Imagination [Resources]+

#41
I became aware of S. Langer through the writings of Joseph Chilton Pearce. His book Crack in the Cosmic Egg -New Constructs of Mind and Reality is very insightful about creativity and the imagination and how humans create their "world" through cultural agreement.
 
#42
I agree. I am glad that you mentioned the esoteric approach. One could compare what is called esoteric and what is called exoteric religions. In some ways, what is called exoteric religion is what people customarily mean by religion. That is the challenge today for people. There is a continuum of ways to think all these ideas. As Aldous Huxley said "knowledge is a function of Being." There are subtleties in the differences. Humans can't live without religions obviously. I could suggest that the origin of a religion is the need for a story, a narrative, that takes us from chaos (the unknown) to order (the known) As you say, an esoteric approach can lead to a deeper truth.
Right, we all have a specific story in mind. We may argue back and forth whether that story is the actual “actual story”, or just some story we recite to ourselves because we are creatures that need a story, any story, but one that “works.” I also think that there is an “aha” moment in our lives when we realize that the greatest failure, in fact the only failure that counts for anything, is to leave this life and not have found our own story. This story has to be the one that makes absolute sense to us in our most private of moments, that unavoidable moment when we face the absolute.
 
Last edited:
#44
Right, we all have a specific story in mind. We may argue back and forth whether that story is the actual “actual story”, or just some story we recite to ourselves because we are creatures that need a story, any story, but one that “works.” I also think that there is an “aha” moment in our lives when we realize that the greatest failure, in fact the only failure that counts for anything, is to leave this life and not have found our own story. This story has to be the one that makes absolute sense to us in our most private of moments, that unavoidable moment when we face the absolute.
The challenge is moving beyond the cultural story of whatever culture in which we are nurtured. This relates to what Steve wrote about "reality being meaningless on this forum." The cultural story does become the 'reality' for humans. That is the question inquisitive people have been asking since humans started reflecting. What is the 'true' story? Is there a true story? How does reality relate to this story? Every culture contains their own view of what a person is, what knowledge is. What happens when the cultural story doesn't match up with the 'true' reality? I guess that is why people enjoy discussing these ideas. Many humans regret that they haven't felt there purpose in their lives especially as they reflect on their mortality.
 
#45
The challenge is moving beyond the cultural story of whatever culture in which we are nurtured. This relates to what Steve wrote about "reality being meaningless on this forum." The cultural story does become the 'reality' for humans. That is the question inquisitive people have been asking since humans started reflecting. What is the 'true' story? Is there a true story? How does reality relate to this story? Every culture contains their own view of what a person is, what knowledge is. What happens when the cultural story doesn't match up with the 'true' reality? I guess that is why people enjoy discussing these ideas. Many humans regret that they haven't felt there purpose in their lives especially as they reflect on their mortality.
A friend of mine, who lives in Ascona, told me once that as one gets older the external world become more and more difficult to maneuver in, while the internal world becomes clearer and easier to understand. Perhaps it is also the case that as we get older we discard those things for which we no longer have any use. I mean, it's not as if we can take the world, our bodies, with us. What remains with us to the end and beyond are the things we have nurtured and grown inside.
 
#46
Tom Cheetham on Henry Corbin - Part 1

The Great Refusal

If there is a single first step on the path that Corbin invites us to travel, it may be the simple refusal to accept the understanding of ourselves that dominates modern secular consciousness. The foundations for this worldview are historicist and materialist throughout. All of the major modern means of understanding converge upon a single unified vision of reality. All of the "human" and all of the "natural" sciences are based on laws of historical causality in a world composed entirely of matter in space.

In a world so conceived, nothing can be more real than anything else. In such a world consciousness is explicable in terms of physical, biological, social and historical forces. Such a world is radically incompatible with the existence of persons. This is nihilism. As long as we feel alienated and exiled in such a world there is hope. But the danger is that we will abandon ourselves to those impersonal forces and in doing so, we will disappear: There will no longer be persons.

