Saturday, August 13, 2011

He Who Desires

Satan Watching the Caresses of Adam & Eve
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.

- Wm. Blake, The Proverbs of Hell

* * *

I find that I am unwaveringly pleased to find or remember some line of poetry, or passage from a song or book that says what is on my mind (and says it in finer and better ways than my own ability to say). Long ago I let go of the idea of being original. My art, if that be its name, is in sourcing connective tissue, finding threads from one thing to another, connecting them in ways that bring to light a new, third thing.

Today it is Blake's Proverb's of Hell. Tomorrow, who knows? But I am made a bit stronger by finding others have gone before me and left such remarkable signs of their passage.

* * *

Blake's writings and paintings aim to demolish the dichotomies of Good & Evil, Body & Soul, Heaven & Hell. And he does a right fine job of it, too.

As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius, which to Angels look like torment and insanity, I collected some of their Proverbs; thinking that as the sayings used in a nation mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell shew the Nature of infernal wisdom better than any descriptions of buildings or garments.

And from that infernal list: He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.

Pestilence is defined as a deadly plague or an evil, pernicious influence. That's a helluva thing for a devil to be carping about. Isn't that his stock and trade? No. In this William and I are in agreement. The deadliest plague is the un-acted desire, the un-born work, the chance not taken because of what? rules? fear of breaking the rules? cowardice? sloth?


A man who desires but acts not is no man at all.

William would have you know that following the rules of religion or commerce, of improving one's self by hewing to those rules, is a hell of unimaginable torment. Those who do so have dulled their eyes to dull their pain. There is no Genius in it. Nothing of the animating spark of desire and life in it. Is God so needy and cruel that once setting us out into the world we are to deny that creation and our own God-given desires and lay them on some altar as a burnt offering? Hell no. Fuck that. But the fucked cling to rules, to appearances, to the boundaries of Reason. They hate themselves in whole or part and that, my fucked fuckers, is our greatest and only sin.

We were born to live, not die. We are made of flesh and blood and mind and soul. Not one over the other, but both together to make a new, third thing: who we are - Geniuses of our time. A God that would command you to deny your essential, creative, desiring self is no God at all, but a man-made bogey-man to control you and make you heel. Look around. The world is an endless cacophony of creation and desire. Why the holy fuck would you think you were here to look, but not touch? You get one shot at this.

Do something.

* * *

Whenever I get like this I hear a voice in the back of my head that whispers: you're not being clear. What if someone takes this and uses it to harm or hurt someone. Speciously arguing: this is who I am. I am acting on my desires.

Here's the antidote to such thinking. There is only one prohibition. Do what you will, but do it without malice or denigration of any other. Other than that, you're good to go.

Now, fuck off.

As William says: Eternity is in love with the productions of time. And you have work to do.



  1. Thank you. Means more to me than you will ever know.
    Peaceful imagination be with you on your journey.

    Rodell Gordon

    1. Rodell,

      Glad this found you. I am always amazed that people find what they need just when they need it. Be well, brother.