The universe inside your mind. Where the rules don't apply unless you desire it. A freedom that can't exist anywhere else.

The merging of reality in unique ways. Putting the puzzle together when the pieces can fit anywhere. Where you can pick originality from the trees, no matter what color or shape the leaves are.

Anything is possible. Nothing is required.

In his Biographia Literaria (Chapter 13) Coleridge wrote the following on the IMAGINATION or ESEMPLASTIC power:
The IMAGINATION, then, I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, coexisting with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.

FANCY, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with but fixities and definites. The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space; and blended with, and modified by that empirical phenomenon of the will which we express by the word CHOICE. But equally with the ordinary memory it must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association. ***Capitals and Italics as in the original text***
Coleridge conceives God's creation to be a continuing process, which has an analogy in the creative perception ("primary imagination") of all human minds. The creative process is repeated, "echoed," on still a third level, by the "secondary imagination" of the poet, which dissolves the products of primary perception in order to shape them into a new and unified creation--the imaginative passage or poem. The "fancy," on the other hand, can only manipulate "fixities and definites" that, linked by association, come to it ready-made from perception. Its products, therefore, are not re-creations (echoes of God's original creative process) but mosaic-like reassemblies of existing bits and pieces.
An album by Brian Wilson released in 1998.

This was Brian Wilson's first (released) album of new material since his 1988 eponymous solo album, and pre-release reports were mixed. Some, like Sean Lennon and Peter Buck, raved about the album, while most were cautious, remembering that co-producer Joe Thomas had worked on the pretty poor Stars & Stripes Vol 1 album with the Beach Boys.

In the event, both schools of thought had an element of truth to them. The production on the album is dire - the worst 80s AOR sound imaginable. And the collaborators Thomas inflicted on Wilson on some songs are an odd bunch - Jimmy Buffett, Carole Bayer Sager and Jim Peterik (writer of Eye Of The Tiger for Survivor). But Wilson's vocals are his best in decades, and there are at least five songs on here that rank with his best - Your Imagination, She Says That She Needs Me, Lay Down Burden (dedicated to the memory of Carl Wilson who died shortly before the album was completed), Sunshine and Happy Days.

But even then, She Says... was a rewrite of Sherri She Needs Me, an unreleased track from the 70s (the unreleased version is better) and Happy Days, while a 'new' song, contained sections from an unreleased SMiLE instrumental, an unreleased song called My Solution, and the old vaudeville song Happy Days Are Here Again. This, plus the inclusion of two remakes of old Beach Boys songs (insisted on by Thomas) led some to speculate that Wilson was suffering writer's block. It seems more likely in fact that he merely wasn't very interested in the album (a belief borne out by the much more interesting demos he recorded with Andy Paley shortly before work on the album started.

Tracklist:

  1. Your Imagination
  2. She Says That She Needs Me
  3. South American
  4. Where Has Love Been?
  5. Keep An Eye On Summer
  6. Dream Angel
  7. Cry
  8. Lay Down Burden
  9. Let Him Run Wild
  10. Sunshine
  11. Happy Days

The album was released in 1998 on Giant Records

I know this write up has little relevance to anything, but I just wanted to write about how weird imaginations are in a weird way.

As I sit at my computer screen, the wall behind it seems blank. White. But as I look closer, I dive deeper and deeper into the world of my imagination. On the wall appear smudges that are only noticable when studied carefully. Each one of these smudges looks to be turning into an image. First, a grubby hand print overlapping the smear of a dead spider, looks like a marsh-mellow roasting. Then I notice a fly has landed on the wall. It stays dead still, scared to move, scared to fly, as I might swat it. I pick up a pencil and take aim. As the pencil hits the wall, the nail that I thought was a fly does not move. Next to it has appeared a pencil line.

I lie in my bedroom staring at the floral border. I look hard at a particular blue flower, and it grows eyes. Small puppy dog eyes. Then I notice a nose, and a lapping tongue. The small dog is looking to the right. As I follow its line of vision, I see a yellow rose. In a very strange way it looks like a bulldog with a russian looking hat on. Next to the russian dog there is a leaf. Behind the leaf is a plant bulb, forming a rather quaint little duckling.

I hear a ding.

This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down

My world of marsh-mellows and animals disappears in a flash, and I return to the unforgiving land of computer errors.

They grow up so fast.

I have been watching the goslings at the Arboretum grow up. I walk my dog there in the morning and evening, and now that it’s a summery spring we also sit and bask in the sun, the glow of the rippling water, and watch the goose kibbutz in action.