Corbin refuses all of this. He makes use of Heidegger’s analysis of the human person to clarify his standpoint. In Being and Time Heidegger writes

"Looking at something, understanding and conceiving it, choosing, access to it - all of these ways of behaving are ... modes of Being for those particular entities which we, the inquirers, are ourselves... This entity which each of us is ... we shall denote by the term "Dasein"."

Dasein is Heidegger's way of naming that about us that has "ontological priority over every other entity." Dasein is, literally translated, "being-there." Corbin says that the da of Dasein is the "act of Presence." Any analysis of human existence must begin with Presence as the fundamental given. Not with a thinking subject as for Descartes, or with energy or matter as in modern science; not indeed with any kind of "thing" at all. What is central here is the suggestion that Dasein is, as a philosopher might say, “ontologically complex” and can exhibit many “modes” of being.

As with Being, so Heidegger's treatment of Time was pivotal for Corbin, who understands Heidegger’s analysis of the relation between them in this way: it is the mode of being, the mode of Presence, of the human person that determines the nature of time, not the other way around. We are not the product of the vagaries of History; the relation between history and the human being is not one-way. More primordial than the time of Universal History is the time of the soul. The meaning of history has little to do with the unfolding of events in time, and everything to do with what Corbin calls "hierohistory," the events in the eternal time of the soul.

There is a sense in which we can tear ourselves out of the flux of historical events. We are not irrevocably bound by the intellectual assumptions and the spiritual possibilities of “our time.” It is possible to resurrect the spiritual universe of another time, or equally, of another culture. This is because the past and the future, “are not attributes of exterior things; they are attributes of the soul itself. It is we who are living or dead, and who are responsible for the life and death of these things.”

Corbin does not claim that escaping the terrors of history is easy. On the contrary, it requires "spiritual combat" of the highest order. Indeed it is the magnum opus of the alchemical transformation of the soul. But once we acknowledge the possibility, we are not irrevocably bound by the deepest, most far reaching presuppositions of "our time." We are not doomed to be ciphers in the great impersonal flux of events. Rather “The decision of the future falls to the soul, depends upon how the soul understands itself, upon its refusal or acceptance of a new birth.”
"...to leave this world, it does not suffice to die. One can die and remain in it forever. One must be living to leave it."
 
Last edited:
#47
Tom Cheetham on Henry Corbin - Part 2

Mundus Imaginalis

"...to leave this world, it does not suffice to die. One can die and remain in it forever. One must be living to leave it."

Such a new birth is a metamorphosis, and such a transformation requires a kind of death. The Prophet Mohammed said, "You must die before you die!" Corbin writes: "...to leave this world, it does not suffice to die. One can die and remain in it forever. One must be living to leave it." To be born is to leave the world of historical, public events. This is an awakening to the Presence of the World and takes place by a kind of inversion; it is a process of turning inside out. It is worth quoting Corbin at length:

"t is a matter of entering, passing into the interior and, in passing into the interior of finding oneself, paradoxically, outside... The relationship involved is essentially that of the external, the visible, the exoteric..., and the internal, the invisible, the esoteric.... To depart from the where...is to leave the external or natural appearances that enclose the hidden realities... This step is made in order for the Stranger...to return home....
But an odd thing happens: once this transition is accomplished, it turns out that henceforth this reality, previously internal and hidden, is revealed to be enveloping, surrounding, containing what was first of all external and visible, since by means of interiorization one has departed from that external reality. Henceforth it is spiritual reality that...contains the reality called material."

And thus, just as we are not merely objects in historical time, so we are not primordially in quantitative space. It is truer to say rather that we "spatialize" a world. Corbin writes,

"Orientation is a primary phenomenon of our presence in the world. A human presence has the property of spatializing a world around it, and this phenomenon implies a certain relationship of man and the world, his world, this relationship being determined by the very mode of his presence in the world."

The kind of space we occupy depends upon our mode of being. Our orientation in the world is not given by coordinates on a map, but by our spiritual state. If the only space were quantitative space, there could not be persons at all, merely objects. We achieve our personhood to the degree that we come home to ourselves in a world that is not alien and impersonal.

