Alan Wall tries to make sense of Blake’s legendary aversion to science. He called it the tree of death, where art was the tree of life. Wall examines this belief in relation to the notions of light current in Blake’s day, and wonders if Blake’s notions of visionary light, a light illuminating from within, was simply incompatible with the notion of lumen which Newton’s Optics had propounded. There had always been an alternative tradition – prior to Newton – that of lux, where the light did shine from within. That is true light for Blake, as is shown in both his writings and his paintings & graphic work. The visionary shone, illuminating the faces of those around him. Nature itself was little more than a realm of shadows; it was the Imagination which said ‘Fiat Lux’.
Alan Wall is a novelist, essayist and poet. His work has been translated into ten languages. He has a particular interest in the way in which art and science interpenetrate, and has published many essays on the subject. He is a member of the Welsh Academy and a fellow of the English Association; he has been Royal Literary Fund Fellow in writing at several universities, and is currently Professor of Writing and Literature at the University of Chester.
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