. Commencing the journey into unlocking my visionary imagination was my introduction into William Blake. Blake’s determination to uncover what the true meaning of life is through his work has reshaped the way I perceive life and religion. Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience has highlighted the way in which life itself has the ability to manipulate people’s perceptions and way of life. His Songs of Innocence praise the naivety of children and their lack of corruption by society. Comparatively, his Songs of Experience take on a sullen tone that explores the dangers of influence that the world can have on our surrounding. These comparisons can be drawn explicitly from parallel poems within Songs of Innocence and Experience. For example, ‘The Nurse’s Song’ is found in both collections. Both begin with ‘When the voices of children are heard on the green’ but both are followed by a line the defines the tone and attitude of the narrator. The happiness within Innocence, the nurse’s ‘heart is at rest within [her] breast, / And everything else is still,’, compared with Experience’s nurse, whose ‘days of [her] youth rise fresh in [her] mind. / [Her] face turns green and pale.’ Through these, Blake has explored the often detrimental effects of the soul that experience often brings. Through him, I have been able to connect with my inner child and remember the simplicity of life that once was.
In his Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake explores the misconceptions that lie within the Bible. He contends common beliefs of the Devil and God, praising the Devil for his passion that the character of God lacks. He highlights how the conventions of the Church detract from spirituality. I explore this notion more here. It was through this critique of conventional religion that Blake reinforces the true meaning of life: to look beyond reality to see what really matters.
This notion of the meaning of life is similarly endorsed by Australian artist, Brett Whiteley. Whitley’s impressively expressive work Alchemy serves as an illustrated essay. Within his work, he makes direct reference to Blake, by alluding to Blake’s ‘grain on sand’ (‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand. And a Heaven in a Wild Flower. Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand. And Eternity in an hour.’ He, too, focuses on the searching for meaning within life. This meaning can be found in the simple, natural elements of the world. The distraction of materialism, consumerism and politics often deters us from our path. See: Brett Whitley’s Alchemy for more information on Alchemy.
Australian writer, Patrick White, seeks to find the answer to the meaning of life and encourages others to do the same within Riders in the Chariot. White undeniably shares common thoughts on spirituality and life that Blake and Whiteley do in an implicit way. What I found particularly potent on White, was his religious stance. This stance underpins all of White’s work. Alf Dubbo, a prime figure within Riders, demonstrates the way in which conventional religion destroys the essence of spirituality. It is in this way that he mirrors the work of Blake. Read White’s Religious Stance to read more about his religious views. Personally, White has drawn my attention to the injustice given to the Aboriginal community, in dismissing the extent of their spirituality. He has triggered empathy within me and gave rise to my own critique of conventional religion within my own community.
It is through the works of William Blake, Patrick White and Brett Whiteley that the way in which I viewed the world has been expounded, and my visionary imagination has been exercised.
My best critical: White’s Religious Stance
My best creative: Brett Whiteley’s Alchemy