The other day I was deflated by the fact that someone had already gone to the trouble to break imagination down into several types. As someone who has always lead a life engaged with my own bit of surreal estate, I often become so enamored with a concept or conceit that I don’t realize it is a museum piece. This often becomes the end of the fascination. That the latest was an ideas about imagination has given it some resistance to the cruel way dreams are some times treated.
I am not claiming to be the creator of anything new. I am not make large efforts to connect it to the rubric of ideas we all live under. This is not about claiming great ancestors but rather seeing how the imagination operates in the wilds of the mind. It could be said that it is this ability of the imaginative mind to pull ideas and connections from the ether which has lead to the death of the fact. In current conditions in my part of the world, fiction has only just begun to breed lethal strains again. A whole complex of ideas has shielded the majority of two generations from the extreme consequences of associative thinking. Dream thinking has teeth: just asking anyone suffering from addiction or mental illness about the connective power of the mind.
Now playing my own devil’s advocate, I need to note that the foundational ideas which create defense from harmful delusional strains of thought began as guesses. At some point, a dreamer took a step off a cliff and kept walking. How long it takes for a value to emerge is an intriguing side road, it is not the idea that has brought these words together before us today. I wanted to talk about the species of imaginary things not the environment so much. This act of recognition has to be addressed.
When considering Imagination, we often forget to consider whether we mean upper case or lower case. The Capital I version is all about boundless extravagance, the garish parade floats of the daydream. This is the imagination of eye candy, an amoral sprawl with ego at the center. This is the place where desires are slacked without consequence. Many people love it for this reason, though they don’t recognize it. There is something more obscure than that rapport, the lower case imagination.
To know lower case imagination is to know it by another name: intuition. This is an associative leap made through memory connections. Building an understanding of the future by seeing the past in the present is alchemical: it happens in a mental space where structure is a mirror of social processes. We know how someone will act or a situation will play out based on a comparison to our ghosts. Whether or not this is positive or negative experience is outside of the fact that intuition and imagination are entwined.
It is bothersome to do all the discerning required in life. Is it imagination or intuition? Is it beneficial or malignant? Often they are entwined. Though It is not a polar condition, we often ask ourselves the question is it love or confusion: it is a dangerous proposition in a world that can turn harmful with little provocation. It is not one person trying to determine meaning but a mesh of interpersonal groups looking to express a collective dream in the well lit waking world.