"...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, January 18, 2011

More on Robert Duncan

I have mentioned several times that Robert Duncan was one of the major American poets to draw on Corbin's work. This essay from Jerome Rothenberg's blog  Michael Palmer on “Robert Duncan and Romantic Synthesis" will be of interest. (Also see Eric Mottram's essay on Ta'wil and American Poetry.)

[From article originally appeared in the Spring 1997 issue of American Poet, the biannual journal of The Academy of American Poets. Copyright © 1997 by Michael Palmer.]

An excerpt:

Robert Duncan grew up, the adopted son of a theosophical family, in the town of Bakersfield, California. As Michael Davidson has noted in his book, The San Francisco Renaissance, the interpretive methods of theosophical reading of both text and world deeply influenced the poet's sense of the ways meanings inhere and things correspond:

"This charged, participatory act of reading gains definition through contemporary theories of 'open field verse,' to be sure, but for Duncan its origins can be found in the theosophical tradition that he inherited from his adopted family. For his parents, 'the truth of things was esoteric (locked inside) or occult (masked by) the apparent . . . .' Within this environment every event was significant as an element in a larger, cosmological scheme. Although Duncan has never practised within any theosophical religion, he has easily translated its terms into works like Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. . . . Within both theosophical and Freudian hermeneutics, story is not simply a diversion or fiction, but an 'everlasting omen of what is.'"
(from The San Francisco Renaissance, p.132) READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY

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