Imagination is that power of mind by which we form pictures of things not present. It is the power of representing a mental product as an image. As the name denotes, imagination is the image making, or image showing faculty. The Germans call it Einbildungskraft. According to Krauth and Fleming, “Vocabulary of Philosophy,” “In the language of modern philosophy, the imagination seems to denote, first, the power of apprehending or conceiving ideas, simply as they are in themselves, without any view to their reality; secondly, the power of combining into new forms or assemblages, those thoughts, ideas, or notions, which we have derived from experience or from information.”
Relation to Memory. Imagination stands in close relation to memory,in fact, depends on memory for its materials. Memory holds and brings back our past experiences just as they were without any modification. Memory is the faculty of unaltered reproduction, while imagination is the faculty of altered reproduction. Memory is the grand storehouse from which imagination draws the materials for its strange creations. “Memory retains and recalls the past in the form which it assumed when it was previously before the mind. Imagination brings up the past in new shapes and combinations. Both of them are reflective of objects; but the one may be compared to the mirror which reflects whatever has been before it, in its proper form and color; the other may be likened to the kaleidoscope which reflects what is before it in an infinite variety of new forms and dispositions.’ Or as the poet puts it,
“Music, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory; Odors, when sweet violets sicken, Live within the sense they quicken.”
In memory the representation is judged to be of a past experience; in imagination it is not so judged, i. e., the objects of memory are facts of experience; those of imagination may or may not be facts of experience, the question is not considered, the representation is in disregard of experience. “Imagination is productive; memory is merely reproductive. The object represented in memory is real; that represented in imagination may be unreal. Memory is mediate knowledge of the actual in the past; imagination is mediate knowledge of the possible in the past, present or future. Were this power wholly lacking, we should be unable to devise for the future, or to anticipate and provide for even the next coming moment. All hope, all reasonable forecast of events, all inspired prophecy, the history of the future, are wrougnt out by imagination, and then become memories as time flows by.’ The following lines of Shelley mark the distinction:
“And points where once you sat, and now should be, But are not.I demand that if ever we shall meet as then we met; and she replies, Veiling in awe her second-sighted eyes: I know the past alone-but summon home My sister Hope, she speaks of all to come. But I, an old diviner, who know well Every false verse of that sweet oracle, turned to the sad enchantress once again, And sought a respite from my gentle pain, In acting every passage o’er and o’er Of our communion.”
-LETTER TO MARIA GISBORNE.
Memory furnishes the materialspaints, canvas etc. desire gives the law or model, and imagination paints the picture. Imagination is the power which represents the elements of knowledge in modified forms and in new combinations. Imagination, though differing, as we have just seen, from memory, is not separated from memory by any sharp line of demarcation.
Nature of the Constructive Imagination. While there are several phases of imagination, we shall confine ourselves to the constructive or creative phase. In what sense is imagination creative? It never creates any new materials all the materials for its workshop are furnished by memory. Its creations are new combinations of old materials; in this way it creates a world of its own and peoples this new world with beings ofttimes strangely unreal, yet always interesting.
In its operations is involved a double process of decomposition and reconstruction, of analysis and synthesis, of dissociation and recombination. Dissociation is the antecedent step to imaginative construction. Our concepts of things are formed by joining together various elements. In the work of the imagination we separate these complex concepts into their elements, and then we proceed to build new combinations out of these elements. As the child pulls its toys to pieces and then out of the fragments makes new toys to please its fancy, so the imagination deals with the concepts held in memory’s storehouse.
The creations of the inventor, the poet, the artist, the composer illustrate this process of construction. Look at some ,of the interesting objects which constitute the treasures of the great world of fancy, and how they are made. From the bust of a maiden and the tail of a fish a mermaid is constructed; joining the body of a horse and the head of a man gives rise to a centaur; the body of a goat, the head of a lion and the tail of a dragon make up the fabled chimaera the body of a dog, with three heads and with snakes for hair is construed into cerberus; the head of a beautiful maiden, the body of a vulture, and the claws of an eagle constitute the harpies; adding the wings of an eagle to the body of a horse we have the famous Pegasus of the muses and poets, and so on through all the wealth of mythologic fancy. Taking a pile of stones and spreading over it a growing vine, forms in my imagination the picture of the ivy-covered ruins of some old castle. Thus is formed the beautiful imagery of the poets. So Milton made the wonderful creations of Paradise Lost; ,so Shakespeare shaped the “witches” of Macbeth, the “Caliban” of the Tempest, the fairie figures of Midsummer Night’s Dream; so Swift constructed the “Lilliputian” people of Gulliver’s Travels; so Burns made the airy beings of his Tam O’Shanter; so Bunyan formed the characters of his immortal Pilgrim’s Progress.
