I’ll be appearing at the Blake Festival in Oxford on January 18th

I’ll be appearing at the Blake Festival in Oxford on January 18th. More information from:  www.inspiredbyblake.co.uk

 Inspired By Blake Launch Event
with Philip Pullman, Caspar Henderson, and Iain Sinclair

 When / Where:

Sunday 18th January, 3pm

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford


This panel discussion opens the festival and examines the many different aspects of William Blake, his influence on thought and culture, and his relevance today. The panel features Philip Pullman, President of the Blake Society, Iain Sinclair, author and psychogeographer, whose book ‘Blake’s London’ examines Blake’s relationship with our capital, and Caspar Henderson, whose new book, ‘A New Map of Wonders’,  explores wonder and things that make the world astonishing. Renowned Oxford choral Group Schola Cantorum will begin the evening with a performance of settings of Blake’s poems by Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Tavener, and Oisten Sommerfeldt.

For tickets, please phone 01865 333623, or visit the Customer Service desk in Blackwell’s Bookshop, or for enquiries, please email events.oxford@blackwell.co.uk


I don’t have access to The Times website so here is a post from the Swedenborg society website

The book reviewed is “Blake’s London: the Topographic Sublime”, which you can purchase from the following link:

An exclusive extract from Iain’s new book coming out in few weeks.


Updated 27/11/2011

The new book is now available on the Swedenborg online store



“There will soon be a new book. Stephen at Swedenborg House is publishing the (revised) text of a lecture I gave on Blake in London.


“The working title is  Blake’s London: the topographic sublime  and it was a talk given by Iain at a conference in 2007 at the Swedenborg Society, and organized in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake.

It is also the first in a series of small HB pocket books of lectures given at the Society’s neo classical hall. It should be available in around 4 weeks”


Check also this previous posts.

Iain has kindly agreed to publish a free taster of the new book:

EXTRACT FROM BLAKE’S LONDON.  A talk delivered at Swedenborg House, in March 2011, which will be published in full, in a revised and extended form, along with a further transcript of the Questions and Answers that followed

I had been working as a gardener in Limehouse, and I was cutting the grass of Hawksmoor churches, which were then dirty, grubby and spurned. Vagrants and drinking schools were camped out around the Portland Stone recesses like medieval pilgrims or penitents seeking sanctuary and a dole of British sherry The whole of Docklands, the Isle of Dogs, had failed. The zone was derelict. Thatcherite imperatives would not kick in for quite some time yet. Capital didn’t return to the river until the Heathrow bullion blaggers needed territory in which to invest. So what was the presence of the eastern city? Well, Blake seemed to suggest that it was a figure, a sleeping giant.  He imagined a figure of inward, an inward being. This self-forged daemon belonged, I felt, to the ground of London. It stood against the other great project influencing me that that time, the mythopeic structure cast by the American poet Charles Olson in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Olson’s epic, The Maximus Poems, is dedicated to Robert Creeley as the figure of ‘outward’. Olson projects his odyssey as a journey through the local into the star field, going out with the tide, understanding the logistics of fishing fleets, understanding the topography that lay under the ocean—the mountain ranges of the Atlantic—and this push becomes a  reaching into the cosmos. Launched with the minute particulars of place Blake talks about, Olson’s second movement carries you right back, a return to the human nest. The particulars have become myth. Blake, of course, is able to do both of these things at once, the outward and the inward. And for some reason the creation of  buildings and structures on the east side of London seemed, prophetically, to suggest a new kind of writing and even a new kind of social, cultural, even biological, development.

Commentators at the time, writing about Blake’s Jerusalem itinerary,  said ‘Why Highgate?’ And the reason John Adlard put forward was that Highgate was then on the Great North Road – a road which subsequently moved east and up Stoke Newington and out through Tottenham. But, originally, it came over Highgate Hill—it was the great entrance to the city, even though Blake himself says, repeatedly, that he is uncomfortable in this landscape. Highgate is also connected to various forms of belief in Druidic sites. There were books like Prehistoric London: Its Mounds and Circles, written by Elizabeth Gordon before the First War, that suggested there were triangulations of energy across London, there were paths between important loci on Parliament Hill (with a tumulus), the Penton Mound in Islington, and the Tot Hill in Westminster.  A projected triangle enclosing so many of the ancient energy generators of London. And Blake seems to have prefigured a lot of that too, but in a higher register. Curiously enough, there’s this curvature, a swerving away: ‘Highgate thro Hackney & Holloway towards London / Till he came to old Stratford’. Well, this was the sticking point for people who wanted to discuss that journey: ‘old Stratford’, this was really peculiar. Adlard suggests, looking at texts of the time, that Blake actually meant ‘old Ford’, which was a point on the River Lea where Saxon and Viking England divided. A very important crossing point on the Lea and not further east to Stratford. But, uncannily, old Stratford is now the epicentre of everything, it is the new city, the virtual city growing up around the Olympic Park, the enclosed city with this huge blue fence around it. A city, symbolised by an Australian super-mall, which has taken itself out of the landscape.  You could persuade yourself that Blake anticipates, or suggests the terminology for, future movements throwing up heretical temples, retail parks, structures that have to be confronted, discussed and debated. And destroyed. ‘An Abstract objecting power that Negatives every thing.’