Of all the images William Blake produced, the strangest and most appealing to me is The Ghost of a Flea (1820). It’s on display at Tate Britain: a small, dark, oddly menacing object, tempera and gold on wood. As this short Atlas Obscura article recalls, Blake claimed the ‘ghost’ itself came to him in one of his visions and “posed for him as he sketched it. He was able to ‘communicate’ with the monstrous being, who revealed that all fleas were inhabited by the souls of men who were ‘by nature bloodthirsty to excess.'”Continue reading “msb ~079 The ghost of a flea?”
Just as one project’s website launches — with Waterlight’s successful release into the world this week — another one marks a significant milestone. In six months, Finding Blake has clocked up impressive work, thanks to its driving force, filmmaker James Murray-White. As a mostly behind-the-scenes researcher and editor, I can sometimes overlook the scope of detailed work on the ground — until James sends in his latest project update for me to edit. He’s generated lots of footage of interviews, performance, craftsmanship and locations – even before we get to the recent unveiling of William Blake’s new gravestone at his London burial site.Continue reading “msb ~053 Finding Blake”
In today’s post on the Finding Blake website I manage, our latest contributing author Kevin Fischer discusses the balance between reason, experience and imagination. Fischer explains that William Blake, radical artist and thinker of the early industrial age, “saw imagination as something profoundly different from fantasy. Contrary to common conception, this imagination is not about make-believe, the creation of the fantastical, nor is it wish-fulfilment. Blake regarded it as an essential part of life, a means of breaking out of the ‘dull round’ of the ‘ratio’ of abstract reason, of the already known, and through to that which is other than and beyond ourselves. It is a means of putting us more in touch with the world, acting as a bridge between the experiencing individual and that which is experienced.”Continue reading “msb ~024 Imagination, the key ingredient”
One of the projects I’m working on at the moment, mostly in the guise of web editor and researcher, is Finding Blake. Set up by Cambridge-based film maker James Murray-White, the project is a creative exploration of the relevance of William Blake, 18th/19th-century poet, artist, radical and visionary, for us today: reimagining our present predicaments through the lens of his work.