Saturday, 5 December 2020


Tate Britain, London

“I will not Reason And Compare, my business is to Create"
- Blake

Irreducible Strangeness

The last London Blake show, also at the Tate, was in 2000. In art history terms that’s but a blink. (And woe betide any wag who suggests it’s that earlier show I’m covering here!) Which suggests two things; that he’s now thought of primarily as a visual artist and that he’s become a fixture of the gallery circuit. The first seems unsurprising, those dense epic poems not exactly working for the world of text messaging. But why the second?

As the show says: “He has inspired many creative people, political radicals and independent minds”. And, at least in part, Blake is so totemic because everyone feels free to invent their own Blake. He’s become a human scrying glass, into which people peer in order to see what they want. And what people normally want is validation, the scrying glass to show them that their personal ideology is the fairest of them all.

The previous show I had to queue up behind some berk in a UKIP T-shirt, presumably having his own visions of getting our Albion back from all that foreign Modernism stuff subsidised by the EU. And indeed some see the author of ’Jerusalem’ as a part of “our culture”; which they’re capable of seeing only in terms of heraldry, a shining piece of precious only slightly less lustrous than Shakespeare. 

While to political radicals he’s rebel and visionary. Jim Morrison for example, named the Doors after a Blake line. And Matthew Collings came and saw “a Jeremy Corbyn god roll[ing] a sun along the ground as if he’s rolling away Boris Johnson’s no deal: a British lion laughs.”

And I should know. Delightedly discovering him during my A-Levels, I pictured a combination of proto-rock-star, whose innovative work and unconventional lifestyle shocked and challenged the Establishment; nascent comics creator, who daringly merged words with images; and incisive political thinker of an anarchist bent. In short, John Lennon, Jack Kirby and Kropotkin rolled into one convenient package. I quote-mined Gilchrist’s biography for evidence of this, disregarding the rest. (Which was most of it.)

Blake can be made such a scrying glass because he offers no system of thought of his own, allowing you to impose yours upon him. He can often affect the opposite, making grand and proclamatory statements, swoopingly dismissing widely held orthodoxies as mere folly. And he was notorious for being fulsomely opinionated in conversation. But to assume he is to be decoded, let alone that you alone hold the key to that code, is to miss him altogether. He was not doctrinal but an inchoate visionary, a latterday hedgerow priest living from vision to vision.

In his Blake biography, Peter Ackroyd acknowledges “he was, above anything else, an artist and not an orthodox ‘thinker’: he was attracted to images or phrases as a means of interpretation, and never espoused a complete or coherently organised body or knowledge.”

His philosophy would be better thought of as an anti-philosophy, a distrust of systems which he constantly compared to mere physical mechanisms, machine thought for a machine age. One of his more famous lines was “the bounded is loathed by its possessor”. So why on earth try to bind him? Such a large part of his appeal is his irreducible strangeness, where his works look mystical to their very marrow. Why would you destroy what you love just to have it as a keepsake?

However if there is no Blake in the sense of a body of doctrine, that doesn’t mean there is no Blake. It’s just that trying to ‘get’ Blake isn’t going to get him. Most artists don’t exist in that sense, of being philosophers or political theorists. They’re no better placed to explain what they’re doing than anyone else. But private obsessions drive them, and they look around themselves with a magpie eye for inspiration. In trying to come to terms with them, we’re more analyst than dutiful reader. We do all this with other artists without thinking about it much, and need to do the same for Blake.

Were he to somehow attend this show, it would probably seem to him a strange irony that he was finally appreciated, but in a post-Christian society. Yet he saw the Bible as a fantastical work, stuffed with dreams, apparitions and prophecies, not a repository of instruction designed to instill a shopkeeper morality. (Arguably, much of what he wrote was Bible fanfic.) We should read him the way he read.

The show sticks Blakean lines up on the walls, such as “sudden I beheld The Virgin Ololon and adress’d her as a daughter of Beulah”, above works such as ’Visions of the Daughters of Albion’ (1793, above), then has the common sense to announce it doesn’t intend interpreting any of this. Equally wisely it goes to some lengths to reconstruct the Blake of his time, at times literally - reproducing the whole of his 1809 solo show. (Held in his family house.) And locating him matters.

