Jun 04 2012

Reading Corbin’s Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam

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Nā- Kojā- Ābād (City of No-Where)

“The word Nā- Kojā- Ābād does not designate something like unextended being, in the dimensionless state. The Persian word Ābād certainly signifies a city, a cultivated and peopled land, thus something extended….Topographically, [Sohravardī] states precisely that this region begins ‘on the convex surface’ of the Ninth Sphere, the Sphere of Spheres, or the Sphere that includes the whole of the cosmos. This means that it begins at the exact moment when one leaves the supreme Sphere, which defines all possible orientation in our world (or on this side of the world), the ‘Sphere’ to which the celestial cardinal points refer. It is evident that once this boundary is crossed, the question ‘where?’ (ubi, Kojā) loses it’s meaning, at least the meaning in which it is asked in the space of our sensory experience. Thus the name Nā- Kojā- Ābād: a place outside a place, a ‘place’ that is not contained in a place, in a topos, that permits a response, with a gesture of the hand to the question ‘where?’ But when we say, ‘to depart from where,’ what does this mean?

To depart from ‘where’, the category of ubi, is to leave the external or natural appearances that enclose the hidden internal realities, as the almond is hidden beneath the shell. This step is made in order for the Stranger, the gnostic to returnhome – or at least to lead to that return.

But an odd thing happens: Once this transition is accomplished, it turns out that henceforth this reality, previously personal and hidden, is revealed to be enveloping, surrounding, containing what was first of all external and visible, since by means of interiorization, one has departed from that external reality. Henceforth, it is spiritual reality that envelops, surrounds, contains the reality called material. That is why spiritual reality is not ‘in the where.’ It is that ‘where’ that is in it.”

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