The space of the soul, which is the location of visionary events, is known by an Arabic word that Corbin rendered in Latin as the mundus imaginalis, or the imaginal world. The existence of this imaginal world implies a hierarchic cosmology that disappeared from the dominant currents in Western philosophy with the demise of Neoplatonism. In this cosmos there are three "worlds" and three sources of knowledge. In the modern West we admit only two of these: On the one hand sense perception gives us knowledge of the world of material objects, and on the other, concepts of the understanding give us knowledge of the abstract laws governing these objects. But the person limited to this choice must remain forever trapped in one mode of presence and the objects of knowledge must remain in one mode of being. What is lacking in this scheme is the recognition of the creative power of the Imagination. The cosmology that underlies the metaphysics of Presence, and so makes possible the existence of persons, gives a privileged place to Imagination.

"While we encounter in other philosophies or systems a distrust of the Image, a degradation of all that properly belongs to the Imagination, the mundus imaginalis is its exaltation, because it is the link in whose absence the schema of the worlds is put out of joint."

The world of the Imagination is an interworld because it shares aspects of both the world of sensation and the world of intellectual forms. The world of the imaginal is a place where "the spiritual takes body and the body becomes spiritual, a world consisting of real matter and real extension, though by comparison to sensible, corruptible matter these are subtle and immaterial." The organ of cognition that gains us access to this universe is the Active Imagination. It has a cognitive function just as fundamental as sensation or abstract thought, and, like them, it must be trained. There is therefore perfectly objective imaginative perception, imaginative knowledge and imaginative consciousness.

In the absence of the fully functional Active Imagination all the phenomena of religious consciousness lose both their meaning, and their location: "[the Active Imagination] is the place of theophanic visions, the scene on which visionary events and symbolic histories appear in their true reality."

The cognitive function of Imagination is neither passive reception, nor unconstrained fantasy. It is the organ of transmutation of intellectual or sensible forms into symbolic forms.

"The Active Imagination guides, anticipates, molds sensory perception; that is why it transmutes sensory data into symbols. The Burning Bush is only a brushwood fire if it is merely perceived by the sensory organs. In order that Moses may perceive the Burning Bush and hear the Voice calling him 'from the right side of the valley' - in short, in order that there may be a theophany - an organ of trans-sensory perception is needed."

The consequences of the constriction of reality that results from the loss of the realms of the Imagination are impossible to overestimate. The Western world has been struggling to escape the terror of that claustrophobia ever since. This goes a long way towards explaining our rush to the Future and any New World, whether it is America, the Moon or the virtual realities of the Internet. We can never, after such a loss, have enough space. In our drive to recover the spaces of the Imagination we have taken refuge in the public Image. Television, movies, video screens in every classroom, magazines, billboards - the world is full of Images, all coming to us from Outside, according to someone else's agenda. This is precisely the opposite of that Interiorization of the world that is one goal of the spiritual quest. It is in fact the latest, perhaps the last, step in the exteriorization and objectification of the soul. We are driven to it by a kind of perverse necessity: the more we need space for the things of the soul, the more we seek Images to fill the space that we no longer create for ourselves. And yet fewer and fewer of us know the source of this panic, or where to turn in response. And so we continue to search for "new disciplines of the imagination" and are caught by each in turn, disoriented and confused in a world that will not cohere.
http://henrycorbinproject.blogspot.com/2008/06/brief-introduction-to-life-and-work-of.html
 
#48
Roger Woolger - The Presence of Other Worlds in Psychotherapy and Healing

My chief purpose here is to argue for the presence of multiple worlds, spiritual and visionary, that interact with and inter-penetrate this one. And in taking a multi-dimensional view of reality, I emphatically reject the one-di- mensional materialist view of reality supported by conventional scientific thinking in which mental events are regarded as the energetic products of brain circuitry and biochemistry. All such scientific, energetic, materialistic views of mind are at root reductionistic, and are unconsciously caught in the literalism of their own metaphors. So in the spirit of the conference, my intention is to go beyond the brain and materialism and re-affirm the spiritual viewpoint common to sacred tradition.
You know that the seed is inside the horse-chestnut tree; and inside the seed are the blossoms of the tree,

and the chestnuts and the shade.
So inside the human body there is the seed and

inside the seed there is the human body again [....]

