Monday, April 6, 2009

Now What's Imagination For, Again?

What is the final cause of imitation? What is the final cause of imagination? one wonders. The purpose of imagination. Imitation. What’s imagination for, really? When you get down to it? I mean, why have it? Isn’t it a waste of time? I mean, people with mathematics on their brains messing around with. With stuff that gets shorter as it speeds up? Are you kidding me?

Messing around with black holes. With places in the universe where the gravity is so great that light can’t escape. What? Are you kidding me? Get outta here! Yuk, yuk, yuk! You really have got to be outta your mind. Don’t you? To imagine stuff like this? To conjure this kind of stuff up out of a notebook full of mathematics and a few observations from afar. From many light years away.

Or take the story of Desmond Tutu and post-apartheid South Africa. Forgiveness. No massive and bloody purge. No mass murder. No frenzied outpouring of anger and revenge and evil. No. An orderly process of discovery and forgiveness. Who could have imagined that? How? Ridiculous, I know. Absurd. Silly. Impossible. Improbable. Given what we know about humans and how they work. Unimaginable.

But of course this is the universe. The one verse in which we in fact do live. Don’t we? Whether we will or no?

The one verse in which heterogeneity and diversity and silliness and absurdity and impossible facts and improbable theories and. A universe in which the foundation of matter looks more like ideas than particles. A universe in which people are bound together by love, an invisible improbable substance. An idea more than a substance. But an idea that is substantial enough to require great mathematical room in our calculations of one another and how we function.

Love that drives what? Self-sacrifice everywhere we care to look. Forgiveness wherever humans are found. Or almost.

Beauty that brings us almost to our knees. The longing for love and beauty that brings us almost to our knees. Or perhaps in some extreme cases, all the way to our knees. Even in America, where nearly everyone is enthroned in a recliner.

And despite Machiavelli and Nietzsche and the Robber Barons and Hitler and Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot and Bernie Madoff and the current crop of casino capitalists. Despite all of the striving calculating death-dealing evil in the world. The greed and thievery in the world. There is also. Remarkably. Improbably. Impossibly. Love and forgiveness and generosity. There is forgetting. There is new life. There is new growth in the volcanic ash.

Incongruous. Ridiculous. Preposterous. Inane. Insane. Pure viscous and long-stranded drool.

And yet the universe is so. Is the way it is. No matter its improbability. No matter its uncomfortable paradoxes. Its ambiguity. Its opacity. Its multivariance. Its rascality. Its imbecility. Its. Well you name it. You extend the list from here.

And to deal with all of this. To hold all of this together in our minds and hearts at one time. We have been granted a great blessing. The blessing of our imaginations. A facility so remarkable we hardly know it is present. Sort of like our eyes or our ears. Notice how they are instruments of knowing but they disappear, don’t they? In the process of our knowing.

So also, the imagination. An extension of our eyes and our ears and our taste and our smell and our touch into our souls. Our senses extended into the spiritual realm of our very souls. Into our hearts and minds. So that we may make things. Make ideas. Make words. Make symbols. Make pictures. Make sounds. Make movements. Make shapes. Make stories. That synthesize the various improbable actualities. The impossible probabilities of the one verse. The one making that is our home.

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