The Old, Weird Britain

All this claiming of Blake, arguably that started during his life. In all likelihood with Blake himself, as he wasn’t short on self-importance. But the first discernible movement was the Romantics. To who he was so beloved that some habitually kissed the bell-handle on his door. And arguably their imprint on him remains the deepest. Certainly it’s the longest, with the Tate’s page on Romanticism illustrated by a Blake.

True enough, like the Romantics, Blake reacted against the increasingly mechanised and mechanistic world of the Industrial revolution. Yet…

It might seem redundant to criticise the Romantics for romanticising things, but there’s no real way around it. And one of their chief romanticisations was their conception of the true artist, the genius-savant who owes nothing to the society around him, who pursues his own private visions in its face. And Blake was, or seemed, the perfect person to project that figure onto, working in near-isolation, either ignored by critics or dismissed as “an unfortunate lunatic”.

And there is some truth to this. Financially, he was almost entirely dependent on patrons. Which went, in a word, badly. Perhaps there is an inherent tension in the sympathetic commission, where the payment is made as a gesture of support to the artist but also in the expectation of you getting back something you want. If so, it was a tension Blake had an unerring ability to locate and repeatedly prod. He had a private muse he could do no other than pursue, at times against his own best interests.

However the parts which didn’t fit, such as a six-year training at the Academy which seems to have passed without major incident, they went the same way as my reading of Gilchrist. (It should be noted how they also venerated the pre-industrial past and women in the same way, as something mystic and otherly, best worshipped from a respectful distance.)

Then there’s the chronology. Romanticism’s kick-off is usually seen as 1798 with the publication of the ‘Lyrical Ballads’, poems by both Wordsworth and Coleridge. Wordsworth was then twenty-eight and Coleridge two years younger; Blake was already forty-one. Though most imagine him a Victorian he was a Georgian, a contemporary of Gillray. (They’d even studied together at the Academy.) And unlike them his background was not at all bohemian, but artisan.

While we tend to forget this it was self-evident at the time, of course, and so soon fed into the scrying glass. It became evidence of his great originality that he’d been a Romantic before there was even Romanticism, a John the Baptist in the artistic wilderness. His followers called themselves the Ancients, emphasising his age.

But mostly there’s nature. A central tenet of Romanticism was the interest in Nature as subject matter, rather than mere pleasing backdrop. But Blake rarely drew from nature, and while he did draw inspiration from this world it came from his native London more than the countryside. While acknowledging “Wordsworth loves Nature”, he added his own rejoinder - “Nature is the work of the Devil.” As Ackroyd has said: “Blake… regarded Nature as no more than the Mundane Shell or Vegetative Universe that was the vesture of Satan.”

In fact this prophet, this supposed harbinger of future artistic and social trends, spent much of his own time looking back. His troubles with sales were due to with his subject matter and temperament (both difficult), but largely with his style being seen as archaic and anachronistic. His heroes were Raphael and Michelangelo, not the then-fashionable Reubens and Rembrandt, who he disdained. He promised “the grand style of Art restored”. Aesthetically, he seemed less outsider than throwback. If we’re to get Blake, even a little, we need to look where he was looking - and he was looking back.

A Dissenter Among Dissenters

Another among the many groups who have claimed Blake are the Anarchists. Literally the first book I ever read on politics, about the time I was first reading Blake, was George Woodcock’s ’Anarchism’. Which stated in its opening section “mystics and stoics seek not anarchy, but another kingdom. Anarchism, historically speaking, is concerned mainly with man in relation to society.”

Which seemed clear-cut at the time. Yet Blake rides his fiery chariot through the firewall of that distinction. It wasn’t just he wanted social change and another kingdom, he saw the two as inextricable.

If there was a long period where Blake was effectively a prophet in the wilderness, in his younger days he was directly connected to a radical tradition. A tradition arcane to us now, an old weird Britain. You could call it Dissent or Nonconformism, and let’s not concern ourselves about the distinction.

As EP Thompson said in ’The Making of the English Working Class’: “Against the background of London Dissent, with its fringe of deists and earnest mystics, Blake seems no longer the cranky untutored genius [but] the original yet authentic voice of a long popular tradition.”

