The Eternal Body

Man has no Body distinct from his Soul, says Blake (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Plate 4); or as Gendlin puts it, ‘There is no body separate from process’ (1998, IV-A.c).

Blake’s Body is Eternal, as everything ‘exists’ in this Body where ‘not one sigh nor smile nor tear, one hair nor particle of dust, not one can pass away’ (Jerusalem 13:66-14:1). In this respect they are like qualities (Firsts) in Peirce: ‘a quality is eternal, independent of time and of any realization’ (CP 1.420, c.1896). A process, on the other hand, must involve time and thus Peirce’s Thirdness.

In Blake’s Jerusalem (5:19), he takes it as the ‘great task’ of the artist

To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination.

‘Expanding’ would have to be a process, which takes time, just as meaning does. Imagination is meaning spacetime, and must be ‘ever expanding’ because it contains everything that exists or has existed: it is the Eternal Now. But as the ‘Eternal Body of Man’, of which we are all Members, it must also be a process, a living process (though Blake would not use that term). This recalls the metaphor of the human community as members of the body of Christ, developed at length by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12. Of course, to Paul, this was not ‘merely’ a metaphor: to be a Christian was to live in Christ. To Blake, this meant to live ‘in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination,’ the Eternal Body.

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