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Vol. 17 MAY 1913 No. 2

Copyright 1913 by H. W. PERCIVAL


MAN enjoys the work of imagination, yet he seldom or never thinks about it so that he knows what it is, how it works, what factors are employed, what are the processes and results of the work, and what the real purpose of imagination is. Like other words, such as idea, mind, thought, imagination is usually used indiscriminately or without definite meaning. People speak of imagination with praise, as an attainment or attribute of great men whose ability and power have shaped destinies of nations and the world; and the same people will speak of it as being the characteristic of others who are not practical, who have vagrant fancies and weak minds; that the visions of such are of no use, their dreams never materialize, they expect what never happens; and, they are looked on with pity or contempt.

Imagination will continue to sway destinies. It will carry some up into the heights and others into the depths. It may make or unmake men.

Imagination is not an intangible nebula of dreams, fancies, hallucinations, fantasms, illusions, empty nothings. Imagination does things. Things are done in imagination. What is done in imagination is as real to the one who does it as are the products of imagination when harnessed to physical uses.

That is real to man of which he is aware. Man becomes aware of things by having them thrust upon him or by turning his attention to them. He does not understand that of which he is aware, until after he has given his attention to and tries to think about and understand it. When he thinks of and tries to understand it, imagination will unfold new forms to him; he will see new meanings in old forms; he will learn how to make forms; and he will understand and look forward to the final art of imagination, in the unmaking and making of form.

Imagination does not depend upon time nor place, though at times the image faculty in man is freer and more active than at others, and there are places better suited than others to the work, not the play, of imagination. It depends on the disposition, temperament, character, development of the individual. Time and place have much to do with the dreamer who wishes things would happen and waits for opportunities and moods, but the imaginor creates opportunities, drives moods from him, makes things happen. With him, imagination works at any time and in any place.

Those who imagine are either negative or positive, passive or active, dreamers or imaginors. The dreamer’s thoughts are suggested by the senses and their objects; the imaginor’s imagination is most likely to be caused by his thought. The dreamer is sensitive and passive, the imaginator sensitive and positive. The dreamer is one whose mind, through his image faculty, reflects or takes the forms of objects of the senses or thoughts, and who is swayed by these. The imaginor or imaginator is one who brings through his image faculty, matter into form, guided by his thought, according to his knowledge and determined by his power of will. Stray thoughts and sensuous sounds and forms attract the dreamer. His mind follows them and plays with them in their rambles, or is gripped and held by them, and his image faculty is driven and compelled to give them expression as they direct. The imaginator quiets his image faculty and closes his senses by thinking steadily until he has found his thought. As seed is cast into the womb of the earth, so the thought is given to the image faculty. Other thoughts are excluded.

Resting finally on the latent knowledge in the mind and by the power of will, the imaginor stimulates the image faculty with his thought until the work of imagination begins. According to the latent knowledge of the imaginor and by the power of will, the thought takes life in the image faculty. The senses are then called into use and each serves in the work of imagination. The thought having taken form in imagination, is the central figure in a group or groups of forms, which take their color from it and which it influences until the work of imagination is done.

How imagination operates is shown in the case of an author. By thinking, he turns his mental light on the subject he desires to produce and is stirred with fervor as he thinks. His senses cannot help him, they distract and confuse. By continued thinking he clarifies and focusses the light of his mind until he finds the subject of his thought. It may come into his mental vision gradually as out of a heavy mist. It may flash in its entirety like lightning or the rays of a sunburst. This is not of the senses. What this is the senses cannot grasp. Then his image faculty is at work, and his senses actively engage in the costuming of the characters to which his image faculty gives form. The objects of the world without are used in so far as they can serve as material for the setting of the subject in his world within. As the characters grow into form, each sense contributes by adding tone or movement or shape or body. All are made alive in their environment which the author has called forth by the work of imagination.

Imagination is possible for every human. With some the powers and capacities for imagination are limited to a small degree; with others developed in extraordinary manner.

The powers of imagination are: the power to desire, the power to think, the power to will, the power to sense, the power to act. Desiring is the process of the turbulent, strong, attracting and unintelligent portion of the mind, demanding expression and satisfaction through the senses. Thinking is the focussing of the light of the mind on a subject of thought. Willing is the compelling, by thought, of that which one has chosen to do. Sensing is the conveying of the impressions received through the organs of sense to the faculties of the mind. Acting is the doing of that which one desires or wills.

These powers come from the knowledge which the mind has acquired in the past. The popular notions are incorrect, that the art of imagination is a gift of nature, that the powers used in imagination are endowments of nature or the result of heredity. The terms gifts of nature, heredity and providence mean only that which has come by a man’s own efforts. The art and endowment of imagination and the powers used in imagination are the inheritance in this present life of part of what the man had acquired by effort in his past lives. Those who have little power of or desire for imagination have made little effort to acquire it.

Imagination can be developed. Those who have little, may develop much. Those who have much may develop more. The senses are aids, but not means in the development of imagination. Defective senses will be defective aids, but they cannot prevent the working of imagination.

Imagination is attained to by discipline and exercise of the mind in the work of imagination. To discipline the mind for imagination, select an abstract subject and engage in thinking about it at regular intervals until it is seen and comprehended by the mind.

One develops imagination to the degree in which he disciplines the mind for the purpose. Culture of the senses adds certain superficial values to the effects of the work of imagination. But the art in imagination is rooted in the mind and is transmitted to or through the senses by means of the faculties of the mind which have to do with imagination.

(To be concluded)