Blake's Job Adventures in Becoming
In this unique book, Jason Wright analyses William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job and shows their relevance in clinical psychoanalysis and psychotherapy with groups and individuals, especially while working with patients who have experienced trauma and addiction.
Drawing on decades of work in the field, this book sees Wright offer sensitive guidance to practitioners dealing with client experiences of change through the lens of addiction and offers useful insight to the lay reader. Throughout the chapters, Wright studies each illustration in depth and shows how they chart the breakdown of Job’s life into a state of despair. Twinning a clinical vignette with each plate, Wright shows how these depictions can be directly applied to issues faced in contemporary analysis, therapy and addiction recovery. From Job’s dissolution to his eventual salvation, Wright insightfully maps the process of change from a place of destitution to one of redemption and hope set in the context of the group. He expertly brings Blakean theory into the 21st century by looking at contemporary experience such as the impact of the 2005 London bombings, as well as looking at the importance of community, collective experience and self-identity when seeking recovery. Throughout, Wright draws inspiration from eminent analysts such as Bion, Winnicott and Hillman, while also looking to Jung, Bohm and Whitehead to support his theories on the new way of being he proposes: a collective dynamic shift from a consciousness of exploitation to a consciousness of resonance.
This book will be of great interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and mental health professionals working in addiction recovery, as well as those interested in the work of Blake and its continued importance in the present day.
'Jason Wright has written an extraordinary book: one that is absolutely grounded and accessible to the lay reader, yet draws on complex philosophical and theoretical ideas. Wright is at pains to walk alongside the reader, describing what he sees, introducing key conceptual guides, for example Bohm’s implicate and engaging them in conversations on the deeper meaning of the human condition. This is beautifully crafted writing that describes William Blake’s exquisite illustrations of Job, his wife and friends’ journey to find true enlightenment in twenty one plates. The journey is long and arduous, and Wright powerfully interweaves it with reflections from his own experience of working with groups, their place in the community and ultimately the parallel grief, despair and trauma we face in today’s complex world. But the reward for walking through the discomfort, confronting our perishing and bearing it together, is that the moment of attainment is so beautiful and pure it almost takes the breath away. This is a work of robust tenderness, and hope.'
Catherine du Toit, Founding Director of 51 architecture and President of the Architectural Association
'A wonderful book that approaches Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job with fresh imagination. Blake’s masterpiece is presented as a transition from a paradigm of false vision and exploitation to that of participation, resonance and spiritual growth. Wright’s exploration includes not only the philosophical, spiritual and artistic currents of Blake’s day but philosophers of the 20th and 21st centuries such as David Bohm, Alfred Whitehead, and Iain McGilchrist – to mention only the most prominent. Blake’s Illustrations are not only a story of individual transformation but also, as presented by Wright, a collective one with great relevance to the contemporary world. Since the rational intellect has grown even greater in its power, global extension and destructiveness Blake’s prophesies and visions are more important than ever.
This book is a remarkable combination of philosophy, stories of Wright’s life and professional history. Of especial interest are the numerous accounts of working with addiction both individually and in groups and of relating these moving and sometimes tragic stories to Blake’s Illustrations. For example, how people are trapped in false selves, how they become possessed by the Satan of addiction, and how spiritual experience may free them – as it did Job. The book is filled with magical and memorable phrases, for example: "Addiction is the search for something alive and relational in the dead but certain object of drugs or alcohol". As the book proceeds Wright focuses on how Blake’s work illustrates the path to the Self, to use a Jungian concept - but framed in a group context. Wright’s philosophy deepens and his prose becomes more expressive matching that of his esteemed philosophers ... "The organising principle in the universe is a creative, organic resonance, and self in this context is an emergent experience in that process".
For all those interested in the relevance of Blake to the modern world this book, as well as being full of challenge, wisdom, and surprise, is also a great treat.'
Alan Mulhern, author of The Sower and the Seed (2015) and Healing Intelligence (2012). Director of the Quest Lecture Series and podcaster (Vision in an Age of Crisis)
'This is an erudite, stimulating and immersive book, expanding and enhancing Blake’s vision of the story of Job for modern times. It is a triumph of hope over despair, infused with humanity and common sense. It highlights the essential interconnectedness and relational dynamics in human interaction, Seeing them as paramount in any comprehensive understanding of individual and social development. It also illuminates how self-destructive structures and ideas can lead to limiting internal and external horizons, distorting how we see ourselves in relation to others and constricting our ability to adapt and change. Gleaned from his lengthy experience as a group and individual psychotherapist, the author emphasises with poetic grace and acuity, how necessary it is to face the ‘uncomfortability’ of engaging with the possibility of a participatory, unfolding, emergent, co-creative process. He challenges the desire for an overcontrolling, rigid, reductionist dogma that reinforces the primacy of self-interest over altruism. The author writes: "I see in the Job a group narrative, not only for the relationship between the individual and the group, but this set in the context of the resonant and relational whole where that whole is the group, the society, the species, the planet or indeed the divine." This is a bold, accessible and, challenging work, which deserves close attention.'
Ian Simpson, group analyst and bonsai artist. Former Head of Psychotherapy Services at a major London teaching hospital for 20 years