Poems and Podcasts

Videos and podcasts of various discussions. Updated regularly.

Blake and the Mad Crew: The Ranters and the Historians

While A L Morton thought Blake may have read the work of the Ranter, Abiezer Coppe, modern historians say there is no evidence of Blake being familiar with Ranter texts. How much do Blake’s ideas overlap with The Ranters? I look at the Justification of the Mad Crew (1650) to compare.

Thoughts on Blake, Blade Runner and Animal Solidarity

In researching for the recent Blake Society meeting on Blake and Blade Runner I discovered aspects of the film and Philip K Dick’s original story that radically change our understanding of the story and bring it more closely into line with Blake’s core vision.

Brian Catling: Avoiding Blake: Defeated by a Flea in the Ear, a Talk to the Blake Society

Brian Catling gave a talk to the Blake Society about his relationship to Blake, running a meter over his work to detect splinters of Blakean influence, from his early confusion of Blake and Bunyan, to his use of Blake as a character in his novel, The Erstwhile.

William Blake: England’s Radical Prophet and Visionary

A talk given by Andy Wilson for the Blake Society at St Luke’s Community Centre, Islington, London, on 24th Nov 2021, for the residents around Bunhill Fields, where Blake is buried.

Iain Sinclair: Blake’s Mental Traveller and The Gold Machine, a Talk to the Blake Society

In Sept 2021, Iain Sinclair gave an improvised talk to the Blake Society about how Blake’s poem, The Mental Traveller, became the map and model for a lifetime of journeys and pilgrimage quests. The Mental Traveller was an awakening, to be experienced but not yet understood. The poem returned at various points in the years that followed, until it was acknowledged as the secret code for Sinclair’s most recent book, The Gold Machine, a late-life expedition to one of the sources of the Amazon, in the footsteps of his great-grandfather.

Michael Tencer: Affirmisms

Fed up with the wholesome goodness that pops magically out of the negation of the negation every time you try it? Try Michael Tencer’s affirmation of the affirmation instead to experience a life crumbling like your teeth in dreams.

Video Interview with Andy Wilson re. William Blake vs the World

John Higgs recently published his book, William Blake vs the World—a ‘countercultural’ take on Blake’s work, written for a non-academic audience. Here, Conor Kostick interviews Andy Wilson about his review of the book and more generally about Blake’s relevance to the countrculture.

Blake in Beulah: A Review of John Higgs’s ‘William Blake vs The World’

John Higgs’s new book promises a contemporary take on the works of William Blake, making them relevant to a modern audience generally, and to the counterculture in particular. So, how well does it live up to its promise?

Conor Kostick: Art and Revolution – A Review of John Molyneux’s Dialectics of Art

The topic of art and revolution deserves a much better book than John Molyneux’s The Dialectics of Art. This critical review explains why.

The Fall and William Blake: Before the Moon Falls

The Fall’s Before the Moon Falls, W.B., Jerusalem and creating a system of your own

Blake’s Annihilation by the Eye of Ra: On Snakes, Seraphim and the Solar YHWH

What did Blake meantby saying that when he looked at the sun he saw a choir of angels singing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, and how does it relate to his depiction of apocalypse.

Blade Runner’s Fallen Angels

The film Blade Runner is hugely successful, but what does it mean? As the makers hint, the key is to watch it through the eyes of William Blake and his mythology of liberation.

William Blake as a Revolutionary Poet

Few could deny that William Blake supported the radical politics of his time, yet revolutionary ideas were not an adjunct to his visionary genius, but the living heart of it as a poet.

Aleks McHugh: The Golem Returns

In the wake of the attempted QAnon putsch, and in the run-up to the inauguration of Joe Biden, when Trump’s supporters are expected to take to the streets again, Aleks McHugh considers QAnon hysteria and social media generally as incarnations of Meyrink’s Golem, as portrayed in the 1920 film by Paul Wegener.

Serge Arnoux’s Mirror of Blake

An analysis of the recently discovered engravings by Serge Arnoux illustrating William Blake’s ‘Proverbs of Hell’, with a discussion of surrealism and Blake, and the impact of Moravianism on Blake’s idea of faith, sexuality, freedom and religion.

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Reflections on William Blake, radical theology, politics and surrealism.

[Blake’s] spiritual rebellion against the powerful of this world was not made of that type of water-soluble gunpowder to which we have more or less accustomed ourselves.
James Joyce

Welcome to The Traveller in the Evening, a site focused on the work of William Blake. But it is a loose focus, because, in the right mouths, the discussion of Blake quickly turns to the discussion of surrealism, revolution, radical theology and much else besides. Blake himself easily combined all of these things, well in advance of his age—and ours.

It is… proper to state that Blake never had, strictly speaking, any influence and that it is extremely probable that he never will. The reason is that in Blake we behold not so much a fountain, a source, as a mountaintop.
Phillippe Soupault

The Traveller Hasteth in the Evening is an engraving by Blake from 1793, as part of his early collection, For the Sexes. Blake’s image shows his traveller pacing his way toward some unknown destination. Morton Paley shortened the title to The Traveller in the Evening for his book about Blake’s later works (after Jerusalem). I borrowed Paley’s title for the blog because it reflects my own situation with respect to Blake, and our collective situation more generally.

I’ve been reading Blake for years, quietly taking notes. My dream was to find the time and space one day to write a book about what I learned from him. Right now, it doesn’t seem that day is getting any closer. At the same time, the world has taken a dark and threatening turn, with the rise of far-right globally and of authoritarian governments bent on marching us toward an environmental catastrophe set in train a long time ago. Some days it feels like it is evening everywhere.

The old world is dying, and the old left, in the form of communism and social democracy, has run its course, because it was based too closely on an idealisation of production’s ‘Satanic mills’. The environmental movement is urgently relevant, but struggles to paint a coherent picture of any alternative. Social movements against oppression tackle the world’s abuses without attacking them at the root.To do so would mean coming to a very different picture of who we are in relation to our world. I believe Blake points us toward the necessary reversal of perspectives, to fan the flames of solidarity and help to wake us from our collective sleep. The ramifications of his thought would overturn our deepest assumptions—hence the need to present this new, and unheard Blake: a profound esoteric thinker and a thoroughgoing surrealist militant.

Author: Andy Wilson

Author: Andy Wilson

Andy Wilson lived in Seaham Harbour, Peterlee, Hartlepool, Kings Lynn, Coventry, Torpoint, Eastleigh, Lee-on-Solent, Portland, Weymouth, Loughborough, York and Liverpool before finally putting down anchor in Hackney, London. He served as an Avionics Artificer in the Royal Naval Fleet Air Arm from 1976 to 1982. Andy studied at the Co-operative College, York University and Middlesex University. Since then he has worked as a political full-timer, a lecturer in FE and in the Workers Educational Association, as a computer programmer, and finally as an engineering manager, CEO and a Director of a number of companies. He has authored books on the group Faust ('Faust: Stretch Out Time 1970-75'), the Romanian Spectral / Acousmatic composers Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram ('Cosmic Orgasm: The Music of Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram'), and he created a series of psychedelic-fanzine illustrations to the work of Blake ('The Brilliant New Hercules: A Blake Reader'). His main interests lie with Blake, radical theology and Surrealism.