"...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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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Robert Duncan & Henry Corbin cont'd

Continuing with my erratic searches for the early recognition of Corbin among American poets (which will eventually get organized & gathered in an essay) - The following passage is from pp. 73-4 of Robert Duncan's as yet unpublished H.D. Book (to be published by the University of California Press in 2010). This marks the earliest mention of Corbin in that text. It is from Chapter 5: Occult Matters, which first appeared in Stony Brook 1 in the Fall of 1968. I have not even begun an exhaustive search for Corbin references in Duncan's work & may not have the time or energy to do that, but I would appreciate help from anyone who knows Duncan's opus in at least finding the earliest references he makes to Corbin. (I hope to have some information soon from Lisa Jarnot, Duncan's biographer.)

"In the beginning I heard of guardian angels and of genii, of vision in dreams and truth in fairy tales, long before Jung expounded the gnosis or Henri Corbin revived and translated the Recitals of Avicenna. For these ideas were properties not only of the mind above, the high thought of Neo-Platonists or of Romantic poets, but they were lasting lore of the folk mind below too, wherever old wives told their tales. Gossip had brought rumors of the divine wisdom into American folk ways. From the popular movement of nineteenth century American spiritualism, where witch tradition out of Salem, shaman rite out of the world of the American Indian, and talking in tongues or from the spirit out of congregations of the Holy Ghost in the Protestant movement, mingled to become an obsession at large, so that in the last decades of the century in town and in the country groups met to raise the dead at rapping and levitating tables, new affinities with more ancient mystery cults of spirit and of a life beyond life were awakened. The theosophy of Plutarch, Plotinus and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, the hermeticism of Pico della Mirandola, or The Light of Asia and the Bhagavad-Gita, joined in the confusion of texts and testimonies of libraries that could include accounts written by trance-mediums of travel to past time or far planets, manuals of practical astrology and numerology, or Max Heindel’s The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, 'Its Message and Mission: A Sane Mind. A Soft Heart. A Sound Body.' "

William Blake - from the Book of Job, When the Morning Stars Sang Together.

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