"...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.
Though not Corbin, strictly speaking. But for many of those interested in the hermeneutics of texts, poetic and/or sacred, it seems to me that there is enough of interest here to make the mind reel. It certainly has mine spinning.
jacket2 has a review by Elizabeth Robinson, a response and an interview with Bettridge about his book:
Palgrave Macmillan 2009, 204 pages, $80, ISBN 0230619428
It's worth noting that among other things, Bettridge is co-editor of Ronald Johnson: Life and Works.
From the review:
"In his discussion, Bettridge proceeds by setting up an extended (and
sometimes problematic) analogy between the Reformed Christianity of John
Calvin and Jonathan Edwards and Language writing." (!!)
"Perhaps one of the most exciting elements of Reading as Belief
is Bettridge’s insistence on the primacy of the imagination. When
definitive knowledge is acknowledged as impossible, Bettridge argues,
imagination is a necessary resource that permits us to work with
a poem or prayer, when pregnant with the imagination, allow us to grant
ourselves the roving honesty, expressive tensions, and intelligence we need
to read our constantly shifting ideas, dispositions, and experiences."
Islam in the Modern World: Challenged by the West, Threatened by
Fundamentalism, Keeping Faith with Tradition. By Seyyed Hossein Nasr.
New York: HarperCollins. pp472. 2012. PB. $21.99
The author of this book is an Iranian-American academic. He is a
University Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University
and a leading Muslim scholar who has published extensively on different
aspects of Islam from a Traditionalist perspective. This book was first
published in 2010 and has since been updated and expanded for the
benefit of the readers. What is Traditionalism? READ MORE
"In the appendices, the author has provided a detailed but not
necessarily a critical assessment of the life and works of Louis
Massignon, a French Catholic Islamicist; Henry Corbin, who was also a
leading French Islamicist; Rene Guenon, the founder of Perennialism and a
French mystical writer; Frithjof Schuon, a Swiss Sufi and prolific
writer; Titus Burckhardt, who was also a Swiss Sufi and artist, and
Martin Lings, a British Sufi and prominent writer"
"In the flowering of the Apocalypse, understood not in a metaphoric nor in a fundamentalist sense, but instead in a true sense, underscoring the breakthrough of Reality in every smallest increment of moment as the ego is absented, can we understand what poetry has always been: mysticism in practice." - from the Introduction to the inaugural issue of Lightning'd Press.
Pre-concert gallery tour, Arts of the Islamic World, 6:45 pm
One of the great masters of Persian music—and a three-time Grammy nominee—Kayhan Kalhor returns to the Freer for a rare intimate performance on the traditional Iranian kamanche (spike fiddle). Kalhor is a longtime performer and composer with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and is cofounder of the Masters of Persian Music, Dastan, and Ghazal (with Shujaat Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri). His many other collaborations have ranged from work with Brooklyn Rider and the New York Philharmonic to the soundtrack for Francis Ford Copolla’s Youth Without Youth. He is accompanied by Behrouz Jamali on tombak (drum).
