I’ve been having trouble with my piles! No! Not those ones silly! The piles of books beside my bed. I’ve been backing up for a while now…. Not the best choice of words. My rate of reading has slowed up due to the bother I have got myself into reading one particular book. The book is Jerusalem by Alan Moore and the problem is that it is just too bloody heavy! Maybe it is since the heart problems or maybe it’s an age thing but weighing in at a kilo and a half , I just couldn’t hold it up to read for very long at a time. It’s a long old book though, it makes Moby Dick look like a Mr Men book and the Lord of the Rings like one of those cheap novellas you get of popular films. I admitted defeat a few weeks back and bought it again on kindle and I hit the quarter mark yesterday, but it still taunts me by telling me that the next chapter will take two or three hours to read.
It’s particularly irking me today as after a few months of getting “the fear” about my next big project and I need to do some research. The inspiration came from the unlikeliest of sources, one which won’t even be getting a mention for his/her/their trouble. I have had a few things hovering about. The monkey, journey to the west is still torrenting me, but to be honest , I don’t think I am technically good enough in certain areas yet to tackle that successfully for the time being, plus I need more distance from the gorillaz version as that seems to be such a benchmark.
Sometimes inspiration creeps up on you, sometimes it clubs you over the head and sometimes it comes flying at you from all angles at once…. Or should that be Angels?
I’ve been thinking a lot about right and wrong, justice and injustice, morality and immorality, vengeance and all those Old Testament style, smote by the wrath of whoever things and how grey and messy they all become when we try and apply them to our lives. Unless someone is Buddha, or the Dalai Lama , we all get caught up in those olde timey emotions and can go off on one, be it through jealousy, wrath, vengeance or whatever, most people, myself included can start off with some sense of feeling aggrieved and do stuff that, when the dust has settled and we get some distance on things, we wish we hadn’t done. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, but we have to remember how very human we are and cope with that on a daily basis.
I guess it is partly that notion of the baseness of humanity that led our ancestors to create notions of the divine, something better to aspire too and, in some religions, notions of hell and demons to punish us when we do wrong.
Without going full Richard Dawkins, it’s easy to see the logic and evolution of divinity. From being the only species on the planet conscious of our own mortality and trying not to go mad through a full on existential crisis due to life being so short, grim, disease ridden and generally unpleasant that the only way of controlling the general population was through the promise of a greater reward in the next world. It’s easy to see the attraction of a heaven up above when, as our ancestors were, we have out feet permanently fixed to the ground and when you see birds flying up in the sky, it’s easy to see the appeal of having wings. I made a pair once, Icarus wings rather than Angel, it was for a schools television programme. The money wasn’t brilliant but I knew my little nephews would see it in class and their uncle’s name would appear in the credits and they would finally get what their mad uncle did with his days. My flat was covered in wax and white feathers for months but it was worth the effort, they didn’t work though, well not without a bit of cgi anyway. From looking at the heavens and marvelling at it all it is just a short leap to imagining Angels.
I’ve met a lot of people who believe in angels, they usually turn out to be the fluffy, good news giving, sort rather than the god’s kneecap merchant variety that meet out the punishment smitings to sinners and assorted wrong doers. Blake saw Angels, which explains a lot. One of the nicest compliments anyone ever paid me was to liken me to a modern day Blake. Of course I assumed she meant Blakey from 70’s tv show “on the buses”, the despotic, tinpot, mini hitler who served as the inspector and all ’round bad guy, that would have made sense, but, no, she meant William Blake, artist, writer, engraver, poet and illustrator and all ’round mad clever cloggs. Oh if only I had a tenth of his talent… I doubt If I even have that. I was a lovely thing to say though, much appreciated!
Like most people of my age, my first introduction to Blake was singing Jerusalem at junior school or rather mumbling along to it in assembly, not really understanding the combination of religious fervour and almost Utopianist political conviction. Blake was fortunate not to have been convicted of sedition or treason in his lifetime and it was a combination of people thinking him barking mad and not understanding what he was talking about that kept him out of Newgate. I suppose the poem tyger was the next thing I heard of, with that bit of extreme assonance around the word symmetry that gets trawled out in English literature classes.
He does a good Heaven does Blake, and Hell for that matter. I’ve always been interested in depictions of both, be they literary or pictorial. From Dante to Clive Barker, Signorelli to Rob Zombie, I do like an ethereal creature. The notion of falling from grace is always a fascinating one. Pride comes before a fall and all that. It’s straight out of the bible that one, Lucifer the Morningstar most beloved and beautiful of angels getting an ego on him and wanting a bit of adoration for himself and being unceremoniously booted out of heaven, there is a wonderful illustration in a book of hours by the Limbourg Brother of this, tiny it is,but so detailed. Many of us fall from grace, sometimes we learn something from it but many people just keep falling, making the same mistakes over and over again, scratching our heads and wondering why something isn’t going right for us. Lucifer really went for it though, becoming the Devil and all that. The notion of the Devil has mutated so much over the centuries, borrowing heavily from the Greek, Roman and Pagan deities, satyrs and the like, anything with, horns, hooves or big pointy teeth, but in the truest sense he is still to be regarded as a prince, and a handsome one at that.
Angels, Devils, Blake and Jerusalem have all been popping up in the strangest of places recently in my world as have those dangerously black and white notions of Old Testament style, eye for an eye vengeance, righteousness and all that crap. Far too clear cut interpretations of very grey, muddy, and obfuscated events. When something presents itself that fully you just have to go with it and hopefully I will learn something from it. You never know, I might actually make a few quid too… Stranger things have happened.