THE KEYS TO IMAGINATION

"The work of imagination is more fundamental than image percepion. Imagination is not a simple reflection of exterior images, but is rather an activity subject to the individual's Will." ......Bachelard

Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.......Joseph Conrad

The word "Imagination", which is a derivative of "Image", implies the process of making or creating an image or images. A single image or an icon is most used in religion and even art that is meant to signify something fixed. But for a seer or seeker of a vision of the flux in reality, only a sequence of images can be significant.

"Imagination may be defined as that operations of the intellect which embodies an idea in a particular form or image"...........John Dewey

THE "NEED" for IMAGINATION

" I have a very high opinion of fantasy. To me it is actually the maternally creative side of the masculine spirit. It is true that there are worthless, inadequate, morbid, and unsatisfying fantasies whose sterile nature will be quickly recoginised by every person endowed with common sense, but this of course proves nothing against the value of creative imagination. All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. In the ordinary course of things, fantasy does not easily go astray ; it is too deep for that, and too closely bound up with the tap - root of human and animal instinct. In surprising ways it always rights itself again. The creative activity of the imagination frees man from his bondage to the 'nothing but ' and liberates in him the spirit of play. As Schiller says, man is completely human only when he is playing." ......C. G. Jung.

"I like to have a thing suggested rather than told in full. When every detail is given, the mind rests
satisfied, and the imagination loses the desire to use its own wings."............Thomas Bailey Aldrich

"When a thing need no imaginative effort to get hold of it, it is not a work of art'....William Locke

"Imagination is the door to amazement - Allan describes it as the primordial way of looking at the world. Religion, science, ethics are all products of the human imagination. Moral imagination overrides over all others," ..... 2006 Massey Lectures. The Ethical Imagination

Imagination occurs either spontaneously by some underlying subliminal stimulation or initiation or by a consciously realized "need" to seek images, pictures, figures, shapes, collegial relationships; so as to solve a complex problem or to seek a vision of reality. Images are also created in dreams by an unknown spontaneous process, but since these images are not consciously generated, these often are dissociated and insignificant, but can be the starting point for the initiation of a conscious imaginative process. And herein lies the significance of dreams ; because they do tend to convey the subliminal desires, suppressed feelings or emotions, and undeveloped Will.

"The dream reveals the reality which conception lags behind. That is the horror of life -- the terror of art"......Franz Kafka

"The dream is real, my friends. The failure to realize it is the only reality".....T. C. Bambara

"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up".....Paul Valery

"Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the action stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living"........Anais Nin

The prerequisite to imagination is the desire or the need to imagine. If the need is not there, there will be no imagination. No one imagines anything without a need, a necessity to do so. When there is a need to capture an abstract idea, so as to give it shape and form, to bring it into the realm of the tangible. When there is a realization that there is no way forward without it. When there is a realization that there is no future without it.

A fallen dream is the most desolate of ruins. Yet he who has dreamed no day dreams has also never built. Every edifice was once an air castle in a feverish brain. Little by little a sterner material was put in place of the dream stone and the dream timber, until the last insubstantial portion was replaced, and lo! a reality! 
The most mathematical of you who read have dreamed day dreams. Have you not built houses of the future, whose corridors were scintillant with tints of sunrise? And when you explored your house of the future there was a strange music that fled through the mysterious chambers. One night you went to sleep, glad of your dreams, and you awoke and found your castle fallen. Was it not so? Then no doubt you buried your face in the ruins and wept. And the ruin in which you wept was as great as Ninevah, as worthy of chronicle as Babylon, for are you not an integral part of the universe? ............John G Niehardt ( The End of A Dream )

"Simply to be a human being is to be a futurist of sorts. For human freedom is largely a matter of imaging alternative futures and then choosing among them.".............James Ogilvy

"We can pay our debt to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves.".....John Buchan

THE INTERPRETATION and SIGNIFICANCE of IMAGINATION

The significance and interpretation of images usually comes after the creation of a series of images, which initially mostly has an haphazard or disconnected order. But in a vivid experience that gets triggered by the process of imagination, a meaning or significance may well come attached with the experience. In an intense, revealing experience, not only the visual media creates the images, but the other senses are also simultaneously excited to form associations and collages, that then translate into a linear, meaningful relation. Certain key words become associated with the images that provide the relevant interpretation. A string of words associated with a series of images or pictures usually leads to a poetic expression, and once expressed, takes a definitive form. A melody associated with words leads to a song. A complex inter-relationship between symbols leads to a mathematical formulation. But the central process is the first formulation of an abstract image or picture of collegial relationship between certain key elements.