The same process of dissociation and recombination is illustrated in the play-fancies of the child, as well as in the superstitious notions of the savage.
The same thing is farther illustrated in the formation of art products. How is a painting made? “The Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel at Romé, the “Sistine Madonna” of Raphael in Dresden, the “Paradise” of Tintoretto in the Palace of the Doges, Venice, said to be the largest oil painting in the world with a bewildering multitude of figures, and which Ruskin calls “the most precious thing that Venice possesses” how are such pictures formed? By combining a few simple elements of colors, shades, perspective, etc., on the background of some historical fact or facts. How were the “Laocoon,” the “Apollo Belvedere,” the “Dying Gladiator,” the “Venus” of Milo formed? These immortal pieces were conceived by the imagination. How was the Cathedral of St. Peter’s, of Milan, of Cologne made? If you go to Florence, and, in the house where Michael Angelo lived, view the series of sketches which the master had made of the dome of St. Peter’s, you can see how the grand conception of that magnificent structure grew step by step in the imagination of the master architect. How does the landscape gardener proceed in his work? By combining herbs, shrubs, trees, knolls, valleys, rocks, streams, lakes, fountains, avenues, etc., according to a conceived picture of his.. imagination. So the dramatist constructs his plays; so the musical composer, his melody, his sonata, his symphony, his opera, his oratorio.
Forms and Modes of the Imagination. Several forms of the imaginative faculty must be distinguished. First, we name what may be called the sense imagination. This stands in the functions of sense as the higher modes stand in the functions of intellect and reason. The working of the imagination in the domain of the senses is precisely similar to that of the aesthetic and rational imagination. The phenomena of phantasy are to be grouped here, and afford the best illustration of the sense imagination. The phantasy makes its images severed from the relations of time, place and previous perceptions. The mind acts capriciously, without regard to truth, or reality. The judgment has little to do in the process; the sense dominates everything in the flow of ideas.
Phantasy is the native energy of the soul by which its past experiences are represented as fancies. When we are resting, this mode of soul action manifests itself in the form of reverie; when we are asleep, in the form of dreams. In childhood, fancy makes the stick a horse and the fairy tale a reality. It fills the drunkard’s boots with snakes, changes the demented woman into Queen Victoria, and leads the somnambulist to act his dreams. It is also called involuntary imagination. As such it is spontaneous, instinctive; actuated by desire without intelligent choice. The phantoms that fright us in the dark, spectral voices that we hear, the odd, ludicrous and absurd ideas that stream through our minds maybe mentioned as examples. Dreams are phantasms, involuntary or sense memories new combinations, “wherein blind phantasy would fain interpret to the mind the painful sensations of distempered sleep.” Reverie, castle building, or day dreaming is a mild and pleasing form of phantasy. “The craze of delirium and of monomania are extreme cases. In reverie the imagination suffers but little restraint. Images assemble, form, and dissolve, not so much at will, as at pleasure. In phantasy, the will resigns control, and the disordered sensations, together with appetites and other forms of desire, impelling blindly in the general torpor of intelligence, arouse imagination to unchecked extravagance.”
As Milton says,”When nature rests, Oft in her absence mimic fancy wakes Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams, Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.”
“It is remarkable that the power of selfcontrol seems to have so little reserve force that it is the first of our faculties to break down, not only in our sleep, but in grief, in intoxication, in fever, in case of a stunning blow, etc. Other faculties continue active when this has completely succumbed. The torpor of volition during sleep is an important element in explaining the phenomena of dreaming.”
Imagination proper is purposed and directed effort, but phantasy goes on without purpose and without direction. The former is work, the latter is play. Phantasy is to the imagination what the kaleidoscope is to the designer; it gives suggestions which the imagination may work up in higher forms.
when the mind is shut off from communication with the external world and from any correct knowledge of bodily conditions, images alone may be objects of consciousness and may come and go uncontrolled by the judgment.”
