Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Devouring and the Convivial (For a Radical Interiority)

We can distinguish two kinds of interiorizing: the Devouring and the Convivial. The former is characteristic of the solitary ego regarding the world as alien and external. Its approach to the world is confrontational and defensive. This ego imagines that its imagination of what constitutes the literal is the one and only truth. It is monolithic in style because the Other is threatening and must be denied autonomy. The characteristic approach to the Other is objective Understanding – whether dogmatically nonrational (religion) or dogmatically rational (science). In either case the goal is to know, because what I know is no longer Other, it is part of Me. This drive to know, to dominate and deny the autonomy of the Other, to Devour the world, is insatiable. And this for two reasons: it is based on Fear and so can never rest; and, all this devouring gives no sustenance because there is no sympatheia, no connection to the source of nourishment, no possibility of feeding the soul from the soul of the world. The devouring ego drains everything it touches, and, closed in upon itself, it never empties, holding desperately onto its own waste, trying hopelessly to eat the universe. Its mode of growth is, of course, inflation.

But there is another kind of interiorizing, and it is this to which Corbin points. A turn to the imaginal need not be experienced as a retreat inward, into the interior, to what belongs to me. Psyche is not private. But neither is it “public” in the sense of impersonal, objective, soulless. Psyche is communal. But true community transcends any boundaries between the inner and the outer, the public and the private. Community only exists among persons, and persons can only be perceived, perhaps they can only exist when the walls dividing the inner from the outer begin to crumble. Only when we begin to hear the voices inside can we begin to listen to the voices outside. Then the boundary between what is mine and inside, and what is Other and outside grows ambiguous and unclear. We find ourselves immersed in the convivium, in community. We meet the Other as Other, in fear and respect. This experience is open, embodied, and mysterious…
--from Tom Cheetham's *Green Man, Earth Angel*

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