Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's Your Great Imagination (Charlie Brown)

What is this peculiar passive clarity we call Imagination? It is our innate ability to conceive of new ideas, images or concepts and then manifest them into external objects. 

It's Your Great Imagination Charlie Brown! 

Imagination is a gift. It's our mind's ability to be creative and resourceful, to imagine something and then make it happen. 

Our imagination produces artifacts or artefacts (from the Latin phrase arte factum, ars skill + facere to make). The Collins English Dictionary 10th Edition describes artifacts as "something made or given shape by humans, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest". 

Having worked in the preservation of art and artifacts, I have developed a particular fondness for the history of human ingenuity, which is a direct result of the history of human thought and imagination (i.e., philosophy). 

Exploring the wilds of Guatemala or the Yucatan peninsula for treasures and signs of ancient ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. When I write a post or draw a picture, I instantly recognize it as an act of human contribution. 

Exploring the Roman ruins in Italica, Spain

Take, for example, the word Gelotophobia, the fear of laughter, from Greek words gelos "laughter" and phobos "fear". Gelotophobia refers to people who fear being laughed "at". When I think of the word Gelotophobia my mind's eye gives me... 

Jelly + tow (truck) + phobia:

Whatever we create and manifest into the world has the potential to become an object of interest to others (and to ourselves). Our imagination's ability to create objects is intrinsic to a high quality of life. 

Objects express and communicate value in a way that words cannot. Images and the things we create immediately allows someone to relate to another's internal world. More than words, objects allow us to internalize a higher comprehension of someone else's aesthetic experience. 

Goethe said that art was long formative, expressive before it was beautiful, in the narrow sense of charming. In order for something to be perceived as beautiful, it is not enough for an object to delight us with color, lines and sounds; it must also have meaning - it has to speak to us, tell us something. 

It's Your Great Imagination Charlie Brown! 

Whatever we see, hear, smell, taste, touch... we remember. We may not remember each detail, but in the recesses of our mind's eye, they're there. From faces to feelings to hugs... they all end up swirling around in our imagination. 

Not always are we conscious of each of the component parts that contribute to our mind's ability to imagine how things might be linked across time and space, dimensions and moments.... 

But somehow, they they produce within us a sense of creative custodianship whereby we must create because it exists within us. The desire to share everything from the most spectacular to the most mundane comes from that part of us where things like imagination, love, and thoughtfulness dwell. 

So, the next time you go to the Pompidou in Paris and are surprised by some of the pieces we call "art"; take a step back and instead of seeing just the lines of the object, see it for its simple truth: someone imagined something and then created it. 

It's just that simple. 

I have a visual recollection of every piece of art and sculpture I've ever seen, but never did I laugh as hard as I did at this one. It may not feel like art, but it is definitely from that place we call imagination. 

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