In soundest sleep and even in delirium we are aware of our dreams and of ourselves as viewing the panorama. The sense world may fade away, but self never ceases to be conscious of its own acts. While we are aware of our acts, our dreams seem to us to be objective realities. We do not recognize the memories that are woven into our dreams as former experiences, nor are we aware that these fancies are products of our own minds. The ground for this is found in association of the materials out of which our fancies are made. In phantasy we dissociate our experiences, and then recombine them into new forms. As thus changed we do not recognize them as past experiences, but look upon them as new experiences. Our phantasies are not usually remembered because we have not given them sufficient attention to make perceptible paths in the brain substance.
The phantasy works under certain limitations: (1) We can put into our fancies only our experiences. The blind, that is, those born blind, put no color into their fancies. Adults who lost their hearing before the fifth year, it is said, put no sound into their dream images. (2) Phantasy deals only with the concrete, viz., sense percepts, self percepts, and necessary percepts. Abstract concepts are not used in our fancies and dreams.
To this may be added that our fancies and dreams depend largely upon ourselves. Our waking life to a great extent determines our dream life. Good digestion, regular habits, physical comfort, an hour or two of bodily and mental rest, and a conscience void of offense are the conditions of sound sleep and pleasant dreams. If our reading, our associations, our thoughts and feelings are habitually pure and elevated, our dreams, our fancies are likely to be peaceful and pleasant.
While our other powers are least active, phantasy is most active. Memory supplies the materials; the laws of association determine the particular course in which the stream of ideas flows. “When thought is slightly active, our dreams become arguments. When imagination (i. e., in its higher form) is some-what active, our reveries and dreams become inventions, plans, romances. When our affections are slightly active, our dreams become love scenes. When will is sufficiently active, we act our dreams. When memory is slightly active, we remember our dreams.”
In childhood the work of phantasy is particularly marked. The baby weaves its little joys and griefs into its dreams: now it laughs, and now it weeps in its sleep. The play instinct of childhood is a thing of sense and phantasy. Watch the little ones at play, and see how they weave into their plays the things which have come into their experiences. Fairyland seems reality to the child, and fairy stories give him unbounded pleasure. The incidents of these stories affect children in just the same way as realities affect adults. Saint Nick, too, is reality. We were sorry when we found out that Santa Claus was not reality: long after that we were still fond of hanging up our stockings and placing our caps for Christmas presents. We think it is almost cruel to dispel the sweet delusion. Child literature is based on the activity of phantasy. The illusions fade out as years advance, but in childhood they served a good purpose.
Physiological Basis of Phantasy. “Sensations, once experienced, modify the nervous organism, so that copies of them arise again in the mind after the original outward stimulus is gone. No mental copy can arise in the mind, of any kind of sensation which has never been directly excited from without.”
The blind may dream of sights, the deaf of sounds, for years after they have lost their vision or hearing; but the man born deaf can never be made to imagine what sound is like, nor can the man born blind ever have a mental vision. In Locke’s words, `The mind can frame unto itself no one new simple idea.’ The originals of them all must have been given from without. Phantasy, or imagination, are the names given to the faculty of reproducing copies of originals once felt. The imagination is called `reproductive’ when the copies are literal; ‘productive’ when elements from different originals are recombined so as to make new wholes.
“After images belong to sensation rather than to imagination; so that the most immediate phenomena of imagination would seem to be those tardier images, which are due to what the Germans call Sinnesgedachtniss, coercive hauntings of the mind by echoes of unusual experiences for hours after the latter have taken place. The phenomena ordinarily ascribed to imagination, however, are those mental pictures of possible sensible experiences, to which the ordinary processes of associative thought give rise.” James.
Prof. Jastrow has ascertained that if blindness occurs before the period embraced between the fifth and seventh years the visual centers seem to decay, and visual dreams and images are gradually outgrown. If sight is lost after the seventh year, visual imagination seems to survive through life.
