From Artist to Artist, my 5th and 6th article of chapter XII aspire to unleash the “creative mind” through the boundless realms of imagination. In essence, the present article has been carefully designed for ARTISTS: from painters to filmmakers, musicians, mathematicians, chefs, actors or lawyers; to all of you who might be genuinely interested in making more use of your imagination through your own possible “Eden”, as a source of creativity on a daily basis.
As it happens with all articles in chapter XII, “Imagination is the key to your Eden” is dedicated to my friend Catarina Molinari Osório, who helped me shape them. Without her, these articles would not be materialized.
“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” - Samuel Taylor Coleridge on his chapter XIII notes on Imagination.
Coleridge divided imagination into two parts: primary and secondary. To Coleridge, the poet has no control over the primary imagination. The secondary imagination is similar to the primary, except that it is governed by our wills and conscious minds. Because of this, imagination gives rise to our ideas of perfection. The English poet refers to this primary imagination as a divine quality, to which he names the "I Am”, as the creation of the self in the quality of the poetic genius, which in this case is the poet (itself), therefore making him or her a Creator.
In Diana Castle’s Imagined Life – I AM audiobook - Acting is perceived as the Art of the Empathetic Imagination (A creative philosophy and practical application of your natural empathetic imagination to the art of acting) Castle further refers to the “I am” as being “a state of pure possibility and reminds you that “when you were a child, you used your imagination and lived in a world of creative possibilities”…
“I AM - I’m a superhero, and I am saving the world.”
“I AM - I’m a monster, and I am destroying the town.”
“I AM - I’m a queen dressing up for the ball.”
“I AM - I’m a fireman riding on my truck to put out a fire.”
Castle continues to describe how as a child, a person is used to imagine and create all of those “possible worlds through the power and daily practice of the imaginative life”, and how consequentially one can end up opening the door to many to the several possibilities which can be chosen to follow. “Possibilities of your own making; of you, the human being.”
Imagination is that key on hold for you to unlock the many possibilities inside you as a human being “in service” of yourself and of others. This possesses interest to you, true? It might even surprise you. However, what usually pops up right away inside your mind, is the legitimate question: How? How can you really let yourself be creative? You’re not a child anymore and certainly not as creative as youngsters tends to be. In fact, you don’t even know when it stopped, if it did, or the exact date and time when you just stopped playing. When you were a child you played “pretend” and probably loved doing so! Society “allowed” you to do it and it was natural to you. We were easily sent away to this make believe world where you used your hairbrush as a microphone or played air guitar, but in present times perhaps you have no time, you’re just not willing to do it, or you really don’t give a shit about it anymore. You may even tell your kids and your own self to stop living in the clouds, but as Louis Armstrong once dared to sing “ what we play is life” and the truth is that as an artist and as a creative human being, you should never stop playing. You probably secretly wish to be more creative because you miss it at some level and all those memories of playing when you were a child make you think about how free and happy you were back then, yet you figure out a million reasons in your life as to why today you “CAN’T”… Did you know that humans master the sense of “cant’s” through the left side of the brain? Yes, this part is your intellectual logic brain - your own censorship, your inner dictator and that nasty perfectionist voice of reason that always masters third and fourth guessing, and which keeps on reminding you that you´re not an Einstein, You know? What a joke… Why can’t you be genial? What is stopping you from rediscovering your creative powers so that you can start living in a more creative way, by perhaps practicing the art of creative living to some extent?
Brenda Ueland reminds us that we “should all make use of our creative power as nothing else”, because it makes people “so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money” while Samuel Taylor Coleridge divides imagination in two parts; the secondary imagination being an echo of the primary. It co-exists with the conscious will, but because of this, it struggles to attain the ideal, as imagination arises to our ideals of perfection. Still, the primary governs the secondary and consequently the forms of creation can only exist in the mind. Which is probably what compels the poet in the decision to write down his or her poem.
Think of imagination as your creative artistic holistic brain, your insightful inspiration, your radio kit with many stations, your list of favorite villains, champions, wishes, fears, dreams, hopes & triumphs. It is your Eden and therefore you should place aside that serpent surrounding your secret garden and let that body of land awaken and flourish. Allow your childish right side of the brain to play and your little inventor to emerge from within. In the Artist Way, Julia Cameron says that the "Artist brain: thinks in patterns and shadings", “it is our inventor, our child, our very own personal absent minded professor." It is a sky walker in Star Wars; it´s our flash light that activates through imagery.
