Once upon a time, the English poet and, I would argue, cartoonist, William Blake once said, “You look at the sky and see clouds, while I see the assembled heavenly host!” This is why my literature class in college about the Romantic Poets of his day made him out to be a certifiable nutcase who probably belonged in in a mental institution. (And back then, in the 1800’s, the sanitarium was a place where inconveniently crazy people went to die.)
Look at a couple of my cloudscapes. Do you see angels?
Cloudscapes (a poem)
Blue and white and filled with light…
The cloudscape burns with angels…
And wholly bought with grace unsought…
I long to fly with angels…
Are they really there in the cloud-filled air?
I see them there, they’re angels!
So, there you have it. I’m a loon. I don’t even have the excuse of being a Romantic Poet and well-known for my poetry as a defense against the loony bin. But as the matter stands, I am fully willing to accept the consequences. Creativity has its price. And, while you may not agree that I am somewhat creative, I am swimming in a vast ocean of perceived revelations that enriches me and fulfills me at the very same moment that it drains all the energy from my soul. If that is not what it means to see angels… then I do not know anything of use to anyone but me.
The word “angel” (according to Wikipedia, the source of all true knowledge) comes to English via Late Latin and the word “angelus” which the Romans stole from the Greek ἄγγελος ángelos, The ángelos is the default Septuagint’s translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mal’ākh denoting simply “messenger” without specifying its nature. (Notice, I am giving full credit to Wikipedia because it is far more all-knowing than I.)
I have many atheistic and agnostic notions in my ultimate belief systems, but still, I claim to be a Christian and believe in God Jehovah… within limits. I still communicate with God on a daily basis, and while I don’t publicly pray anymore (a notion promoted by the Biblical Jesus) I find answers to my questions and solutions to my problems from the observable universe around me.. the messengers of God. So, now that I have fully rationalized being crazy as a loon, I am going to tell you where that craziness is taking me. I started a new Paffooney for one of the books I am working on. Here is the pencil sketch;
This will be a picture of Valerie Clarke and her Daddy, the farmer Kyle Clarke. In my fiction, Kyle loses his farm to the bank (in the Family Farm Crisis of the 1980’s) and believing himself incapable of any longer supporting his family, kills himself. But the thing is, the love of his daughter transcends death for Kyle. She is able to reconnect with him time and again because the angels work for her as well as for Kyle. I may be loony and ill in real life, facing the Angel of Death myself, but I am not done doing God’s work… not yet… not for a long time to come.
To be clear, I will have to write a post called Naked Experience to go with this post. It is a William Blake style of thing. You know, that English Romantic Poet guy who was into drawing naked people even more than me? The writer of Songs of Innocence and Experience? You know, this stuff;
Well, maybe you don’t know. But Blake gave the world the metaphor of the innocent lamb and the tyger of experience (tyger is his spelling, not mine, and it didn’t blow up the spell checker, even though it made the thing unhappy with me again). There is a certain something I have learned about nakedness that I mean to innocently convey. I learned it from anatomy drawing class and spending time with nudists. Naked is not evil. Naked is not pornography. Nakedness, itself, is a very good thing.
At this point the avid clothing-wearers among you are probably saying to yourself, “This guy is nuts! If God had wanted us to be nude, then we wouldn’t have been born with clothes on.” And I must admit, I cannot argue with logic like that.
But on a more serious note, I believe nudity is a fundamentally essential part of the nature of art. After all, pictures of naked people are a central part of what people have been drawing since they first started etching them with charcoal on cavern walls. And all art, including this blog, is about the human experience. What it means to be human. What it feels like to be alive on this Earth and able to feel.
And there is nothing sinister and immoral in drawing nudes to portray that fact. I am trying to show metaphorically the music of existence, the pace, the symmetry, the musical score… It isn’t focused on the private bits, what some call the naughty parts, even when those things are present in the picture. “How dare that naughty Mickey show the naked back end of that butterfly! It ought to have pants on at least!” Yes, I am making a mockery of that outrage itself. I am not a pornographer. These pictures were not created to engender any prurient interests. These pictures are part of Blake’s lamb. They will not bite you. Though blue-nosed people who wish to control what others think may very well bite me for daring to say so.
I have posted a lot of writing and artwork on this blog that I held for the longest time to be completely private and personal. I hardly ever showed any of it to anybody before I posted it here. But I am old. I no longer have secrets. I am capable of telling you everything even though I have never met most of you in real life. And I have no shame. I have become comfortable with emotional and intellectual nudity. And when I am dead, the body I have kept hidden from the world for so long will be no more. It’s just a thought. It’s a naked thought. And it is completely innocent.
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Filed under artists I admire, artwork, commentary, humor, nudes, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life
Tagged as nudes, William Blake