What is the ontological status of an image held in the mind? It will not escape the attentive reader’s notice that throughout the essays the word imagination is given a capital initial. For the poet, as for her master, Blake, Imagination is the supreme faculty by which true poetic vision achieves the fulfilment of its intrinsic quality as the agent of spiritual perception. Here we are far from the commonplace idea of imagination as simply the passive mirror of images drawn from the sensorium, a view that leaves unanswered the question, in what sense can it be said that such images are ‘real’ or ‘unreal’?
For Kathleen Raine Imagination is theophanic vision and is thereby a transcendent faculty. The capital indicates the distinction. In Imagination we are the very act of apprehending the Sacred in participative mode in and through images that render cognitive experience as inherently meaningful.
It all sounds here to be academic and beyond the normal but William Blake’s assertion was that active Imagination presents images of ‘what eternally exists, really and unchangeably’. We all have that capacity but our conditioning is such that we have forgotten it’s done in so doing have forgotten something of ourselves.