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Vol. 47 no. 3: Winter 2013–14

Claire Colebrook, Blake, Deleuzian Aesthetics, and the Digital

  • Mark Lussier
7 January 2014
07 Jan. 2014


In Blake, Deleuzian Aesthetics, and the Digital, Claire Colebrook pursues the dual theoretical aims of exploring Blakean textual operations through Deleuzean aesthetics and of grounding Blake’s aesthetic commitments within the philosophical concepts associated with Gilles Deleuze. The result of this double procedure, while perhaps not pleasing to all Blake scholars, nonetheless discloses the continuing ability of the illuminated canon and its mythopoeic construction to absorb the most sophisticated critical modes without exhausting Blake’s evolving vision of subjectivity. In this sense, Colebrook’s well-written and energetic assessment joins a long tradition of theoretical discussions that find in the composite textual states in which Blake works connections to contemporary modes of analysis. As she states in her conclusion, “Two centuries of Blake criticism have followed from the working through of those moments in his poetry that are resistant to synthesis[,] with criticism having to repeat, master, narrativize, and trace the geneses of the inassimilable” (136). This historical reading of Blake criticism, as the preface to the work makes clear, emerges from the nature of Blake’s modes of production, where “there is both the art of marking, tracing, sculpting, and binding (or experience’s world of repeated, already-known and fully actualized matters) and the destruction of any system with an influx of pure powers (or the openness of innocence)” (xxv).