Thinkers, listen, tell me what you know of that is not inside the soul?

Take a pitcher of water and set it down on the water-- now it has water inside and water outside.
We mustn't give it a name,
lest silly people start talking again about the body and

the soul...
The real problem in understanding the imagination lies in our habit of ignoring the great visionary traditions and instead giving far too much power to the narrow prejudices of academic psychology - a discipline whose almost fundamentalist insistence on being "scientific" entirely excludes the multi-dimensional reaches of the soul. As James Hillman once said of such academicism: "the language of psychology is an insult to the soul."
The mundus imaginalis is known by many names in esoteric and spiritual traditions. It is called in Plato, the In- termediary World, the metaxy. [23] In Tibetan Buddhism, the sum total of these worlds, known individually as Bardos, or "in-betweens" are called the Sambhogakaya which means the Body of Bliss (we will return later to this cosmology). The Bardos include states after and between lives as well as prior to being born; they are in be- tween physical reality and pure spirit. In the Western world, this intermediary world is sometimes referred to as the invisible world, the unseen world, the spirit world, or the middle kingdom.
http://www.deepmemoryprocess.com/presence of other worlds.PDF
 
Last edited:
#50
Oh dear, I really hate this forum. Just SO much stuff queuing up to be watched or read.....THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME!!!

No seriously - thank you for this thread Michael2, I really resonate with the ideas brought up here on a personal level, so I very much appreciate it.

I am a GREAT fan of Ibn Arabi, Suhrawardi, other sufis from that type of school, and Corbin's writing, so will definitely be catching up on all these links sooner or later and keeping an eye on the thread.

I actually believe Ibn Arabi's ideas to be, along with certain aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, to be amongst the most sophisticated "spiritual" teachings I personally know, and also corresponding to my own personal experiences, even though I have no association with either school.

Errrm, to contribute.....

Well, I cannot believe Patrick Harpur hasn't been mentioned here! His "Daemonic Reality", "Mercurius" and "Philosophers Secret Fire" are all good books. Mercurius was most unusual, and probably one of the only works of fiction I've read in decades! It's all about the Imagination and the Alchemical Process.....I enjoyed them all.

And, co-incidentally, I read this article only last night by chance....I see this blog has been linked on this thread, but not this page. I don't know if it's especially relevant to the thread, apologies if not, but I was quite blown away by it's relevance to my own life & "path" through it!

Literalising the Imaginal:

http://henrycorbinproject.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/literalizing-imaginal.html
 
#51
Oh dear, I really hate this forum. Just SO much stuff queuing up to be watched or read.....THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME!!!

No seriously - thank you for this thread Michael2, I really resonate with the ideas brought up here on a personal level, so I very much appreciate it.

I am a GREAT fan of Ibn Arabi, Suhrawardi, other sufis from that type of school, and Corbin's writing, so will definitely be catching up on all these links sooner or later and keeping an eye on the thread.

I actually believe Ibn Arabi's ideas to be, along with certain aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, to be amongst the most sophisticated "spiritual" teachings I personally know, and also corresponding to my own personal experiences, even though I have no association with either school.

Errrm, to contribute.....

Well, I cannot believe Patrick Harpur hasn't been mentioned here! His "Daemonic Reality", "Mercurius" and "Philosophers Secret Fire" are all good books. Mercurius was most unusual, and probably one of the only works of fiction I've read in decades! It's all about the Imagination and the Alchemical Process.....I enjoyed them all.

And, co-incidentally, I read this article only last night by chance....I see this blog has been linked on this thread, but not this page. I don't know if it's especially relevant to the thread, apologies if not, but I was quite blown away by it's relevance to my own life & "path" through it!