It’s not quite true to say Dissent originated in the English Revolution, inasmuch as there was a causal relationship it was the other way around. But the Revolution incubated and stirred it up, linked social change to another kingdom. The restoration of the monarchy had arguably settled the question, consolidated in the Church of England, in the way that centuries later the post-War consensus arguably settled political differences. But Nonconformism was by definition those who found this a compromise too far, and stayed outside the established Church.

In practice this was more a milieu than a specific group with Wikipedia listing a somewhat bewildering eighteen groups, including Grindletonians and Muggletonians. (Dissenter groups manage to sound esoteric and provincially English simultaneously.)

Though, rather than being some vow of rebellion, Blake’s Dissenting was originally passed on to him by his parents. In fact, in their quiet independence they were more typical of the breed. Wikipedia points out that “Nonconformists in the 18th and 19th century claimed a devotion to hard work, temperance, frugality, and upward mobility” which made it a natural choice for shopkeepers and tradespeople. Religion was considered a matter of personal morality, rather than political conviction. The world around you was fallen, but you did as best you could. Everything fell back upon the individual.

But the twin events of the American (1765) and French Revolutions (1789) stirred up Dissent once more, rekindling memories of what had happened in England. It’s significant that Blake adapted both Bunyan and Milton, both radical Dissenters of their day. And of course taking this path made him a dissenter among the Dissenters, a nonconformist among Nonconformists.

Yet he went on to live through the time after that, after the Terror and war with France, when revolutionary favour diminished and quietism came to dominate Dissent all over again. The effect was to increasingly mystify the past, even as he still drew from real traditions. He’d said “The Nature of my Work is Visionary or Imaginative; it is an Endeavour to restore what the Ancients called the Golden Age”. And the myth of the Edenic past becomes associated with the notion of a repository of vital but lost knowledge, forgotten but recoverable, perhaps a whole ur-language.

Where Word Meets Image
Blake was aesthetically no Romantic, not just in the sense of his approach to nature but also naturalism. Though often dramatic his art is made up of tableaus, in which figures stretch and contort themselves into grand gestures, poses they then hold for our information - much as policemen do when directing traffic. When they’re also called upon to convey urgency they become at once hieratic and histrionic; often with unintentionally comic effect, even if you’re not supposed to say so. See for example ’The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve’ (c. 1826/7, below).

And this was the era when all that was starting to be challenged. There’s two versions of a print of Chaucer’s Pilgrimage to Canterbury, one by Blake (1810, below) and another his contemporary Stothard. Blake neatly arranges a linear procession, every horse’s head pointed forwards. You almost await the identifying labels on white scrolls to attach themselves to each figure.

While Stothard naturalises his, filling it with incidental detail. By any criteria Stothard’s is the more modern, all of which led to Blake loudly decrying it. Through a complex set of reasoning, not necessarily involving reason, Blake had come to believe the commission was rightly his. But if that stirred up his anger, his negative comments were consistent with his general views on art. He disliked anything which might distract from the central idea.

Art history would tell us to look to Stothard, as he was at the start of something new, and past Blake. But if Blake was in a tradition he was doing something unique with it…

Trained as an engraver, etching and pressing his own work made a material difference. As he commented “Milton and Shakespeare could not publish their own works”. But it was more than that.

His relief etching (etching in negative image), began in 1788 with ‘The Book of Thel’, and there’s a real sense that Blake as we know him begins only here. Crucially it allowed him to add his handwriting to printing plates. (Accomplished by writing backwards, the reversal them reversing once printed.)

To quote Ackroyd again: “These are not poems… these are discrete works of art in which the words are only one element in a unified design.” They’re often compared to illuminated manuscripts of the Bible, but there’s an important difference. Those “illuminations” might enhance the Bible’s text but it is complete without them. Whereas here we need both to get the complete work.

Further, the connection between text and image is often not direct enough for us to see these as accompanying illustrations. They’re more like two parallel channels which spark off one another like musical lines in an overall composition. Let’s take plate five of ‘America A Prophecy’ (below) as our example.

And we can see what he looks like without this combination, because some of his commissioned work lacks it. For example ‘Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard’ (1797/8, above) has conventionally typeset text. And the Blakean alchemy immediately dissipates, images transform back into illustrations, servants to the words not their siblings.