Prof. Joseph Baldwin says: “During repose, when phantasy is most active, the blood supply to the cerebrum is greatly reduced. Perception and thought and will are slightly active and the exhausted brain recuperates, self drifts. Gentle sensor excitations and present ideas suggest other experiences. Self, without purpose and without plan, goes on linking fancy to fancy. This is scribbling, not writing; this is the child’s daubing, not the artist painting. This is the whirlwind piling up the timbers, not the architect constructing the mansion.”
Imagination Proper. We come now to the imagination proper, above and distinct from its sense connections and sense complications. Imagination in this sense is purposive and voluntary, fully within the province of will, and proceeding in the light of consciousness. It is the soul’s capability to transform the real into the ideal, or to clothe the ideal in the dress of the real. Out of material realities the imagination creates ideals. Out of my experiences, my knowledge and observation of building materials, architectural designs, forms of nature, etc., I create an ideal cottage. Imagination modifies experiences, rearranges them, analyzes them, and makes new wholes. Imagination makes models, constructs hypotheses, forms systems, creates poems. Realities, touched by the magic wand of imagination, become ideals.
Physiological Basis. Imagination, like memory, habit, and association, rests on brain action and is intimately connected with neural processes. In general, we think that all mental activities have their concomitant brain and nerve action. There are many facts drawn from general life and from observations in the psychological laboratory which go to show beyond a doubt that imagination is grounded in physiology. For example, if the inner organ of sight is destroyed, it is impossible to imagine scenes. Ferrier says: “The destruction of the sight centre not only makes the individual blind presentatively, but blind also representatively or ideally, and all cognitions into which visual characters enter in part or whole become mangled and imperfect, or are utterly rooted out of consciousness.”
Every effort of imagination has corresponding to it a molecular movement of the brain substance. Imaged activity tends strongly to go out into real activity; we suit the action to the thought. When we form a mental image of a leap, our muscles are in a state of tension and we are ready to spring; when we go over a speech mentally, we are prone to speak it aloud; when we think of a tune, we are apt to hum it; a feigned blow causes us to start or dodge, etc. Similar to these phenomena are many varieties of in-voluntary gesticulations and facial expression. Mental stimuli produce brain excitation; so also reciprocally, brain changes as cause may produce mental images as effects. Certain cell movements taking place in the nerve centers confusedly along lines of preference established by habit, may determine or cause a succession of corresponding mental images in more or less confusion and disorder.
Hence physical appetites, as hunger and thirst, often direct and color our dreams. The man perishing of cold fancies himself wrapped in warm blankets or seated in a comfortable room; a starving man dreams of abundance of food; the wanderer on the desert dying of thirst has visions of flowing streams. Hence, also, the subjective effects of brain fever, and the wildly delightful and extravagant visions of the opium eater.
Shakespeare says:”Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaking phantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends.”
”Midsummer Night’s Dream,” V: Sec. 1.
First, the Scientifc lmagination. This is also called “reflective,” “deliberative” (Aristotle), “philosophic,” etc. It is especially related to thought in the search for knowledge. “Regardless of sentiment, it seeks neither the beautiful nor the sublime, but driven by desire to know, it labors after truth, which, when ascertained, it strives to represent with clearness and fullness.” It is occupied with hypotheses, and seeks to image conceivable possibilities concerning the subject in hand. In the scientific imagination inventions and discoveries being. When Hargreaves upset his wife’s spinning wheel, his imagination saw in the vertical revolving spindle the ideal of the spinning jenny. In the lifting of the tea-kettle lid, Watt saw the principle of the steam engine. In the swinging chandelier of the Cathedral at Pisa, Galileo saw the principle of the pendulum, and the world excuses his apparent lack of devotion on that occasion when it remembers the results that have come from that discovery. In the falling apple Newton imaged a world dominated by the law of gravitation. In the kite raised into the face of the thunder cloud, Franklin saw a shining highway to the wonderland of electricity and from it received the communication of a truth which has revolutionized modern life.
The scientific imagination affords important aid to the experimenter in science. Before effects are connected with causes the imagination must explore the field and find the possible connection. Imagination is like the scouts that an army sends on ahead to spy out the land, and report a possible route of progress through the unknown country. It also brings its fine clusters of grapes from the brook Eschol to inspire and encourage the halting army of invasion. Imagination marks out the path in which scientific progress should move, and also affords the incentive for progress.
