A bit bored tonight, so resurrected/exhumed a relic from my Uni years. A bit wordy in my opinion but there you go! Have a great week.

 The Use of Imagery in Blake's Visual Poetry

In relation to the function of imagery, in the Songs of Innocence and Experience, William Blake's intentions are difficult to define. His subtitle to the Songs offers some direction, suggesting that the Songs show “Two Contrary States of the Human Soul”. ‘Innocence’ and ‘Experience’ are not mere concepts, but entities of energy and reality that are represented by the characters, geography, symbols, archetypes, and imagery, showing contrary states yet also depicting a coexistent unity and dependence. The function of Blake's vision and imagery in the Songs appears to be to relate preconceived conventional notions of human imagination, spirituality, morality, and physical experience, to the conceptual realms of the reader in order to provoke imaginative response and query of these notions.

      What becomes evident from the Songs of Innocence as a sequence, is that it is a depiction of innocence in its different forms, and that it acts as the symmetrical foil to the varied Songs of Experience. In ‘The Blossom’, connotations in the imagery of this lyric function as symbols of the innocent apprehension of sexual maturity (in the first stanza) and experience, with its image of the blossom anticipating the Sparrow's and Robin's embraces:

Merry, Merry Sparrow!
Under Leaves so green,
A happy Blossom
Sees you, swift as arrow,
Seek your cradle narrow
Near my Bosom. (1-6)


The first stanza is masculine in the aggressive searching nature of its language, yet it conveys an androgyny, both male and female in its pre-experiential state of innocence and immature desire. The second stanza’s imagery and language conveys a fragility and femininity in the emotional representation of pain and experience, subtly suggesting that the more emotional and feminine nature, is closer to nature and the heart (of God). These symbolic associations are evident, but not definitive; the poem can also be seen as a depiction of innocent love, merriment, sadness and growth, within nature.

The second stanza’s imagery shows the more experienced and sexually desirably Robin, (red breast) emotionally upset at the loss of innocence and the experience that places it nearer the ‘bosom’ (of Abraham? Luke 16:22). The ‘happy blossom’ of the first stanza, symbolises nature and the flowering transition from innocence into experience. It is ever present, watching and listening to the contrary states of emotion that characterise binaries of human existence and development:

Pretty, Pretty Robin!
Under leaves so green,
A happy Blossom
Hears you sobbing, sobbing,

Pretty, pretty robin,

Near my Bosom. (7-12)

The personification of birds makes the reader associate the human-like characters of ‘sparrow’ and ‘robin’ with their natural. The sparrow is an innocuous bird, skittish and childlike in character (both vocally and playfully) and size. The robin is a larger bird, whose redbreast and singing voice gives it prettiness and cosmetic maturity. The ‘redbreast’ could symbolise the distinction of sex and the blush of sexual experience and shame.

This Freudian interpretation seems justified in context with the illustration, which accompanies the poem, which suggests an awakening of sexual innocence and experience. Naked angels frolic on the flame-like limbs of a strange tree (of life?), in the top branch sits two winged figures locked in an embrace. No birds are depicted and no apparent ‘blossom’. The verse alone could be a simple nursery rhyme (without the illustration a simpler, reading could be justified), but why choose specific species of birds and have the position of the speaker in an abstract state? Is the narrator the tree, or God, or someone who just cares for birds? The function of the imagery in this instance is to make the reader question that which seems straightforward and search for depth by using imagination.

In Songs of Experience we find poems like “Ah! Sunflower”, that convey a state of experience that yearns for other experience of a freer, more spiritual, nature. The flower which traditionally looks like the sun and always turns its face to the sun, yearns to escape, partly from the sun and from what the sun represents: time and possibly the great timekeeper, God:

Ah, Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime,
Where the traveller’s journey is done. (1-4)

Where the sunflower seeks to go is a region beyond time, a place of rest and completion, of exhausted desire, of spiritual ecstasy and experience rather than deathly chastity. The destination aimed for is perhaps less important than the fact that the sunflower, rather than joyously rejoicing in life, is weary of physical experience and the constant looking (a sort of forced devotion) to “the sun”:  

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go. (5-8)

What has been confined is released (e.g. innocence, the imagination) from the position of supplication, by the wisdom of experience, and by the contemplation of that beyond the conventional and physical realities of everyday life. The poems, in effect, resurrect the child in the adult through the association of imagery and emotion, and the encouragement of individual creative thought.

