"...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.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts

Monday, December 15, 2014

Asian Art News Press Release

Freer and Sackler Galleries to Release
Complete Digitized Collection Jan. 1, 2015
More Than 40,000 Masterpieces of Asian and American Art Available for
Free Public Use

Dec. 15, 2014
The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, will
release their entire collections online Jan. 1, 2015, providing unprecedented access to one of the
world’s most important holdings of Asian and American art. The vast majority of the 40,000 artworks
have never before been seen by the public, and more than 90 percent of the images will be in high
resolution and without copyright restrictions for noncommercial use.
The Freer and Sackler galleries are the first Smithsonian and the only Asian art museums to digitize
and release their entire collections, and in so doing join just a handful of museums in the U.S.
“We’re poised at a digital tipping point, and the nature of what it means to be a museum is
changing,” said Julian Raby, the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and
Freer Gallery of Art. “We strive to promote the love and study of Asian art, and the best way we can
do so is to free our unmatched resources to inspire appreciation, academic study and artistic
In the initial release, each work will be represented by one or more stunningly detailed images at the
highest possible resolution, with complex items such as albums and manuscripts showing the most
important pages. In addition, some of the most popular images will also be available for download
as free computer, smartphone and social media backgrounds. Future iterations plan to offer
additional functionality like sharing, curation and community-based research.
“The depth of the data we’re releasing illuminates each object’s unique history, from its original
creator to how it arrived at the Smithsonian,” said Courtney O’Callaghan, director of digital media
and technology at the Freer and Sackler galleries. “Now, a new generation can not only appreciate
these works on their own terms, but remix this content in ways we have yet to imagine.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Corbin & American Poetry - Oct 21, 2014

As I have mentioned before (here for instance) Joseph Donahue is a poet whose work has been influenced by Corbin. His newest book is now available.

"There is a relentless generosity to Joseph Donahue’s newest collection, as seemingly everything can find its place among the contours of his poetry. By turns worldy and visionary, Red Flash on a Black Field accommodates Charles Olson and David Lynch, Nietzsche and a theology bursting from pure, luminous words of radical intent. In the hands of this consummate craftsman “consciousness is a continual fire” and the world of words is ablaze." - Susan Howe

There is a good interview with Joe about this book and other things in The Conversant. He says,

"In the last few years I have been drawn to the literature of esoteric Islam, certainly for its extravagance of devotional expression and its exploration of visionary states of being, but also to help me fathom a simple and yet difficult ambition of lyric poetry, the ecstatic cry. Why is such a little mouthful of air so hard to get right? Perhaps this is so only to the ecstatically challenged, such as myself. But it seems to me the simple exclamation of joy or despair, both to utter and interpret, demands a thinking out the nature of the world: what forces large and small have brought these syllables to be?"

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Corbin and American Poetry - Oct 9, 2014

Ross Hair
University of East Anglia
Journal of Modern Literature
vol. 36, no. 3, 2013, p. 174-193

Online courtesy of Les Amis de Henry et Stella Corbin

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Corbin & American Poetry - Oct 8, 2014

I want to rectify some omissions that I meant to get to long ago and I have realized that I never did. When I was first exploring the relationship between Corbin and poetry I was in touch with several different poets who gave me invaluable information and assistance. One of them was George Quasha whose work with and about Robert Kelly on ta'wil and related matters is absolutely central to understanding how Corbin's work made it's way into the poetry of the 60s and 70s. Early on Quasha mentioned three poets who were foremost among those influenced by Corbin: Gerrit Lansing, Kenneth Irby and Theodore Enslin. I never followed this lead and I have I think never posted anything about any member of this fascinating trio and this is an important hole in the account I have provided sporadically on this blog. I here officially acknowledge this lack and add their names to the list.

Gerrit Lansing is the author most recently of Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth (2009).

