Knight of the Living Dead: William Blake and the Problem of Ontology


"In Knight of the Living Dead, Kathleen Lundeen investigates Blake's work in the context of his spiritualistic practices, and shows how he attempts to create a discourse that circumvents the binary of natural and arbitrary signs. Her examination of his word-image art demonstrates that, in Blake's view, what we recognize as word or image depends upon our epistemological orientation, just as what we term "matter" or "spirit" is determined by our state of perception. It further shows how Blake critiques textual theory in both his songs and prophecies by stabilizing the two sets of parameters that are used to define and classify signs: the general and particular, and the literal and figurative. Moreover, she argues, Blake provides an epistemological alternative to empiricism and rationalism in his poetry and art. Through verbal and visual experiments he defies the logic that is rooted in sense perception and reason, and he attempts through those experiments to return textuality to a divinely literal condition. By treating spiritualism as an aesthetic practice and art as an otherworldly communication, he undermines the institutionalized boundaries in art and life, and presents a formidable challenge to the whole matter/spirit dualism upon which Western culture is based." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Selinsgrove, PA
Publication year:
  • 2000


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