Apocalypse Now: Arnold Toynbee, William Blake and our understanding times

An MP3 version of this talk can be found at my podcast, Talks and Thoughts, that should be available from a podcast feed.

The British historian, Arnold Toynbee, is currently out of fashion. The British poet and artist, William Blake, is not, though he is rarely well understood. So what might they have to say to our times?

Toynbee strove to understand the inner as well as outer processes of history, developing a theory he called etherialisation. Blake appreciated the destructive power of the dark, Satanic mills, with their loss of divine imagination.

Bring them together, and the two perspectives are remarkably illuminating in terms of both understanding and responding to now.

0:32 Toynbee and the inner life of history
1:52 Roman roads and the emergence of Christianity
4:35 Dante as an example of the exile who renews
6:28 The axial figures and civilisational change
8:24 Today and the allure of technological fixes
9:50 Beyond western Christianity and materialist philosophy
12:27 The guidance of Dante and William Blake
14:41 Golgonooza, Los and facing the Furnaces of affliction
17:01 Destruction and the renewal of inner vision
18:57 History, virtue and relating again to nature
20:47 Mistakes and forgiveness: rebuilding inner wisdom