Blake in Performance, Blake at the End of Times

February 7, 2018 – Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

I had the privilege of participating in “Blake in Performance, Blake at the End Times,” a public program organized by the Block Museum as part of its William Blake in the Age of Aquarius exhibition. 

My talk considered the way artists and intellectuals in the 1960s looked to Blake as a prophet of nuclear apocalypse. In his book Where the Wasteland Ends, Theodore Roszak — who popularized the word “counterculture” in the late 60s — argued that Blake spoke to an “apocalyptic era” threatened by nuclear holocaust. Blake “saw in the steady advance of science and machines,” Roszak wrote, “a terrifying aggression against precious human potentialities—and especially against visionary imagination.” 

Photo credits: Block Museum of Art

© John P. Murphy
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