Arousing The Imagination

By what means can the imagination be activated?  By what artifice may its secrets be coaxed to the surface of our consciousness, and made capable of articulation, as an enterprising fisherman might lure a rare specimen from deep waters to the surface?  Are there tried techniques, or is it simply a matter of random inspiration?  These are questions worthy of consideration.

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How Art Can Inspire Great Deeds

In this podcast, I talk about the documentary film Sad Hill Unearthed, and what conclusions we should draw from it. The movie describes how four friends found and restored the cemetery in Spain used for the iconic climax of the 1965 Sergio Leone film The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.  We discuss how art can work to nurture dreams, and why you should follow your visions, no matter what other people may think.

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What Knowledge Comes To Us From Dreams?

Arthur Conan Doyle’s sinister short story “The Leathern Funnel” deals with a phenomenon called psychometry:  the supposed ability of material objects associated with emotionally charged experiences to preserve and transmit a record of such events.  Published in 1900, the tale begins innocently enough with a meeting between friends, then slowly builds to an ominous crescendo of unease and sadistic malignancy.  Lionel Dacre, a wealthy owner of rare curiosities, owns a very old leather funnel from seventeenth-century France; the funnel has mysterious scratches, or bite-marks, on its neck.  Dacre persuades a friend (the unnamed narrator) to sleep with this funnel by his bedside.  In his dreams that night, the friend makes a horrifying discovery:  the funnel was actually used as a water-torture device during a pretrial procedure euphemistically called the “Extraordinary Question.”

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Dreams As Memories And Endowments


I was recently corresponding with a reader on the topic of finding inspiration for creative activity.  The conversation veered into the subject of dreams.  In what way, we wondered, do dreams inspire or retard development of the creative impulse?  And what is the source of dreams?  The subject is one of general interest, and seems to come up over and over again.

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What Is The Imagination?

What is the imagination?  We discuss some of its features:

1. The pervasive nature of ambiguity, and what it means for the imagination.

2. The bridge or isthmus between the physical and spiritual worlds.

3. The microcosm and the macrocosm.

4. Existence as being identical to imagination.

5. The importance of dreams.

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