14. January 2016 · Comments Off on Annual Lecture 2016 · Categories: Society News


We are pleased to invite you to the Blake Society Annual Lecture 2016, to be held at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, London, on Wednesday 2nd March 2016 at 7.30pm. The church seats 500 and we expect the tickets to sell out quickly, so please do book in advance:


Tickets for non-members may be purchased at £15 each for the Nave of the Church and £12 for the Gallery.

Please note – Blake Society Members are granted free entry – one ticket per member. But you need to reserve your ticket.
[Click on the TICKETS link above that takes you to the Eventbrite page and then click on the GET TICKETS button. A page appears where there is an option at the top right hand side to Enter a Promotional Code. This code has been sent individually to all the Society members who pay the annual subscription in a separate email.]

This year the lecture is to be given by Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. The book, the result of 20 years’ research, argues that the two hemispheres of the human brain are not “mere machines with functions,” but actually underwrite “whole, self-consistent, versions of the world.” One such version – that brought about by the left hemisphere – has over the course of Western history come to dominate humanity, with catastrophic consequences. Dr McGilchrist’s findings give astonishing echo to the core of Blake’s artistic and religious vision.


Is the brain infinite? If so, how is it that, as Blake puts it, ‘they inclos’d my infinite brain into a narrow circle’? Evidence is gathering that the structure of the brain, in particular its asymmetrical nature, may explain the increasing narrowness of the circle of our experience in the present day, awareness of which may be the first step in reversing the process.

Dr Iain McGilchrist (www.iainmcgilchrist.com) is a former Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and former Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director at the Bethlem Royal & Maudsley Hospital, London. He has been a Research Fellow in neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. He has published original articles and research papers in a wide range of publications on topics in literature, philosophy, medicine and psychiatry. McGilchrist is the author of Against Criticism (Faber 1982), The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (Yale 2009), The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning; Why Are We So Unhappy? (e-book short) and is currently working on a project entitled When The Porcupine is a Monkey, to be published by Penguin Press. He lives on the Isle of Skye.

The Blake Society (www.blakesociety.org) honours and celebrates William Blake (1757-1827), engraver, poet, painter & prophet. We are a serious but not a stuffy group. We bring together scholars and enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals on equal terms; and have been meeting regularly in London since 1985. Our speaker series includes scholars, artists, writers, radicals, and mystics. Previous Annual Lectures have been given by the novelist Philip Pullman, the theologian Rowan Williams and the rock musician Patti Smith.

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