What I Never Imagined About Imagination: Smack Dab in the Imagination by Dia Calhoun

Imagination is play, magic, the muse, right? Imagination is something arising from . . . well, we can’t quite point to what or where.  It’s quixotic. Mercurial. Creative types do know how to create conditions that encourage the imagination to kick in. We read. We ponder. Walk. Daydream. We write with just the right colored pencil, or just the right music playing. OK. I buy all that.

So, when I heard noted philosopher and cultural historian, Dr. Richard Tarnas, use the seemingly contradictory phrase, “rigorous imagination,” I was dumb-struck with just-rightness. I usually only think of rigor when I consider the way scientists, mathematicians, and other academic types work. But off course, rigorous imagination describes how creative artists work. We aren’t simply having flights of undirected, wily-nily fancy, as fun as those are, we also work the imagination in a sustained and rigorous way to create our works of art.

Also, the term rigor implies discipline and work. In our protestant work ethic cultural, those imply validity. So, I think I’ll make a sign for my door, or my status update, that says: Please Do Not Disturb, I’m Imagining.

P. S. If you get the chance, I highly recommend The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Shaped Our World View by Richard Tarnas.

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