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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book EVERY writer should read, April 27, 2011
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This review is from: My Business Is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing (Muse Books) (Hardcover)
While I only knew William Blake through his poetry - and I absolutely love "Auguries of Innocence" - and that brief glimpse into his work as a painter through watching "Red Dragon" where "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun" made its dramatic and edible appearance, I knew little to nothing about Blake himself. So quite obviously my curiosity was sparked when I found out about My Business is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing.
A short yet captivating read, this book offers insight into the basic principles of Blake's visionary practice straight to what keeps the creative visionary in him going. Here, his theories on imagination and creation and the practices it implies come together in a beautifully written little manual aimed at the aspiring and the already accomplished writer alike.
Eric G. Wilson created a profound little book, which is definitely one of the best works for writers that I've read in a long time. While I'm usually the kind of person who'll read a book just once, this will definitely go on my to-buy list once it's released. This book is meant to be read again and again to fully unfold its beauty. If you're a fan of Blake's work you'll be in for a real treat and needless to say, any writer should have this treasure on their bookshelf.
In short: This book just blew me away. Imagination and creation. Writer's of the world - READ THIS BOOK!!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley.com book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I must Create a system, or be enslav'd by another Man's", July 26, 2011
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This review is from: My Business Is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing (Muse Books) (Hardcover)
This succinct but rich little book about William Blake, the creative vision, and the necessity of remaining true to that vision, is both a fine (if brief) introduction to Blake's life & work, and a guide for the creative writer or artist today. It's not a how-to book, not a self-help book -- if anything, it's a meditation on life, creativity, art, and personal meaning, written in clear but lyrical prose. Author Eric G Wilson isn't offering simple tips, bullet points, or empty slogans. He's actually offering a different view of life & the expression of the creative psyche, one that's deeper & far more complex than the usual pabulum. No extravagant promises of, "Do what you love & the money will follow" -- far from it! It's not about money, it's about purpose & fulfillment.

Using short chapters of 2-3 pages, Wilson explores Blake's psyche & approach to making art. In so doing, he provides possible paths for others to follow, with the proviso that at some point, the established path ends & you've got to start blazing your own trail through the wilderness. Perhaps you may find monetary success somewhere along the way, but more likely not. The sort of success he's talking about is becoming more of a whole human being, creating something that's worthwhile & spiritually nourishing, something that might be shared with others one day.

If all this sounds far removed from the trials & tribulations of everyday life, remember that we're living in a culture that increasingly celebrates the lowest common denominator. It mass produces shiny garbage & convinces us that we desperately need it to be cool, to be successful, to simply BE. Anything of genuine quality is scorned, decried, dismissed, condemned as elitist -- and those who aspire to something more than the consumerist illusion are marginalized at best. Wilson reminds us that there's more to life than such an empty worldview. We can create something that's real & beautiful & powerful, something that feeds the soul & makes life truly worth living. For those who have glimpsed such possibilities, this book is highly recommended!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Analysis of William Blake's Poetry, November 2, 2012
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Gun Moll (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Business Is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing (Muse Books) (Hardcover)
William Blake is a very difficult poet to write about without becoming impressionistic and self-indulgent, but Eric Wilson has escaped that trap. Blake is one of my favorite poets, and I always appreciate a good discussion of his thrilling insights into the world and human nature. This is one of the best.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love's Labor Written Is Never Lost, August 15, 2011
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This review is from: My Business Is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing (Muse Books) (Hardcover)
Eric G. Wilson's concise book about William Blake's writing and drawing requires re-reading (and re-looking) the poems and paintings, both intertwined in Blake's intricately engraved `illuminated' books. No way around this. From Blake's earliest poems published as Poetical Sketches (1783) to his illumination of Dante's Divine Comedy in his last year, 1827, nothing mattered but creativity. Imagination is to see, to understand, and Blake's vision is his ever present gift to succeeding generations of artists.

