William Blake and the Metaverse – The Mental Fight to be a Person

An MP3 version of this talk is at my stream Thoughts and Talks, which should be in your podcast feed.

The hard problem of consciousness. Imagination as an “overheated brain”. A future in the Cloud or Metaverse.

William Blake was a thinker as well as poet and artist. His prophetic punch comes from seeing through the mode of living he saw developing in his times, that so powerfully shape our own.

In this talk, I use five of his great sayings, as well as the insights of contemporary philosopher, David Bentley Hart, to reflect on the mental fight increasingly required to stay in touch with our personhood and resist the spectre of virtuality.

– “How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?” insists we are manifestations of the divine vision

– If that is denied we live amongst “dark satanic mills”.

– So we must keep reflecting on what it means to be a person: “If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic character. the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things. & stand still, unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again Dull round.”

– And not live in a closed up mentality, because “There is no natural religion”. All must be in the service of more.

– When that more is the orientation of our lives, we discover that “He who binds to himself the joy, does the winged life destroy. He who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in Eternity’s sunrise”.

The remarkable truth that Blake knew is that we don’t only long for what’s good, beautiful and true. When you think about it, as he assists us in doing, it becomes clear that can only be the case because the good, beautiful and true longs to be known by us too.