Literalising the Imaginal:

http://henrycorbinproject.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/literalizing-imaginal.html
Thanks for inserting that link Manjit, I think it is very relevant here and thanks for calling it to my (and our) attention:

Corbin warns that the realm of the imaginal is "not to be entered by housebreaking." It is necessary to overcome the will to power and the desire for mastery. He puts it quite starkly: "The very idea of associating such concepts as 'power' and the 'spiritual' implies an initial secularization." (Creative Imagination, 16.)
Entry into the imaginal requires a delicate, subtle and difficult personal transformation. It requires what Ivan Illich calls an "embraced powerlessness," which for Christians is symbolized by the Cross. It is all too easy to approach the inner world of the "hidden trust" as if it were a literal, public and exoteric reality. To make this mistake is the essence of idolatry and of fundamentalisms of all kinds.
The goal of exploration in imaginal realms is not conquest and mapping. The terrain is real, but it is neither objective nor public. Any map is provisional and of limited use, for the landscape is constantly shifting and always unique, individual and personal......The near impossibility of living in "metaphysical poverty" and humility sets up a dynamic in the soul that is acknowledged by all the great traditions - the life that the world of the imaginal provokes and requires is nomadic and wandering, unsettled and unsafe. It is our lot to fail continually in our attempts to love and forgive. We waver in and out of idolatries and literalisms of all kinds. And we constantly judge others and fail to see our own faults. Human be-ing is a project, not a fixed state
....the faculty of the Imagination as we experience it is inherently ambiguous. It has both a passive/sensitive aspect that we share with animals and an active aspect that, in its pure mystical form, has the power to create real beings outside the inner state of the soul and perceptible to other mystics (Creative Imagination, 222ff).
I think it is crucial to guard against the dangers of violating the sacred interiority of the imaginal by professionalizing, literalizing or otherwise co-opting its meaning.
 
#52
I'm trying to remember a reference, I want to say it is in one of Cheetham's later books on Corbin, maybe someone reading this knows the reference and can let me know. Briefly: it's describing that what we are doing, when we engage in/with the imaginal, is that we are "building" our subtle body; calling it into existence in this plane where the spiritual becomes corporealized and the corporeal becomes spritualized. The more we engage in that activity, the more defined and "real" this subtle body becomes. This subtle body is our vesel for our continued existence. I'm not sure how literal this is meant to be taken. It is a nice way to think about it nonetheless.
 
#53
The great refusal is the necessary first step in any process of change. I wrote a blog years and entitled it "critique and energize" meaning a similar idea. One has to critique the existing perception of reality, a letting go. That is what Pearce calls a crack in the cosmic egg. One is called to adventure to imagine a alternative to the existing order. After the letting go, one can be energized to a different way of being. An asking of new questions. My perspective is one must strive to begin with an image of the human being that is compassionate and loving. Someone mentioned 'embraced powerlessness'.

I am glad that Manjit mentioned Patrick Harpur. I was just reading Daimonic Reality. Good writer.
 
#54
Patrick Harpur on the Imagination

St. Paul mentions an ecstatic experience in which he was "caught up even to the third heaven", but, as he says, "whether in the body, I know not, or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth." And this is the dilemma confronting many otherworld journeyers.
One of the things a study of otherworld journeys teaches us is that we cannot imagine life without a body. We cannot exist as bare discarnate egos, even in the "life to come." "It is sown a natural body;" wrote St. Paul, "it is raised a spiritual body." And we cannot help but envisage this spiritual body as something like the "subtle" - the daimonic - body which can separate from, and survive the physical.
http://deoxy.org/soulbody.htm

The Otherworld is always imagined as beginning at the edge of our known world. It can be the wilderness outside the city walls or the unexplored regions at the edge of maps labelled 'Here be dragons'. It can begin at the brink of the ocean—or at the garden gate. As the boundaries of the Unknown are pushed back, the world largely mapped, the Otherworld is located in outer space. Early aliens claimed to come from Venus, Mars or the Moon; later, when these planets seemed more local, less remote, they claimed to come from distant star systems such as Zeta Reticuli or the Pleiades.

