Archive for February, 2008

Why am I not stitching?

Because I’m obsessed with William Blake. When I decided to return to studying Blake in October, I expected to spend a few weeks at it. When I found in January that I was not making much progress, I decided to take a time out from blogging so that I could put that energy into the Blake study. Since then I’ve been reading and taking notes about two hours a day and I can’t seem to stop!

In preparation for writing the essay, I’ve re-read Blake’s major Prophetic Books–The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Milton, Jerusalem, and parts of The Four Zoas, reading all the introductions and notes and studying the illuminations. I’ve re-read Northrop Frye’s Fearful Symmetry and I’m now re-reading parts of it again. Frye sent me back to Harold Bloom’s Blake’s Apocalypse for another reading. I couldn’t resist re-reading June Singer’s The Unholy Bible, a Jungian analysis of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Minna Doskow’s in-depth study, William Blake’s Jerusalem. In the notes to Jerusalem, I was intrigued by a quote from a more recent book, Madness and Blake’s Myth by Paul Youngquist, so I got that book and read it. Fascinating!

I have started to write the essay, but I can’t stop reading Blake. I keep getting more and more out of his works and the works of his commentators. I’m feeling the way I felt when I first met Blake in 1963–exhilarated and overwhelmed.

But I’m also feeling frustrated. I want to get back to stitching. I’m not even sure I can put into words what I get from Blake. I’ve got to get a grip on myself and finish the damn essay! I’m sorry there’s no needle art to show you. I certainly did not intend to spend so much time on this project.

Wish me well in getting this done.

You can see a splendid exhibit of Blake’s art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By the way, Blake created designs for a friend’s needlework.

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My view, again

I couldn’t resist showing you the view from my window two evenings this week. We live about ten miles from BWI Airport and though we seldom hear the planes, we often see the jet streams, as here, Wednesday:




Although I seldom leave our apartment and I spend 20 hours a day in my room, I never feel shut in. Even though I am unable to travel for a change of scene, the view from my window is constantly changing, bringing beautiful vistas right to me.

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Blake study

It is surprising to me how many people have read my post about William Blake. I wonder why that is. I didn’t expect many people to know about his work. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been able to work on my Blake study. Before Caleb and Lauryth’s visit I was resting more than usual and going through all my photographs since 1983 to pull out the pictures of Caleb to show them. Since their visit, I’ve been resting more to recover from the exertion of socializing.

Surprisingly, I haven’t felt very bad, despite 12 hours of visiting during their three days here. Nevertheless, I’m being cautious. When I read a few pages of Blake on Monday, my eyes began to burn and my vision became filmy, always a sign that more symptoms are about to flare, so I went to bed instead. But yesterday I was able to read more without symptoms, so maybe I can get back to work on Blake.

At present I’m studying his great and longest epic poem, Jerusalem. It is an illuminated book with gorgeous full-page images. This is the title page as it appears on the book jacket of the facsimile edition I have.


Here we see the theme of this great work–human beings woefully unconscious but capable of soaring freely once they have awakened. Every one of us experiences, or can experience, both states–unconsciously sleepwalking through our ordinary, conventional, everyday lives or awakened, consciously realizing our potential to live joyful, imaginative, creative lives. Blake says, “Wake up!”
This project is taking much more time than I anticipated. I have not begun to write the essay. I’m still re-reading Blake and books on Blake and taking notes and thinking. And now I’m missing stitching. For some weeks I’ve had a piece in mind that I want to design and stitch, and I’ve done some thumbnail colored pencil experiments; but first I must write my Blake essay.

This is just an up-date to let you know why there haven’t been posts on stitching. After all, I said that this blog was going to be about my life in stitches. Well, I will be back with more needleart to show. Some time.

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