I have learned the intersecting territories; where the redwing blackbird nests are, the favorite sunning place of the giant black rat snake, and that of the angry old squirrel who always yells at us to get off his lawn. One day a baby sparrow hopped straight at me as we ambled the path, and opened his beak when I bent down to inspect him to see if he was hurt: feed me! I rubbed his head with one finger, apologetically. Sorry, buddy: just ate my last worm. My peaceable little dog watched this transaction with bemusement. The magnolia has already bloomed and lost its fragrant flowers. They also grew up fast and flew away one night – faster even than the geese. The lilac bushes and honeysuckle are hardier specimens, and their perfume mingles with the rich scent of loamy decay and rebirth from the dark shadow of the riverbanks. It’s my favorite smell – two parts solar joy to one part cool underworld. Mix and inhale.

Now the goslings are getting pretty big – they’re still more fuzz than feather, but they have some adolescent swagger. Nevertheless, when the adults spot the hawk who likes to hunt at the Arboretum, they launch into an impressive battle formation, all warlike honks and widespread wings. They circle the pond where the little ones swim, swooping in a deep circle around and around it, flying sentinels. The geese are no joke, actually. My dog hasn’t earned their ire, but a combative Corgi recently did and it was one hell of a sight. The geese will cut you if you look funny at their babies; this is the right reaction.

They grow up so fast.

A little girl on a small pink bicycle is pedaling toward us, her tinsel-festooned handlebars twinkling in the dusk light, her rainbow-socked legs powering that bike for every scrap of speed she can get out of it. I wave; she waves back. She looks like she is about seven, which is how old Samantha is.

They grow up so fast.

I remember how intrigued Sam was as a toddler with stories about when she was a baby. She is fascinated, deeply fascinated, by the concept that she has an existence that predates her own memory. The degree of her fascination rivals that of the protagonist of any amnesiac movie. That she was here, and a baby, and we remember all of it, but she does not. How can this be? She looks at pictures from her own baby album. Tell me about when I was a baby! Is one of her favorite requests.

We are all at the dinner table for Thanksgiving, and she is a little older than two, and Nana is coaxingly telling her about how much she loved mashed potatoes when she was a baby (because she will not touch the stuff now). I casually mention that I remember when she was even SMALLER than a baby, and this gets her attention right away.

Nobody has mentioned a smaller-than-a-baby history up to this point. She looks at me, her little eyebrows raised. My brother and sister-in-law look at me, their eyebrows also raised, wondering if I’m going to nerd out about embryology to their toddler. But that is not my plan.

“Oh yes,” I say. “I remember when you were so small we could carry you in the palm of our hands. You were so, so tiny! You had shoes made out of peanut shells!”  Her eyes widen. “You wore dresses that Nana sewed for you very carefully out of rose petals, because they are soft and smell good. You wore them with your peanut shell shoes and tapdanced on Papa’s plate after dinnertime, and we all clapped!” Now she is grinning. Her eyes are still big, but her gaze is beginning to turn inward as the gears turn and she pictures everything I say.

“You slept in a bed made out of marshmallows, and used Papa’s handkerchiefs for sheets!” My mother chimes in now – “And sometimes you would hide in my gloves and pop out and say HERE I AM!” Now Sam looks positively delighted. “And best of all,” I say, seeing an opportunity to allay her fear of spiders, “You had a giant spider that you rode like a pony!” She grimaces and squinches her eyes shut, then opens one eye back up in curiosity. “It was a fuzzy spider, and you named him Sir Galahad, and we made him a velvet saddle. You would gallop that spider all over the house, and we could hear your teeny tiny voice yelling yeeee-haaaaw!” The business with the spider is too much - Sam finally looks at her mother and father for confirmation of these marvels, and they give her this look like “I sure hope you’re not buying this bridge, kid.”

Sam thinks about this for a minute, her little two-year-old brain working overtime, and then bursts out in a gale of laughter so loud, so sudden and huge, that we all laugh too.

“Aunt Sarah! You are IMAGINING!” she whoops delightedly, looking at me with glowing eyes, like I have performed an unexpected marvel.

She’s so cracked up by this, so amazed that I’m doing this right in front of her! Like flying, like juggling, like singing a song while standing on my head. I’m imagining, live and in person and out loud RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER! This is too much! She is laughing her tiny head right off.

“Yes, honey,” I reply owlishly, wiggling my eyebrows at her. “I love to imagine!”

There are many firsts I have enjoyed with this child – it was my principle joy to bring her the first taste of many things. Kiwis, tofu, dragonfruit, capers, Turkish delight. I would tell her about the lands they came from, about the people who lived there. She has been talking and listening since she was 18 months old, so this worked out fine. Her first complete sentence to me, uttered I hovered protectively around her while she toddled unsteadily from room to room, was “Aunt Sarah, you really have to stop following me everywhere.” This cracked me up, as family legend has it that my first complete sentence was “You can make me, but I will not cooperate.” Child of my tribe.