"The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle."....Stanley Kubrik

The interpretation and significance of synthesised images is a secondary process involving the rational process in which the existing set of concepts and beliefs plays a mojor role. However, imagination that leads to the formulation of new concepts, new relationships and realised assumptions or beliefs is of the greatest significance.

"Imagination is the field of the image and is distinguished from the translation of the external world into concepts. Imagination produces images whereas thought produces concepts."...........Bachelard

 

IMAGINATION as COUNTER to RIGID REASON and SCIENCE

"The man who has no imagination has no wings".....Muhammad Ali

"Imagination is a good horse to carry you over the ground -- not a flying carpet to set
you free from probability." .........Robertson Davies

Any imaginative activity implies the making of new relationships between elements of perception that are likely to conflict with the existing relationships that are being maintained and upheld by the linear process - reason, in the inventory of a person's perception. Imagination, therefore can only take place if the linear process loosens or relinquishes its control over the thought process. This is possible only if the rational process is flexible and fluid in its operation, as well as capable of handling contrary or opposing elements of perception. Another factor that is very important is for the rational process to "let go" of the bond of "agreement with others". Another way this can be put is that for any imagination to take place, one should be prepared to be "silly", "stupid", "ridiculous", "absurd", "non-sensical", "frivolous" etc, at least within oneself. This also implies that one has to open a space for the "illogical" , the "irrational" or even what sounds "insane". Unless one learns to drop all kinds of constraints imposed from outside or within oneself, it is difficult, for me at least, to imagine that anyone can imagine anything genuine and new. Imagination is not just a speculation on possiblities. It is an attempt to go to the limits of possibilities and thus a way beyond them into the realm of impossibilities - from where new possibilities emerge. Imagination is a play between the limits of possible and the impossible, a play that results in the creation of possibilities that did not exist before.

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night."......Edgar Allan Poe

"Science cannot predict the trajectory of imagination, for the latter has a specific kind of autonomy."
............Bachelard

VISUAL MEDIA As CENTRAL

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
Proverbs 28:18 (Bible )

"Strategic planning is worthless -- unless there is first
a strategic vision.....John Naisbitt

"The vision represents a deeper and more impressive experience than human passion. In works of art of this nature we cannot doubt that the vision is a genuine, primordial experience, regardless of what reason-mongers may say. The vision is not something derived or secondary and it is not a symptom of something else. It is a true symbolic expression - that is, the expression of something existent in its own right, but imperfectly known. We need not try to determine whether the content of the vision is of a physical, psychic or metaphysical nature. In itself it has psychic reality, and this is no less real than physical reality."......C. G. Jung

Interpretations are as a rule, a consequence or result of a creative initiation in which the image or picture plays a primary role as part of the initiation. Without the visual media, an accurate or meaningful form cannot result in which linguistic forms can be properly associated. Unless these various medias can be related by a visualisation as the central initiation, there can only be exotic, mystical experiences that can make no sense in linear reality.

"The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name"
......William Shakespeare

People and cultures that have lost touch with the visual media as a creative source also tend to lack a significant vision of reality, especially the significance of the past and the future. For example, those cultures that have had a preference for the sound medium as initiator have resulted in meditating cults that have developed sounds called "mantras" that have no significance, and are only a vehicle or means for the stillness of the mind. A vision, if at all sought, is secondary to this state and is sought only for enhancing this state of bliss or pleasure. The primary role of the visual media as a creative source for an individual seeking a vision of reality that is personally meaningful is thus lost in such a culture with a value only for the sound medium as initiator.

"The engineering is secondary to the vision."......Cynthia Ozick

The other key features that are involved in the creation of images or visions are the energy states of the mind itself. The visual creation process requires not only the "need" factor but also an enhanced state of excitation or stimulation of the nervous system, particularly the neo-cortex and the frontal lobes. It is thus a nervous energy consuming process in which a lot of neural activity is involved, in contrast to the sound medium in which neural energy is harmonised and conserved. Therefore practices like meditation have stress reducing properties whereas creative artists are initiated into a creative mode usually by some kind of excitation, irritation, tension or stimulation. Drugs like LSD that are powerful stimulants of the nervous system lead to state of intense visualisations, but rarely result in any creative output because the central controlling force of the individual - the Will is mostly not the initiator and seeking motivator in the exercise, and the usual motivation is either the seeking of pleasure or of an exotic experience.

The visual media can be considered as a source and space where human possiblities that remain to be explored are sought by the creative artist or explorer.

