Month: November 2015

Why Is Imagination So Important?

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This is the final installment of my four-part weekly series, Ex Nihilo.

You were born a philosopher. As a child, you spent hours beneath the stars, hypnotized by the transcendent mysteries of the cosmos. But with age came the people who told you it was time to grow up, that it was time to shed your imagination like a used skin so you could focus on more pragmatic concerns. You always secretly thought they were wrong, that you should never trade your fantasies for an ordinary life. But the world would always bear down on you with its facts and figures, wearing away at your soul like a grinding stone until you began to crack and buckle around the edges.

You never stopped using your imagination, but you did begin to keep it to yourself, afraid there might be something wrong with you, afraid you might be defective simply because you’ve always managed to see the world differently. A part of you wondered if the world had been correct, if you would have been better off abandoning artistic pursuits for more worldly endeavors.

You probably asked yourself, “Why is imagination so important?”

Imagination is a lamp set before us to light the way.

The universe is a mystery. Most of its secrets remain untouchable, impenetrable, making it a frightening place where all we can do is stumble around half-blind in the dark. Imagination is the light that dispells this darkness, making the cosmos accessible. It’s a mental framework, a way of perceiving the world. It doesn’t claim to know the answers, but endows us with the creativity necessary to discover them. Through fantasy, the enigmas of life and existence are revealed, making us better equipped to relate to reality.

Imagination is a covenant between the Universe and Man.

It hints at what lies beyond the horizon and assures us that all the universe has to offer can be ours if only we have the courage to pursue our dreams. It’s a promise made to us by a faithful cosmos, and through the years, this promise matures into a confident trust in the unknown, a sure belief that the world is fundamentally ordered and that one day we will know the answers to our deepest questions.

Imagination is a mentor.

It precedes every great discovery. It teaches not through rote memorization or blind adherence to established doctrine, but through hands on experience, passion and dedication, instilling within us a profound yearning for the Truth. It teaches us how to reach beyond the obvious to grapple with things we don’t fully understand, enabling us to cast our minds into the darkness like a fisherman’s net to capture something new.

And once we’ve hooked a mystery, we can use logic and systematic thought to reel it in, for imagination and reason are not contradictory but complimentary forces. Like the synthesis of body and soul, the fusion of imagination and reason is a sum much greater than its parts.

Imagination teaches us to love.

It sparks in our hearts a curiosity that drives us to learn about other people, and it gives us the unique perspective necessary to discover in an ocean of differences all the things we have in common. This understanding blossoms into empathy, so that it becomes possible for us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Imagination facilitates creation.

It allows us to picture things not just as they are, but as they might be. Guided by this internal vision, we can shape and mold the universe according to our designs, so that we become manufacturers as well as consumers of reality.

Imagination is life-giving.

It’s a wellspring of potential energy, a supernova of the heart, an explosive force that illumines and breathes life into the cosmos. It transforms us, orients us toward a more perfect union with the world and its creator.

To turn our backs on fantasy and the imagination is to turn our backs on the Universe, to slowly wither and die, cut off from the cosmic vine that sustains us. We must not let the cynical voices of the world discourage us. Rather we must venture forth into the dark unafraid, so that someday, we can find the answers we seek, so that someday, at long last, we can discover the meaning of our existence.

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Ex Nihilo, Part 3: The Rough Draft

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Part three of my four-part weekly series, Ex Nihilo.

Almost there.

Finally, after a ton of freewriting and brainstorming, after racking my brain for hours trying to conjure up enough relevant ideas to cobble together a blog that will hopefully interest and inspire my readers, this is where everything comes together.

I admit, I’m a little embarrassed to share an early draft with you. As I mentioned in the introduction to the series, these are the things you were never meant to see. This is the rabble I quietly brush aside backstage when nobody’s looking. I felt all right sharing my freewrite and organizational notes with you, because those were far enough removed from the final result that I wasn’t afraid of being judged negatively. The rough draft, however, is something else entirely.

Rough drafts are bad. Really bad.

They always are. Even in the exceptionally rare case where I feel utterly inspired, where I’m able to go from start to finish without feeling like a complete fool, I’m soon humbled when I review my work a few hours or a few days later and realize how poorly executed it was on the first go around.

This is normal. Writing the rough draft is like forming a pot out of clay: you can’t make it pretty until you’ve captured the shape. Only when you have a rudimentary structure can you begin to iron out the lumps and the creases.