But this taste is the best of all: it's evidently her first taste of seeing an adult make stuff up

Now she is seven going on seventy, and her catchphrase is “I know that.” But I can tell she secretly likes it when I imagine out loud about things like what it would be like if we were all fish, even though I think her parents are raising her to be a very matter-of-fact Midwestern girl. She is fond of me and my imagination, which I think she views as a kind of amusing sidekick of mine, like a talking parrot. She recently informed me that I am the best Aunt Sarah in the world, so all the other Aunt Sarahs are officially on notice.

But really, all we are is our imagination; when we plan for the future, we are using our imagination to forecast events. When we are remembering, we are using our imagination to reconstruct a past event. It is only when we exist in the absolute present that there is no imagination, but only the fact of existence. Those are the moments that shape us the most; ironically, they're also kind of rare

We imagine meals as we write shopping lists, imagine sunny days at the lake when we buy wide-brimmed hats, imagine not feeling so groggy as we brew our first cup of the day, imagine little girls grown into women as we carefully tuck away silver shoes with rhinestone buckles that will fit them in fifteen years.

I’m walking my dog at the Arboretum, and I am imagining. I imagine sitting down to write this. Writing it, I remember imagining that. Who needs Inception? The whole thing is kind of automatically mind-blowing.

On the best evenings, I do not imagine anything at all. On the best evenings, there is nothing but the sweet twilight breeze and the lilac sky, tiny coins of gold still sparkling on the water, birdsong, rest, and my gentle little dog's head warmly propped on my leg as I sit stretched out on the dock. I will need that moment later; the memories of what it is like to simply be.

Im*ag`i*na"tion (?), n. [OE. imaginacionum, F. imagination, fr. L. imaginatio. See Imagine.]

1.

The imagine-making power of the mind; the power to create or reproduce ideally an object of sense previously perceived; the power to call up mental imagines.

Our simple apprehension of corporeal objects, if present, is sense; if absent, is imagination. Glanvill.

Imagination is of three kinds: joined with belief of that which is to come; joined with memory of that which is past; and of things present, or as if they were present. Bacon.

2.

The representative power; the power to reconstruct or recombine the materials furnished by direct apprehension; the complex faculty usually termed the plastic or creative power; the fancy.

The imagination of common language -- the productive imagination of philosophers -- is nothing but the representative process plus the process to which I would give the name of the "comparative." Sir W. Hamilton.

The power of the mind to decompose its conceptions, and to recombine the elements of them at its pleasure, is called its faculty of imagination. I. Taylor.

The business of conception is to present us with an exact transcript of what we have felt or perceived. But we have moreover a power of modifying our conceptions, by combining the parts of different ones together, so as to form new wholes of our creation. I shall employ the word imagination to express this power. Stewart.

3.

The power to recombine the materials furnished by experience or memory, for the accomplishment of an elevated purpose; the power of conceiving and expressing the ideal.

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet Are of imagination all compact . . . The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and a name. Shak.

4.

A mental image formed by the action of the imagination as a faculty; a conception; a notion.

Shak.

Syn. -- Conception; idea; conceit; fancy; device; origination; invention; scheme; design; purpose; contrivance. -- Imagination, Fancy. These words have, to a great extent, been interchanged by our best writers, and considered as strictly synonymous. A distinction, however, is now made between them which more fully exhibits their nature. Properly speaking, they are different exercises of the same general power -- the plastic or creative faculty. Imagination consists in taking parts of our conceptions and combining them into new forms and images more select, more striking, more delightful, more terrible, etc., than those of ordinary nature. It is the higher exercise of the two. It creates by laws more closely connected with the reason; it has strong emotion as its actuating and formative cause; it aims at results of a definite and weighty character. Milton's fiery lake, the debates of his Pandemonium, the exquisite scenes of his Paradise, are all products of the imagination. Fancy moves on a lighter wing; it is governed by laws of association which are more remote, and sometimes arbitrary or capricious. Hence the term fanciful, which exhibits fancy in its wilder flights. It has for its actuating spirit feelings of a lively, gay, and versatile character; it seeks to please by unexpected combinations of thought, startling contrasts, flashes of brilliant imagery, etc. Pope's Rape of the Lock is an exhibition of fancy which has scarcely its equal in the literature of any country. -- "This, for instance, Wordworth did in respect of the words �xbf;imagination' and �xbf;fancy.' Before he wrote, it was, I suppose, obscurely felt by most that in �xbf;imagination' there was more of the earnest, in �xbf;fancy' of the play of the spirit; that the first was a loftier faculty and gift than the second; yet for all this words were continually, and not without loss, confounded. He first, in the preface to his Lyrical Ballads, rendered it henceforth impossible that any one, who had read and mastered what he has written on the two words, should remain unconscious any longer of the important difference between them." Trench.

The same power, which we should call fancy if employed on a production of a light nature, would be dignified with the title of imagination if shown on a grander scale. C. J. Smith.

 

© Webster 1913.

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