A dominant feature of the Songs of Innocence and Experience (especially the Songs of Innocence) is the unifying and thematic direction toward simplicity and harmony, through spiritual, imaginative, and conceptual enlightenment and self-realisation. However, the simplicity of the verse is superficial and belies a complexity, which is profound and conceptually challenging. The opening stanza from “The Tyger”, in the Songs of Experience sequence, closely resembles the common children’s song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, yet it poses questions traditionally intended for theologians and art critics:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? (1-4)

The speaker questions the vision rhetorically, as if from a safe distance (because he is not directly addressing a physical entity), with enough time to pose some profound questions. The main question seems to be of an aesthetic nature: who could aspire to immortality, by attempting to render a vision of the original unified (‘symmetrical’) entity who represents the energy of creation and artifice. “The Tyger”, in this respect, seems to be a discourse on aesthetic (and ethical) responsibility in issues of divine and spiritual representation

The animal and symbolic nature of the image of the tiger, functions as a unified embodiment of good and evil, transcendent in its spiritual and instinctively natural energy and character. This image of a spiritually and physically justified (because of its existence and creation) sublime being creates a paradox between existentialism and creationism. The tiger is the symbolic representation of innocence and experience combined and forged in a flux of sublime energy, capable of invoking fear and awe. In combining tones of terror and awe at a being that could create the tiger as well as the lamb, the poet celebrates creation and its transcendence of human good and evil. This realisation of the strength and power of creation, is an aesthetic realisation as well as a spiritual one, for the narrator it is the moment of visionary truth and epiphany. For the reader it is the beginning of doubt and the search for answers to the questions provoked. The “Tyger” does not afford us an image of illumination or revelation like it does to the speaker, yet it does serve to function as the symbolic antithesis that drives the speaker to seek a deeper truth of vision:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? (20-24)

The function of the imagery of “The Tyger” is once again to provoke query in the mind of the reader: how could the creator make something as terrifyingly sublime as the Tiger? Is the Tiger not created in God's own image, and is not the Tiger also a symbol of evil energy? These questions lead to speculation about the wisdom of a God who can create such a terrifyingly destructive creation (e.g. a Tiger), contrary to other creations of beauty and peace (e.g. ‘The Lamb’ in Songs of Innocence).  They are essentially questions of creation and theological authority on first reading, but when read alongside the illustration, this reading becomes not as strongly critical of a God that creates ferocious beasts: the tiger looks like a friendly pussycat!

In the final stanza of the poem, the transition from the word “could” in the first stanza to the word “dare” in the sixth, suggests a transcendence of mere innocent lament and wonder to the position and mutinous contemplation of proposal and challenging experience and divine authority. There is a sense of the predator in the speaker (which is ironic as the subject of question is a tiger); a sense that this overbearing creation of oppressive energy can be harnessed and ‘framed’. There is a sense of the limitations of the power of such a representation, ramifications if such a possibility exist are on the largest of spiritual and imaginative planes, burning constantly in the mind (imagination) of the speaker: “in the forests of the night”. The “forests of night” also suggest that this discourse and vision appears in the context of a dream; whether ideological or aspiration, or merely a fantastical thought, it is left up to the reader to decide.

In Songs of Experience, we are led to question the justification of oppressive disciplinary idealism and subjugation, present both in the separate cultural and natural archetypes that confine the human form to insignificance and spiritual decay.  Blake’s use of imagery, that symbolises cultural and natural oppression, functions to show inadequacy and inhumanity as such. It then unites the experience with energy that fuels the imaginative vision to new invention and hope, as the boundaries of physical confinement collapse, with the freedom of the expanded imagination.

The Songs of Innocence and of Experience contain poems, which combine to offer profound insights into humanity. The images, emotions, and language of the poetry give vent to “the voice of one crying in the wilderness”, naked and alone in the decision to challenge the structure of society and belief epitomised by Urizen (your – reason). The function of the imagery in Blake’s poems is to create new experience, both visually and conceptually. There is an element of individual relativism and truth in the poems, generated both from the speaker’s experience and vision and the reader’s subsequent subjective experience of the imagery and verse.

