Monday, January 01, 2007

A Memorable Fancy




A Memorable Fancy by William Blake

The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked them how they dared so roundly to assert that God spoke to them; and whether they did not think at the time that they would be misunderstood, and so be the cause of imposition.

Isaiah answer'd: `I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in everything, and as I was then persuaded, and remain confirm'd, that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared not for consequences, but wrote.'

Then I asked: `Does a firm persuasion that a thing is so, make it so?'

He replied: `All Poets believe that it does, and in ages of imagination this firm persuasion removed mountains; but many are not capable of a firm persuasion of anything.'

Then Ezekiel said: `The philosophy of the East taught the first principles of human perception. Some nations held one principle for the origin, and some another: we of Israel taught that the Poetic Genius (as you now call it) was the first principle and all the others merely derivative, which was the cause of our despising the Priests and Philosophers of other countries, and prophesying that all Gods would at last be proved to originate in ours and to be the tributaries of the Poetic Genius. It was this that our great poet, King David, desired so fervently and invokes so pathetically, saying by this he conquers enemies and governs kingdoms; and we so loved our God, that we cursed in his name all the Deities of surrounding nations, and asserted that they had rebelled. From these opinions the vulgar came to think that all nations would at last be subject to the Jews.'

`This,' said he, `like all firm persuasions, is come to pass; for all nations believe the Jews' code and worship the Jews' god, and what greater subjection can be?'

I heard this with some wonder, and must confess my own conviction. After dinner I ask'd Isaiah to favour the world with his lost works; he said none of equal value was lost. Ezekiel said the same of his.

I also asked Isaiah what made him go naked and barefoot three years. He answer'd: `The same that made our friend Diogenes, the Grecian.'

I then asked Ezekiel why he ate dung, and lay so long on his right and left side. He answer'd, `The desire of raising other men into a perception of the infinite: this the North American tribes practise, and is he honest who resists his genius or conscience only for the sake of present ease or gratification?'

The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire at the end of six thousand years is true, as I have heard from Hell.

For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at tree of life; and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy, whereas it now appears finite and corrupt.

This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.

But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged; this I shall do by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid.

If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

For man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

34 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Painfully anachronistic.

8:18 PM  
Blogger littlefoxling said...

Cute. I spent the whole time wondering if which Isaiah it was, but by the reference to 20:3 (barefoot), it must be the 1st one.

1:45 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>I spent the whole time wondering if which Isaiah it was, but by the reference to 20:3 (barefoot), it must be the 1st one.

you're hopeless :-)

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

"Isaiah answer'd: `I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in everything, and as I was then persuaded, and remain confirm'd, that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared not for consequences, but wrote.'"

Spinoza you have figured out the secret of Revelation from the human's side of it! Congrats!

8:02 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Spinoza you are having the problem I've seen on XGH's site. Advertisement posting are being posted in your comments section.

9:14 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>Advertisement posting are being posted in your comments section.

yeah, I'll have to do something about that.

10:05 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>Spinoza you have figured out the secret of Revelation from the human's side of it! Congrats!

Thanks. But what do you mean from the "human's side"?

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

The human experience of G-d can range from intuition to perhaps even a fuller experience. From
G-d's side He can be communicating with us more deeply or less through us picking up seemingly through ourselves the message or a combination. How He tangles in history is His choice. I noticed that the Rambam adduced proof for G-d by logical means. Still he said that the proof of TMS was that the nation witnessed it. By itself then he didn't see it as proving G-d but by the experience of the people he adduced that the culprit must be the G-d he felt only philosophy can reveal. An idea along these lines seems to be an option unexplored by XGH but inevitable to be reasonable with G-d being adducible by philosophy and yet the culprit for TMS.

12:51 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

Rabban Gamliel,

I'm not sure how exactly you understand the concept of God, but to me God does not change in any way. God is Reality when it is perceived as infinite and absolute. It is not proper to say God "tangles in history" by His choice or otherwise. It is only human perceptions which change. In other words:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

2:03 PM  
Blogger Baal Habos said...