The identity of Europe has typically been built on the two pillars of Christianity and Enlightenment secularism. Consequently, religious alternatives are always positioned in systems of pluralism where “Christianity” and the “secular society” are seen as hegemonic. Other religious identities (e.g. Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist) are thus typically seen as additions to the main stream of European culture, rather than integral parts of the development of European culture itself. This monolithic view of European identity is however increasingly being rejected by scholars: not even in the Middle Ages was “Christianity” a monolithic entity, nor was it the only religious identity available. READ MORE
El gran especialista en simbolismo Gilbert Durand (1921), autor de una obra ya clásica -y muy influyente- sobre las estructuras antropológicas de lo imaginario, decidió, tras un encuentro con el estudioso de la espiritualidad sufí Henry Corbin y una intensa participación, desde finales de la cuarta década del pasado siglo, en los “Encuentros de Eranos”, profundizar en el estudio de los fenómenos religiosos desde la perspectiva, no demasiado visitada por entonces, de una antropología del símbolo y el mito... READ MORE
Music of Central Asia Vol. 2: Invisible Face of the Beloved:
Classical Music of the Tajiks and Uzbeks
Amid the mosques and minarets of Samarkand and Bukhara, generations of vocalists set the mystical, Sufi-inspired verse of Hafiz and other classical poets to lyrical melodies, creating a spiritual art music of great refinement and sublime beauty called Shashmaqâm, confirming its important place among the great art music traditions of Eurasia. A bonus DVD documents the musical tradition of the Shashmaqâm in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. 18 tracks. 70 minutes. 44-page booklet, photos, and bilingual lyrics; DVD contains series introduction, 24-minute film, interactive glossary, and map. Music of Central Asia is a co-production of the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Central Asia, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The aim of the series is to present leading exponents of Central Asia's rich and diverse musical heritage to listeners outside the region.
On 12 March at the Royal Asiatic SocietyJason Elliott will give a lecture entitled "An Approach to Symbolism in Islamic Art." Jason Elliott is the author of two highly-praised and award-winning books, An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan and Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran. Admission £5 or £3.50.
Later in the month we are delighted to welcome again from Iran Temenos Academy Fellow Dr. Hossein M. Ghomshei, to give a course of four lectures on "The Mystical Teachings and Poetry of Rumi." The dates of the lectures are 19, 21, 26 and 28 March; the venue is the Royal Asiatic Society. Dr. Ghomshei describes the first lecture, Rumi and the Perennial Philosophy, as follows:
"This lecture will open with a brief introduction to the Perennial Philosophy and the rich historical background that supports it. Rumi then enters the scene with his magnum opus the Mathnavi, the most comprehensive expression of the Perennial Philosophy in the East. The lecture will then offer a detailed discussion of each of the basic ingredients of the Perennial Philosophy, supported by delightful illustrative tales from the Mathnavi. The conclusion will focus on how such ideas and ideals can be enhanced to serve the cause of peace and love in the ultra-modern world, raging with war and violence." Admission £5 or £3.50 per lecture.
Revel in the beauty, longing, and passion that can be expressed in the
spoken word. This evening features discussion and readings of Arab and
Persian love poetry with iraj Anvar and husband-and-wife team Ted and
Andree Feghali Gorton.
This program is generously supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
Learn more about the New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia at the MET here.
It was recently pointed out to me, to my horror, that the following paragraph which I posted earlier can perhaps be misconstrued by those who do not know Corbin's work:
For those attending to the right-wing and fascist connections of various strands of esotericism in the 20th century this article will be of interest. "HENRY CORBIN: A man and a work" by Pio Filippani-Ronconi East and West Vol. 4, No. 4 (JANUARY 1954) (pp. 259-262). (This illustrated piece is available via jstor for those with a connection).
That there is a connection between some exponents of "esotericism" and right wing ideology is well known. As I have made abundantly clear in my writings on Henry Corbin there is nothing whatever in his work that suggests that he was in any way sympathetic to such ideologies. To the contrary, his work provides a profoundly important antidote to such views. I only noted Filippani-Ronconi's essay because I think of this blog as a repository for any material that is relevant to Corbin and his concerns, and source material for the study of his work. It simply never occurred to me that anyone might understand the reference as a suggestion that Corbin had such fascist leanings himself. My apologies to those readers of this blog who were, rightly I think, offended by the possible misunderstandings this post may have caused.
I have this book now in hand. As I mentioned in an earlier post Boughn's Afterword argues that H.D.'s stories functioned for her as visionary recitals in Corbin's sense. I recommend this slim volume to anyone with an interest in Corbin & literature. Boughn writes,
"These three stories are visionary recitals in that they are the passage of the soul from one level of experience to another, one level of reality to another, where a further sense of meaning reveals itself - where vision expands, grows into new astonishing spaces."