Ackroyd says: “It is as if he could not see words without images, and images without words; in that a sense he returns to a much earlier sense of language as imagery.” This is evident in ‘An Allegory of the Bible’ (c. 1780/5, above), based around figures ascending steps. It might seem a timeline of progress from earth to heaven - child to adult to brighter-coloured beings of spirit. Atop the whole thing is the expected radiating figure, but instead of God it’s a book. If spirit is raised above flesh, word is then raised above spirit. (The title was admittedly added later, but it seems to fit.) And it’s notable how book images abound, books often appearing recursively within books.

We perhaps shouldn’t over-emphasise this. Blake often made prints without words, sometimes taking earlier designs and removing the words. Most likely because they looked less daunting, and so sold better. But they can be as Blakean as anything else here, supplying some of my favourite works from the show.

Then again that might simply be because they worked better here. We still don’t have a place for Blake in quite a literal sense, hence we try and stuff him into an art gallery and hope that does. The show manages the best it can, putting up plates in sequence with the text intact. But once they are up there, framed on the wall, you inevitably focus more on the images.

In the rush to examine his text/image combinations, his sense of colour is often overlooked. Vivid, non-naturalistic, they exude much of the mood of his work. Ackroyd again: “these are colours which seem to be not of this earth, but of that imaginative landscape he carried with him everywhere.” His prints have a grainy texture which, when applied universally, de-differentiates the figures from their backgrounds.

We can see this in ’Nebuchadnezzar’ (1795/1805, above) which, as well as turning the title character into a wild animal, with clawed foot and trailing beard, also seems morph him into his own background. Some mythologies make no distinction between their Gods’ bodies and the landscape they inhabit, they didn’t create the world so much as it's composed out of them. And there often seems an echo of that in Blake.

Symbols Raised

Symbolism arrived even later than Romanticism, and so there were none to hang round Blake’s bell-push during his life. But at least in approach they inherit more from him. The Symbolist Manifesto, issued in 1886, declared their interest in “real world phenomena“ only as “perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric affinities with the primordial Ideals.”

Then, as so often with Blake, we need to push this notion further, into a kind of Neo-Platonism. And as Matthew Collings points out in the Standard, Blake’s compositions are “only assemblies of signs. It’s nothing like reality… for Blake the only real thing is imagination.” To Blake its the symbols which are the real things; we’re just their imperfect copies. They’re the bright colours, we’re the pallid shadows. (In the sense of where art is in relation to us, Malevich is much more in Blake’s lineage than Constable.)

It might be objected that Blake was not ascetically disengaged from the world, communing only with angels. If nature offered him no inspiration, his native London was full of it. But he took these sights only for their symbolic value; he ‘read’ London as if it were a text, extracting meaning from it. Ackroyd again: “What Blake saw was not the crepuscular and dirty city of the historian’s imagination, but a city filled with angels and prophets. He saw a biblical city.”

Blake wrote in ‘Milton’ “every natural event has a supernatural cause”. Our reality follows from this intense, heightened world. But not in the consequential sense of mainstream Christian doctrine, where Eve ate the apple so now we live in a fallen world. That would make our reality a fait accompli. Though the world he depicts feels in many ways primordial it’s also volatile, its effect upon us not fixed or determined but in a state of eternal flux.

As Ackroyd says: “[in] his Prophetic Books… various faculties and aptitudes are engaged in a constant battle for supremacy.” More than “first this, so then that” it’s the alchemical doctrine of “as above so below.” This heightened world is above, in the sense of more important than, ours. Primal forces clash and re-clash in it, sending their shifting shadows down to us.

As Ackroyd puts it, “his belief that the dimensions of material existence are a prison from which we must escape and that the human senses are a degraded and pitiful residue of eternal power.” The world is not fallen because of events which happened before or above it, it is fallen because it is the world, because it is merely material.