Religion sets the boundary of the Unknown at the limits of human life. In traditional cultures, the other world beyond life, after death, is immanent another reality contained within this one. In Christianity, it is transcendent, a separate reality removed from Earth. Scientism recognizes no Otherworld, but ... daimonic reality has a way of subverting it. Thus scientism constructs its own literal versions of a transcendent and immanent Otherworld. The former appears in the weird models of the universe articulated by astronomers and cosmologists; the latter appears in the speculations of nuclear physicists.
http://deoxy.org/h_unknwn.htm
 
#55
While strolling through the web one day...I chanced upon a clearing...

The Robert Moss BLOG

http://www.mossdreams.blogspot.com/2016/04/gabriel-has-sister.html

One of those visions is indelible. Under bright sunlight, in front of an old white oak on the farm in upstate New York where I was living at the time, a being formed from condensed light, radiant and beautiful and winged. In the presence of this luminous being, I felt cleansed and renewed. My heart swelled in my chest. I fell to my knees on the dirt road by the cornfield, weeping with joy. A poem burst from me. I chanted it aloud, half-singing. When I returned to the house, I wrote it down, like this:

Song for Gabriel


My heart is a song that rises
It is a rainbow bridge
spanning abysses
of place and time

My heart is a song that rises
to walk in the One Light
to heal the wound
between earth and sky

My heart is a song that rises
It is the crystal fire
that wakens the sleeper
into the dream

My heart is a song that rises
It is the pure waterfall
that cleanses my path
with tears of joy
 
#56
The Language of the Angels

The language of poetry is as close as we can get to the language of the angels. It is a language of images, of imagination. And the imagination is central to the psycho-cosmology that Corbin describes in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi and in Shi’ism. Nature itself speaks, and it takes a special kind of attention to hear it. As Hamann wrote elsewhere,

"It takes more than physics to explain nature. Physics is only the abc. Nature is an equation of unknowable grandeur; a Hebrew word of which only the consonants are written, and to which the understanding must add the diacritical vowels. "

Corbin’s account of Western history traces the progressive loss of the Breath of Compassion that articulates those vowels and so gives life and soul to the world. He warns us that the history of the West has been the theater for the Battle for the Soul of the World. He calls us to struggle in that long combat by turning towards the inner recesses where the Angel of the Earth and the Angel of Humanity dwell. His emphasis is on the Light that illuminates the path of the mystic out of this world in which we are in exile. On his view, perhaps the most crucial event in this long history was the loss in the Christian West in the 12th century, of the angelic hierarchies of Avicenna and Neoplatonism that had provided the connection between the individual and the divine. The loss of the intermediate world of the Imagination that they inhabit, of the realm of the imaginal, occasioned all the schisms that split the West: religion and philosophy, thought and being, intellect and ethics, God and the individual.

From the first to the last then, Corbin tells a tale of human life in which the place of language and the Word is central, and in which the quest for the lost language of God and the angels is the fundamental problem. It is the question that underlies the unity of the three branches of the Abrahamic tradition.
http://www.henrycorbinproject.blogspot.com/2008/11/corbins-poetics.html
 
#57
Roberts Avens

"The late Roberts Avens (1923-2006) was among the first in the English-speaking world to attempt to show how Corbin's work relates to contemporary western theology and philosophy. His writings are an important resource for those interested in the implications of Corbin's thought. Avens was Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Born in Dricani in southeastern Latvia..., he received a BA and MA in the humanities from the University of Brussels, and an MA and PhD in theology and the phenomenology of religion from Fordham University (1976). In addition to his philosophical work, he devoted much time to writing poetry, mostly in Latvian, under the name of Roberts Mūks..."

http://henrycorbinproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/roberts-avens-on-henry-corbin.html

Kant's failure to appreciate the central position of imagination is merely symptomatic of Western philosophy's impotence in dealing imaginatively with the perennial problem of dualism: subject vs. object, "I" vs. "not-I," man and world, spirit and matter...