On his PennSound page "Lansing talks with Charles Bernstein, and guest Susan Howe, at Lansing’s house in Gloucester, Mass. Lansing, a close friend of Charles Olson, discusses the wild of Gloucester, the relation of the magic (and the magical) and the occult to poetic practice, Nerval, queer politics and the poetics identity, New York in the immediate postwar period, parapsychology at Harvard in the late 1940s, Gnosticism versus neo-Platonism, Jewish mysticism, and his connections with Henry Murray, Harry Smith, Alan Watts, Aleister Crowley, Carl Jung, and John Ashbery.

Kenneth Irby is Associate Professor at the University of Kansas and his collected poems was published in 2009 as The Intent On.

His PennSound page of readings is quite extensive, and here he is reading at Berkeley.

Theodore Enslin died in 2011 in Milbridge, Maine where he had lived since 1960. To my mind he was the most fascinating character of all. If I had been paying attention I might well have been able to meet him as Milbridge is scarcely 2 hours from my own homestead in rural Maine. This brief appreciation provides a sense of the man: With Great Respect. Though he lived in relative isolation far outside the mainstream he was extremely prolific, publishing roughly 60 books of poetry including a selected poems Then and Now in 1999. And here is a fascinating interview with Enslin and Robert Bertholf on music and poetry.

[The dated heading for this post acknowledges the fact that I long ago lost track of how many entries there have been in this "series" & I should have dated each entry from the beginning.]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Corbin & American Poetry - Robert Kelly

As I've mentioned before, Robert Kelly is one of the most important poets to have put Corbin's work to use. This new collection of essays is very much worth your attention. Though there is no explicit mention of Corbin in these 800 pages, there are three occurrences of ta'wil. On p 284 is the justly famous comment that "A poem is the ta'wil of the first word written down." Perhaps more striking to me is the commentary on Charles Olson and the Angel, which begins on 171 - Olson was, Kelly says, particularly in the late, post-Maximus work, a man in search of his Angel. [I have written about the Olson/Corbin connection many times, and Maud's excellent Charles Olson At the Harbor - see here for instance.] There is so much of interest in this immense volume that it seems to me indispensable.

A companion book, forthcoming [this Fall?] from Contra Mundum, A City Full of Voices, will include the full text of the seminal 1974 collaboration Ta'wil, Or How to Read which I have pointed to several times here. And I will whet the appetite of all with an interest by mentioning that this volume will also contain an essay by George Quasha, "Uncertainties," which discusses Kelly's poetics and the entire complex of issues involved with the poetics of ta'wil, the visionary recital, initiation, creative imagination and alchemy. It is, it seems to me, quite wonderful and utterly essential reading for anyone interested in these matters.

Thanks to Pierre Joris for co-editing these books and for drawing our attention to them.

Friday, October 3, 2014

L'Envers du Monde

The first volume of the Corbin series is now published in French 
and is available from Entrelacs here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shirazeh Houshiary

"The black square is a protest against knowing"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

10e Journée Henry Corbin

10e  Journée Henry Corbin
Sous la présidence de Leili Anvar
Samedi 29 novembre 2014
65 rue des Grands Moulins 75013 Paris
L’Homme parfait
Matinée :
9h30 Christian JAMBET : « L’Homme parfait, idéal de vie spirituelle selon Molla Sadra ». 
10h30 Leili ANVAR « L’Homme parfait est la lumière des cieux et de la terre : quelques remarques sur la figure de Shams dans l’œuvre de Rûmî ».
11h30 Pierre LORY : « Muhammad comme Homme parfait dans le soufisme ancien »
Après-midi :
14h30 Alain LE BOULLUEC : « La doctrine du Vrai Prophète dans le roman pseudo-clémentin »
15h30 Remi MATHIEU : « L’idée d’Homme parfait dans la pensée chinois

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Meditation on Creative Imagination


Tom Cheetham

Phi Beta Kappa Lecture
Blaustein Center for the Humanities
March 29, 2013

Every thing possible to be believed is an image of Truth. - Wm Blake

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Persian Calligraphy in Washington DC

