"...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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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Goethe & Islam (revisited)

Jerome Rothenberg has posted some translations from and short commentary on Goethe's West-Oestlicher Diwan by Pierre Joris here. Also see my post of Jan.18 on Corbin & Goethe here. Joris writes of this late work of Goethe,

"at the core of this late creative surge lies Goethe’s avowed Ahlverwandschaft [kinship] with the Persian poet Hafiz, the addressee, instigator, dedicatee of much of the Diwan. Whatever Saidian critique of “orientalism” may apply to this work in hindsight, it is also clear that this is probably Goethe’s most powerful long sequence of poems. The gusto for life, the exuberance, the magnificent lyricism evoked by this consummate and graceful composition make it indeed into one of the great works of Romantic poetry."

Photo of the Goethe-Hafez Memorial in Weimar.

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