"...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.
But escape can be an image of release from captivity
in a culture that produces satisfaction as a means
of exploitation or pacification. The problem
with "escapist" literature is that it offers no escape,
narratively reinforcing our captivity.
To escape, however, if only
trope-ically, is not a utopian refusal
to encounter the realpolitik of history: it is a
crucial dialectical turn that allows imaginal place
outside history as we "know" it,
in order to critique it,
an Archimedean point of imaginative
construction, in which we can be energized,
our resources shored. The utopian, ecstatic
is not a refusal of history
but an envisionment of the indwelling
potentialities of history
that must be envisioned - audibly embodied -
in order to occur...