Beastly Blake pp 135-152 | Cite as

Blake as Shaman: The Neuroscience of Hallucinations and Milton’s Lark

  • David WorrallEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


This chapter argues that Blake’s ‘visions’ are best understood as visual and auditory hallucinations with neural correlates. He examines Milton A Poem (1804–1811), arguing that it is structured around a trance or Altered Consciousness State (ACS) figured in the poem as Blake’s collapse in his Felpham garden. Similar trances, accompanied by experiences of entoptic imagery, are widely pictured in the rock shelter paintings of /Xam (San) hunter-gatherer bush people of southern Africa, a society rich with allusions to the animal world. Common neural circuitry across Homo sapiens produced common entoptic imagery. With identical neural correlates for the percepts they experienced during their ‘visions’, even the obscurest imagery of Blake’s ‘Lark [who] is Los’s Messenger’ can be related to ACS experiences.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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