…memory or imagination…

“Childhood flows from many springs…[it would be] futile to construct its geography [or] to write its history.” — Gaston Bachelard

The oppositional pairing of “memory or  imagination” might be considered the originating clarification dilemma.  Here is the central dynamic associated with figuring out “where-we-are-at” at any moment in our lives.  Remember:  The point of judgment clarification is to try to figure out “where-we-are-at” so that we can move forward in a direction that is consistent with who we are.

And it all turns on faithfulness: how faithful is our “imagistic” imagination to what is really important to us?  If values and beliefs are critical to moving forward, then being genuine with our imagination is critical.  Memory stifles imagination by creating unchangeable references. As a result, we give up our freedom by trying to relive the past, when all we really want is what imagination provides to us in any case.    The part becomes the whole prospectively through image value and imagination.

In my last blog, I identified the difference between memory and imagination.  Bottom line:  Memory and imagination manage different faculties of recollection.  Memory requires reverie to faithfully bring up “facts” from the past.  In that state of reverie, imagination paints the images it wants to see – not because these images represent facts but because they hold  “image value” for us.  Image value is discovered when the unique becoming the One (or the Whole).  Images distill until we are left with only the most unique, vivid, and easy to recall.  Our recollection of “data” is compressed and “tagged” so image value stands out.  And once “tagged,” the factual data and the historical image become split.  The Memory holds factual data, the Imagination holds image value.  At least, that is according to Gaston Bachelard.

So what is the practical significance this?  We have no choice but to depend on image value. 

If I want to know “where-I’m-at” at any moment in my life, I must depend on image values not historical facts.  What images come to mind?  What images are being “pushed” into my life?  Part of “the journey” from Image to Word and Back is our willingness to look at the images that come up.  To sit with them and acknowledge them.  How willing are we to do that? And that’s exactly when image value as historical fact can get in our way.   Once we’ve had too many experiences that leave an “imprint” that says, “We’re not worth it,” or “We can’t succeed,” that’s when we tend to accept image value at face value.  But image value is separate from historical fact; we don’t need to accept historical fact at face value.

So now we come back to the question: how faithful is our imagination (and its image values) to what is really important to us?

As soon as the past is situated within a network of human values, …[memory] appears with the double force of the Mind which remembers and the Soul which feasts upon faithfulness …  

But what we are talking about here is a different kind of faithfulness.  With every historical failure or disappointment, you are invited to fall back into yourself.  Think of it as falling into narrow well… falling backwards, down, and downward into a vast, open space.  The faithfulness of our image value is the “fall-that-wakes-you-up.”  You return to the origin of dreaming where one never finishes beginning.  The fall into the well becomes the supper for our journey, the Eucharist for our dying.  It is the moment when we are both blest (in our life) and blessed (in the moment). To fall backward into your beginning is to know that all your beginnings will never end.  The fall leads us back into the future of a re-discovered image, to a part of ourselves that was somehow forgotten, over-looked, or mis-remembered.  A part that is still vital, alive, and ever hopeful.

In my next  blog, I want to turn to Jacques Lusseyran and his autobiography,  And There Was Light.  Thanks for listening!


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