It must be pointed out, however, that the Romantic admiration for this newly discovered "true organon" of all knowledge and wisdom oftentimes degenerated into what Kant called Schwarmeri--sentimental enthusiasm. In Edward Casey's words, "imagination became a mesmeric term that meant so much in general--claims concerning its powers were so exaggerated--that it came to mean very little in particular...

Long before Jung, Coleridge dissociated creative or primary imagination from simply reproductive imagination or fancy. Fancy--a mere handmaiden of perception--deals in similes and allusions, forming pleasing, whimsical or odd mental images with little consideration for their unity: it is "no other than a mode of Memory emancipated from the order of time and space." Fancy produces the kind of imagery that comes into minds almost unbidden out of the impressions of the senses which memory has stored and retained. Creative imagination, on the other hand, is described by Coleridge not only as the source of art but also as the living power and prime agent of all human perception; it dissolves, diffuses in order to re-create and to unify. Creative imagination is essentially vital, which for Coleridge meant that it is a way of discovering a deeper truth about the world. The figure of depth suggests that the primary imagination consists in seeing the particular as somehow embodying and expressing a more universal significance, that is, a "deeper" meaning than itself or what Shakespeare's Prospero calls "the dark backward and abysm of time." Coleridge is here acknowledging the importance of the idea of a concrete universal which is found in most metaphysical aesthetics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries...

...Coleridge wrote about the creative imagination, among other things, as being the "threshold" between self and not-self, between mind and matter, between conscious and unconscious. As he saw it, the task of genius is to apprehend "unity in multeity" of the objective world...

In Goethe's view, everything in nature exists in a state of radical interpenetration. Moreover, the phenomena which manifest themselves on the surface not only interpenetrate one another, but variously reveal the perduring archetypes (Urphänomen) which they express and symbolize. The Goethean archetype, unlike the Platoniceidos, exists only in and through the particular...

In the West Imagination is inseparable from what William Blake--the greatest visionary of all Romantics--called "double vision," the ability to perceive a thing in at least two ways simultaneously. When Blake looked at the sun, he saw not only "a round thing somewhat like a guinea" but also "an immeasurable Company of the Heavenly Host crying Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty." In non-poetic words, man is not limited to the passive reception and retention of sense data; his perception and his powers of imagination extend far beyond the compass of nature...

Barfield is convinced that the great discovery made by the poets and the philosophers of the Romantic Movement was that the exercise of the imaginal capacity is "the only way in which we can really begin to have to do with the spirit." What Barfield means here is that we exist "as autonomous, self-conscious individual spirits, as free beings" not by disregarding the gap between matter and spirit (the danger in westernized Orientalism), but by consciously and lucidly depending on it. For imagination lives in the gap, in the middle, suspended "as a rainbow spanning the two precipices and linking them harmoniously together." A life within the spectrum of imagination avoids spending itself in unrestrained sensuality (materialism--vulgar and philosophical) or in the useless heroics of a muddle-headed spiritualism. It is rather, to use the portmanteau term, a psychosomatic activity or, as the Buddha who is also known as the Great Physician would have it, a life of nirvana.
http://davidlavery.net/Barfield/Barfield_Scholarship/Avens.html
 
#58
Good ideas. I like the clearing metaphor.

A quote from Joseph Chilton Pearce

William Blake claimed that perception was the universal, the perceived object was the particular. What is discovered by man is never the "universal" or cosmic "truth." Rather, the process by which the mind brings about a "discovery" is itself the "universal."

"Kant's failure to appreciate the central position of imagination is merely symptomatic of Western philosophy's impotence in dealing imaginatively with the perennial problem of dualism: subject vs. object, "I" vs. "not-I," man and world, spirit and matter.. "

Been reading several books that give insight in to these ideas. I would to suggest that imagination is always involved in human life and culture just as metaphysics is. Human beings are moved by value and meaning. What we call history comes about by the underlying ideals, values, norms that manage to achieve mass appeal. Robert Romanyshyn writes that the "soul reveals and conceals itself in and through the landscape of experience we build individually and collectively."
A fascinating and insightful book is The Enchantments of Technology Lee Worth Bailey.