Diana Castle, in the imagined life states the following: "to imagine is to identify with limitless possibilities of the human character and with "the stories of all human beings", speaking of the imagined life as a limitless world; expanding your capacity as a human being. "Imagination activates and manifests"- 'it activates the possibilities and you create them". It is a "world of images"; a "world of seeing - an image, a nation." I personally see imagination as this big painting that tells the story of human kind, the story of us humans, while Picasso might have thought of that same painting as "just another way of keeping a diary." Well, you might not be accustomed with diary keeping, with drawing, meditation or dancing, but just like Albert Einstein you might be “enough of an artist to draw freely upon” your imagination and as he once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, because “knowledge is limited as opposed to imagination, which is a capacity that actually encircles the world.” Is this such a radical and incredible belief?
The main focus point is that in order to be more creative, metaphorically, the first thing one needs to learn how to do, is to light up a campfire. To start up a fire you need the combination of oxygen, heat, and fuel, in order for its activation and combustion to occur. To fuel creativity, you also need both the left and right side of the brain, both your imagination (as a source) by becoming willing enough to open up to a world beyond your personal experience, therefore identifying with a world of possibilities and the stories reserved for each and every one of us. One where you can start acting upon it. That's how you generate art, but then you need to act upon it, with some notion of your left brains rationality and logic. For instance, as a human being we need oxygen in order for our blood to flow and for our heart to pulse, which ultimately helps us to stay alive. Our physical heart is the engine that activates the bodies self to the outside world, and allows us to physically live our life on a daily basis. In creative terms I would say that imagination is the key to the soul; the key to creation; the key to finding the source (our source), our “Eden”, and the source of the heart which is creativity itself. Creativity is therefore the engine that activates creation and ultimately the capacity to generate love, empathy and art. According to Carl G Jung, the creation of something new is "not accomplished by the Intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects that it loves". Therefore shutting down your ego, your intellect and your censoring voice that acts as morality, might be the very first thing to do. In the Artist way, Julia Cameron pleads us to just "STOP": "Stop telling yourself is too late; waiting until you make enough money to do something you really love as much as telling yourself that it´s just ego talking whenever you start yearning for a more creative life. (…) STOP telling yourself that dreams don't matter, that they are only dreams and that you should be more sensible, and specifically STOP "fearing that your family and friends would think that you are crazy" STOP "telling yourself that creativity is a luxury and you should only be grateful for what you've got" because in fact, and opposed to what you might think: "creativity is never tiresome; Creativity is always an adventure” and "the most potent muse of all is our own inner child" - here latterly quoting Stephen Nachmanovitch.
When you were a child you spent most of your days playing, experiencing all kinds of imaginary worlds, however please note that imagination does not always involve you being a child and literally playing or being a day dreamer. The art of cooking something new or being creative in the kitchen is already enabling you to use your imagination, as well as the act of brainstorming or even the simple act of singing in the shower! Perhaps smell can also evoke different feelings and bring back memories which you may have forgotten you had in the first place. Smell can induce and imagined experience and all you need to do is to start spending some quality time imagining and nurturing your Artist self, rather than classifying it as impossible in the first place. Who said you are an Einstein or a nobody? Rediscovering creativity starts through baby steps, by paying attention to what surrounds you. It is about imagery, symbolism and their widespread meaning. It's about storytelling; the mysteries; the legends; your secret rock star wish and the daily dates with your artist; ever perhaps your secret Eden.
Quoting the words of the Internationally distinguished Chef, Anthony Bourdain “the way you make an omelet reveals your character” for him, even a simple egg was what made everything better. The late American celebrity Chef was enough of a romantic and an artist at heart to invest his own self, his time and money in “cheese” or in cheesing his omelet through imagination, to a certain extent, in order to heal himself and others, or perhaps by encompassing the world through his great cooking. As his girlfriend Asia Argento declared in a statement recently released through Twitter, "His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many."