process imagining

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

a selection from henry corbin's the jasmine of fedeli d'amore

I am in the middle of writing my chapter on Imagination and the space of multiplicity, when I found this wonderful piece of translation and interpretation by Corbin, and had to add it here for rememberance. Here it goes:

“Seek Me in the Mystical Abode of Love “

But, whoever dares to carry out this search will find himself obliged to defy the norms and forms of thought in the common, socialized forms of religion, and his proposals will sound like paradoxes (the shath of which Ruzbehan was so fond). To remain faithful, with absolute sincerity, to the presence of his 'inner' God, one may have to accept being taken for a 'black sheep' in the eyes of 'right thinking' Muslims. Such was the case with those called maldmati among whom we find Hafiz. Now, Ruzbehan tells us a detail about himself which really underlines his affinity with Hafiz. He mentions this on the occasion of one of his visions when the contradiction between the Unique and the Multiple was resolved for him; a contradiction that exoteric theology is powerless to overcome, since it recedes before it:

In the days of my youth, met a shaykh who was a man of great mystic science, a maldmati shaykh, whose true face was unperceived by the mass of mankind. One night, I was contemplating a vast plain in the plains of Mystery when suddenly, on the approaches to that plain, I saw God in the guise of that shaykh. As I came up to him, he made a sign to me, showing me another plain. I advanced towards this plain and I saw a similar shaykh and again the shaykh was God. He made another sign, showing me another plain, and so on, until he had disclosed seventy thousand plains to me, and each time a plain drew nearer, I saw a figure similar to the one I had seen first. I said to myself: And yet, God the Most High is unique, one, indivisible, transcending (monazzah) small or large numbers, along with equals, contraries and similars. Then I was told: such are the theophanies of the eternal Attributes, they are boundless. At that moment, I felt the gripping presence of the esoteric realities of tawhid from the sea of Magnificence.

The meaning of this vision is perfectly clear. The plurality of limitless theophanies – a stumbling block for the naive consciousness which would simply see polytheism in it – is resolved each time into being the multiplication of unity by itself, the product of which is always and each time a unity, that is, the unity of the Contemplating and the Contemplated. Such is the visionary mode, a mode which enables the mystic to re-discover in the creature the secret of the Uncreated, without negative theology nor a dialectic of the inaccessible. Recounting another vision in which the whole series of divine Attributes corresponding to the human form were revealed to him, and having been admitted to take part in a mysterious divine Supper, Ruzbehan exclaims: “My God, you nevertheless transcend the act of eating and drinking. If the tears of repentance are the drink of Angels, what of the tears of desire and intimacy shed at the time of the Vision?” “And He said: 'that is my drink.”

pp. 212-13, The Jasmine of Fedeli D'Amore, Henry Corbin

#henrycorbin #love #imaginal #imagination #multiplicity #beyondreligion #religion #whiteheadsrationalreligion #whiteheadsexpressivereligion

an older sense of participation in a world of meaning is traded for a mental world that, however dry and abstract, has the virtue of Independence. To know is no longer erotic, no longer relational but becomes instead a means of escape from enmeshment in material existence.

~Susan Griffin, the Eros of everyday life, 85

#relational #imagination

quote, schleiermacher, soliloquies, prospect

For my imagination supplies what reality withholds; by virtue of it I can put myself in the position of any other person I notice; my spirit bestirs itself, transforms the situation to accord with its nature, and judges in imagination just how it would act in such a case.

when the exercise of imagination is not merely mechanical, but accompanied by inner reflection, as it must be wherever there is true life, and when judgment is the conscious issue of such reflection, then the object contemplated, though it be foreign to one's experience and only imagined, shapes the spirit, as much as if possessed by it in reality and dealt with externally.

#imagination #schleiermacher #process #shaping #expression

michel de montaigne, essays

I speak my meaning in disjointed parts, as something that cannot be said all at once and in a lump.

I have a vocabulary all my own. I 'pass the time,' when it is rainy and disagreeable; when it is good, I do not want to pass it; I savor it, I cling to it.

