process imagining

thoughts on religion and philosophy in process and post-structural perspective

it is not true...that we observe best when we are entirely devoid of emotion. Unless there is a direction of interest, we do not observe at all. ~ Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making, 124

Yes, you have got to assemble bits of old material. But into a building. ~Ludwig Wittgenstein

You may not divide the seamless coat of learning. What education has to impart is an intimate sense for the power of ideas, for the beauty of ideas, and for the structure of ideas, together with a particular body of knowledge which has peculiar reference to the life of the being possessing it. ~(ANW, Aims of Education, pp. 11-12)

There was a former springtime, and there is a springtime now. No other difference exists because the foundations are the same. Whoever acts completely in accordance with the teachings of Christ is a Baha’i. The purpose is the essential meaning of Christian, not the mere word. The purpose is the sun itself and not the dawning points. For though the sun is one sun, its dawning points are many. We must not adore the dawning points but worship the sun. We must adore the reality of religion and not blindly cling to the appellation Christianity. The Sun of Reality must be worshiped and followed. We must seek the fragrance of the rose from whatever bush it is blooming–whether oriental or western. Be seekers of light, no matter from which lantern it shines forth. Be not lovers of the lantern. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 247.

A proposition can embody partial truth because it only demands a certain type of systematic environment, which is presupposed in its meaning. It does not refer to the universe in detail.

~Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, 11.

Is there measure on Earth? There is /None. (Holderlin) Measure is only a convention, an intersubjective agreement which is the condition of merit (social recognizability). Poetry is the excess which breaks the limit and escapes measure.

Thus, the ambiguity of the Image comes from the fact that it can be either an idol (Gr. eidolon) or an icon (Gr. eikon). It is an idol when it fixes the viewer's vision on itself. Then it is opaque, without transparency, and remains at the level of that from which it was formed. But it is an icon, whether a painted image or a mental one, when its transparency permits the viewer to see through it to something beyond it, and because what is beyond can be seen only through it. This is precisely the status of the Image that is known as a “theophanic form.” The Image of the Imam, the Image of the Fourteen Immaculate Ones, has for the faithful Shiite this theophanic virtue. It is equally true to say that the theophanic form is a mirror (ayineh, Lat. speculum). All our philosophers who share the theophanic sense of things have gone back to the motif of the mirror, thus giving speculative Imagination its true meaning, its etymological meaning, which is the same meaning that Franz von Baader gave to speculative philosophy when he said: “To speculate is to reflect” (Spekulieren heisst spiegeln).

imagination, conception and the unimaginable in schoenberg's moses und aron

A lot of my thinking and writing is on the role or epistemological function of the imagination, that which allows us to perceive the world around us, and able to feel without experiencing, structuring a possible world from what we see before us. Imagination does something with what we perceive with the world and enjoys the process of its own becoming in the pursuit of knowledge and meaning.

Part of this came from my professor and mentor Roland Faber's teaching of Schonberg's Moses Und Aron, which depicts the dilemma Schonberg himself had in contemplating in his work “how we can speak of the ultimate?” This is a difficult task because when we conceive, we conceive by taking what we have before us, assemblaging and constructing things into something new. We imagine its becomings. The struggle for Schoenberg is here evidenced in the discussion of Moses and Aron in scene 2 of the opera:

Aron: O vision of highest fantasy, how glad it is that you’ve enticed it to form you.
Moses: How can fantasy thus picture the unimageable?
Aron: Love will surely not weary of image forming. Happy is this folk to revere its God so!
Moses: Folk set apart to know the ever unseen one, to reflect on greatness unimaged.
Aron: Chosen is this folk, thus to love one great god ever and ever, with a thousand times more devotion than all other earthly peoples for their many godly beings. Not be seen, not imagined. Folk chosen by the only one, can you worship what you dare not even conceive?
Moses: Dare not? Not conceived because unseen, can never be measured, everlasting, eternal, because ever present, and almighty. The one God is almighty.

How do we conceive that which is unimaginable? Aron's response is with emotion and feeling. Aron uses the word love, vision, fantasy, as three parts that births within the self that which cannot be conceived, but taking what we have and making knowable what can be known. This is the difficulty. Whitehead speaks much about the notion of relations, and that without relations there can be no-thing. Thus there is a synchronicity among these three that allow for the manifestation for images. I would even argue that the imagination is a space, a lure, for which love, fantasy, and vision are allowed to be and create. Because these three create the actuality that we witness, while it removes itself from the actual thing.

The question always remains about the desire to remove that which is the image, while there cannot be anything without an image. There can be no creatio ex nihilo, but must have a creatio ex profundis (See Catherine Keller's Face of the Deep). The deep is a pure multiplicity, all things, in which, in Deleuzian terms the virtual as a web across, not limiting, but allowing for the creation of the real made possible to form, cutting across, so that in the actual there is a life. I would argue this is the imagination, the creation of images, the work of love, fantasy and vision.

The unimaginable therefore would be a matter of the notion of time. Because once we experience the divine, the divine is in the making, from the feelings of awe, love, derive visions and fantasy, fantasy being the most awesome one can conceive of the divine, even to the point of foolishness. From this one is able to conceive through language what needs to be articulated.

will need to write/think more on this....

Imagination cannot be acquired once and for all, and then kept indefinitely in an ice box to be produced periodically in stated quantities. The learned and imaginative life is a way of living, and is not an article of commerce.

Conceptualizing is an imaginative function, but falls in line with creativity. Thus, imagination tends to be in the background of things, a term that is used, but never fully defined. There are tomes of texts written on the imagination, but it has its ebbs and flows in both its necessity for, or begrudging acceptance for it.

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