"Poetry is the key to the hieroglyphics of nature"......David Hare

"I must always have a clear image of the form of a work before I begin. Otherwise there is no impulse to create".....Barbara Hepworth

For an artist the visual media in imagination is indispensable. I would go a step further and state that for any creative activity, the image or picture or vision is central. But it is the combination and association of various medias resulting in linguistic forms that makes any imaginative activity meaningful and forceful or else a visualisation remains only just that - a dissociated vision that eventually dissipates.

A developed intellect or interpretative faculty is indispensable for a meaningful interpretation alongside or after a burst of imaginative activity involving the visual media. This is particularly important if certain crucial decisions have to be made based upon the interpreted images, or under critical conditions that demand expressions or communication in language. Thus the coordinated activity of the synthesis - imaginative process with the existing linguistic - conceptual structure of one's mind is crucial here. This interpretation of any imaginative activity also needs an artistic touch apart from a rationally developed intellectual base, or else a wrong or invalid interpretation can result. It is also very useful to keep in mind that any interpretation as a result of imaginative activity must not be held as final and forever valid. The failings of organised religion is a clear example of this.

"A picture is worth a thousand words." ........Napoleon

THE PREJUDICES AGAINST IMAGINATION

"Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary".......Cecil Beaton

Pre-civilization man relied greatly upon imagery to relate to Nature and to seek a vision of reality in order to find solutions to personal and social issues and directions. Organised religion now is based upon images and icons that have become objects of worship. Even science in its breakthroughs was mainly initiated by imagination, but like religion, the credit was hogged by the forms, methods, equations and objects, rather than the source and initiation process - Imagination.

"An idea is salvation by imagination"....F.L. Wright

Eventually both science and religion treat imagination as untrustworthy and wayward activity. A social prejudice against imagination has developed. It is now labeled as silly, waste of time, daydreaming or frivolous. The only department where imagination is not taboo, is entertainment.

Any genuinely imaginative work implies a creation of images that are likely to conflict with the established icons. A whole lot of people, like priests or scientists would have to give their consent to a work whose ideas are based upon a truly new kind of imagery that no one else has thought of before. The world of ideas and images today is in the domain of either science or religion, and both have their places well defined and limited by now, based upon mass agreement. The only fight is between the scientist's contention that religion can be included within science, because only science can provide all the answers to the mysteries of the universe, as it has been doing up to now, and the contention of organised religion that science can be included within religion, since only faith, or meditative harmony can provide a solution to everything.

"Imagination has always had powers of resurrection that no science can match"......Ingrid Bengis

THE DEATH OF IMAGINATION

Meanwhile no one has noticed that imagination has died a quiet death. But wait a minute, what about cinema, what about advertising, what about novels like Harry Potter ? Are they not imaginative works ? Yes, no doubt they are all very imaginative works. But what is their initiation and drive based upon ? What are the results of these ? Imagination's goals or objective is not merely the promotion of commerce and entertainment. The real goal of imagination is promote creative interaction and development of  ideas to enlighten, so that finally we can do away with the junk of the past and be able to see where our habits and attitudes are leading us.

"The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned"
.........Antonio Gramsci

At one time, man used imagination in order to see where he was going, where his limited society was going. Today, it is only for making money in exotic commercials, to entertain and to get lost in a fake reality, an escapism from the reality of a kind of life that is getting worse than a nightmare.

But first of all there is a need to apply imagination to rescue imagination.

"Fortunately, somewhere between chance and mystery lies imagination, the only thing that protects our freedom, despite the fact that people keep trying to reduce it or kill it off altogether.".........Luis Bunuel

By a change of attitude. To encourage people to use imagination firstly to sort out their reality from their illusions.

"Monkeys are superior to men in this: when a monkey looks in a mirror, he sees a monkey.' ....Malcolm de Chazal

"To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, to imagine your facts is another".....John Burroughs

Imagination and Assumptions

The human imagination. . . has great difficulty in living strictly within the confines of a materialist practice or philosophy. It dreams, like a dog in its basket, of hares in the open........John Berger

In problem solving, or in the creation of new ideas, imagination is initiated by the process of making assumptions by first making a space for new assumptions to take place. Since the hardware capabilities of the brain are limited and mostly the perceptual field is anyway filled with the engagement of the sensory inputs, it requires a certain amount of emptying of the perceptual field for there to be space for new ideas to emerge.

"Imagination means letting the birds in one's head out of their cages and watching them fly up in the
air.".....Gerald Brenan

THE ABSTRACT AND THE PRAGMATIC

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art...............Tom Stoppard

 

"He who has imagination without learning has wings and no feet"......Joseph Joubert