This is all too "teef" for me.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

"I'm not sure how exactly you understand the concept of God, but to me God does not change in any way."

Agreed especially since he is not in one moment in time.

"God is Reality when it is perceived as infinite and absolute."

Agreed if what you mean is that G-d is the ultimate reality and what we perceive as the world is what we see by not seeing all of reality in its fullness, in its infinity and oneness.

"It is not proper to say God "tangles in history" by His choice or otherwise."

Choice and nonchoice are human pictures. G-d may communicate with people in whatever level especially likely if we open ourselves up to him and penetrate beyond our surroundings to the deeper reality.

"It is only human perceptions which change. In other words:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

I agree.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

"Baal Habos said...
This is all too "teef" for me."

Talk anyway. Have some sushi and think deep thoughts.

5:24 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

Rabban Gamliel,

How do you fit your concepts of God into The Torah and the events of Sinai? It doesn't seem like they are describing the same thing. God is said to come down to a mountain and speak. Clearly if God is infinite this is impossible. Do you take these ideas non literally? If so, why would they be written in such a way that seems to deceive people into thinking God is limited in space?

Do you believe the Torah that is attributed to Moshe was dictated by God? What does this mean if God is absolutely infinite and therefore everything is from God?

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Spinoza you are a clever fellow. Good questions. Deep enjoyable questions.

"It doesn't seem like they are describing the same thing. God is said to come down to a mountain and speak. Clearly if God is infinite this is impossible. Do you take these ideas non literally?”

G-d is infinite. The rest follows like math so G-d did not go down but He did speak just not in the sense of having a voice. I can be said to have spoken to you about this and yet I am not using a voice.

“If so, why would they be written in such a way that seems to deceive people into thinking God is limited in space?"

I'd have to see if all the Anthropomorphism you describe is the literal meaning or a false too literal meaning. The Tanach varies in it's descriptions. If one wants to support the idea of G-d as infinite he can find evidence in the Tanach and Talmud and if one wants to find evidence of a G-d who looks like man he can also find evidence in the Tanach and Talmud. The importance in both cases is the statement that Man is like the Divine in a way an animal isn’t. The Talmud doesn’t have authority as a collection of books because of all it says but it has authority for what it is for, Halacha. Earlier books though were considered to be given by G-d. Rabbi Yishmael said that the Torah talks in the language of man.

A prophet may write as some people innocently thought but if it has G-d’s stamp on it is to represent truth and allegory can be the only result when it is said that the literal meaning can’t be true and yet it’s G-d’s book. I even see in the Prophet’s mind the future as the real reality for all practical purposes. He sees the consequences of actions and the false present is as if it doesn’t exist. The flood is coming though the blind people can’t see it and it is only a matter of time. So the present becomes trivial as an entity in the Prophet’s description. Often without commentary we don’t know whether he is referring to the past or future or present. The Prophets even carry out symbolic acts for lessons as if they are rituals. There is no reason to not use such texts in those days for G-d’s books. Nowadays we would have a more consistent set of books in this regard. This wasn’t the case in the past. Hebrew was used more vividly and succinctly and directly. Perfect for metaphors. Shorter words packing a punch. The prophets spoke poetically so much that too much literalness would be very surprising. They were powerful poetic orators.

“Do you believe the Torah that is attributed to Moshe was dictated by God?”

Yes.

“What does this mean if God is absolutely infinite and therefore everything is from God?”

