"...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, September 27, 2016

At Last!!! ... (Notes on Corbin & Poetry #??...)

Volumes One & Two
edited by John Clarke and Albert Glover
Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2016.

For anyone with an interest in Olson of course this is indispensible - but also for anyone with an interest in how Corbin was read and understood by a generation of poets. Such a wonderful labor of love. And beautifully produced for a good reasonable price - these large and impressive volumes are a must have. - TC

While I have not read all the individual chapbooks in A Curriculum of the Soul Series, I have very much admired what Albert Glover is doing there and the way he is doing it.
     Donald Allen

A Curriculum of the Soul series is, in my evaluation, one of the most impressive publishing ventures now under way among American small presses. It will be valuable to contemporary poets and readers in a number of ways.
     Karl Young

The series is one of the more imaginative, certainly one of the best among scores in the small press world….Over the years A Curriculum of the Soul has included many of the major American poets, or, more particularly those whom are by now among the top voices familiar to those of us who read little magazines and keep-up with small press publications.
     Bill Katz

Albert Glover’s publishing venture is one of the most ambitious and consistent of the past decade. The series of books, A Curriculum of the Soul, serves more than one function; as a whole, it advances the provocative theoretical thinking of Charles Olson, and as individual books it produces new poetic statements and works by writers who are among the best in the country.
     Alan Davies

I find it difficult to imagine a more admirable project, one which is of value not only to us who read the fascicles as issued, but to the laymen and scholars of the future who will attempt to unravel this complicated age. …Such is the destiny of A Curriculum of the Soul, which is a work of art, gigantic in its conception, yet wonderfully accessible in its execution.
     John Nomland

Reviewed by William Farrar on amazon:

After over 50 years, the Curriculum of the Soul has come out in an affordable trade copy. This work is an homage to the poet Charles Olson. Olson, who is known mainly for being a “Black Mountain” poet influenced by the style of Ezra Pound, was also known for creating the idea of projective verse, which discussed the centrality of breath as an organization structure of poetry. In the past decades, Olson’s reputation has taken some hits. A biography by Tom Clark (Allegory of a Poet) and the editing of Olson’s masterwork, the unfinished The Maximus Poems by George Butterick, created the image of a person whose muse was like Melville’s Ahab in Moby Dick: a dark, obsessed character whose life ended in the wreckage of an incomplete, unfulfillable vision. The Curriculum of the Soul, which was edited by Albert Glover and Jack Clarke points toward a different, more positive role of Olson in the American artistic landscape.

Glover and Clarke chose 28 words taken from a typescript by Olson called Curriculum of the Soul and assigned each one to a different poet or writer associated with Olson in some way, who produced a fascicle on one of the words. Contributors include poets such as Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser, and Joanne Kyger. These fascicles have been combined together and the individual contributors' name have been backgrounded.

The Curriculum exemplifies the ideals of a different Olson than can be found in Tom Clark’s biography. The Olson evoked by the contributor to these volumes is the Olson who dreamed of a “nation of nothing but poetry” and who mythologized his own vision Greek ideal of polis, an artist and teacher who imagined individuals coming together to create a collective work that transcended the individuality of a single creator’s ego. The Curriculum achieves this by presenting a work that has the feel of a single epic meditation composed of multiple voices. In a sense, the work functions like the poetic equivalent of the free jazz of the 60s.

Like free jazz- or any collective project- the work is uneven. There are notable moments in the work: moments of beauty and insight that capture the vibrant spirit that Olson’s writing and ideas point towards. But, there are also weaker, less committed contributions that provide very little to the whole. In addition, the work reveals some of the limits of the main era of its composition: it has a viewpoint that is predominantly male, white, and 70s in its consciousness (think of those old photographs with bell bottoms). In spite of these limitations, the work is valuable. It serves as a document of the evolution of poetry in 20th century America, a memorial to an influential post-WWII American poet. It is also an homage of perseverance, commitment and care on the part of its editors.

