Abstract

Chaosmic Orders: Nonclassical Physics, Allegory, and the Epistemology of Blake’s Minute Particulars

The essay considers Blake's epistemology of "minute particulars" in terms of what the essay defines as "radical organization," the concept in part indebted to the epistemology of quantum mechanics, further linked to the epistemology of allegory in de Man's sense. By so doing, the essay positions Blake's epistemology in relation to both quantum physics and chaos theory. While both depart epistemologically from classical, Newtonian, physics, they are epistemologically different in turn. This difference helps to illuminate the complexities of Blake's epistemology, which, and the way it departs from Newton, have affinities with both of these theories, but does not fully conforms to either. The essay also relates this epistemological problematic to the view of Blake's illuminated manuscripts as (or at least as anticipating) the artists' books-the art form that combines the self-conscious investigation of the conceptual and material form of the book with the interplay of the literary and the visual within it.