Words Take Flight in Persian Calligraphy at Sackler Gallery


Media only:
Allison Peck    (202) 633-0447; pressasia@si.edu
Miranda Gale  (202) 633-0271; galem@si.edu
Media website:

Media tours:
By appointment only beginning Sept. 9; email pressasia@si.edu to request

August 13, 2014
During a prolific 200-year period in the 14th–16th centuries, four master calligraphers invented one of the most aesthetically refined forms of Persian culture: nasta‘liq, a type of calligraphy so beautiful that for the first time the expressive form of the words eclipsed their meaning. “Nastaliq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy,” opening Sept. 13 at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, displays 20 rarely seen masterworks created by the script’s greatest practitioners, tracing its evolution from a simple style of writing to a potent form of artistic expression.
This is the first exhibition ever to focus specifically on nasta‘liq, which was used primarily to write poetry, Persia’s quintessential form of literature. With sinuous lines, short vertical strokes and an astonishing sense of rhythm, the script was an immediate success and was rapidly adopted throughout the Persian-speaking world from Turkey to India. The exhibition shows how generations of itinerant calligraphers, bound by the master-pupil relationship, developed, enhanced and spreadnasta‘liq between major artistic centers.
Nasta‘liq represents one of the most accomplished forms of Persian art, developed at a time of cultural and artistic effervescence in Iran,” said Simon Rettig, exhibition curator and curatorial fellow at the Freer and Sackler galleries. “In a sense, it became the visual embodiment of the Persian language enthusiastically embraced from Istanbul to Delhi and from Bukhara to Baghdad.”
Each of the four masters featured in the exhibition—Mir Ali from Tabriz (active ca. 1370–1410), Sultan Ali from Mashhad (d. 1520), Mir Ali from Herat (d. 1545) and Mir Imad Hasani from Qazvin (d. 1615)—further evolved the nasta‘liq style, intentionally slanting the script for dramatic effect, modulating lines to balance fluidity and discipline, and adding delicate, twisting flourishes. Often attached to royal and princely courts, many calligraphers were the celebrities of their time, and visitors will learn fascinating anecdotes of fame and rivalry.
Mastering nasta‘liq can take a lifetime, but it remains the most popular form of Persian calligraphy today. A demonstration video in the exhibition, along with calligraphic tools and accessories, shows how techniques developed more than 500 years ago are still practiced by contemporary calligraphers.
Primarily drawn from the collections of the Freer and Sackler galleries, highlights include the only known signed work by the “inventor” of nasta‘liq Mir Ali from Tabriz, two folios from a collection of poetry by the late 15th-century ruler Sultan Husayn Bayqara and sumptuous illuminated pages from imperial Mughal albums. 
The exhibition will be on view through March 22, 2015, and will be featured during the museum’s annual family festival celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, Saturday, March 7, 2015. Other exhibition-related programs include a Point of View talk with exhibition curator Simon Rettig Oct. 14 and lectures by eminent specialists, including David J. Roxburgh of Harvard University Dec. 14 and Dick Davis of Ohio State University Jan. 25, 2015. For a full listing of related events, visit asia.si.edu/nastaliq.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25), and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other public events, visit asia.si.edu or follow twitter.com/freersackleror facebook.com/freersackler. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.