Volume One

Charles Olson
Albert Glover
Duncan McNaughton
John Wieners
Michael Boughn
Lisa Jarnot
Fred Wah
John Clarke
Robert Duncan
Alice Notley
Robin Blaser
Robert Dalke
George F. Butterick
Edward Kissam
Edgar Billowitz
Volume One

 iii WOMAN
 iv MIND
 vii BLAKE
 viii DANTE
Volume Two

Harvey Brown
Lewis MacAdams, Jr
Ed Sanders
Michael Bylebyl
David Tirrell
Danny Zimmerman
Drummond Hadley
James Koller
Gerrit Lansing
Joanne Kyger
Robert Grenier
John Thorpe
Anselm Hollo
Michael McClure
Volume Two

 xvi DANCE
 xxviii ORGANISM

Thursday, September 15, 2016

New from OUP

Edited by Khaled El-Rouayheb and Sabine Schmidtke
Oxford University Press, 2016

The study of Islamic philosophy has entered a new and exciting phase in the last few years. Both the received canon of Islamic philosophers and the narrative of the course of Islamic philosophy are in the process of being radically questioned and revised. Most twentieth-century Western scholarship on Arabic or Islamic philosophy has focused on the period from the ninth century to the twelfth. It is a measure of the transformation that is currently underway in the field that, unlike other reference works, the Oxford Handbook has striven to give roughly equal weight to every century, from the ninth to the twentieth. The Handbook is also unique in that its 30 chapters are work-centered rather than person- or theme-centered, in particular taking advantage of recent new editions and translations that have renewed interest and debate around the Islamic philosophical canon. 

The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy gives both the advanced student and active scholar in Islamic philosophy, theology, and intellectual history, a strong sense of what a work in Islamic philosophy looks like and a deep view of the issues, concepts, and arguments that are at stake. Most importantly, it provides an up-to-date portrait of contemporary scholarship on Islamic philosophy.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Todd Lawson at the Ibn Arabi Symposium, 2016

The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society 33rd Symposium 'Light & Knowledge' 
Wolfson College, Oxford March 2016. 
Video by Ayman Saey

Water and Light pervade the writings of Ibn 'Arabi as they do the Quran itself. In the poetic literalism of Ibn 'Arabi's discourse, these everyday realities are frequently involved in specific events of knowing. Knowledge appears to be built upon water and light. Water and Light are also essential "hormones of the imagination" – they are elements of the natural realm that lead us beyond nature. The living "natural" cosmos and everything in it, according to Ibn 'Arabi, is the imaginal (not imaginary) projection of the divine. Imagination is the single most powerful divine activity and it issues in what is frequently referred to in scripture as "creation". Humankind participate in this activity through the imagination. As Ibn ‘Arabi frequently has it, God describes the cosmos to us through us (laná biná). This issues in the most stirring and transformative instances of knowing. The light of the imagination draws us together to the primal scene of our collective beginning on the Day of the Covenant (Q 7:172), the birthplace of time, history and consciousness where we were all gathered in peace in the divine presence – in Quranic language much loved and venerated by Ibn 'Arabi, where "all are created from the same water " (Q 21:30). The poetic dynamics of water and light in the Quran and Ibn 'Arabi's writings generates a noetic and experiential music of remembrance, recognition and knowledge through which the revelation of our common humanity is nourished, our sense of our common dependence upon the Real is articulated and deepened, and our common engagement with the imaginal realm illumined and guided.

The purpose of this talk is to explore what appear to be similarities among three different Quranic elements which acquire significant importance in the writings of Ibn Arabi and to speculate on the nature of knowing, how it comes to be and what are its proper focii. Through considering the poetics of the Quran and the poetics of Ibn Arabi we hope to deepen our understanding of his teaching and, of course, the teaching of Islam. In this we will try to explicate how these three elements “hang together” to communicate something essential about the nature of the world we live in and the nature of the instrument we use to consider that world. Furthermore, we will offer some suggestions about the relationship between the dynamics of water, light and knowledge in conjunction with the imaginal activity of the Real and learning from Ibn ‘Arabi that the circulation of these metaphorical realities throughout the cosmos is the very life of the world and those in it. Some focus, toward the end of the talk, will fall on the “immutable entities” and their role in the ecological toning of the imagination.

Dr. Todd Lawson
Professor Emeritus
University of Toronto
1509 Sherbrooke St W
Apartment 34
Montreal, Quebec

Call for information

I have an email from someone trying to contact Hugo van Woerkom with regard to his translation of V.2 of En Islam iranien which can be found on Scribd here. There is apparently a possibility of publication. If anyone knows how he can be contacted I will pass along the information. Many thanks. - Tom Cheetham tcheetham@gmail.com