The horrors of creation
Globes, englobing powers, and Blake's archaeologies of the present
in William Blake's Gothic imagination
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Peter Otto considers of a series of creation scenes in Blake’s oeuvre that all feature a familiar image: a red disk. This image—variously, but also potentially simultaneously, a womb, head, pool, globe, and mirror—provides a pivot around which to organise the perspectival multiplicity that comprises Blake’s Bible of Hell. Using the trope of archeology as a way to think about how the past remains uncannily present in Blake’s moment and our own, Otto invites us to approach Blake spatially and graphically, in terms of constellations and arrangements, rather than sequentially and linearly. Blake’s images themselves ask us to consider phenomena along spatial axes, to traverse a field divided into quadrants, regions, and organs, and to take account of layers, superimpositions, and multiple ‘grounds’: foregrounds, middle-grounds, and backgrounds, as well as over- and undergrounds. Otto argues that for Blake the Gothic provided ‘a lexicon and iconography of elemental conflict and of powerful affect’.


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