Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reading / Imagination

Picking up where we left off:

I couldn’t read either. Seems to me there’s a connection between IMAGINATION and the ability to engage and really enjoy reading. I think of Shakespeare and Walt Whitman and William Blake, who wrote, "To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower, / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, / And eternity in an hour."

He also said, "IMAGINATION is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow."

Dictionary: IMAGINATION: the ability to form images and ideas in the mind, especially of things never seen or never experienced directly.

So, in one sense, IMAGINATION is an ability to do something, form images and ideas in the mind. A second definition, “the part of the mind where ideas, thoughts, and images are formed,” refers to the mind itself, that “part” of the mind where, in fact, acts of IMAGINATION occur. I wonder where in the mind this happens. And why, taking an antidepressant, SSRI, short circuited my ability to dream, let alone read or write. But, in fairness, some of this loss of IMAGINATION, loss of juice, loss of vitality preceded the antidepressants.

Peter Ackroyd’s BLAKE, A BIOGRAPHY, says it best. Page 148:

“No one who reads Paracelsus [an itinerant scholar and physician born in the late 15th century] can remain unaffected by him and an artist such as Blake, slowly coming to believe in his own prophetic and spiritual mission could only have been exalted and exhilarated by the celebration of the imagination in his writings.

“'I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel,’ Blake later wrote, ‘than the liberty both of body & mind to exercise the Divine Arts of the Imagination.’ This is the central truth of Paracelsus, who declared that ‘Imagination is like the sun. The sun has a light which is not tangible; but which, nevertheless, may set a house on fire.’

“The great truth of the universe lies within the human imagination; it is the source, the sun, and those who understand its powers are the lords of all created things. The world of Paracelsus is filled by spirit, with the elements of mercury, salt and sulphur as its trinity of dwelling places, and in his extraordinarily successful treatment of disease he considered the body as a form or definition of the soul itself. Of course Blake need not necessarily have learnt this from Paracelsus,” says Peter Ackroyd, “he [Blake] could have found it within his own heart.”

Image of Santa Cruz / sunset thanks to Wikipedia.

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