"...the Imagination (or love, or sympathy, or any other sentiment) induces knowledge, and knowledge of an 'object' which is proper to it..."
Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a scholar, philosopher and theologian. He was a champion of the transformative power of the Imagination and of the transcendent reality of the individual in a world threatened by totalitarianisms of all kinds. One of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Corbin was Professor of Islam & Islamic Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Teheran. He was a major figure at the Eranos Conferences in Switzerland. He introduced the concept of the mundus imaginalis into contemporary thought. His work has provided a foundation for archetypal psychology as developed by James Hillman and influenced countless poets and artists worldwide. But Corbin’s central project was to provide a framework for understanding the unity of the religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His great work Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi is a classic initiatory text of visionary spirituality that transcends the tragic divisions among the three great monotheisms. Corbin’s life was devoted to the struggle to free the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. His work marks a watershed in our understanding of the religions of the West and makes a profound contribution to the study of the place of the imagination in human life.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eda: An Anthology of Turkish Poetry

Jerome Rothenberg has excerpted passages (here) from the fascinating introduction to Murat Nemet-Nejat’s 2004 volume of Turkish poetry. He writes that this "remarkable gathering, Eda: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry (Talisman, 2004), ... establishes “eda” as a marker of poetic process much as Lorca’s duende or the Japanese concept of yugen had ignited similar interests in the century now behind us. The rootedness of mysticism in language is central to the poetics in question, a point he hammers home with great intelligence & passion. " There is a review with selected passages from some of the poems here.

From the Introduction: "Eda is the alien other. What is this alien ghost, the way of moving and perceiving which must enter and possess English? It is Sufism, the Asiatic mode of perception which contains an intense subjectivity at its center. The pre-Islamic origin of Sufism is in Central Asian Shamanism. Turkish was the language of that area; its grammar is the quintessential Sufi language."

Page of Calligraphy 16th century Ottoman period
Probably Turkey
S1986.335 Freer & Sackler Galleries


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  2. This is a powerful essay on modern poetics and a terrific book. I particularly recommend the work of Lale Muldur.