Imagination. Creativity or imagination aren’t merely about art. They go to our very core. Imagination bridges cognition and ethics/virtues and it strengthens science and daily reality. Imagination is also a key virtue even as it’s sometimes held in contempt by some dogmatic world views (how churches sometimes react to works of fiction, for e.g.). It’s frightening that US Americans have ranked dead last, in applying what they learned to real situations, among students from the top twenty world powers or so. The American child’s imagination has been under attack or hasn’t been nurtured enough in the right ways.
How can we treat ourselves or others with courtesy, respect or foresight if we don’t imagine why, if we don’t imagine “why not excellence? Our failures of imagination show in our public behavior towards one another, economic systems, educational system, and politics.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.: — Aristotle.
Imagination, examination, and applying what we know all require numerous meta life skills or habits, habits like examining topics with curiosity.
Consider this topic — the words cult and culture have a common root.
1610-20; < Latin cultus habitation, tilling, refinement, worship, equivalent to cul-, variant stem of colere to inhabit, till, worship + -tus suffix of v. action”
We scrutinized cults from the 1960s to the present and understand they’re often led by charismatic leader(s). We’ve developed methods of rating how dangerous they are. We should habitually examine culture as well, what we nurture, and what we fail to nurture.
- “Reality leave a lot to the imagination.” — John Lennon
- “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. … Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” — Albert Einstein.
- “What appears to be external reality is really all in your head. … call ordinary everyday reality is a mass hallucination, or, to put it more politely, a shared dream. — Serge Kahili King, in his book, “Urban Shaman.”
- “We are caged by our cultural programming. Culture is a mass hallucination, and when you step outside the mass hallucination you see it for what it’s worth.’ — Terence McKenna, from his Eros and the Eschaton lecture (1994).
- “I’m not completely sure we aren’t all living in a hallucination now.” — Marc Maron
- Moral Panics, such as the Satanic Panic of the 70s to 90s, are detrimental forms of mass hallucination, as it were, and attack ideas and people. They are later dismantled by academic, scientific, and other fair and thorough examination.
- “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” — Yoko Ono
- A line written by Ono many years before, and quoted by Lennon in December 1980, as quoted in All We Are Saying : The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono(2000) by John Lennon, Yōko Ono, David Sheff, p. 16.
- See “Reality is a Shared Hallucination,” by Howard Bloom.
- Holographic Universe theories infer in so many words that we live in a dream or mass hallucination we share as “reality.”
- “Are We Living in a Hologram?” — Carol Reid on IFLScience.com.
- The definition of reality touches on reality as hallucination or something more plastic/malleable than many of us dare entertain. There are more entries about reality on NewScientist here.
- This link touches on Indra’s Net and Physics in regards to a holographic universe.
- Indra’s Net is a very old idea that touches on both the holographic universe and the natures of reality. “…any fixed notion of self, even the Universal Self, is an illusion.”
- “Reality then becomes a “shared hallucination”, meaning that there is a cemented, agreed upon perception of something. If there was a race of people living on an island who thought that the color green as actually the color pink, are they wrong? To the majority of the people on this planet, maybe, but to them the notion of “being wrong” about something like that is absurd. They are simply not sharing in the agreed upon perception, or hallucination. Wars are fought over this kind of difference.” English Prime @ OM. 2000.
Many more people have said in various ways reality is a consensus “mass hallucination.” Look at human history and the different cultures on earth right now. Trying to nail down reality/culture is like trying to nail jello to the wall.
Contemporary culture should be open to equally, if not more, exhaustive examination and questioning as what’s levied at cults. This is, of course, also needed in our social circles and political reality bubbles.
In today’s world of exponentially advancing technology and the world wind of change it brings. It’s tempting to look for certainty and power in group and political opinions. Currently, our culture/reality “is” is fed to us through mass produced media, images, politics, advertisements, and entertainment (movies, books, games, art). Think about it. Being spoon fed our reality may share many similarities with cults.
Creating our own art, our own stories, and framing our own debates are antidotes. One author even goes as far as calling art magic we create realities according to will this way. That author wrote “V is fo Vendetta,” and his name is Alan Moore. If you watch movies or read graphic novels then you’ve probably come across his other works.
I worry for a culture that seems more interested in ABC (already been chewed) two-sided debates and misleading or fallacious memes. It’s all too frequently not innocuous if it comes from the pundits, the pulpits, or profit worshipping corporations who try to run the show.
Perhaps I should start making art about with and about love. It’s not only about valentines day and making marriages work, love allows barriers to the universal consciousness to fall away and many way it is at our core and at the core of the universe. Love makes the Golden Rule (reciprocal ethics) and an array of virtues more possible in practice. There are different words for love in the Greek language and they are agape (highest form of spiritual love, recognizes the divine in each person), philios (love that recognizes the humanity in each other, e.g. love of ‘Universal Brotherhood/Sisterhood’), eros (intellectual form of love, may or may not overlap with the erotic), and praxis (any action taken in any amount of love, not necessarily sexual, can include moments of silence or prayer, for example).
Reciprocity. It’s proactive in nature. It’s intrinsically tied to love and imagination. It’s part of reciprocal ethics (“ethics of reciprocity) that’s a cornerstone of functional societies that value equality, empathy, compassion, human dignity and at least some degree of mutual courtesy and respect. Examples: What goes around, comes around. Love thy neighbor. Treat others as you’d like them to treat you. Reciprocity decreases as social and political climates encourage cognitive and social disconnects. As the practice of reciprocity decreases, denigration and dehumanization can increase exponentially. In America, the decrease in reciprocity is very noticeable in how people treat causes, the homeless, neighbors, and people that belong to different political camps or social circles. At least one book that addresses the need for more reciprocity in U.S. American culture is Robert D. Putnam’s “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.”
Imagination is a key virtue — it bridges cognition and ethics, strengthening both. It means we are able to apply what we know to every day situations, reality is something we co-create, and yes, we can imagine why to treat others with courtesy, respect and foresight. Imagination is a key virtue crucial, pivotal to equality and academic excellence and it’s been no accident that both have been under attack for far two long in the US and elsewhere.