the name for this site


I got asked the other night where the name for the site comes from. It comes from William Blake’s Annotations to the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, whom Blake identified as ‘Hired to Depress Art’. Blake wrote that

‘Having spent the Vigour of my Youth & Genius under the Opression of Sr Joshua & his Gang of Cunning Hired Knaves Without Employment & as much as could possibly be Without Bread, The Reader must Expect to Read in all my Remarks on these Books Nothing but Indignation & Resentment’.

EP Thompson writes of William Blake’s stance of ‘hostlilty to genteel hegemony’ and ‘a profound and critical suspicion of..the innermost defences and ornaments of the polite culture’..’What belongs to Caesar is power, riches and war, and an attendant ideology which masks, apologises for and rationalises power or ‘Satans Kingdom’..And ‘Satans Kingdom’ is seen as of one piece, as a systematic order: the power and the ideology must be taken together. Those intellectuals and artists who are corrupted by patronage or who act as apologists for the status quo are doubly damned, for it is art’s divine mission to be eternally at war at this Kingdom..Blake frequently falls back upon abuse of ‘hirelings’ or ‘Cunning Hired Knaves’:

The Enquiry in England is not whether a Man has Talents. & Genius But whether he is Passive & Polite & a Virtuous Ass: & obedient to Noblemens Opinions in Art & Science. If he is; he is a Good Man: if Not he must be Starved.”

Those are the sources of inspiration for the name, and hopefully, to some very modest measure, for the content.


1 Comment

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One response to “the name for this site

  1. Cogadh

    Reading this: it’s a great name. I can only wish I thought of it myself.

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