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Borges on Christ as artist
Jorge Luis Borges to Denis Dutton:
...I don’t know who said that, was it Bernard Shaw? — he said, arguments convince nobody. No, Emerson. He said, arguments convince nobody. And I suppose he was right, even if you think of proofs for the existence of God, for example — no? In that case, if arguments convince nobody, a man may be convinced by parables or fables or what? Or fictions. Those are far more convincing than the syllogism — and they are, I suppose. Well, of course, when I think of something in terms of Jesus Christ. As far as I remember, he never used arguments; he used style, he used certain metaphors. It’s very strange — yes, and he always used very striking sentences. He would not say, I don’t come to bring peace but war — “I do not come to bring peace but a sword.” The Christ, he thought in parables. Well, according to — I think that it was Blake who said that a man should be — I mean, if he is a Christian — should be not only just but he should be intelligent ... he should also be an artist, since Christ had been teaching art through his own way of preaching, because every one of the sentences of Christ, if not every single utterance of Christ, has a literary value, and may be thought of as a metaphor or as a parable.
Christ the Word and art
Borges called himself an agnostic. His description of Christ as working through style, metaphor, and parable seems highly appropriate for a savior called the Word. (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. John 1:1.) That comment about every sentence of Christ being of literary value certainly sounds like Blake. In fact, "every sentence" being of literary value fulfills Blake's ideas about unceasing praise, which is art.
Blake, the Laocoön, and art as the Tree of Life
Borges's reference reminds me of the inscriptions circling Blake's depiction (etched and engraved in intaglio) of the famous Laocoön and his sons group (circa 200 B. C. - 70 A. D.), which he perceives as portraying God with Adam and Satan. Blake's copy-work dates from around 1815, but the winding, colorful inscriptions were added more than a decade later. These lines are fascinating, and many of them pronounce on the intersection of Christ and art.
if they stand in the way of Art
*Ampersands signified by "and"
It's interesting how these interrelate. Evidently unceasing "practise" means unceasing praise, since praise is the "practise" of art. All of life, then, becomes praise that expresses itself as art. And art is visonary, flourishing, and apparent in lives that might not, on the surface, appear to be devoted to art as we now think of it.