‘Elohim Creating Adam’ (1795, above) is striking because it’s so unlike Michelangelo, despite him being one of Blake’s heroes. God is shown across a supine Adam, holding him down, their eyes not meeting, a snake already wrapped around his leg like bounds. In modern parlance the image is ‘rapey’, suggesting God imposed physical form on Adam as an act of violation. It’s very similar in composition to ‘Satan Exulting Over Eve’ (1795). This is God as the demiurge, trapping man into the confines of physical existence. Though here called Elohim Blake also gave him the name Urizen, thought to be a homonym for “your reason”, as the tyrant creator.

We see Urizen in ‘The Ancient of Days’ (1794, above), a strong enough image to make it onto the poster. His lowered hand seems to expand into the compasses as much as hold them. He’s not just circumscribing what he creates, for him to create is to circumscribe.

Blake wrote in ‘The Everlasting Gospel’ (1918) “Upon his heart with Iron Pen/ He wrote Ye must be born again.” (Though in that case it’s Jesus forewarning a Pharisee he hasn’t got it and so, translated into Buddhist terms, remains trapped to the wheel.) He always claimed that when his brother died he saw his spirit leave, clapping his hands with joy.

All In the Mind

And yet interestingly even in this elevated world, outside our mundane reality, themes and images of confinement predominate. Why should this be? In fact there’s another way of looking at Blake, which runs simultaneously with all the above. Had you told him his cosmologies were merely in his imagination, he’d doubtless not have seen a problem.

Again this is something of a Nonconformist thing. Ackroyd recounts Blake enthusing over an engraving used as a frontspiece for a Dissenting text. It “shows the figures of man and woman: each figure has several flaps which can be opened to reveal fresh images beneath, and these human forms are shown to contain heaven and hell, and all the stars, within themselves. It is a depiction of the ‘One Man’, ‘Universal Man’ or 'Cosmogenic Man’ that was so influential among the mystics and philosophers of the late eighteenth century.”

Urizen can be shown as a tyrant, against who a heroic figure resists. A figure which often seems a surrogate for Blake himself. Yet Urizen, a Blake creation, comes just as much from Blake, and Blake not only knew this but incorporates it. The creation of mere matter, Urizen was often referred to as an artisan-like figure. And Blake was… well, you guessed.

So if Urizen is the rule-giver against which others revolt he is himself a tragic figure, valiantly pursuing his course of action but wrong for the right reasons. In a delicious irony, the begetter of chains is sometimes depicted bound himself, the maker of matter mere matter himself, all suffering under him including himself. All the best villains are misguided social reformers.

Ackroyd comments that “a characteristic Blakean scenario… is that of an isolated figure with upraised arms in an attitude of fear or reverence…. the figures seem to be struggling to liberate themselves from the confines in which they are crushed by paint, and metal, and print.” Not just as a figure within the drama, but by the mechanics of their own making. There’s something almost metafictional about this paradox.

To see how characteristic this is, compare the early ‘The Death of the Wife of the Biblical Prophet Ezekiel’ (c. 1785) and plate ten of ‘The Book of Urizen’ (1794, both above). Compressed, foreshortened bodies set under agonised heads with aloft eyes. Neither are chained, but both look as though to be embodied is to be chained.

The appeal of Blake isn’t that he’s otherworldly, in the sense of accessing a portal you might pass through into some other place. It’s his sense of another world which is already intermingled with ours, which cannot be separated from ours. The angels in the tree were always there, he just saw them where we failed. As someone-or-other once said, “man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”

These can appear primal questions, and Blake himself most likely saw them that way. Yet they could not be anything but historically contingent. Blake lived his life amid tumultuous social changes, and his art was inevitably his attempt to make sense of those changes. Inevitably it was more seismograph than map, as he tried to resolve problems he found he could only articulate.

It would be tempting to argue events pushed Blake away from politics to the ‘other kingdom’ of mysticism. Indeed, he did shift in that direction. But to reductively suggest he abandoned one for the other would be to do violence to him.

Thompson later comments “throughout the Industrial revolution we can see this tension between the ‘kingdom without’ and the ‘kingdom within’ in the Dissent of the poor, with Chiliaism at one pole and quietism at the other.” (Chiliaism is in brief the belief that Christ’s coming back, probably soon, so religion needs to get itself involved with worldly affairs again and sharpish.) Blake tries to resolve this question by dragging the two kingdoms together, by placing one above the other, by staging psycho-dramas in his mind or by any other means to hand. But whatever the scenario confinement reappeared, chains re-inscribed themselves on the plate.

