The Soul of the Genius

How does the so-called genius receives inspiration? Take the case of Michelangelo, who was very familiar with Marsilio Ficino’s philosophy, which is Soul-centric. Although Michelangelo  kept his carving technique a well-guarded secret, he did make several statements that hint at his methodology.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.

This idea is called l’immagine del cuor, the image of the heart. Michelangelo attended Ficino’s Florentine Academy, so he was quite familiar with Neoplatonic and Hermetic teachings. The great artist could see the figure in the marble via the imagination. He was seeing into the imaginal realm, the mundus imaginalis, as Henry Corbin calls it.

I believe that Albert Einstein did the same thing when engaging in his thought experiments. Where else could you ride on a beam of light if not in the imaginal realm?

All of us have access to it. We’ve simply forgotten how to enter it.

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