The function of the imagery, in the majority of William Blake’s verse and illustrations, serves to provoke contemplative thought and imaginative perception. The imagery is profound and descriptive of a lavishly structured order of being, placing the creative imagination as a fundamental basis for human experience and reality. Blake’s imagery emphasises unity between heaven and earth, and it is in this binary dependence where images abound and meet, fluxing in a multiplicity of symbolic vision. This unity also represents the physical and the spiritual (or mental plane) combination of imaginative understanding. This intermediary position is the aesthetically creative centre of Blake’s world, and it is this place that generates the essential reality and function of the imagery of his poetry.


Romanticism, An Anthology, second edition, ed. Duncan Wu (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998), William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, pp. 60-84.

Deaf Mute Press', 'Sketchbook of the Dead'

Stoked to have my work appearing in Deaf Mute Press' 'Sketchbook of the Dead' - unleashed this month.

Sketchbook Of The Dead will have it's debut at Planet X ...

From 1-3pm at Planet X Comics in York, Pennsylvania.

Sketchbook Of The Dead will have it's debut at Planet X Comics!
This is a special limited edition of the sketchbook limited to only 25 copies.
The best part? it's only $2.99!
Featuring the artwork of:
Stefano Cardoselli (Heavy Metal, Vincent Price Presents)
Mark Lone (Rise Of The Mutant Underground, Tales From The Dead)
Scott Conner (SFX Artist for numerous best selling movies)
Amber Russell (Painter)
William Cook (Artist and Writer)
Andrew Villar (Plan B Comics & Ambush Comics Philippines)

Jamie's Darker Side of Nonsense.: In The Spotlight: William Cook

Jamie's Darker Side of Nonsense.: In The Spotlight: William Cook:

October 20th, 2011

In The Spotlight: William Cook

It is with absolute pleasure that I present to you an interview with an outstanding writer and artist, William Cook. For a long time now I have been a fan of his artwork; I discovered him a few years ago while surfing the net and have kept tabs on him since. Recently however, I found him on a social networking site and we have become friends. When I found out he was releasing a novel, I knew I had to be the one to interview him. So here he is. The one, the only William Cook!

Introduce yourself, William.

My name is William Cook and I’m a writer from New Zealand. I also illustrate in my spare time and have done a few book covers and other work. I have had a few short stories and poetry previously published but Blood Related is my first novel, due to be released by Angelic Knight Press on November the 15th. I write mainly in the Horror/Thriller genre but also have a lifelong interest in poetry and the classics.

[official author/book site]
[private lit. related blog]
[poetry site]

What is it you do?

I write and illustrate when I can and look after two pre-schoolers when I can’t.

Tell the readers about your novel, Blood Related.

Blood Related is a serial-killer/crime novel told in a first-person narrative style from the killer’s point-of-view. Guy N Smith described it as a “thought provoking thriller,” Mark Edward Hall called it a “terrifying psychological thriller,” so I guess it is primarily a thriller novel although a few of my readers describe it as Horror fiction.
Without giving too much away, the lead character is Caleb Samael Cunningham, a diabolical serial-killer with an inherited psychopathology. Caleb is a disturbed young man whose violent father is a suspected serial killer and mother, an insane alcoholic. After his Father’s suicide, Cunningham’s disturbing fantasy-life becomes reality, as he begins his killing spree in earnest. His identical twin brother Charlie is to be released from an asylum and all hell is about to break loose, when the brothers combine their psychopathic talents. Eventually stepping out from the shadows of his murderous forebears, Caleb puts in motion his own diabolical plan to reveal himself and his ‘art’ to the world. He’s a true aesthete, an artist of death. His various ‘installations’ have not received the status he feels they deserve, so Caleb is expanding his ‘canvas.’

What inspired you to write?

BR took five years to write and it was a long time coming. I have always been writing in some form or another since I was a teenager and this is my first novel. I always wanted to write a novel since I began writing and this experience has completely blown away any misconceptions I had about being a published writer. My inspiration was fed mainly by my admiration for other writers and what they had produced.

