Friday, January 14, 2011

Eternity and Time

I finished reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art last week. First published in 2003, the book’s subtitle – “Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” – summarizes it well. It’s about how any creative person – writer, artist, and songwriter – can overcome resistance and get to that inner place where creativity lives and happens.

There are some odd things about the book, but I did like it, especially because it served as a good kick in the pants for me. Get moving, Young, and finish the draft.

Toward the end of the book, Pressfield includes a quote from the poet William Blake. If you’re not familiar with Blake (1757-1827), then you may know hin indirectly: his poetry and art heavily influenced the Romantics. He was both one of them and separate from them. He’s been called a luminary, a mystic and a lot of other things. He was a Christian who didn’t like traditional Christian notions of chastity, for example.

The quote is from “Proverbs of Hell,” part of the work entitled The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which Blake composed between 1790 and 1793 and is a collection of his Romantic and revolutionary beliefs (this was the era of the French Revolution).

Here is the quote that Pressfield includes: “Eternity is in love with the creations of time.”

Aside from the fact that Blake included this as one his “Proverbs of Hell” (the others are equally surprising and not what you’d expect), that quotation has stuck in my head, for some reason (the stickiness, aggravating as it is, may explain why it’s a “proverb of hell”).

Eternity is in love with the creations of time. I even restructured it to look more like a poem than a proverb:

Eternity is
in love with
the creations
of time.

There are likely any number of ways to read and interpret this quotation. But the one I’m leaning toward is this: that God sees what we do, and what we create, and he loves what we create because, since we are created in his image, what we create reflects his image, too, that the very act of creation is something that is very much a “God thing.”

It’s like that line from the movie “Chariots of Fire," when Ian Charleson as Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel his pleasure.”

When I write, when I write something I believe is exceptionally good or exceptionally fine, I feel his pleasure. It’s an odd thing to describe, but it is like I am standing, leaning in an interior curve of something shiny red and bright gray, and I feel a sense of – something, something else, something outside of me and yet it’s coursing through me. And then it quiets and ebbs, and I find myself exhausted.

And then I doubt: could God really love the creations of time? Could he really love my creations of time?

Photograph: Window to Eternity by Vojko Kalan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


M.L. Gallagher said...

In the sacred Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, it is written:

"Curving back on myself I create again and again."

Good post Glynn! Another book for my reading list.

H. Gillham said...

Ah. William Blake.


And to answer your second question, yes he could.

Maureen said...

Nice post, Glynn.

Pressfield's gotten a lot of mileage out of that book.

jasonS said...

Wonderful post. When I read the quote, the conclusion you came to is what I thought as well. Also, I've heard so many people talk about this list. I think I may have to read it this year. Thanks Glynn.

S. Etole said...

You must be exhausted a lot as all your writing seems exceptional.

nance marie said...

certainly something to think about.
sometimes i have thought that God likes to create with/through me.

delton70 said...

I had lunch with a worship pastor today. He asked me, "Delton, if you could do anything at all and know you wouldn't fail, what would that be?"

What a great introspective question...and I think the answer lies in exactly what you're describing...doing that thing in which we feel God's pleasure.

Thanks for the reminder to Liddel's story. Every time I hear it, I'm reminded that I am created for His pleasure. And when I can do that...I feel it, too.

Thanks for the post. And thanks to Cycleguy for pointing me in your direction...