It didn’t occur to me until today, the morning after William Blake’s 250th anniversary, to post, by way of celebration, Mark Stewart’s version of Jerusalem* with the Maffia, now 25-years-old itself, and sounding, if anything, more contemporary than it did at the time. I’ve just fallen into a very strange imaginary space, trying to imagine what Blake himself would have thought of it.
As is usual, wood s lot has a fine bunch of Blake linkage for the occasion, including a Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake at the brutally primitive (HTML-wise) Blake Digital Text Project.
Spurred by mark’s example, my Blakery, such as it is, launches out of a Google image search for
and the first few results were plenty interesting enough for the purpose at hand.
It struck me, first of all, that the Bacon study above, at that particular angle, could almost equally serve as a portrait of Iain Sinclair, no? The mask itself bears no such resemblance — and as with the folk wisdom that dock leaves are usually to be found near a nettle patch, wherever springs forth Iain Sinclair (however subliminally!), we are unsurprised to find an eruption of Peter Ackroyd somewhere close by (and vice versa). And so it is that Ackroyd’s piece for the Times in March, The London that became Jerusalem comes from Wit of the Staircase – yup, it happens that Theresa’s post, using of the famous 1807 portrait by Thomas Philips, in combination presumably with another art category post using the word ‘mask’, came up on the first page of image results. (So,Ms Duncan, we meet again. I can almost feel the traffic spiking from here). On reflection, it may have been the Ackroyd link that subliminally prompted my imagining Sinclair in Francis Bacon’s painting. Either way, the Sinclair-Ackroyd binary system is firmly entrenched in my head — and so can you!
Also present, links via Clattery Machinery to the British library’s Turn the Pages version of Blake’s notebook, which is beautiful and fascinating, but seriously, that interface is getting on my nerves a little more each time I visit. It looked pretty cute when it was new, but it just seems draggy now. Happily there is an accessible (and linkable) alternative version.
* If you want to own this as a physical object, it’s on the Kiss The Future compilation that Soul Jazz put out last year, currently available for £9.99, CD or double vinyl. I’d be very tempted, if I didn’t already have just about everything on it, in one format or another.