Where does your inspiration come from?

The initial period of creating the ‘world’ and the characters of Blood Related, were inspired by all the other books (both fiction and non-fiction) I had read over the years that dealt with psychological terror. Movies have had a big influence on the way I ‘see’ a story develop in my mind’s eye before I put it on paper. So, I would say that I have been inspired to write Blood Related by what I have seen and read in a similar vein over the last twenty years. The fact that there are hundreds of these cultural artefacts out there motivated me to write my own version, essentially a variation on a theme, but I have tried to make it a variation terrifying enough to scare whoever reads it! There was a lot of research involved with this book and astute readers should be able to identify various nods to the horror genre and to the macabre world of Serial Killer culture, that is to say, where my ‘inspiration’ comes from, in regards to Blood Related.

What is the best thing about writing?

Completing the work and being able to read it and feel satisfied that it is good enough to share with other people.

What is the worst thing about writing?

Not being able to take a story where you want it to go, unless of course if one of those ‘happy accidents’ happen and a whole new story opens up. It is also a very time consuming and slightly lonely experience that needs its own space and time, which is usually hard fought for, with two pre-schoolers and a wife that deserve equal (if not more) attention.

What specific goal would you like to achieve with your writing?

Ultimately I would like to be able to write fulltime and support my family with a decent income generated from having good book sales but, more realistically, I would like to be able to write something that will be read and enjoyed by people in the next century.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers?

I would like to encourage them to read Blood Related of course and to check out my website for a list of other recommended titles within the genre. http://bloodrelated.wordpress.com/

If you could give any advice to a fellow writer, what would it be?

Keep writing and don’t give up. Remember, not everyone will like what you write, but there are people out there who will read what you have written because they think it’s worth reading. I’m sure it’s probably been said before by greater writers than myself, but for what it’s worth, here’s my formula for writing: 5% inspiration, 45% motivation and 50% perseverance.

What was the most influential and/or life changing story you have ever read?

Probably the main works that I have read that have influenced me the most when it comes to writing are Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and the HWA’s handbook ‘On Writing Horror’ edited by Mort Castle. James Ellroy’s ‘Killer on the Road’ made me realize that great books don’t always need to be classic in nature, just well written and different enough in order to interest the reader. ‘Psycho’ by Robert Bloch is probably one of my favourite novels, because of the way it is written and because of the profound influence this work has had on what is commonly referred to as the Horror genre.

Thank you very much, William. I wish you good luck with your book and for the future.

Blood Related will be released on the 15th of November 2011 by Angelic Knight Press.

Art work and video courtesy of William Cook.

The Dark Poetry of William Cook: Aspects of Infinity

The Dark Poetry of William Cook: Aspects of Infinity: I remember how it all began, as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was a fine morning, crisp and cold, but full of sun. I woke up...

Angelic Knight Press: Blood Related


"Blood Related, William Cook's great thriller/horror tale scheduled for release by Angelic knight Press in November, has its own Facebook page now. We will be adding new information and cover art as it becomes available. Go over, visit, and like the page!"

New 'official' author's blog for 'Blood Related' here


Back Story. Behind the Scenes, 'Blood Related' out-takes.

More sneak peaks at the origins of 'Blood Related'

Throughout the book you will find these adages referenced to some degree. Inescapable truths about the evil of humanity. The degree to which some of us can go, parasitic hominid but essentially as those who have come before, right back to the ocean, the shallow end of the gene-pool. After all, in some ways we are all Blood Related.

Food for thought.

'Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god.'
- Jean Rostand

For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak With most miraculous organ. 
- William Shakespeare
Source: Hamlet Prince of Denmark (Hamlet at II, ii)

The very emphasis of the commandment: Thou shalt not kill, makes it certain that we are descended from an endlessly long chain of generations of murderers, whose love of murder was in their blood as it is perhaps also in ours.
- Sigmund Freud

It takes two to make a murder. There are born victims, born to have their throats cut, as the cut-throats are born to be hanged.
- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) British author.

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.
- Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859) British author and intellectual.

