Is the Imaginal Realised or the Real Imaginarised?

imageMat Pringle

Is the Imaginal Realised or the Real Imaginarised?

In a fitting tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Giles Fraser* of the Guardian UK says Marquez showed that nothing can contain the imagination. He says that what we can all learn from this genius is that the mind can be a tool of liberation, revolution and defiance.

Fraser goes on: “At the end of a three-day rainstorm, a toothless and sick old man with enormous wings is discovered barely alive on the beach. Nobody understands what the old man is saying. Some say he is a castaway, some say he is an angel – though the priest denies it because he doesn’t understand Latin. Locals lock him in a chicken coop and make a fortune by charging visitors to poke fun at him. He becomes a part of some grizzly menagerie with a young woman who has been turned into a tarantula. After a while people lose interest in the man with the fetid wings, and he is left alone. One day he gets up and flies away. …”

“The magical becomes a form of imaginative resistance to the harsh and totalising logic of imperial rationality. It seeks the freedom to think outside the box of established wisdom: that is, by rubbing away the line between the real and the fantastic, it frees the imagination from the constraints of how things are. It is revolutionary stuff.”

All of which raises questions about the power of the Word. If nothing can contain the imagination we are free. There is hope. We can engage an act of the defiant imagination, something that cannot be constrained by the logic of grim inevitability. But no less are there consequences to a consolidated reality of Word.

Through the centuries Christians have taken New Testament gospel writers at their word not only that all the events happened as they wrote them but that they were prophesied hundreds of years before they happened thus assuring believers that every detail occurred as it was meant to’. How much is invented? For example both Mary Magdalene and Judas received the short end of the stick from early Christendom (Ref. Gospel of Judas by Elaine Pagels and Karen King – both highly reputed scholars). An authenticated source says that Judas collaborated with Jesus over his death rather than betrayed him and that he did not hang himself but was stoned to death by 12 disciples! Is it possible that events inspired by prophecy, were actually written from them. We are talking about the relation of the real, the symbolic and the imaginary.

As Crossan puts the question: Is prophecy historicized or is history prophesied?

In case one should think these matters are only of esoteric importance we would do well to consider the current issue of internet surveillance and privacy. Myth and reality, propaganda, the role of journalism – these are questions that need to be debated in a more significant way.  The issues boil down not only to private but also public consciousness. We need to consider them a more fundamental way.

*Giles Fraser


The Deep waters of Eros


Music of the Spheres: Witch Head Nebula

The Deep waters of Eros

Song of Songs: “Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away.”

In his sermons on the Song of Songs, St Bernard of Clairvaux requires no less than seven sermons to expand on the opening verse of the Song of Songs as an allegory of ascent to the sweetest mystical union with Christ the bridegroom, the mediator between the soul and God. “Only through the body does the way, the ascent to the life of blessedness, lie open to us”. It is about the play of the sensory imagination. The whole flavor of St Bernard’s  reflection points to Eros rather than Agape. Not that they can be separated but differentiated.

image Great Crested Grebes doing a ‘weed dance’ courtship ritual. Photographer Ben Hall

For me, a perspective on the life of Christ exclusive of the body simply demonstrates ignorance. By ‘life’ I mean Divine Life inclusive of Eros. Eros is passion, soul connection, mutuality delighting in difference, self donation ………embodied love in light and sound and flesh seeking transcendence. “It is here that many pilgrims meet beauty”. The Beloved is mine and not mine ……I am his and not his …….. It is not simply about physical sexuality. It is the music of the spheres, the dance of moonlight on the night waters, nebulae swirling in space, the greening of the oaks in Spring, the cataclysmic explosion of the atom ……..:  A Beethoven symphony, the mating dance, a cheetah on the hunt ………the very force of life itself seeking, wanting, yearning, longing …………..

imageWater Drops 3477909885_075e41acc9 

The St Bernard of Clairvaux reference is to be found in Christopher Pramuk’s article on Sexuality, Spirituality and the ‘Song of Songs’ October 31 2005 America vol.193 No. 13, whole No. 4709