‘For Empire is no more’: Blake’s America, by Allen Ginsberg

Countering the Beast and the Whore: Revolution as Revelation

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In February 1979, the great American poet and writer Allen Ginsberg gave a series of remarkable lectures on the prophetic books of William Blake, providing teachings and commentary on their meaning. They were delivered to the students at the Naropa Institute (Naropa University) in Boulder, Colorado.

This is an edited version of his lectures on Blake’s prophetic work America a Prophecy, which explores themes of empire, liberation, terror, the role of prophetic anger, and the centrality of imagination in the struggle to envision and to realise a better world.

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Evil and Urizen: William Blake’s Visions of a Demiurge, by Daniil Leiderman

The Nature of Perception and the Limitations of Your Reason

Is reason the root of all evil? That’s the core theme romantic era poet and artist, William Blake, tackles in his alternative-to-Genesis creation story, The Book of Urizen.

“a spiritual vision whose intensity is at the least a mystic’s, if not a prophet’s”

William Blake is justifiably considered to be among the greatest of England’s poets and artists. His place in the books of art history is assured despite his general disengagement from any definable movement, except perhaps romanticism, to which he belonged in spirit more than in form. Blake was professionally an engraver and acquired little acclaim for his work in his lifetime. To a degree this was due to Blake’s strange beliefs and obsessions – he at times claimed to see the dead, communicate with Biblical prophets and experience ecstatic visions. The Book of Urizen, Blake’s masterpiece – an epic poem originally created in seven copies using copperplate engravings, is of particular interest since it displays a unique artistic style, complex poetic form and most interestingly a spiritual vision whose intensity is at the least a mystic’s, if not a prophet’s.

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The Sleep of Imagination: William Blake and Edward Young’s ‘Night Thoughts’, by Michael Farrell

How the Sleep of Imagination produces Nature

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Introduction: The Apocalypse of Reason 

Edward Young (1683–1765)

Blake worked on illustrations for an edition of Edward Young’s Night Thoughts between 1795 and 1797, though he engraved only forty three of the five hundred and thirty seven water-colour designs he made for the poem. The first part of Young’s illustrated text, containing forty three of Blake’s engravings, was published in 1797. The enterprise was a commercial failure and the subsequent ‘Nights’ were never published.

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