Thursday, November 7, 2013

Feeding Imagination

I used to live in a house that's on the property of a 3500 acre privately owned park in northeast Ohio. The back yard was a huge field that blended into the park. There was a garden in the back yard, and the tomato plants were constantly under siege from groundhogs. Eventually, we put an electric fence around the garden, but they still got in. One day, I watched a groundhog try and try again to get in. It was persistent, and finally just found a weak spot in the fence and slipped through. I was impressed. I adopted the groundhog as a personal symbol.

Way back, several posts ago, I wrote about how speech and writing are basically a form of lossy compression that are very far removed from direct experience. Speech and writing also have features in common with woodland game trails or inter-city highways, in that they're energy minimizing devices. The mind is lazy, and tends to stay on these well worn tracks, rather than making new ideas. In fact, even though private thoughts should be as free as the wind, they're also influenced by social norms and the urge to be accepted. Also, no matter who we are, we're born into a world that's already underway and we take part in projects that are already started, and sort of depend on orthodoxy to keep them moving.

Direct experience--a personally novel experience, then, is not actually easy to have. And when we have one, we won't have the language to describe it. It can take years to make the translation.

Trinkets and totems can be one source of direct experience. A strange object, like an old coin, or a figurine can provide a momentary glimpse of a new idea. Working and shaping materials like clay or wood provides a direct experience with matter and a conversation with the matter. Drawing or painting allows the artist to see a world that's not there. The direct experience is a momentary escape from the infinitely regurgitated stories, myths, social conditioning and symbols the shape our mind.

A world that relies on systems, like ours, is really a world that's starving for ideas.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, no spam, or requests to post links, or business promotion in the comments. If I like your site, I'll put a link to it on my blog.