Computer ReadingBaby, I might not have a lot, but I’ve got me one good imagination.

For the most part, this stands me in good stead.  Imagination lets me inhabit the heads of different people in different places when I write, but there’s more to it than that.  Imagination is what lets you see beyond what’s there in front of you to what it could be.  It’s what let me look at a piece of jewelry and realize the clasp would make a perfect deadbolt for the door in my miniature room.   It lets me look at my mother’s garage and envision it as a studio apartment (although, thank God, that probably won’t have to happen).  It lets me look around my house and see it as it could be – see the Palatial Horvath Estate spread out before me.

Sure, there are problems sometimes.  I sometimes forget that what I see in potential is not, in fact, the reality.  And sometimes imagination can take me on a wee bit of a downward spiral – as witnessed this afternoon by my mild panic attack regarding the leak in my roof and its possible consequences.

But for the most part, imagination is where it’s at, in my opinion.

And this is the biggest gripe I have with our extremely video oriented culture.  It codifys imagination and puts it in a straight-jacket.

Books can codify imagination too, to a certain extent.  Unless you are in a “choose your own adventure” novel, you are limited to the plot and characters the author has created.  But within that, you have freedom.  I tell you that Katie, in my book Hold Me, has curly red hair and freckles, but you are free to imagine how she actually looks.  You can picture her as Minnie Driver, or Debra Messing, or anyone else, or no one at all.  You build her image in your own mind – and your Katie probably looks a lot different than my Katie (although I’ll bet neither of them look anything like the book cover model – LOL).

With video, you know what the character looks like.  Iron Man is Robert Downey, Jr.  Captain Jack Sparrow is Johnny Depp.  You immediately know what those characters look like because there is a person who played that role, and that person looks a certain way, and that image has been accepted by the culture.  You did not have to create their image yourself.

In fact, you don’t have to do much of anything yourself with video.  You participate in books.  You live the plot of the book in your mind along with the characters – even when the book is an audio book.  In other entertainment medium, you are often just an observer.  You sit and take it in, big eyes blinking at the screen, but your mind is not actively involved.

That’s a problem.  If you are just a sponge taking in information with no need for action on your part, your brain will turn into a large gray rock.  You need to use your imagination to keep it alive and well – the world needs more imagination, not less.  We need to be able to see and create for ourselves – not just absorb what we’re being told.

I guess what I’m saying is, go on out there and read a book.


PS – If you take a look below, you’ll notice I’m ending a post about reading by linking to a video.  Want to make something of it? LOL Hey, I just love the song. But I did have a point here. When I read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as a kid, I did not envision the chocolate room or Willy Wonka this way. After seeing the movie, when I think of Willy, I think of Gene Wilder (sorry Johnny Depp). I accepted that image and internalized it. Now I don’t imagine Willy Wonka anymore. And that’s too bad.



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