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December 06 , 2009

A Way of Seeing: Perception, Imagination, and Poetry


We usually think of imagination as a fanciful, whimsical faculty that has little to do with reality and truth. This beautifully written book by the Australian poet John Allison shows how ordinary imagination can be intensified to become an organ of cognitiona path of development to real knowing. Allison shows how poetrypoetic knowing and seeingcan reveal aspects of the world invisible to science. Three lucid chapters describe the path to true imagination, where attention is the key. First we must practice it, then we must become aware of the processes involved in it. Learning to experience poise, we must come to terms with the shadowor all that says No in us. The combination of attention, equanimity, and assent opens the world in a new way. Allison then examines how poets have actually developed and practiced the kind of deep seeing that image work involves. For this he draws on William Shakespeare, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Novalis, John Ruskin, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Octavio Paz. The author concludes with a sequence of his own poems that exemplify the philosophy and practice he has developed.

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