“Imagination is the eye of the soul.”–Joseph Joubert, The Science of Mind
Imagination is a mental faculty which creates images and possibilities of things we think of and suppose. Typically, when we imagine, we behold things that we would like and might prefer, as well as those we dislike and fear. As long as our minds are working, we imagine a range of possibilities in the course of sleeping and daily wakefulness.
Of especial interest are those positive imaginings that tease us with what might be or become, what only we ourselves can actualize or bring into being. That archetypal imagined process has been responsible for much of what is beautiful and man-made, whether they be impressive or admirable buildings, paintings, pieces of music, movies, books, quilts, and many other works of art. Every work of art or architecture that one might think of had its beginnings with one person’s imagination and a desire to realize imaginings and dreams of various kinds.
By itself, imagining can be a totally fascinating, self-engrossed/engrossing process that never gets off the ground until the imaginer chooses or is impelled by inspiration to take action through the acts and process of creation. “It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed.” (Vida D. Scudder) Otherwise, imagining is nothing more than a limited personal “possession” or diversion likely to be shared at most in conversation with family and friends.
Far more interesting and influential are the imaginings shared with greater numbers of people, including many strangers and people we will not necessarily ever meet. When something as relatively brief as a poem is published in a newspaper or magazine, it is encountered later at different times by many (usually personally unknown) others. It becomes a meaningful and purposely shared communication that is a realization of something briefly and uniquely imagined some time before. In short, whatever becomes creative, whatever is creatively shared adds something to the knowledge, experience, and soulfulness of others as well, as to that of the world. “The process of writing, any form of creativity, is a power intensifying life.” (Rita Mae Brown)
Whereas imagination originates in self first, registering as inner awareness and exploration, creativity and creation bring imaginings to birth, to light, and into existence. It is much the same way with unborn children as it is with works of art–that which is imagined, conceived, and brought forth into being. Generally, human beings are creative by nature, whether they are parents or artists. In that life-giving, life-potential sense, we are, finally and perhaps ultimately, defined by our creativity and creative potential. “When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.” (Coco Chanel)
Clearly, imagination is a wonderful faculty and process, in and of itself. But the creativity realized from imagination and imaginings is a fuller, richer, more significant expression of our individual potentials as people and as inner beings or souls.
Imagination and creativity have played a major role in defining who I am and what I have done. Imagination has had much to do with my own dreams, dreaming, and desire for what Northrop Frye called wish fulfillment. Creativity has been “something I do”; I have often had no choice but to express myself as an individual and that has often identified with creativity and the arts. In short, what I have imagined has often been better than the reality I have lived in and with at various times in my life. Imagination has given my life retreat, refreshment, perspective, purpose, depth, and much of the connectedness I have been fortunate to experience.
Today I continue to be inspired by the imagination, creativity, dreams, and visions of such artists as Frank Lloyd Wright, Andrew Wyeth, Bob Dylan, Beethoven, Miles Davis, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, Ray Bradbury, Robert Frost, Francis Ford Coppola, Virginia Woolf, Arthur Miller, Phil Ochs, Bruce Cockburn, Glenn Gould, Michael Caine, Sidney Poitier, Woody Allen, Paul Simon, and many others. We each of us have our cultural heroes.
I believe that imagination and creativity, as indeed do all the arts, move and stretch people and present significant values and answers to life’s problems and challenges. My soul, mind, and sensibility impell me to imagine and create daily. I have no choice in these matters, as I continue to ‘write myself into e-existence’ with this blog.
As I have often remarked, I have been a very lucky man who, as e.e. cummings said–“danced his did”, mostly thanks to language, literature, poetry (the next topic), music, writing, and teaching. My main medium has been words with feelings and thoughts honestly, playfully, and romantically expressed. Finally, being an only child of the sixties has stood me in good stead–I was richly nourished by my solitude, my times, and the continuing influences of the/my past. For after all, innerness, richness (bad pun on my name), memory, and depth are keys to imagination, creativity, and whatever growth, positives, love, epiphanies,and self-actualization one achieves in life.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”--Albert Einstein