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Human imagination, the cosmos in your mind

The Forgotten Power of the Imagination

In the modern, scientific age the word ‘imagination’ tends to have a sense of being the inverse of ‘reality’ – a non-substantial ‘escape’ from the real world where wild flights of fantasy take place, with little grounding in the important, real-world particulars of scientific laws and adult responsibilities. But have we got it wrong? Should we understand imagination better as the place where reality actually springs from?

To explain, consider this quote from Terence McKenna:

Humanity, correctly seen in the context of the last five hundred years, is an extruder of technological material. We take in matter that has a low degree of organization; we put it through mental filters, and we extrude jewelry, gospels, space shuttles. This is what we do. We are like coral animals embedded in a technological reef of extruded psychic objects.

As McKenna points out, all of human technology originated firstly in the imagination, before being “extruded” into the physical world. So why are the worlds of the imagination seen as anything other than another form of proto-reality that feeds into the physical world, thus making it perhaps an even more important ‘reality’ than the material world?

These questions appear to also have intrigued one of my favourite authors on esoteric subjects, Gary Lachman, whose new book The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination investigates the history of our connection to the world of the imagination, and how we became disconnected from it in modern times.

Lachman recently gave a talk at Watkins Books in which he outlines some of the topics in the book (embedded below) – it’s a fascinating discussion, and well worth the time to help reconsider what we believe about the imagination.

What is the imagination? Generally we think of it as in some way a substitute for reality, a form of ‘make believe,’ of escaping from the difficult, stubborn everyday world we know so well, into a different, better, more congenial one – that, more often than not, unfortunately exists only inside our head. Or we see imagination as a useful tool in grasping opportunities, producing novel, innovative ways in which some product or activity can get ahead of its competitors and occupy a place on the ‘cutting edge.’

Certainly these notions of imagination are accurate, as far as they go. But what if rather than providing us with an ‘alternate reality,’ the imagination is actually deeply involved in bringing into being the very reality from which it ostensibly wants to escape? What if imagination, rather than being about ‘make believe,’ is actually about ‘make real?’

Where does this knowledge of the imagination leave us today? The author argues that we have entered a time when the idea that imagination has the power to affect reality itself – directly, and not through the medium of culture – seems to have become a topic of interest, while reality itself has become something rather different than what it used to be. Is it possible that the obscurity in which the knowledge of the imagination was kept for so long is now starting to clear, and the true meaning and significance of our imagination is coming to light? We know that with great power comes great responsibility. Will we have the strength and purpose to meet this challenge? Let’s imagine.

Editor
  1. If you have never spent whole afternoons with burning ears and rumpled hair, forgetting the world around you over a book, forgetting cold and hunger–

    If you have never read secretly under the bedclothes with a flashlight, because your father or mother or some other well-meaning person has switched off the lamp on the plausible ground that it was time to sleep because you had to get up so early–

    If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless–

    If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won’t understand what Bastian did next.

    -Michael Ende, The Neverending Story

    1. I can’t find the Charlie Rose episode where this happened, but Charlie was off and they had three NY book editors on as guests(This must have been the 90’s.) They sat talking the book business. One guy pointed out that he would have fifty manuscripts on his desk, and they were all about a killer car. Of those fifty, only _Christine_ by King was published. Another time, he had fifty manuscripts about a court procedural, and only _The Pelican Brief_ made it out. That this happens all of the time.

      Watch _The Neverending Story_ series, movies 1 and 2 (not 3, it was corrupted by The Nothing). Basically, Fantasia sends out “waking dreams” to inspire people..

      – Fantasia sends out the “waking dream” expecting to get back the story filtered through millions of dreamers to feed Fantasia. That then sends out another “waking dream”, all to feed Fantasia.

      Now I’m painting with a broad brush here, Fantasia does not exist of course, but it does strangely represent reality.

      – We are what we do with our attention.

      I write down any of the “waking dreams” that come my way. Many more are lost to me because I did not write them down when I saw them. Over time I will publish the books created from some of those “waking dreams”. There are far more “waking dreams” than I can possibly publish. People reading the books will feel that the story is familiar, or a variation of a common theme from an existing book or movie. They will never realize that they are all based on a “waking dream” that we all experienced.

