Rae Story
University of Manchester, Department of Psychology, UK

E-mail:story@fs4.psy.man.ac.uk

 

WILLIAM BLAKE: VISION, SELF AND CONTRARIES

 

William Blake (1757-1827) was a painter, poet, engraver and visionary, who conversed with 'eternals', and was considered insane by some on this account (e.g. Brierre de Boismont, 1859). He devised a four-fold division of reality and held that individuality stretches beyond the confines of body. For Blake, his ability to converse with the 'eternals' was a function of four-fold reality: 'creative imagination' which reconciles all other states: 'reason', 'body' and 'emotions'. According to him, man has fallen from the state of Supreme Vision but this state can be reclaimed temporarily at particular moments of inspiration. I will argue through analysis of Blake's prose and of autobiographical material that his Universe, Spirituality and Psychology were inherently dialogical on many levels. Only in the state of True vision or Creative Imagination is dialogicity no longer present and, according to him, the eternals communicate directly and without language, out of time and space. I will demonstrate that Blake provides a conceptual understanding of everyday self that permits contrary states to exist and interact, which are intrinsic to human existence. They illustrate our fallen state from vision and are not pathological but necessary for our human progress.

 

Brierre de Boismont, A. (1859). Hallucinations. London: Henry Nenshaw. (translation L.T. Hulme)