Rebirth of the Adult Imagination

Following WWI, the conditions were right for the creation of a new paradigm—geopolitically, technologically, scientifically and philosophically. What I’d like to suggest is that the birth of a new world after WWII also included the rebirth of our adult imagination. 

In the beginning of the 20th century, the proud alliance of Enlightenment science and common sense was fundamentally undermined by Einstein and the Quantum Mechanics. At the same time, Freud and Jung extended the domain of science into the acausal and immaterial realms of dream and the unconscious. 

This study of dream and myth gave rise to a new interest in metaphor shared by the Inklings. Surrealists and Magical Realists were painting outside the lines of common sense and the Enlightenment. Meanwhile, California had become an environment that supported non-literal interpretations of religion, non-sectarian relationships with spirituality and an increased interest in comparative mythology. Each of these streams poured into California’s cauldron of consciousness, from which came wave after wave of Hollywood storytellers. 

When the foundations of materialism and causality that dismissed myth, metaphor and miracle gave way; when the reduction of reality to the conscious and material failed; Hollywood found its movie magic in the Cauldron of California Consciousness, which has led the global adoption of a new post-enlightenment, post WWII imagination. 

Will Linn is Founder of and the General Education Department at Hussian College, where he teaches courses on myth, philosophy and storytelling.