When once a certain class of people has been placed by the temporal and spiritual authorities outside the ranks of those whose life has value, then nothing comes more naturally to men than murder. 
- Simone Weil (1910-1943) French Philosopher

Cruel with guilt, and daring with despair, the midnight murderer bursts the faithless bar; invades the sacred hour of silent rest and leaves, unseen, a dagger in your breast. 
- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) British author.

Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest. 
- W. H. Auden (1907-1973) English-born poet and man of letters.

Murder in the murderer is no such ruinous thought as poets and romancers will have it; it does not unsettle him, or fright him from his ordinary notice of trifles; it is an act quite easy to be contemplated.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) U.S. poet, essayist and lecturer.

A murderer is regarded by the conventional world as something almost monstrous, but a murderer to himself is only an ordinary man. It is only if the murderer is a good man that he can be regarded as monstrous.

- Graham Greene (1904-1991) English writer.

People begin to see that something more goes to the composition of a fine murder than two blockheads to kill and be killed – a knife – a purse - and a dark lane. Design, gentlemen, grouping, light and shade, poetry, sentiment, are now deemed indispensable to attempts of this nature.

 - On Murder, Considered As One Of The Fine Arts. Thomas de Quincey (1827)

Once that you’ve decided on a killing
First you make a stone of your heart
And if you can find that your hands are still willing
Then you can turn a murder into art.

The Police, ‘Murder by Numbers’

Acts must be carried through to their completion. Whatever their point of departure, the end will be beautiful. It is because an action has not been completed that it is vile.

 - Genet, Journal du Voleur

A work of art is a dream of murder, which is realized by an act.

 - Sartre, Saint Genet

In that every action today leads to murder, direct or indirect, we cannot act until we know whether or why we have the right to kill.

 - Camus, L’Homme revolte

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create . . .

- T.S. Eliot, ‘the Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’

We have to become murderers in order to experience ourselves as real . . . isn’t that horrible?
 - Gregor von Rezzori, The Death of my Brother Abel

The murderer is the last man who still seeks human contact; the remaining members of the species merely continue to ride past each other on escalators. In such a world, murder and conflict govern humanity.
 - Heiner Muller

The Second Coming
W.B Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

And who made terror, madness, crime, remorse,
      Which from the links of the great chain of things               20
      To every thought within the mind of man
      Sway and drag heavily, and each one reels
      Under the load towards the pit of death;
      Abandoned hope, and love that turns to hate;
      And self-contempt, bitterer to drink than blood;
      Pain, whose unheeded and familiar speech
      Is howling, and keen shrieks, day after day;
      And Hell, or the sharp fear of Hell?

From Prometheus Unbound by Percy Bryce Shelley

First-Person Serial Killer Fiction

In researching my new novel, 'Blood Related,' I started out with a mission to read the majority of first person accounts of serial homicide, stream of consciousness-style fiction. Not for material, more for inspiration and admiration - just like those crazy books, quite glad my tastes are slowly shifting to a more classical appreciation of the dark arts! Not a soft option by any means! Here is my list.

1. Killer on The Road by James Ellroy
2. A Special Place: the heart of a dark matter by Peter Straub
3. The Killer by Colin Wilson
4. Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite
5. Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates
6. The Girls he Adored by Jonathan Nasaw
7. Head Hunter by Michael Slade
8. Stray Bullets (series) by David Lapham
9. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
10. I AM Not a Serial Killer (John Cleaver) by Dan Wells
11. Frenzy by Rex Miller
12. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
13. American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis
14. Slob by Rex Miller
15. Psycho by Robert Bloch
16. The Sandman by Miles Gibson
17. Blackburn by Bradley Denton

Hopefully my new novel, Blood Related (Nov/Dec release), might perch on the end of this list one day (audible sigh). Check out the list, will update as more come to mind. I will be posting a Non-fiction bibliographical list that will raise eyebrows no doubt! Hey, better on the page, than on the pavement eh?

A teaser pic: 

and here's the bonus, go to the goodreads list and see the covers. Have fun.

So you wanna be an indie horror writing superstar?

This article outlines the pros and cons of being an indie horror author on Amazon.com. Hey, fellow writers! If you’ve got a penchant for wri...