      1. Problem is, Ende really hated the movie. He had already created and approved the story and script, and last minute it was changed without him knowing. He didn’t find out until the movie came out that had changed it. Ende was influenced by Rosicrucianism and figures like Rudolf Steiner. Many scenes, such as the mirrors, are based in initiations. Despite this he thought the scene with the oracle’s was appalling because of their breasts hanging out. The second film, and obstensibly the third were shameless cash grabs long after Ende died. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them (first and second at least) and that they didn’t inspire me and tons of others until this day. As Gmork states, people are forgetting their dreams, which makes the Nothing grow stronger. It was a pull away from the materialism of this world – as I sit here typing on a smart phone.

  2. The third movie was corrupted by The Nothing. If you look at each film, Fantasia always matches Bastian’s age, so the third would have been on more adult subjects. The series would logically follow Bastian through life — Fantasia changing to match his age — until he’s an old man, and once again living the Fantasia of the beginning when he was a child.

    To recall a set of Easter Eggs that I posted:

    I posted a comment when Caretakers of the Cosmos came out. Slide down until you see my post and Lachman’s reply. It’s classic. HA!

    https://garylachman.co.uk/2014/04/06/the-cosmos-and-other-things-an-interview-with-greg-moffitt/

    Back in 2012 when I started posting on the Daily Grail:

    https://www.dailygrail.com/2012/11/news-briefs-28-11-2012/

    Slide down the comments and you will see my first comments on the blog. You were there as well. HA!

    – Nothing, No One and Nobody want us to pop this bubble of RealVerse so that they can cease to exist.

    You have even heard mention of them on the News:

    – The Village was destroyed. Nothing and No One survived. Nobody claimed responsibility.

    Remember: Don’t pop that bubble, don’t cut that drum head. Keep Dreaming, and Dancing to a different drummer. HA!

    1. Fair enough. Although on the 2012 blog I never saw your post after me since I commented before you. I usually forget to check back on things after a day or so.
      I still like the movies, I now know the deeper meaning, but sometimes being an adult and seeing those Easter Eggs is a good way to burst the bubble. HA!

      1. Oh, no. It’s far more interesting than that. Far more scary.

        – Like Lachman said in answer to my comment:

        “One way to differentiate between the Gnostic view – or at least a Gnostic view – and the Hermetic, is that while one wants to escape a prison, the other wants to turn it into a cathedral.”

        – I prefer to turn this into a cathedral.

        I love the first two films, I can see what the third should have been. The main lesson from the first is that, without Imagination there is no Fantasia. The main lesson from the second is that, with Imagination Nothing is impossible.

        “Bastian uses his wish for the sorceress “to have a heart”. This fills Xayide with emotion, negating the Emptiness within her and which she controls. Overcome with compassion, Xayide explodes in a blast of light, destroying her giants and restoring Fantasia.”

        – This all ties into George Hansen’s Trickster and the Paranormal.

        Now, I’m speaking Story here, since Hansen showed that it’s not possible to speak of this stuff directly, but like Lachman said in the video above there are entities in these Imaginary Realms that are separate from us. I think that he would agree with me when I say:

        – Those entities feed on our “Attention”. When they stop getting our “Attention” they act to get our “Attention”. Sending out the “waking dreams” as example.

        – Think of “Attention” as money. You “pay” attention. If you focus your attention too long on something, you run out of attention the same way as you run out of money.

        Look at Slenderman. Look at the Clown scare of last year. Those are examples of something trying to get our attention, and succeeding.

        – That attention can be fun like Fantasia or scary like Slenderman, but they will do what ever it takes to get our attention. That’s why I said above:

        Now I’m painting with a broad brush here, Fantasia does not exist of course, but it does strangely represent reality.

        – We are what we do with our attention.

        The key point is, without those Realms, without those Drums for us to dance on, we cease to be as well. HA!

  3. When I’m doing algebraic research it happens wholly in my imagination and occasionally leaks out through my propelling pencil onto paper to be captured for others to see.

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