#productofexperience #resistingboundaries #time #imagination #rhetoricaldynamicsoftheimagination

marcel proust

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

The imagination flows, it never freezes. – R.W. Emerson

glimpses of breakages

As quiet as I am, as often times I may accept status quo, I'm anarchic. I fight, inwardly, on how to break free, to respond to questions that some have said is not possible, too hard. And in my own writing I am trying to break free from the move towards sciences as the best purveyor of what things are and how things are.

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy science. I benefit from the advances of science. I even push for its advancement, albeit with some trepidation, some apprehension as to its fruits (Facebook social networking, the loss of private data, hacking, all come from the good and bad of technological advancements). And yet, what concerns me is its sense of efficiency, which creeps into aspects in which it should not, due to its danger of cropping meaning and purpose. Maybe our mistake of technology was to think of it in its pragmatic senses, making it utilitarian, and thus it creeps back upon us that purpose and meaning become utilitarian, pragmatic, and thus removing the manyness of, yes, opinion.

So I look for breakages. Places where things are broken. Cracks. Because it is in those places where interest arises. So in my readings for my work, I came across George Steiner's book Real Presences, where (internally of course) I am screaming “yes! this is it!” In his first section Steiner looks at the limit of theory when moving into the field of hermeneutics, language, music. To theorize means to place limits, to develop some measure so as to verify through experiment or predictive application its truthfulness (79,81).

But by what measure? Who decides? This is for Steiner the piece which breaks theory, which sets it at its limit as to its ability to enter into the aesthetic, which always breaks logic, or any measure as to its meaning. Steiner writes,

But what measure? The absolutely decisive failing accurs when such approaches seek to formalize meaning, when they proceed upward from the phonetic, the lexical and the grammatic to the semantic and aesthetic. It is this progression which no analytical-linguistic technique, however systematic its trappings, however abstruse its aspirations, has ever taken convincingly...A sentence always means more. (81-82)

This is a powerful realization, that theory is stopped in its tracks because it cannot leap the gap that imaginative inquiry can. The theory which is held by an idea is held in place, because the idea is unable to envelope itself around anything in the space of the aesthetic. I argue it is because the imaginative is meant to bring together that which cannot, while not affecting either in their determinateness. There is just too much within the possibility of images and language to contain it within an idea or even a methodology that is universalizing. There can be no science or theory to meaning because the finite aspects that we grasp produce limitless possibilities. Steiner writes,

an object, the description of whose formal components can be finite, demands and produces infinite response...the manifold of possible meanings–and the category of the meaningful is too static when applied to the poetic–is the exponential product of all possible sense or non-sense worlds as these are construed, imaged, tested, indwelt through the interaction of two liberties: that of the text, in movement across time, and that of the receiver (83).

The poetic, the image, the imagination, they each bring forth from intuition, and only from that emergence can there be any form of interaction with it. The intuitive feeling and trace of the image, of writing, of music, of language, are to be experienced, and then only analyzed. But truth is not what is to be sought, but meaning. And meaning breaks smooth logic and truths, because meaning indicates that there is a life that is seeking its actualization (see Deleuze, Pure Immanence)

The poetic is important. It forces a progression and a break; it introduces questions that force us to once again deconstruct and reconstruct our prior held notions. But it is not meant to go against science itself, but to make both realize that each does not contain the fulness of the things in themselves. The imagination may allow for the emergence of things to come forth, but the sciences in all its fullness is important to line up possibilities of how it becomes.

Thus, my (inward, moving outward) anarchy is meant to reveal that no smooth lines really exist. There are breakages, cracks in things, which bursts bubbles and breaks us out of the norm, to what is possible. This can be done in sciences, or religion, in philosophy or anything else. Our precision analytical capabilities cannot show us all of reality, but must be made to fit within it (see Alfred North Whitehead, Aims of Education)

What happens to the loss of imagination...

the war for the imagination

quote from henry corbin, alone with the alone

The saying attributed to the Prophet: “Men are asleep, they awaken at their death,” implies that everything human beings see in their earthly lives is of the same order as visions contemplated in dream. The advantage of dreams over the positive data of waking life is that they permit, or rather require, an interpretation other than what is disclosed. They manifest.

~Henry Corbin, Alone with the Alone (1969), 208.