Mundus Imaginalis

I’ve been trying and failing to catch up on the archive of fascinating podcast interviews over at C-Realm. It’s tough when there’s a great new broadcast every week—this week being no exception.

As I ended up stalling halfway through series 3 of Battlestar Galactica, I skipped over Amy Kind’s discussion of Cylon identity when I heard her spoiler warning—straight to Erik Davis‘ discussion of “the Imaginal”.

This term was coined (or, at least, popularized—if even that is the right word) by the French scholar of Islam, Henry Corbin, in an attempt to distinguish the realm of visionary reality that holds its own between the worlds of pure matter and pure spirit, from the “merely imaginary”.

I’ve become aware of Corbin’s work via James Hillman, but I’ve yet to dive into what I gather are the immense depths of his writings. The Imaginal is a slippery concept, and I suppose getting any kind of grasp on it involves either the arcane, discursive tactics of complex intellectual perspectives, or a form of mirroring it in allusive artistic expressions.

Characteristically, Erik manages to hold his own between these two, conducting an engagingly loquacious trip through the term’s ramifications in philosophy, rooted in psychedelic encounters and his “tactical skepticism”. It’s as thorough and sophisticated a refutation of the fundamentalist materialism of Dawkins et al. as I’ve heard of late, all the more potent for its pointed yet light embrace of doubt and disbelief. An excellent primer in the Mundus Imaginalis that can be imbibed on the way to work. Do check it out.

Another recently posted Davis fix worth checking out is his talk from last year’s Burning Man festival on ‘The Imagination and the Environment’. Vital issues, discussed by Erik & audience with aplomb.

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