Marx famously wrote that religion…

”…is the fantastic realisation of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

”…Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions… Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself.”

This is not, as is commonly supposed, a critique of the con-tricks of Churches. That would be like coming across scam emails from supposed Nigerian benefactors, and assuming the cause of the problem is Nigeria. Marx tries to deal with religion by both encountering it at its best, and by tracing it to its source.

Blake asked two related questions. Is it possible to live an unbound life? And, can there be more to life than mere existence? The lack of a political answer to these pushed him towards a metaphysical, and hence a religious, expression of the questions. If the answer wasn’t here on earth perhaps it was there, up in the sky. But even with his prodigious imagination he could only pose and re-pose the questions, his art an arena across which raged an unresolvable war.


  1. Do you really mean "inchoate" (in the process of coming into being) or merely incoherent?

  2. I think I mean inchoate not in the sense of a process of becoming, like a baking cake, but perpetual volatility. This may well be some new definition of the word I've just invented.

    Perhaps it also relates to my final para, there are eras where questions can be posed without them being answerable. I may well be digging myself in deeper here...

  3. I am not 100% convinced that definition will fly :-)


    Anyway: fascinating post on a subject I knew almost nothing about, so thank you. (Also true of the Celestial Toymaker post!)

  4. It's my blog and the words around here mean what I say they mean!

    (He said splondiferously.)

  5. When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

  6. One day, someone will claim Blake wrote that. And use my blog as evidence.

  7. I shall now prove what a humourless git I am by coming back to this like I couldn’t figure out it was just a flippant comment…

    We do need a term for ‘in a perpetual state of becoming’, not least when discussing Blake. And bending ‘incohate’ to your will seems as good as any. Blake’s cosmic systems weren’t fixed, couldn’t be fixed and were never meant to be fixed.

    Which is another way in which we was genuinely proto-Romantic. In an old piece on Turner I commented on the then-prevalent expression ‘Creation’. Not because it implied a Creator, but because it suggested the past tense. We live in the world like we live in our homes. It was assembled for us before we moved in, the plaster dry.

    Whereas Turner’s art depicted a world in a permanent state of transience. His raging storms didn’t interrupt the normal state of things, they were the normal state of things raised to their apogee. The world din’t belong to us, we belonged to the world.

    (And if anyone says I have now misused ‘apogee’ I will sulk terribly.)

  8. Well, I should preface my comments by reiterating that I know nothing about Blake, Romanticism, Turner or indeed art.

    But I still think "inchoate" is wrong, because to me it connotes a goal of having been created — it is a point along the journey to a destination. Whereas if I properly understand your characterisation of Blake, he quite consciously had no destination in mind, having insead adopted what you describe as "a permanent state of transience". His work could be described as inchoate if he was on the way to say, Stockport, but it seems he was content instead to wander up and down the A6 and M60 and see what he found there.

  9. I don't think it necessarily suggests a goal. Bubbling lava will eventually solidify into rock, so is inchoate, but it's not aiming to become rock.

    I'm more interested in Blake (and after him the Romantics) seeing the world as permanently volatile than his work.

  10. Mmm, on the other hand maybe it's a good way of seeing human creation too. There's a Dylan quote about always having to perceive yourself as in a state of becoming, never having arrived anywhere. And even such a lowly level as me writing this blog, I think that is how I try to look at it.

  11. A rational observer might feel that we have discussed the meaning of "inchoate" about as much as two adult men ought to. But let me just offer this observation. Chesterton made the point that it's useless to talk about progress unless you gave first decided on what destination you are trying to progress towards: in other words, while progress itself is a process of change, it depends on there being a fixed point. I would say that in the same was a thing can only be inchoate if it's being judged as such against some specific end-state. The lava is not aiming to become rock, but we only judge it as inchoate because we have a sense that that is its destiny. Whereas water in an ocean — which might eventually freeze — is not evidently on a trajectory that leads to freezing, and is merely in constant change: so it cannot be described as inchoate.

    And with that, I bow out of this discussion, and leave the last word to you. Thank you, it's been oddly fascinating!

  12. Well maybe he did say that. But it was Barbara who was the humanities teacher.