From its fountain, the psyche pours compositions of light and darkness, images shaping the natural elements that engender our sensual experiences. Countless composite images trickle through our mind. Do we pause to ponder which to let pass, like dry leaves floating down the river, and which to absorb deeply into our heart – and give life to?
The images we energise are re-envisioned and re-told through our perception. Nature spirits, archetypes, monsters and fairies, heroes and villains, deities, gods, devils and angels, the dark unknown – mankind’s entire mythical landscapes are encapsulated by the imagination and affect our everyday life.
Through this phenomenological process we discovered language, numbers and geometry, tools that potentially enable us to re-create nature. Some scientists maintain that matter constitutes the real and all phenomena derived from nature’s building blocks is not real. But deep inside we know … our search for the world we intimately desire attracts to us enlightened scripts. Through trial and error we learn to apply these scripts, and, for better or worse, we make our worlds real. Worlds within worlds are born from the imagination.
The young in heart have a natural curiosity to play and explore what lies beyond the horizon, literally and metaphorically, with a keen drive to discover facets of their soul reflected in all matter, experiencing matter not as dead, but as vibrantly alive and animated.
Consider the present demand for SF or its playful sister, fantasy, or magic realism. These genres overlap, they deal with the human condition, the desire for a home, in the widest sense – be it for another planet, an island, a heaven, a yesterday, a tomorrow, or the grail of now. To achieve the latent desire for the ineffable, a writer, any artist, becomes a deep-sea-diver of the psyche, and, on coming up for air, re-arranges the booty found there. Some of my favourite writers are R Heinlein, C S Lewis, R Bradbury, I Asimov, M Atwood, Garcia Marquez. Jorge Luis Borges, Doris Lessing and Ursula Le Guin …
It’s time to re-discover the bridge between the two hemispheres of our brains and balance the outlook of our material societies, value reverie, art and fresh perspectives, engage in play, song, dance and storytelling.
Time to embrace unstructured activities, which sidestep reason’s often pre-conceived observations, the epistemological obstacle, as Gaston Bachelard calls it, the grid of unconscious mental patterns that block seeing through our deeply personal and grounded experience, through the heart.
I’ll never forget the visit during the 70s, instigated through a Sufi friend, to a small Trappist community in the vicinity of Washington DC. The handful of monks rotated duties in house and gardens, interspersed with reading time in their fabulous library. Each one of them also enjoyed an annual 40-days-silent-retreat in one of the huts sprinkled over the many-hectare-estate. My then partner and I were privileged to listen to some of the monks sharing their vastly different cosmologies, psychologies and spiritualities. What struck me was that each monk had a vastly different idea about God, including one admitting that he thought God was man-made and no less real for that. What a stimulating place to be, where you are respected for the envisioning of your world.
‘The imagination is not a state; it is human existence itself.’ – William Blake
‘In our most private and most subjective lives we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and its sufferers, but also its makers. We make our own epoch.’ – C G Jung, 1934
‘If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses.’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Re: CS Lewis http://users.etown.edu/d/DOWNINDC/dungeon.htm
Gaston Bachelard http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Gaston_Bachelard
The World Within, C G Jung video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6MHRHKd4Ps&feature=related
See also https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/pattern-which-connects/
For those with a metaphysical interest in the imagination, here is an article of mine: https://courseofmirrors.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/science-of-the-heart.pdf
Excerpt … The mystic aims to raise sensory data to a higher level. This happens via the visionary imagination, the ‘presence of the heart’, and it happens precisely in that intermediate world where material beings take form and where material beings dissolve again to become subtle bodies. This intermediate world exists not at the other end of the universe, but right here with us, between each of our breaths. This is how the presence of the heart affects, how ideals, in whatever way we conceive of our Ideal, become realised. What we give being to in this intermediate sphere inevitably appears and becomes endowed with an outward reality. This is so, even when it is visible only to the inner eye, the eye of the heart, just beyond what can be perceived by the senses.
* * *
The rose image: detail of ‘The virgin of the unfading rose,’ eighteen century.
13 responses to “… imagination …”
Beautiful. Like a fabric woven from different colours and textures – yet all in harmony.
Thanks Katherine, I’m glad it worked somehow. Such a big subject.
I enjoyed you post, made follow reveries about my grandparents.
Some of those are my favorite authors, too. I was a big Borges fan years ago. I should take another look at his “fictions”, which struck me on first reading like a triumph of freedom for the imagination because they didn’t adhere to the constraints of narrative yet they could contain anything he imagined. I was reading Donald Barthelme around the same time. Both are masters at separating that which is delightful about reading from the familiar forms to which it is usually tethered.
Thanks for dropping by, J F
Borges anstonishes with his use of language. His view of the universe chimes with some deep knowing in me – that we are dreamt elsewhere, that all appearance is cyclic and infinite …
And thanks for pointing me to Donald Barthelme. Hadn’t heard of this writer, but found this Paris Interview, which I’ll read and educate myself.
Thanks for digging up that interview. I had never read much about the author before. And your description of the effect of Borges’ writing, “that we are dreamt elsewhere,” resonates with me.
Such a lovely way to describe imagination, like a fountain. It is much like that, the way ideas flow. 🙂
Even when it’s hidden at times, may the fountain ever flow :)Thanks for visiting, Susan
Every thought and imagination of a mystic has an effect. When he thinks of something it may materialize the week after, or the next month, or perhaps after many years, but all that a mystic says or thinks is fulfilled sooner or later. Daily Meditation of June 30, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Spot on, my friend. And I really, don’t want to think about it, or I’ll become like the caterpillar that becomes aware of all its legs and gets totally confused.
imagination makes world beautiful, gives us a scope to skip the mundane boring routine life.
And sometimes to also find beauty in the mundane …
Pingback: … the rose trick … | Course of Mirrors
Pingback: … visability – Italo Calvino – imagination – writing … | Course of Mirrors