A Way of Seeing: Perception, Imagination, and Poetry

SteinerBooks, 2003 - 167 pagina's
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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 cognition--a path of development to real knowing.

Allison shows how poetry--poetic knowing and seeing--can 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 shadow--or 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.


  • Preface: "A Way of Seeing"
  • One: "Developing Imagination"
  • Attending to Attentiveness
  • Experiencing Poise
  • Developing Imagination
  • Owning the Shadow
  • Getting It
  • Two: "Poets and Imagination"
  • Freeing Imagination from Fancy
  • Negative Capability
  • Deep Seeing
  • Instress and Inscape
  • Heartwork
  • Three: "The Poetic Image"
  • Another Way of Seeing Things
  • Four: "Seeing Things"
  • Living in the World
  • Connections
  • Three Portals of Imagination
  • Otanerito Triptych: Crossings
  • Indwelling the Overlap
  • Catlins Gateway
  • Reflected Light
  • Seeing Things II

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Geselecteerde pagina's


Experiencing Poise
Developing Imagination
Owning the Shadow
Getting It
Freeing Imagination from Fancy
Negative Capability
Deep Seeing
Instress and Inscape
Another Way of Seeing Things
Living in the World
Three Portals of the Imagination
Seeing Things II


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Populaire passages

Pagina 51 - The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM...
Pagina 51 - The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space, while it is blended with, and modified by, that empirical phenomenon of the will which we express by the word choice. But equally with the ordinary memory the fancy must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association.
Pagina 60 - Dilke on various subjects; several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously— I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason...
Pagina 54 - I am thinking, as at yonder moon dim-glimmering through the dewy window-pane, I seem rather to be seeking, as it were asking for, a symbolical language for something within me that already and forever exists, than observing anything new.
Pagina 111 - I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation.
Pagina 47 - Repeated meditations led me first to suspect, (and a more intimate analysis of the human faculties, their appropriate marks, functions, and effects matured my conjecture into full conviction,) that fancy and imagination were two distinct and widely different faculties, instead of being, according to the general belief, either two names with one meaning, or, at furthest, the lower and higher degree of one and the same power.
Pagina 55 - ... we think of ourselves as separated beings, and place nature in antithesis to the mind, as object to subject, thing to thought, death to life.
Pagina 59 - When I am in a room with people, if I ever am free from speculating on creations of my own brain, then, not myself goes home to myself, but the identity of every one in the room begins to press upon me, [so] that I am in a very little time annihilated — not only among men ; it would be the same in a nursery of children.

Over de auteur (2003)

John Allison is a former Steiner-Waldorf teacher and now works in management consultancy. He is an established poet with three published collections. Born in New Zealand, he lives outside Melbourne.

Bibliografische gegevens