process imagining

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

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.

move on

I struggle at times to write. Battling others and the ten books they have read, while I struggle to finish this one. It is difficult at times.

But then writing is cathartic, not as purifying, but in expressing what I feel. It is not meant to purifying, but to accept the negation I feel within, that it is a part of me, and understanding why, maybe a bit jealous, envious. But I move on, because it is not that. It is because I feel that my voice, my expression will be lost. I move on.

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.