Monday, 23 May 2011


In his Temple and Contemplation (translated by Philip and Liadain Sherrard; Institute of Ismali Studies/KPI/Islamic Publications, London 1986) Henry Corbin meditates upon the figure, or realm, of the temple
In speaking of the Imago Templi I intend to remain at the level of phenomenology, a ‘temenology’ if I may risk the word (from the Greek temenos, a sacred precinct) which exists at the level of the imaginal world (alām al-mithāl), the world in-between (barzakh), at ‘the meeting-place of the two seas’ ... according to our philosophers’ premises of the metaphysics of the imaginal, the Imago Templi is the form assumed by a transcendent reality in order for this reality to be reflected in the soul at ‘the meeting-place of the two seas’. Without such a form, this reality would be ungraspable. However the Imago Templi is not allegorical but ‘tautegorical’; that is to say, it should not be understood as concealing the Other whose form it is. It is to be understood in its identity with that Other, and as being itself the thing which it expresses. [276]
This notion that some places are more holy than others is widespread, of course; but I wonder that we consider such holiness restful or appealing. How can we? The ruins of Chernobyl are more radioactive than other places, which turns that building into a kind of temple, a holy space, surrounded by Europe’s purest wilderness. The perfect temple is a place quite unlike other human spaces; and the thing that is most unlike a house, or shop, or factory, or school, or any place in which human beings congregate—is a house in which human beings never congregate.

Still, a ‘temenology’ is an interesting prospect.

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