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“Without contraries is no progression,” wrote William Blake — one of the more famous proverbs in his book The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, a fusion of poetry, philosophy, politics and mysticism published in the wake of the French Revolution. It has become an aphorism that can be recruited to bolster varying (you might say contrary) ideas, theories and arguments.

Mix in bits of Nietzsche and Hegel, and you get a “clash of civilisations” model in which West and East — or Europe and Africa, or Global North and Global South — face off against each other until some kind of cultural synthesis emerges. For those interested in religion and psychology, Blake’s epigraph supports the dualistic notion that each of us has two sides: it is followed by the assertion that, “attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate are necessary to human existence.”..

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