Il logos dello ierofante

A new Phd Dissertation on Henry Corbin

Il logos dello ierofante. 
Docetismo e metafisica dell'immagine nella filosofia delle religioni 
di Henry Corbin

by Roberto Revello

(In Italian)

English Summary:

We outline a specific profile of philosophy of religion emerging from the work of Henry Corbin, a thinker who engages with contemporary issues, interpreter of the Iranian Shi’ite tradition and of the currents of Gnosis,. The first chapter is devoted to the phenomenological method of Docetism. Compared to the bettern-known issue of mundus imaginalis, the Docetism is equally crucial: it is familiar to many Eastern and Western gnostic currents – a downright critical theory of visionary knowledge, that rebuilds metaphysics in a perspective that goes beyond Nietzsche and Heidegger, and an ontology not primarily ontic, not simply predicative, but “ontophanique” (G. Durand). In the second chapter we have meant to discuss the docetist theoretical foundations of ‘image’, starting from the illusory paradox of the regard granted to imagination in the Islamic context, usually defined as aniconic. The aniconic instance is analysed starting from the contrast between “idol” and “icon”: the first is the opaque image, the second is the transparent mirror. The image, at that level, is not the imitation of a model, but the ability to mirror, and a constitutive relating with the other outside the self: unus ambo, dualitude. In the third chapter we present the main focus of this kind of Docetism: to actualize the spiritual. The specificity of the Iranian Islam is confronted with the Platonic tradition of the Russian theology, the psychology of Jung, and a Western archaic sense of the image. Finally, in order to avoid any relativist misunderstanding, we reflect, along with Corbin, upon what makes a vision true.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Occult Minds

This may be of interest to some readers of this blog.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Coming in Spring 2015


The Meanings of Imagination
in Henry Corbin and James Hillman

Tom Cheetham

Spring Publications
Spring 2015

The final volume in the Henry Corbin Quintet

Cheetham’s book is a jewel that returns us to the “wild energies of creation” through his lucid and passionate dedication to the necessity of imagination for soul. His book offers the essence of these thinkers as alchemical transformers of being in the anima mundi. Imaginal Love returns psyche to cosmos: as organ of imag(e)inging where we embody the angels. - Susan Rowland Ph.D. Pacifica Graduate Institute. Author of Jung as a Writer (Routledge, 2005) and The Ecocritical Psyche: Literature, Evolution, Complexity and Jung, (Routledge, 2012) 

Tom Cheetham shows the heights that independent scholars outside academia can achieve. His prior work has virtually defined independent scholarship on Henry Corbin. In Imaginal Love, he has turned his gifts to "the meanings of imagination in James Hillman and Henry Corbin." The result is a powerful contribution to our understanding of the full meaning of imaginal love -- and the central role of such love in human life. - Michael Lerner, President, Commonweal.

I will not forget this book. It has subtly but, I suspect, permanently shifted the way I look at reality, the way I listen to language. - Cynthia Bourgeault, retreat leader and writer, author of The Wisdom Way of KnowingThe Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, and Mystical Hope.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Exclusionary Philosophy

This great little essay is worth noting by all readers of this blog. 

It reminds me of Castoriadis' attempt (not unrelated I think) to include the imagination in philosophy:

"[P]hilosophers almost always start by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is a table; what does this table show to me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever started by saying: “I want to see what being is, what reality is. Now, here is my memory of my dream of last night; what does this show me as characteristic of a real being?” No philosopher ever starts by saying “Let the Requiem of Mozart be a paradigm of being”, and seeing in the physical world a deficient mode of being..."

William Chittick at academy.edu

This from Mohammed Rustom:

Here is a link to Professor Chittick's academia.edu page. It gives full access to all of his articles published to date. Most of them are up there now, and few dozen more will be added in upcoming weeks. There are also some translations of his articles available here, as well as several of his interviews:

If you do not have an academia.edu account, you'll need to create one (free of charge) in order to download the articles (although without an account you can still view most of them). Having an academia.edu account also gives access to the works of many other scholars in Islamic Studies (and various other disciplines).

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mohammed Rustom on Philosophical Sufism

At History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps HERE.
A very nice resource!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mystical Theology Conference - Liverpool in July

Mystical Theology and Continental Philosophy
Historical and Contemporary Perspectives Conference 
11th - 13th July 2014 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Major new essay on Corbin & Heidegger

The authors are to be congratulated on a major piece of scholarship.