But the potter doesn’t share his half-baked pots, and I don’t ordinarily share my poorly written rough drafts, which are so crudely constructed that they could have been written by a second grader.

Anyway, here it is, in all of its flawed and imperfect glory.

Enjoy, and try not to think me too daft…

Does Imagination Matter?

We live in a world of data. We exist cocooned in a nest of numbers and formulas, of figures and facts. We’re often taught from an early age that our world view is worth nothing unless it’s rooted in fact, that imagination has no place in our minds, that it displaces other more noble and worthy endeavors. We look around at the world around us, so hostile to the internal force we yearn to satisfy, and we shrug our shoulders, wondering if perhaps they were right, if we might as well pack up our artistic pursuits for more worldly endeavors.

We gaze about us, and we ask ourselves, “Does imagination matter?”

Imagination is a lamp set before our feet.

The universe is a mysterious place. Many of its secrets remain hidden and unknown, untouchable, impenetrable. It’s subsequently a dark place, and we’re left to stumble around half-blind, with only our limited perceptions for a handrail. Imagination is an illumination reaching out into this darkness, showing us a way forward. Imagination provides a framework, a way of perceiving a world filled with mysteries. It doesn’t claim to know the answers, but provides the creativity necessary to discover them. Imagination is a unique perceptive power that allows us to see what isn’t there, giving us the ability to make sense of the inexplicable.

Imagination is the impulse that drives us forward into the dark unafraid.

It teases us with promises of what may lie ahead, assuring us that all the universe has to offer and more can be ours if only we have the courage to pursue it. It’s a taste, a hint of what’s to come. It’s a way of looking at the world, a covenant between the Universe and Man.. It is our motivation and our inspiration, a confident trust in the unknown, a faith that the world is fundamentally ordered and that we can understand it if only we dare to reach out.

Imagination is our guide.

It bridges the gap between what is and what may be, leading us to new life. Through fantasy, mysteries that hitherto held little interest captivate us, forcing us to give chase, and thereby ultimately leading us toward a love of what’s real. Through our imaginations, we find that we’re better equipped to relate to reality.

Imagination is our mentor.

It precedes every discovery. It teaches not through rote memorization or blind adherence to established doctrine, but hands on experience, through passion and dedication and a profound desire for the Truth.

Imagination teaches us to love.

By dreaming about other lives, we become curious. By becoming curious, we become driven to learn more about others. By learning more about others, we foster understanding. By fostering understanding, we develop empathy. And by developing empathy, we learn to love.

Imagination teaches us about reality.

It allows us to reach beyond the obvious, to cast ourselves out into the darkness like a net to grapple with things we don’t fully understand. And once we’ve reached out and hooked a mystery, we can make use of logic and reason to slowly reel it in.

Imagination and reason are not contrary but complimentary forces, each of which must be given equal weight. Imagination is the fire that drives our pursuit of the truth, while reason is the vehicle that gets us there. Like the synthesis of body and soul, the synthesis of imagination and reason is a sum that is much greater than its parts.

Imagination facilitates creation.

We not only discover reality, we manufacture reality. Imagination allows us to picture things as they might be, and by shaping and molding the things around us, we alter the universe to match the pictures in our heads. It is through this creative power that we play the rather odd role of being both subject to the Universe and its author.

Imagination is a supernova of the heart.

It’s a wellspring of potential energy, an explosive force that illumines and breathes life into the cosmos. Imagination transforms us, orienting us toward a more perfect union with the Truth, and through this union we find the source and summit of our life.

That’s it. Next week, I’ll conclude the series by posting the final version of my next blog.

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Friday Freewrite

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What’s Friday Freewrite? Find out here.

The war within myself rages on1, but today the soldiers have set their guns and their bayonettes aside to observe a day of silence.

For the first time in a thousand years, the air is still. I breathe it in, deep, full of life, remembering the boy I used to be before self-knowledge shattered the peace.

There are no mortar shells bursting in the air. There are no bullets zipping through the air, piercing holes, sapping the life blood from my ravaged psyche.

There will be no peace until the day I finally take the bullet meant for me; there is no rest for the wicked.

But today, today I can pretend.


Footnotes

1. I would like to tell you more about where this one came from, but it’s very personal. I usually like to provide context to my freewrites, but this time I’m going to let you figure it out for yourself.

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