Global Blake
Global Blake: Alexander Abichou
Alexander Abichou considers ways in which the mysticism of Ibn Arabi may illuminate our understanding of William Blake.

This paper conducts a comparative analysis of William Blake and Ibn Arabi (an Andalusian mystic) as a means of examining the shared discourse found in the latter’s Islamic esoteric theology and the former’s antinomian and poetic reading of Christian scripture and in turn, question what must follow once you adopt this kind of universalising spirituality (where the Divine Word and the eternal body of Man is intertwined) as a starting point and to what extent their commonalities indicate that there are certain outcomes that follow from mystical assumptions. The main points of convergence that I explore within this cross-cultural analysis includes: the role of a theophanic imagination in spiritual realisation, the necessity for mortality in redemption (i.e. embodiedness or form as key components of artistic perception), the spirit of prophecy as propelled through dialectical contraries and how the logos signals an ongoing conversational warfare amongst emotionally expansive interlocutors. This study most closely follows the analytical ethos of Robert J. Dobie’s comparison between Ibn Arabi and Meister Eckhart in highlighting how their ‘trans-traditional affinities’ are not simply ‘historical borrowings’ but an extension of their creative exploration of scripture which results in them partaking in, a ‘mystical understanding and appropriation of revelation [that often] demands, parallel and even identical hermeneutical and metaphysical moves on the part of the mystical writer’.

Alexander Abichou has recently completed his PhD on Percy Bysshe Shelley and Islam at Durham University and is currently transforming the paper being presented into a journal article. Both projects aim to deepen the discourse surrounding the faith within Romantic Orientalism by recognising either side as possessing a rich intellectual tradition.