"...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, July 14, 2009

Harmonia Abrahamica & the Lost Speech

My last posts have emphasized some of what I take to be Henry Corbin's contribution to our understanding of language and poetics. It may be useful to make available to those who have not read it the last chapter of my book Green Man, Earth Angel which addresses some of these issues in a way that seemed especially important to me at the time of its writing. This chapter, Harmonia Abrahamica: The Lost Speech and the Battle for the Soul of the World, has been excerpted a few times on this blog, but I make it available here in its (brief) entirety as a google document. The discussion includes some consideration of Heidegger and Paul Celan. The issues raised still seem to me of ultimate importance.

Paul Celan und seine Frau Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. Foto: suhrkamp verlag

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