Saturday, February 25, 2012

Imagination and the Void


Jackson Pollock at Work 
Jackson Pollock at Work

By Patrick Laude

The ambiguous power of images has never been as pervasive as it is today through the world of media and virtual reality. Images shape ideas and tendencies, determine action, invade daily consciousness, and sometimes rule over opinion. They can hypnotize and control; they can feed all sorts of delusions and foster imbalance. In short, images fill up the vacuum left by the spiritual disarray of our contemporary world. So saturated is modern life with myriads of images of all kinds that we don't take notice of most of them anymore. One must wonder what may remain of the power of creative imagination when such a passive, hardly conscious relationship with images has settled in and become second nature.

Notwithstanding, modern man still values imagination as a rare, mysterious, and awesome faculty. Our schools encourage children to explore, display, enrich their imagination, although what we mean by it is far from clear, so blurry and capricious have become the criteria that validate its worth and function. When we try to specify what imagination entails, the most likely associations involve subjectivity, individuality, and freedom from boundaries. Imagination is a private, idiosyncratic realm that makes one enjoy the oft-complacent delights of being special. As a comforting haven of fantasy, it protects us from the harshness of an objective world of drab realism and cold, inhuman structures. It seemingly frees one’s mind and heart from the strictures of an industrialized world of tedious, mechanical, senseless activity. From all of this we may infer that imagination is akin to a world of unreality to which we turn to find solace from a reality that alienates us and robs us of meaning and happiness. The imaginary is not real. Its very raison d'ĂȘtre is to be a sort of parallel reality to which we may escape...

In a world in which reality is defined by action and outer realizations, imagination is also prized for its prospective, unconventional, creative power of exploration and discovery. To the impediments of memory, akin to the hindering weight of the past, modern man espouses the seemingly unlimited power of projection of an imagination that defies the constraints of reality as it is known. Modern science and technology thrive on this sense of unhampered liberty to question, inquire, and fathom. This is, in a sense, the very pride that modern mankind boasts as its uncontested superiority over ages of allegedly conformist compliance with unexamined beliefs and unscrutinized customs. There is no modernity without unconstrained imagination, imagination to think, to do, and to be.


Article source Parabola Magazine