To Generalise is to be an Idiot. William Blake on politics, disillusionment and abstraction

An audio version of this talk is at my podcast, Talks and Thoughts, available via podcast feeds.

William Blake lived during the period in which the modern world was born. A prophet, he detected the tendencies that now powerfully shape our age.

The love of abstraction was high on his list of troubles. Such generalisations profoundly shape politics today. Politicians sell themselves on whether they will boost the economy, drive up growth, fight inflation, and I think the rhetoric is itself alienating, dumbing, dreary. Vision departs, imagination declines, disillusionment becomes the norm.

Accept for when it doesn’t – hence the rise of popularism, too. Abstractions infect the arts and humanities, as well. They have become a way of life. So what is Blake’s analysis?