"...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, November 17, 2009

Goethe's Die Geheimnisse in English

Of Goethe's late, unfinished poem Die Geheimnisse (The Mysteries) Corbin writes

"the meaning given by Goethe to the pleroma of the twelve Knights corresponds to the meaning of the pleroma of the twelve Imams in a most striking manner, significant for the religious history of humanity. It is in the field of consciousness thus delimited by the assembly of the Twelve united around the Friend of God of the Oberland and by the assembly of the Twelve Knights that Goethe unites around the summit of an ideal Mont-Serrat, that we may observe at work the lines of force that blossom in the heart of Shi'ism in the idea of a spiritual chivalry common to the entire Abrahamic tradition, which also opens out in the work of Wolfram von Eschenbach in the idea of a chivalry common to the knights of both Christianity and the Orient, that is to say, in Islam." (En Islam Iranien IV, 393).

I said in an earlier post that "Goethe's poem can be found in English in only one place that I am aware of. It is translated in this rare volume by Rudolf Steiner: The Mysteries: A Christmas and Easter Poem by Goethe = Die Geheimnisse. Spring Valley, N.Y.: Mercury Press, 1987."  I now have a photocopy of this work as published by the Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 54 Bloomsbury St., London, 1946. The title page reads  "A Lecture by Rudolf Steiner given at Cologne on 25th December, 1907. Authorized translation from a shorthand report unrevised by the lecturer." I still know of no other English translation, though I would like to be proven wrong by anyone who can do so. I have excerpted the poem, which appears in fragments in this transcribed lecture.

Die Geheimnisse

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