Professor Wilson explores several critical principles of Blake's understanding of creativity. The section `Contraries' examines the tensions between general and specific, or, as Wilson brackets certain polarizations or antinomies: memory and inspiration, innocence and experience, energy and form, imagination and reason. In the section, `Ratio', the reader is introduced to the concept of how past experience determines imagination by way of the empirical realm of the five senses. The tension here is always in the balance between inevitable scientific generalization and abstraction, and the individual, unique, concrete "particulars of the visible world as points of luminous infinity." (p. 12)

`Minute Particulars' (p. 13-18) provides a luminous example in the nine-minute film The Powers of Ten during which the camera first zooms outward from an overhead shot of a couple picnicking on a blanket (a 1-meter square frame) to a 10-meter square field of vision (10 to the 2nd power), then out to a 100-meter square (10 to the 3rd power), and so on to 10 to the 24th power, the boundary of our known universe, filled with white specs on a black background; then reversing `direction' rapidly back through each power to the initial starting point of the couple on the blanket, then looking inward, frame by frame, minus power of 10 by minus power to the negative 16th power, or what would be the interior edge of a proton, which one imagines to be analogous to the expanses of the outer edge of the universe. Wilson (via Blake) understands these boundaries as lessons in the specific as the more boundless; the minute as massive, the "sublime shin[ing] in the sliver."

Irreducible particularly as opposed to abstraction and theory and system is the Blakean mode, exhibited in the our time by Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception, by Alan Watts in The Joyous Cosmos, to cite two writers discussed by Professor Wilson. Isaac Newton's empirical and mathematical view of the world is the opposite of Blake's particulars. Yet, as Wilson reminds us, we must be careful about mistaking abstract for concrete, and offers the example of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead in Science and the Modern World, of mistaking a `theory' of how things are for how things `really' are.

`Looking' examines perception and vision. We see each of us differently the world in front of us. "As a man is, So he Sees. As the Eye is formed, such are its Powers." Or, in the phrase of esteemed Blake scholar Northrop Frye: Esse est percipi - to be is to be perceived. "It is not which vision is true," according to Wilson, "it is - which is more alive." (p. 20) A writer to see the world in the Blakean mode must first escape the `ratios' and consciously look at things differently. The example given is Emerson's: "Turn the eyes upside down, by looking at the landscape through your legs [. . .]" and see it new.

The section `Copy a Great Deal' wrestles with the tensions between tradition and innovation. One cannot escape the `ratio' because words maintain their lexical and semantic history and the visual arts have their iconic lexicon as well. The writer must find a middle ground between the retrospective abstraction required of thought and immediate perception of the never before seen or experienced - the `be here now' of religious poet Richard Alpert / Ram Dass. To revise is to re-vision, to see a text differently each time we engage it.

Some other sections of Professor Wilson's book include: examination of Blake's aqua fortis engraving technique, the `infernal method' for Blake in which word and image `illuminate' each other; his interest in `free' verse or prose poetry; innocence as a way of seeing as much as a state of being. For Wilson, "Innocence requires experience to escape ignorance." (47); and experience as actualization of innocence, a felix culpa (happy fall) that leads to redemption following the pain and pleasure of experience, in particular, of the erotic intermeshed with the spiritual; generation, or the fallen world where "all things subsist on one another" and yet re-generate and re-energize the world's forms of beauty and being.

Professor Wilson closes his book with the section `Infinite Writing' which summarizes the Blakean aesthetic. Love opens infinite possibilities for connection, change, involvement with others. "And so writing with excellence [for Blake, as well as for Professor Wilson] is loving not just the line but also what escapes design, always just beyond semantics and syntax, trope and tractate. Lively writing requires nothing less than a passion, perverse maybe, for the fragment bereft of finish, hunger beyond filling, constant privation." (83)

Blake: "If a thing loves, it is infinite." Love's labor written is never lost.

Professor Wilson's little book is challenging, informative, profound. It will be on library shelves alongside Kathleen Raine's Blake and Tradition; Geoffrey Keynes' The Complete Writings of William Blake; Northrop Frye's Fearful Symmetry; Harold Bloom's Blake's Apocalypse; and David Erdman's Blake: Prophet Against Empire.
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My Business Is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing (Muse Books)
My Business Is to Create: Blake's Infinite Writing (Muse Books) by Eric G. Wilson (Hardcover - May 1, 2011)
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