"...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, February 5, 2019

TA’WIL: IN PRACTICES OF LIGHT Narjis Mirza




Narjis Mirza, Auckland University of Technology
Performance Philosophy Journal Vol 4 no 2, 2019

Narjis Mirza is an installation artist and a PhD candidate at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. Her practice-led research brings together philosophy and spatial experiments of light, highlighting the transcendent philosophy of a Persian Muslim philosopher Mulla Sadra Shirazi. Narjis plans to expand the dialogue through concept films and light installations. Narjis completed her masters’ degree in media and design from Bilkent University, Turkey. She also received distinction for her Bachelors in Fine Arts at the National College of Arts in Pakistan. Narjis lives and works in Sydney and Auckland.

Image 1: Narjis Mirza, Light Installation 2018 (photo credit Sam Hartnett)


Light in its unqualified sense bears many meanings according to the multitude, some meanings are equivocal, some literal and some metaphorical, such as light of the sun, light of the moon, light of the lamp, the light of intellect, the light of faith, the light of piety, the light of a ruby, the light of gold, the light of turquoise. (Sadra 2004, 35)

It is through light that we are able to reach out to the not-yet known, to the indistinct potential and the unrealised. Artist Derek Ventling suggests that light is a source for “continuous negotiation with our surroundings” (Ventling 2017, 19). The ephemeral force of light contours our perception and defines our physical and spatial surroundings. Light is significant for both art practice and philosophy. In the book The Practice of Light, Sean Cubitt ruminates on the performance of light and the “potential that lies curled up inside.” Light begins in the invisible black and performs as a mediation between the known and unknown world (2).

Sadr-ud-Din Muhammad Shirazi, famously known as Mulla Sadra, a 17 th-century Persian Muslim philosopher, begins his exegesis on the “light verse”[1] of the Quran by contemplating the multitude of meanings of light. Sadra draws light away from its physical temporal meanings towards a divine spiritual entity (al Munawwir) “that realizes all existence” (Sadra 2004, 43). Sadra equates existence with light by saying “the reality of light and existence is the same thing” (21).

There is a long history for the use of light to present God’s presence towards creation. Cubitt tracks a genealogy of such a light in early artworks dating as far back as the 1400s. He writes, “Light was a perfect symbol of God illuminating everything yet itself invisible” (Cubitt 2014, 46). As a contemporary artist, I use light as a research tool to trace the resonance of the unseen. For me, light is a medium of immense potential, that structures our perception of the visual world. Light is in constant movement, transient and transcendental.... READ THE ARTICLE






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