Why can’t G-d reveal Himself? The Infinite doesn’t have to be limited in that way. What does it mean for us to be separate and one at the same time? We are talking to each other (without a voice-see) and yet we are really ultimately one. We see nothingness and what should that be? If nothing why do we have something? What is something? What is nothing? They are one and the same and we are ignorant of both. G-d is the real reality. He alone exists. Time doesn’t pass for Him. Only by not seeing the whole reality do we have an apparent separate existence. If we could see the whole we would cease to exist. Picture a part of a chair. Only by seeing a part of the chair does it appear to be a separate entity. The moment we see the whole chair the apparent separate part of it loses reality to us. G-d is the chair everything else is the part of it. See I just used a metaphor.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Spinoza I posted something today at

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19448675&postID=115845523349228478

I'm not suprised you didn't understand enough my ideas on G-d. Just like with you I think deeply and don't burst out all in one giant leap.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

I see from your posts you already see the depth behind visualization in the Tanach. I am very impressed with you. I am also impressed with your sincerity too. I see it with Baal Habos too this sincerity. You however are much closer to my thinking. Try looking up in the Encyclopedia Judaica the section on Kabbala. Fascinating reading. The central problem with G-d’s nature for Kabbala is how can there be anything if G-d exists since G-d is the ground of all being.

12:37 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>The central problem with G-d’s nature for Kabbala is how can there be anything if G-d exists since G-d is the ground of all being.

I don't understand the problem. Everything is a part of God. God is another term for Existence or Being.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

The question lands up being (pun not intended) this. Why is there something rather than nothing? Also Kabbala asks what is nothing?

It lands up being a question of why do we see separate beings for instance why is it that you Spinoza and I exist apparently separately? I know that really we are one thing and if we could remove the veil we would cease to exist in our own eyes.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19448675&postID=115845523349228478
Rabban Gamliel. said...
“"XGH & JA,

My point was to say that if anything is worthy of being considered the ultimate being it is the total complete existence because everything is included in it and nothing can be conceived greater than it. Now, does God have a personality?

if God = ultimate being
and ultimate being is total existence
and total existence has no personality
then God has no personality

I guess the answer is no”

Spinoza shouldn't the ultimate being have a description that goes beyond all categories. We can say ultimate reality has consciousness and exists and is one and yet we are using human language as best as we can. In reality G-d transcends all descriptions.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

Deus sive Natura!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

The "veil" is a personal issue. Once you have an adequate idea of reality, there is no veil. Drop the mystical Platonic nomenclature.

3:51 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>We can say ultimate reality has consciousness and exists and is one

can you say God has a beard and is angry? No because that would imply a contradiction in your concept. God can't be infinite and perfect and have those features at the same time. Sure if you're talking in a loose manner you can say anything you want. But if you want to speak correctly and exactly it is not right to say God is conscious or has a personality. Conscious implies that there is an object which He is conscious of. But if God is absolutely infinite then there is nothing outside of Him to be conscious of

3:57 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

Hi Shlomo,

>The "veil" is a personal issue.

yes, it's subjective

>Once you have an adequate idea of reality, there is no veil.

ok, but I guess a good question is what the best method of removing the veil would be? Study philosophy? Meditation? All of the above? Neither?

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

“can you say God has a beard and is angry? No because that would imply a contradiction in your concept. God can't be infinite and perfect and have those features at the same time.”

G-d understands anger like anything else. When we say He really isn’t angry it is because He has all thoughts or experiences at once unchangingly. The correct statement would be best if we could say He neither has emotions nor doesn’t.


“Sure if you're talking in a loose manner you can say anything you want. But if you want to speak correctly and exactly it is not right to say God is conscious or has a personality. Conscious implies that there is an object which He is conscious of. But if God is absolutely infinite then there is nothing outside of Him to be conscious of “

We are conscious of ourselves. We are not outside of ourselves. We can’t picture an absence of consciousness. A universe no one not even a metaphysical Being could see is scientifically even shaky nowadays. The correct thing to say about G-d is that positive and negative concepts are Anthropomorphic for Him. We can speak of consciousness for G-d as the closest analogy for what is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness. We would experience it as a different type of consciousness. Anger implies by contrast that G-d is at one moment angry and at another moment not so it is not a good metaphor to describe G-d except of course as you say loosely if we choose but not for more exact usage. Consciousness is a real attribute for us. How cannot it not imply something about the very nature of Reality? Other things do.

