Imagination and Indoctrination, A Window Into the Mythical Realms of the Mind Including the Dangers Therein

The most uniquely human feature of our inner life is that dimension of consciousness called “imagination.” The reason it’s called that is because in the exercise of it, our minds create mental images. In some cases, those images have an important shaping influence on our lives; indeed, it is human imagination that has shaped the modern world.

 

This may be illustrated by taking Magritte’s Treachery of Images to what was surely its intended logical conclusion: every painting is a representation of its author’s “vision” (another word for image in this case, drawn not from “to see” but “to visualize”), and to the extent that the painting is an accurate representation of that image, it may be judged successful. That success itself is the end product of a technique that was gradually acquired by imagining the precise elements of motor control that would load the brush just so, move it across the canvas in a way calculated to achieve the desired outcome, and so forth – and then by going to work developing those very techniques that the imagination suggested.

 

The things that are true of paintings and their bringing-to-life are also true of musical compositions, poems, internal combustion engines, buildings, highway interchanges, radio telescopes, financial empires, atomic bombs and so forth. Science and art are the two preeminent products of the human imagination. Religion is another, unfortunately deeply-tainted: more on this later.
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