He asks:

Why have we divided the world into fundamental parts and called them "subjects and objects?" Why do The concept of the object stands for the interlocking set of premises that define our relations to nature as obtuse- blunt, opague, and detached....

He writes, " one of the most deeply entrenched enchantments of technological culture is this theory that the mind is in a subjective mental region of the brain, looking out onto a separate world of objects." Bailey writes about how the "camera obscura" grew into a ruling metaphor for the mind. Bailey writes:
The influence of this simple machine on thought has been all the more effective because it has been largely unconscious. Though on occasion explicit, the fantasy that the psyche is in a container is most often a dreamlike latent image hiding under the surface of the literature of the camera obscura. The hidden analogy of the psyche to the camera obscura grew slowly. It was first nourished in the Renaissance image of individualism and perspective art, then it shaped Locke's epistemology of representation and the tabula rasa. Later it fed into the nineteenth-century psychology of ego-subjectivity, strong in Feuerbach (1841) and Freud (sec 1974). The effect of this buried metaphor was subtle but sure. It gave its structure to a new way of imagining the psyche as a contained, internal entity, ontologically divided from the external world, communicating with that alien space only through restricted channels. This communication kept the image from lapsing into solipsism. But by contrast with the ancient vision of the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm, the contained, internal darkness of this root metaphor greatly reduced the picture of the soul's participation in the world. The camera obscura began as an experimental model for the eye and became a ruling metaphor for the mind. By offering a way of picturing the Cartesian inside cogito with a sensory channel admitting pictures from the outside extensio, the image of skull's darkroom shifted from a suggestive experimental analogy to a concealed methodological paradigm.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#59
AN INEXHAUSTIBLE SPRING

"This imaginal world we step into with the help of the creative imagination is indistinguishable from what indigenous peoples refer to as the spirit world or the land of the dead."

Because the inherent multivalence of art threatens the desire to reduce things to clear significations, human societies have a tendency to overlook it, with the result that a great many aesthetic objects are called art when they are perhaps something else. To clarify the distinction I called art designed to serve instrumental reason “artifice.” In its worst forms, artifice amounts to aesthetic manipulation of a kind that is indisputably hostile to the ideals of openness, plurality, freedom of thought, and rational discourse that we were told were the cornerstones of modernity. Art, on the other hand, is innately emancipatory, being itself the affirmation or sign of freedom.
Art dissolves the fog of Consensus in which we normally operate to reveal the unseen in the situation. It places us in exactly the same position as the first people who stared up at the stars in wonder. The work of art is perpetually new; it demands reinterpretation with each era, each generation, each percipient. Great works of art are like inexhaustible springs originating from a place beyond our “little world of man.” They reconnect us with a reality too vast for the rational mind to comprehend. Therefore art can be described as the human activity through which our all-too-human mentality is overcome and in light of which all finite judgments are shown to be insufficient. It is a sinking to the source and a leap toward the infinite.

Imagination begins at the limit of reason and judgment. Northrop Frye spoke of it as forming an “intermediate world” of pure metaphor †, and the English writer Patrick Harpur called the realm of the imagination “daimonic reality,” observing that it was populated not only by the aesthetic figures of art and mythology but also (and in his book, more importantly) by those entities that people encounter all the time even though they do not seem to “exist” in a material sense: fairies, aliens, ghosts, demons, and their ilk. ‡ This imaginal world we step into with the help of the creative imagination is indistinguishable from what indigenous peoples refer to as the spirit world or the land of the dead. Art is a paranormal phenomenon, no matter how widespread in comparison with other things of the sort. A patina of familiarity hides its strangeness from us in the day-to-day, but we see it afresh whenever a work breaks through our defenses and bowls us over.
 
Top