Cynicism versus Revolution
Timothy Morton’s great series of podcasts (taken from his live lectures at Rice University) explore and unpack the deeper meanings of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. As he says, “the trouble for Blake is not what you think, but how you think it. You could be thinking the most hifalutin, noble, moral, thoughts – but the way you think those thoughts could be politically regressive. So the real target of a Blake poem, is you.”
Babylon, Nature-worship, and the Sleep of Albion
‘Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!’
As Kathleen Raine has noted, “the sleep of Albion is in a word the materialist mentality of the modern West.” However, this “materialist mentality”, for Blake, denotes not only the belief in the Newtonian universe of orthodox Science, which many are now questioning, but also the belief in “Nature” itself. For Blake, the “Creation” – the emergence of an apparently objective, natural, and material world – and Albion’s fall into “Sleep” were one and the same event.