Restraint

July 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Posted in writing | 12 Comments
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“every artist’s strictly illimitable country is himself … and thus I readily conjured a gorgeous and dangerous play world”
ee cummings

My imagination is not a world in which I feel restrained. In fact, like ee cummings, I build the idea of ‘illimitable’ into the concept of imagination since that is how it differs from reality. Reality is a restraint, we are faced with the limits of the possible and the existing, the process of imagination is the act of going beyond perception into the realm of that which does not yet exist.

For a long time I toyed with the idea of imagining things into being. This is not a ‘magical’ concept but a practical one. All things human made, except those which occur by accident or chance, are imagined into being. Before they are created as objects or ideas in the world, buildings and bridges are imagined by architects, nations by founders, books by writers.

“The Way bears sensation,
Sensation bears memory,
Sensation and memory bear abstraction,
And abstraction bears all the world”
Tao Te Ching

Of course the reverse is also true, it is simply a matter of direction and flow. A kind of oscillation or expansion and retraction. The process, in this two way formation, is not so much abstraction as fictionalization. I was trying to write a poem in which a simple object, a glass bead, exists in total isolation from any context. I found it impossible.

The bead, as it exists in my imagination, instantly creates a context, so I placed it in a painting, the painting then existed in a frame, the frame in an easel, the poem in the world. The painter, distracted momentarily by thoughts of Louise, returns to his realm of imagination, and remembers Bede.

“This is only a connection because of the empty sound of the words,” he says. But the confluence of vowel sounds, ‘bead’, ‘Louise’ is a pleasure to him in and of itself. It seems that this process of imagining things into being requires some bridge and that bridge is not silence.

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