Esse Est Percipere (To Be Is to Perceive)

1.“…he [William Blake] did everything he could to make his figures lose substance, to become transparent and indeterminate one from the other, to defy gravity, to be present but intangible, to glow without a definable surface, not to be reducible to objects.”

John Berger, “Ways of Seeing”

2.“’Mental things,’ Blake declared, ‘are alone Real. What is Called Corporeal Nobody Knows of its dwelling Place; it is in Fallacy & its Existence is Imposture.’”

“’I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I Would Question a Window concerning a Sight.’”

Leopold Damrosch, “Symbol and Truth in Blake’s Myth”

(c) The Fitzwilliam Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

William Blake, “An Allegory of the Spiritual Condition of Man”

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20 Responses to Esse Est Percipere (To Be Is to Perceive)

  1. Don says:

    I must say Monika that Blake’s concept of seeing “through” the eye as apposed to seeing “with” the eye has had a profound effect on me. It’s a concept not always easily understood, but for me it was certainly a major shift. I have found great comfort in Blake’s work. Thank you for this post.

    • Yes, Don – I wound not put it better – there is great comfort in Blake’s work. His paintings may look like “cloudy vapors” but his inner vision was vivid and distinct.
      Thank you very much.

  2. ptero9 says:

    Especially love the first quote Monika and the title!

    “to be present but intangible”

    Ahh, a beautifully profound truth.

    I love Blake, both his writings and art.
    Hugs,
    Debra

    • Thank you – that means a lot to me. That first quote is what struck me today and the rest of the post is just an addendum, maybe even unnecessary. Elusive, ineffable presence – there is where the truth lies.

  3. Thanks for the post, Monika. The latest discoveries in quantum physics confirms that perception has a direct impact on existence. Cheers!

  4. Pingback: Esse Est Percipere (To Be Is to Perceive) | lampmagician

  5. When I was graduating high school we were each supposed to give a quote to include in a publication- some wrote something personal, some included a humorous or inspirational quote from another. I chose “You are what you perceive” by Lou Reed, from the song “I Found A Reason” by The Velvet Underground, found in the lyrics “I do believe / You are what you perceive / What comes is better than what came before.” I was first learning about cognitive psychology and neuroscience then, and I think I thought that quote connected to what I was learning, besides the fact I loved that song, The Velvet Underground, and Lou Reed. A more intellectual student chose a quote that was almost identical, and attributed it to William Blake (in contrast I learned a lot through music lyric references). I remember his last name also began with a “C” so it was placed close to my quote. When I was older I began reading Blake and love his writing, poetry, and images. For a long time now I have thought of exploring his astrology chart in depth. For example, if I get my astrology act more together and begin doing talks, lectures, webinars, or books, William Blake is someone I have thought of focusing on as a teaching example for astrology. In case you have not looked at his astrology chart, you may want to because it is fascinating. In any event I would love to talk to you about it sometime.
    with love and gratitude,
    Gray

    • Dear Gray,
      Yes, I have just looked at his chart and thought a little about it – what caught my eye today was the Sun/Jupiter balsamic conjunction in Sagittarius that would indicate his enormous gift of symbolization and also that he was really one of the seed-men of Rudhyar: tending the roots that would blossom much later – or maybe have not entirely blossomed yet. Also I was struck by the mutable Uranus Pluto square in his chart, the one which perhaps paved the way for the cardinal square of our times; perhaps that mutable square between Sagittarius and Pisces informed our collective root spiritual and philosophical ideas. I am sure you see much more but these two things just struck me and I hope I am making sense.
      I also love that dreamy song “I Found a Reason.”
      Thank you.
      Monika

      • I doubt I see much more than you, and I agree with your thoughts on his connection to later figures such as Rudhyar, as well as his connection back to previous figures. You hit the proverbial nail on the head with your connection to him and the Uranus and Pluto square we are experiencing now. I love your phrasing of how he “informed our collective root spiritual and philosophical ideas.” Also, I agree with you about the Sun and Jupiter conjunction in Sagittarius. Plus his Pluto was in Sagittarius, and his Mercury at the end of Scorpio (makes so much sense, right) very close to his Jupiter in Sagittarius- also that his Jupiter is zero degrees Sagittarius. His Aquarius Saturn opposite Leo Neptune also makes me think back to years ago around September 2006 when we had Leo Saturn opposite Aquarius Neptune.

  6. so much food for thought Monika – the mind creates our reality – reality has a million facets depending on who looks at it – a dog ( colour blind) a spider ( 8 eyes) man with intellect – therefore there never was one reality – it remains in the eye of the beholder – ” mental things are alone real, what is corporeal nobody knows” – as the Upanishads assert; the world is there when you look at it and when you look away it has disappeared, it only exists because we look at it ( quantum analogy) The symbols in our mind, are they more real than their historicity – the case of the legendary Rama that has taken Hindu India by storm – did he ever exist? – who cares when all believe in India that he is more than real? We in India revere the Swatika as the most perfect symbol of grace and well being – but Hitler inverted it and made it the cross of hate which then ushered in the terrible holocaust – inverted symbols can produce the opposite of magical good by twisting our minds into monstrous aberrations – symbols are indeed strong one way or another – have i digressed? – I think not – the reality is in the symbol, in our minds – the way we choose to look, or indeed the way we look.

  7. litebeing says:

    I did not know he painted. What is his Neptune doing? His artwork you posted is so liminal and hazy…. I love it.

    BTW Andy Newberg writes and researches the brain and perception and beliefs in conjunction with spiritual practices. You might enjoy his work.

    • Hi Linda,
      Neptune in Leo in the first house conjunct Mars and opposite Saturn – beautiful combination, and also his Venus with Chiron in Capricorn in the 6th house ruled by that Saturn has a lot to do with his art – high precision, perseverance, attention to form, etc. He really was an extraordinary artist – he not only painted but also did relief etching. I am more than sure you have seen a lot of his works but you did not associate them with him. Thanks for the tip about Andy Newberg – never heard of him.
      Love,
      Monika

  8. Love that you posted this and love the discussion on your page. Thank you Monika. I have long loved Blake and while, admittedly, know very little about astrology, I certainly sense that vast wheels were at work within him, speaking into him, and that he was part of that/those wheels.

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