Monday, January 16, 2012


Did you realise that possibly the most distinguishing feature of man is that he can imagine things that do not exist? Unlike animals we can conjure up people, machines, occurrences that are sprouted entirely from our brains; that have no match in the existing world.
This is by no means a revolutionary thought. But it is an interesting one to pursue for a moment.
Animals have memory. They remember what time of the day they are fed; they recognise acquaintances, dogs, their owners and their friends. They can even have these memories without being triggered. We know this must be true, when we see a dog lying on her bed, asleep, and in her sleep she is barking, slapping her tail on the floor, and even sometimes making running motions with her paws.
Humans can go far beyond that. We can conceive what is not there. And we do it all the time. Thus we prepare ourselves for a job interview, thinking of the kind of questions we may be asked beforehand. We dream of the partner we believe would suit us best. We decorate a room. It is called creation. We are little gods, inventing our own new world over and over again.
Some are better at it than others. Way better. These are the artists, the composers, the sculptors. However, in order to appreciate them, we, too, need imagination. Otherwise form and sound would have no meaning. They would not move us.
Imagine how it works. It starts in the mind. It starts with memory, i.e. the ability to store previous images. Without memory one cannot imagine or create. The mind would remain an empty slate and there would be no identity. Memory offers the building blocks for new forms: a poem, an abstract painting, a song with words. Bit by bit they take form, first in the mind in which they are kneaded and shaped, this way and that. And then, carefully, abstract thinking can become more concrete. Still kneading and scraping away, like a sculptor does with a granite rock. Sometimes going back to the drawing board, the mind.
It is an arduous process for the artist, however logical the outcome may seem. It is an arduous process for all of us.
Because after all we are all artists: creating our lives from day to day; the story that holds us together.

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