"...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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Monday, December 14, 2009

Ta'wil or How to Read - (Corbin & American Poetry #13)

"Ta'wil or How to Read: A Five-Way Interactive View of Robert Kelly," in VORT #5 Vol 2, No. 2. "The Robert Kelly Issue." Barry Alpert, Silver Spring MD, 1974. Copyright 1974, Charles Stein & George Quasha. Reproduced with permission.

Here is the entire piece which I had earlier posted in excerpts. This is a scanned copy direct from the VORT Issue. George Quasha wrote to me that the piece is certainly not an "interview" but rather should be referred to "as a dialogue or more particularly as an act of dialogical criticism in alignment with the ta'wil project itself. It was laboriously edited and shaped as a particular critical act that was an embodiment of its own principle -- and in that respect it is a work that we created together, with its foundations in Olson and Duncan as well as Corbin, and moving to a new approach to engaging these issues; therefore an act of poetics. It's obviously indebted to RK but not in the sense that an "interview" implies. I don't know other things that have this co-performative poetics so much in evidence. In fact, it's the real beginning (and we did a number of these dialogues with poets, called DiaLogos at the time, including Ted Enslin and Jonathan Williams) of the long process of co-performative and dialogical work that Chuck and I have continued and which is expressed in An Art of Limina. In making this distinction I'm not carping but speaking to the heart of a long-developing and intricate project. In the present context of poetics the special qualities of our approach to the co-performative are easily missed and obscured or simply not noticed. That's why we hope to preserve certain distinctions when the opportunity arises."

UPDATE 2/24/2010: George Quasha now has this posted in a much better version. See his post Ta'wil or How to Read.
"Ta'wil or How to Read" - VORT 5 Vol 2 #2 The Robert Kelly Issue 1974

Woodcut: Michael Maier - Atalanta Fugiens, Emblem XXXVI

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this up. I like the idea that people should start reading what has already been written, and that the act of understanding is itself poetic. As a sort of syncretist Muslim and American poet, I loved the poem extracts in this article. See also MJ Adler's How to Read a Book.