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Reading Response: The Revolutionary Vision of William Blake, By Thomas J. J. Altizer

William Blake is commonly known to be the greatest modern day prophet. Ideally it was not always this way. It was not until a century after his death that William Blake’s extraordinary stature as a poet, engraver, and painter became greatly recognized.  In the article The Revolutionary Vision of William Blake, the author Thomas J. J. Altizer discusses the several arguments of Blake’s thoughts regarding his anti- capitalism nature and his opinion on civilization. Even though he has made several influences the two things that his work has not influenced is religion and our politics. Despite this, he is still said to be our greatest modern prophet.  Both common politics, and common religion today can be known as inversions or reversals of Blake’s vision, and that alone gives a way into his vision. That vision which is found profoundly centered on Jesus. The article goes on to introduce the different visions of Satan himself compared to John Milton’s version.  “Blake names an absolute self-alienation as Satan, but this occurs through his own gradual transformation as a visionary, wholly transforming his earlier vision of Satan, and only now is called forth as the uniquely Christian creator” (Altizer 35). Most of this article compares to Blake’s past work by connecting it to our modern day.  It goes into depth about Christ and the crucifixion, how self-annihilation is the ultimate sacrifice, hence a sacrifice inseparable from the sacrifice of Christ. This article explains Blake’s ultimate views on religion as a whole.  It takes Christianity and shows how it has been completely reversed comprehensively in its historical evolution, and that it was originally an apocalyptic faith or way.  William Blake was christened, married, and buried by the rites of the Church of England, but his beliefs were likely to outrage the orthodox. In A Vision of the Last Judgment he wrote that “the Creator of this World is a very Cruel Being,” whom Blake called Urizen, and in his emblem book For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise, he addressed Satan as “The Accuser who is The God of This World.” Even though William Blake was a Christian, he did not conform to any denomination within the Christian faith. William Blake became aware of the theory that God was man. Blake expresses this through his poem, the "Songs of Innocence", "The Divine Image" where he asserts that "Where mercy love and pity dwell, there God is dwelling too". He also says that love is "the human form divine". Even though Blake was raised in the Christian religion, his thoughts and opinions that wandered away from the Christian ways, and opinions of others from doing so never seemed to stop him from believing in what he did. This explains why no poet or artist has been more refused or evaded by theology than Blake himself.

Before reading this article I never could grasp William Blake’s take on religion, through each poem we read and discussed it all seemed to connect to the bible in some aspect. This article helped me understand what Blake really thought about Christianity. Even being raised Christian, he formed his own thoughts and opinions on what he thought made sense and tested those theories through his art and literature. This article discusses his views own Satan and Christ, and their relation’s with each other and how they reversed the concept of the Christian religion. Even though William Blake’s work was not very popular during his lifetime due to his opinions, he became one of the greatest prophesy of our time. What I like about Blake is not only his work but how he never let other people’s opinions of him get in that way of his passion for art and literature. Blake was influenced by other artists to create his own works of art, William Blake actually used John Milton’s idea of Satan to create his own in The Paradise Lost. This was illustrated more often than any other work by John Milton and more often than that of any other writer. I feel that Blake always had an open mind to everything that thought up or made into fact before forming his own opinion, but when he formed his opinion he always stood by it. This article helped me understand not only what William Blake accomplished as a whole, nor what others believed in but how he always stood by his opinions, and his beliefs.

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