CAMILLERI, Sylvain et PROULX, Daniel, « Martin Heidegger et Henry Corbin : lettres et documents (1930-1941) », dans Bulletin heideggérien, vol. 4, 2014, p. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

Deconstructing God

 In its most condensed formulation, deconstruction is affirmation, a “yes, yes, come” to the future and also to the past, since the authentic past is also ahead of us. It leads to, it is led by, a “yes” to the transforming surprise, to the promise of what is to come in whatever we have inherited — in politics, art, science, law, reason and so on. The bottom line is “yes, come.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Henry Corbin and Russian Religious Thought by Hadi Fakhoury

I am excited and delighted to be able to present here the full text of Hadi Fakhoury's master's thesis. It is a remarkable piece of scholarship and an immensely important contribution to our understanding of Corbin's thought. It is truly essential reading for everyone with an interest in Corbin's work. I came away from it with a far deeper grasp of what Corbin was up to and of the origins and the development of his thought. I look forward to the publication of this superb work and to whatever comes next from Fakhoury's powerful pen.

Henry Corbin and Russian Religious Thought
Hadi Fakhoury
Institute of Islamic Studies
McGill University, Montreal

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hafez on PBS

The works of 14th century Persian poet Hafez are iconic in Iran. Poet and scholar Dick Davis has spent years bringing the medieval writer's words to the West. Jeffrey Brown talks to Davis about his experiences with Persian culture, the challenges of translating and his new book, "Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century

Hakl, Hans Thomas.
Sheffield: Equinox, 2013

"This is the most balanced and well-informed history of the Eranos Conferences where, once a year, some of the most provocative thinkers of the world gathered to discuss the most pressing issues of the times: religious symbolism, the nature of spirit, art and creativity, utopia, language, norms in a changing world, pluralism ... Eranos represents an important counterpart to the dominant spiritual and intellectual history of the twentieth century precisely because it encouraged thinking and living at the radical edge." David L. Miller, Syracuse University

Gemistos Plethon

Platonism in Late Byzantium, between Hellenism and Orthodoxy

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Advance Notice of an Important Publication

Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture, Vol. 92

Publication Date: Winter 2014

Editor-in-Chief, Nancy Cater, J.D., Ph.D. 
Guest Editor: Riccardo Bernardini, Scientific Secretary, Eranos Foundation

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On Platonic Theology

The Rebirth of Platonic Theology: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti) and the Istitutio Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento (Florence, 26-27 April 2007) for J. B. Michael Allen, ed. James Hankins and Fabrizio Meroi (Firenze: Olschki, 2013)

The Rebirth of Platonic Theology: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the Harvard University Center for I... by Tom Cheetham

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Conférences publiques 2014
"Liberté et contrainte dans les sociétés musulmanes"

Christian Jambet, directeur d’études, EPHE
La liberté spirituelle en islam et l’interprétation de “Pas de contrainte en  religion”

Mardi 7 janvier 2014

Amphithéâtre François Furet, 105 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris (M° Saint-Placide ou Notre-Dame-des-champs)
Entrée libre

Dans l’esprit et la lettre des théologies majoritaires en islam, la liberté de l’homme est inséparable de la Loi et du décret divin. On montrera que les formes de la liberté consistent non à s’abstraire de l’ordre divin intégral, mais à se rendre, en quelque façon, semblable à Celui qui l’instaure, par une démarche intérieure et spirituelle. On prendra l’exemple de l’interprétation de la phrase fameuse, présente dans le Coran (2, 256), “Pas de contrainte en religion”, par le grand philosophe Mullâ Sadrâ, et l’on s’interrogera sur le sens, pour le destin de l’islam, de la distinction entre une liberté intérieure, perfection de l’âme, et une liberté extérieure à la Loi, jugée illicite ou illusoire.

Modérateur : Bernard Heyberger, directeur d’études EHESS, directeur de l’IISMM-EHESS