Images Live Their Own Lives
Imagination is a talent for working with images, images that are rich in metaphorical meaning. Images are not ideas or concepts or measurements, although any of these can be treated as images. Painters use visual scenes and figures as images, poets use words, but I use narrative, for the most part. Even when I’m writing about ideas, I put my thoughts in a faint story form and try to use concrete words that can serve as images.
I don’t create or make up images. My talent is mainly about receiving images, letting them pop into my head, so that writing with imagination is more about being open to images and having little control and taking almost no credit for them. This way my thoughts expand and I reach deeper into whatever interests me. I enter a special world of images instead of remaining in my little realm of what I know and like.
An artist is someone who can grab a good image, like a shaman using a dreamcatcher to get hold of a dream. Then the artist can see the potential in an image and can work it, expand it and help it reveal itself more fully. If we all lived more in this way, we wouldn’t be so controlling and fearful. We would explore possibilities for life and enjoy others doing the same. We would be bold experimenters rather than fearfully holding tight to old, familiar values. Life wants to move along. Without imagination we just get in the way.
Thomas Moore is the author of the New York Times number one bestselling book, Care of the Soul, and twenty-eight others including Soul Mates, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, and Rituals of the Imagination, who holds a Ph.D. in religious studies, composes music, writes fiction, and teaches and lectures in all parts of the world.