"ok, but I guess a good question is what the best method of removing the veil would be?"

You can't remove the full veil or else you would change full reality which is timeless.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

Reb Baruchel,

I am using Spinoza’s terminologies here. The adequate idea comes through reason and the natural process of scientific endeavor. Adequate idea is a step above perception or mere opinion. It is based in something tangible. Spinoza takes us through the circular talk of substance, attributes, and modes to break down any notion of dualistic or pluralistic paradigms. He sought a naturalistic explanation for what others saw as miraculous or divine.

The ‘veil’ is ignorance.

Great topic here and a lot of good comments. Spinoza’s atheism (or pantheism) stems from one question. “What must God be in order to be God?” A thing to be a real thing must possess certain properties to distinguish that thing from another. If we posit to God characteristics such as Infinitude or Eternality, then what effects stem from those qualities? What necessary effects must there be? This is a question raised by mere contemplation of “Ein Sof.”

Ask yourself “Where would something that is everywhere go to be alone?” Where did God find the material from which to make the physical universe?” They seem like Zen conundrums, or maybe even childish riddles, but the answers perhaps state an obvious we refuse to admit.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

RG,

Re: We can’t picture an absence of consciousness.

We might have to first define what consciousness is before we know whether or not we have it. Good luck.

Re: The correct thing to say about G-d is that positive and negative concepts are Anthropomorphic for Him.

Finally! Someone else who knows how to read the Aseres HaDibros properly! Thank you.

Re: You can't remove the full veil or else you would change full reality which is timeless.

There is no veil. That is mystery new age cultish talk. The ‘veil’ is a creation of the mystics to keep the alleged mystery interesting and unattainable. The ‘veil’ is something to hide behind when no evidence of what is presumably beyond this ‘veil’ ever surfaces.

good comments btw

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

"Re: The correct thing to say about G-d is that positive and negative concepts are Anthropomorphic for Him.

Finally! Someone else who knows how to read the Aseres HaDibros properly! Thank you."

You're welcome. And thank you very much.

"Re: You can't remove the full veil or else you would change full reality which is timeless.

There is no veil. That is mystery new age cultish talk. The ‘veil’ is a creation of the mystics to keep the alleged mystery interesting and unattainable. The ‘veil’ is something to hide behind when no evidence of what is presumably beyond this ‘veil’ ever surfaces.

good comments btw"

Even though I don't find myself in complete agreement with Spinoza or you I indeed agree and return your compliment.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

To truly know is to experience.

6:20 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>To truly know is to experience.

well said. I believe that is the goal of the mystics, to experience God or the infinite first hand and not merely understanding things through reading books

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Thank you and I agree "the goal of the mystics, to experience God or the infinite first hand and not merely understanding things through reading books." At my site you can find topics that I think would be of interest to you. One thing to bear in mind and that is that the moment someone believes in a G-d his view of G-d cannot be simply synonymous with reality unless it brings with it a different understanding of reality. Otherwise the atheist is being claimed to spout nonsense with the statement in the most literal manner "I don't believe in existence."

4:29 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

The mistake Spinoza made is that he concieved that humanity can ever grasp the infinite and in the end had a monistic and static view of the world - or at least the logical conclusion of such a conception of reality.

The mystic, on the other hand sees intrinsic value in the struggle TOWARDS the infinite which he recognizes humanity can NEVER grasp. This is a key and unbridgable difference between the rationalist of spinoza and Jewish mystical thought. The value is in the movement TOWARDS the infinite, not in an impossible attainment of it. Understanding this secret is the key to many of the paradoxes which formal philosophy poses for us.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Baal Habos said...

You're teasing us.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous B. Spinoza said...

teasing?

9:48 AM  
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