06 September 2016
Looking with Imagination
Imagination is living, perspective only "life like".
- Owen Barfield
I got home after a walk around the lake, showered, made a cup of tea, and started reading (in The Barfield Reader) about the differences between a harp and a camera. I wondered where he was going with all of that, but then it all came together. Barfield's thoughts are so above my own, that I can only grasp at his full meanings, but I hope that I pick up on some main points each time I read his writings. He provokes so much thinking in me, stretching me beyond my comfort zone regarding words, meaning, history of words, consciousness, thought, etc..I love that.
In other words, if you set out to say one thing and mean another, you must really mean another, and that other must be worth meaning. (OB)
In the section I read that evening, regarding imagination, Barfield delves into how we first get the image of something in our minds. We could be simply shown an image that we can look at, with a shallow disposition, not seeking to look into the core, but stay at the surface. This is likened to a camera and the image it produces. Or we could be listening to the music that sweeps us into a story or experience, which causes us to create our own image in our mind that dives deeply into an important core of imagination. This is likened to a harp and the musical influence of storytelling.
We tend to look at, not into what we see. We look at a person but do not see what they might be feeling or thinking. Imagination is left wanting if it is all camera. Just a flat image of a scene - a snapshot. A perspective given is life-like, but one cannot experience the real thing through perspective. A camera cannot look into what it sees.
A harp lets in light and air and with the music played it opens up a window (wind-eye) of the imagination, looking into story, the beginning of poetry. A tale harmonized in different ways. The aperture of a camera can be a tiny window, but the harp opens up the whole wall that may box you in.
What is produced in all these examples is the image, and how we get there, either by way of the camera (the little dark black box) or the harp (the opening up of a realm). But what happens when you close your eyes? The image can be seen in your imagination, and our eyes can pick up images so well, as to imprint them so you can still see them in your mind. These are the beginnings of how to look with imagination, and what consists of how we put that together without even thinking about it.
Is it fanciful, I wonder, to think of a sort of mini-harp stretched across the window of the eye....as perhaps not a bad image for the joy of looking with imagination? (OB)