Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yeats on Blake

“yet in his visionary realism, and in his enthusiasm for what, after all, is perhaps the greatest art, and a necessary part of every picture that is art at all, he forgot how he who wraps the vision in lights and shadows, in iridescent or glowing colour, having in the midst of his labour many little visions of these secondary essences, until form be half lost in pattern, may compel the canvas or paper to become itself a symbol of some not indefinite because unsearchable essence”

Henri Corbin on imaginal forms

The immateriality of the imaginative power was already fully affirmed by Ibn 'Arabi when he differentiated between the absolute imaginal Forms, that is to say such as subsist in the Malakut, and the "captive" imaginal Forms, that is, those immanent in the imaginative consciousness of man in this world. The former are in the world of the Soul (âme) or Malakut, epiphanies or theophanies, that is to say, imaginalmanifestations of the pure Intellectual Forms of the Jabarut. The latter are in their turn manifestations of the imaginal Forms of the Malakut or world of the Soul to man's imaginative consciousness. It is therefore perfectly exact here to speak of metaphysical Images. Now these cannot be received unless by a spiritual organ. The solidarity and interdependence between the active Imagination defined as a spiritual faculty and the necessity of the mundus imaginalis as an intermediate world respond to the need of a conception which considers the worlds and the forms of Being as so many theophanies (tajalliyat ilahiya).

We thus find ourselves in the presence of a number of philosophers who refuse indifferently a philosophy or a theology which lacks the element of theophany. Sohravardi and all the Ishraquiyun who follow him have always considered the "Perfect Sage" as being the Sage who gathers to himself equally the highest philosophical knowledge and the mystical experience modelled on the visionary experience of the Prophet, the night of the Miraj. Now the organ of visions, of whatever degree they may be, whether in the case of the philosophers or of the prophets, is neither the intellect nor the fleshly eyes, but the fire of that imaginatio vera of which the Burning Bush is for Sohravardi the type. In the sensible form it is then the Imaginal Form itself which is from the very first and at one and the same time the pierceived form and the organ of visionary perception. The Theophanic Forms are in their essence Imaginal Forms.

~ Henry Corbin

[Towards a Chart of the Imaginal]