The William Blake course has opened my eyes to ways of systematizing. School is a systematizing experience. I grew up systematized by religion, and studied stories about God written by people who I assumed knew God. I learned more about myself than God in these experiences, but also because I can feel for Blake. Blake was a good Englishman, but he was scared of what was happening in the world, during the French Revolution. I’m not scared of anything, but because of Blake, I am reading his work at a higher level, like someone in an airplane, and it is because of Blake’s very humanizing in marvels of the beastial, read alongside allegorical characters, and with his settings of England and vegetated Jerusalem there is a literary resistance of the neoclassical; this statement about art and religion and history had me feeling the love between Enitharmon and her child, Orc, as his own morality became buried by the burning ravages of war and empire-building, and while I sat in our comfortable classroom, drinking Starbucks every, single Wednesday watching Milton get sucked off on the projector and Humberto lecture about ‘mental reptiles.’ Etymology and Blake’s symbolism collapse: Ross kept writing about Norse mythology for this very reason; facets of a white literature dominated not only this course but also my study of literature these last four years. Ironically, my white friends have no interest in hearing about literature. In the real world, obstreperous people mock people like us because for studying ‘pakistani feminism,’ but I think there are other discourses as well from which analogous reference to performance, art and literature can make sense of Blake’s currency of satirical and reactionary writing.

The first example of Blake’s career as an embedder made me think about my own process of creating gif art. The gif itself is a format for computing which consists of a hybridity in that it supports both animated and static images. Blake as an illustrator would have been enthralled with the gif as it lets you say so much, without saying anything at all. Meme ideology is so powerful that websites like Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica effectively mobilized Russian bots to target Internet users for manipulating the 2016 American elections with the presence of both animated and static images. Blake’s access to technology aside, his opening up of poetry to the world of political satire was technological in the sense that most of Blake’s counterparts were still writing boring pamphlets. Blake was sharp about standing out from the contemporaries, and I think his career and other biological factors helped him explore grandiosity while also dealing with the hopelessness of being a subject under authoritative control. Blake printed plates which expressed statements, contradictions, philosophical odes to the Bible, etc. In my weekly blog posts, I created gifs transforming Blake’s static images into lo-fi images containing glitch effects or color gradients. During the “Daughters of Albion” sections, I found that referring to other female poets helped focus on what Blake was trying to say about how he saw himself and his writing when borrowing classical figures like Beatrice and Dante. In these gifs I would add a purple gradient and bury it in the white color spectrum, then I would layer the color gradient behind any color matching a white color palette. This would create a glowing or subtle-glitch effect in which the viewer would not be too distracted by the transformations. Burying the purple gradient behind a white palette allowed the color to pop out only wherever the color white appeared in the image. By minimizing exposure of the gradient, the viewer also has an entirely subconscious and new focus on background images and colors that are not actually present, with the purple gradient- appearing only secondary to the original colors which Blake incorporated- within the borders of the dominating white palette (the page which frames the Blake illustrations was white and standard 10”x8.5” horizontal orientation). It is in the surrounding borders to Blake’s original work where he created vegetated imagery of Jerusalem. The tiger seems to be concerned with spatial, page arrangement, as he or she is crawling and two-dimensionally eluding the viewer’s gaze. Maybe because of this perception Blake had of the beast, we see animals in an entirely different way today, or maybe we do not care. The indifference of the scholar seems to be the crux of this course, as Blake himself was, ironically, not attuned to the conventions of Locke, Hobbes, Reynolds and the cast of conservative writers. His very attachment allowed him to build such a system which infamously sang about Los’ suffering. To create and to imagine is more than what we were asked for in this course. The task of identifying and responding to Blake became a challenge for myself as I often found myself saying the same thing, over and over and over. I wonder if this is what maturity looks like: repetitive, and in this context, self-deceived by superficiality of epic proportions. I have only just got in the water. I want to make love to the goddesses too, like Blake, but am satisfied with just capturing them on my iPhone photo app.

Since coming in contact with Blake’s knowledge, I also feel like the class and people in general have begun to turn against me, just for expressing love. I think that superstition often debases our intellect and faculties, but Blake knew this and tapped in to the power to traumatize human psyche. I feel like expressing my ideas has become something ghastly, because in our department it is scary to go against the grain. Religion and our parents coddle us with materiality and this takes away from the college experience. When people want to justify whatever certainties or validations their biases require, it suffocates your ability to push the envelope when coming in contact with forms of knowledge like what Blake has created. I wish we didn’t use binaries like ‘atheist’ or ‘radical’ in the year 2018, but it shows how far we still have to reach beyond what I think Blake was warning us about, much like the founding fathers envisioned in their forming the United States with a document which could be either loosely or strictly read as the Constitution. We have come a long ways as a superstitious people, but if there is anything to detest in academia, it is people who use forms of knowledge to build agendas, to sell books, and who knowledge. Human rights as a category in the midst of existential crisis can release us from these mental shackles just as Blake invests in allegorical readings for subjecting himself to contemporary and postmodern myths about religion, politics, and historical inventions. It seems like Blake was frustrated with 18th century trends of self-grandiosity, religious certainty and moral debasing grounded on so-called intellectual justification, and for that, I thank you.

Works Cited

  1. Christian, Bradley. “Facebook profile pic” editor Glitché. 2018. Web. <>

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