a thousand words

Sunday, July 10, 2011

THE END OF IMAGINATION?


Technological Dependence, Anti-Intellectualism
And Disconnectedness Are Killing The
Human Mind's Most Precious Asset.

When I was a kid, we had these little green plastic men. The same kind you see in "Toy Story." They had one pose and didn't do much of anything. You had to imagine what they did.

I used to see young kids playing with sticks and rocks and ignoring their toys. See, when we are young our imaginations don't need help. But slowly, we've taught people to embrace technology, stupidity and solid substitutes for the world in our heads.

im·ag·i·na·tion [ih-maj-uh-ney-shuhn] - Noun. 1. The ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses. 2. The work of the mind that helps create. Imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge. 3. The fundamental facility through which people make sense of the world.

And we are losing it.

As time goes on, we fall further to the unholy trinity of materialism, stupidity and faithlessness, our minds lose their ability to create worlds, provide meaning to theoretical experience and thereby grow more wise and humane.

The best proof of this is the falling readership of books, redundant artistry, acceptance of lower quality and believe it or not, the rise of reality shows which ask you not to imagine but to only react to extreme behavior.

You must imagine to enjoy a book. You have to turn the little symbols into sound, then image and organize the world in one process. When you think about it, reading and comprehension is maybe the most amazing capacity of the human mind.

 Readership is falling because now we have tool to help us create those worlds and interpret those little symbols. We have 3D movies, 3D video games and HDTV. We have graphic novels with illustrations and every kind of pod, pad and phone to do what our brains used to do.

Ironically, it is hard to imagine a world without imagination. But I can see glimpses of it in the redundancy of storytelling, the lack of wit and meanness of humor and the acceptance of lowered standards. Imagination was fueled by the opposite of all these things. When you see stupidity, ignorance, ineptitude and shallowness in the world, then you are seeing lapses in imaginative construction.

When John Lennon asked us to Imagine, he sang about a world where we could let go of fear, convention and pettiness and dare to embrace something better than what we had on this earth. And we did, but not because Lennon asked us to but as human beings we were compelled to it. And when Gene Wilder sang of a world of "Pure Imagination" in Willy Wonka, he was speaking of a world of infinite possibility where people could accomplish anything.

If I am right and the mental facility we used to understand life has been blunted, then we face a danger worse than any disease or war. If we cannot imagine, then we cannot create, understand or hold empathy. We will be devoid of the enlightenment which has made us both civilized and innovative. Man will have completed his de-evolution to form over substance.

If I am wrong (and God, I hope I am) then this juncture is just a hiccup, a small respite as we refocus our imaginative powers in new ways. Perhaps we have exhausted ways to imagine and new innovation and discoveries will open up new avenues for us to create. In this notion, we have not lost our power. It has just not been sufficiently challenged.

So, I am waiting for this new idea, a new discovery, something that will change the very way we all live. A new technological, intellectual or spiritual "wheel" that will allow us to have abundance, end suffering and focus on our greater humanity.

Now, Imagine that.

Copyright 2011