Sir Benjamin Brodie, once president of the Royal Society, said: “Physical investigation, more than anything else besides, helps to teach us the actual value and right use of the imagination of that wondrous faculty, which, when left to ramble uncontrolled, leads us astray into a wilderness of perplexities and errors, a land of mists and shadows; but which,properly controlled by experience and reflection, becomes the noblest attribute of man, the source of poetic genius, the instrument of discovery in science, without the aid of which Newton would never have invented fluxions nor Davy have decomposed the earths and alkalies, nor would Columbus have found another continent.”
Prof. Tyndall says: “Philosophers may be right in affirming that we cannot transcend experience; but we can at all events carry it a long way from its origin. We can also magnify, diminish, qualify, and combine experiences, so as to render them fit for purposes entirely new. We are gifted with the power of imagination, and by this power we can lighten the darkness which surrounds the world of the senses. There are tories, even in science, who regard imagination as the faculty to be feared and avoided rather than employed. They had observed its action in weak vessels, and were unduly impressed by its disasters. But they might with equal truth point to exploded boilers as an argument against the use of steam. Bounded and conditioned by coôperant reason, imagination becomes the mightiest instrument of the physical discoverers. Newton’s passage from a falling apple to a falling moon was, at the outset, a leap of the imagination.”
Secondly, the Aesthetic Imagination. This mode of the imagination is also called artistic. Its end is not knowledge, as in the scientific imagination, but beauty. It singles out elements in nature and in the storehouse of memory, which satisfy the sense of the beautiful, and out of this it constructs its ideal complexes. It pays little regard to the realizable, because its end is aesthetic pleasure; if its creations please, what matters it whether they can be realized or not? The aesthetic imagination frames for itself, and lives in, a world of ideal beauty. It is accompanied by lively emotion; its forms are more instantaneous and also more inexplicable because they arise from an emotional stimulus. Hence, great artists are generally persons of emotional temperament.
The realm of the aesthetic imagination is the fine arts. All the great works of art from ancient times down to the present have been created by imagination. The masterpieces of painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, and music are products of aesthetic imagination. The Venus of Milo was first seen by the imagination in the rough block of marble long before the sculptor’s chisel released the beautiful angel form from its sepulchre. The Cathedral at Milan, “that magnificent poem in stone,” had its origin in the architect’s imagination. The finest poetry is the work of imagination. Hence, the higher degree of artistic imagination is sometimes called the poetic imagination. This it is that makes the beauties of literature and peoples the literary world with its strange and interesting figures. It is the orator’s powerful instrument, the magic wand with which he sways the thoughts and feelings and passions of his audience at his will. Music is a fairy kingdom in which the aesthetic imagination conceives some of its most charming ideals and displays the wonders of its creative power.
The aesthetic imagination works by the aid of ideals. An ideal is a mental conception regarded as a standard of perfection, a model of highest excellence. Ideals are creations of the mind, as over against realities, which exist independent of the mind. An ideal is a working model, the harmonious blending into one mental product, of the idea and the object. We fashion our ideals out of the qualities and characteristics which we observe in men and things. In the formation of an ideal of character, for example, the first step consists in studying the lives of illustrious men. The next step is to separate the complex whole into its elements and select the most worthy qualities and combine these into an ideal. These models o beauty and perfection of form, of harmony, of proportion then stand forth as guides in our striving for perfection; our lives then are a series of efforts to realize our ideals. The ideal is ever something yet to be won, the possible waiting to be made real in effort, the latent waiting to be revealed in action,the prophetic waiting to be fulfilled in earnest endeavors for the attainment of the highest good.
These ideals are formed, not capriciously, but according to the principles of reason. The reason has its pure forms, and the making of ideals is but the filling in of these pure forms by means of concrete materials gathered by experience and held by the memory. Knowing the place which our ideals occupy in our lives, we can judge the importance of having the highest and best ideals. This is what Emerson meant by the startling expression, “Hitch your wagon to a star.” “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”i. e., as our ideals, so are we, for these are ever striving to realize themselves in our outward life, and so most profoundly shape our character.
The Limits of Imagination. The imagination creates its world of beauty within certain limits. The first. and most important is that of experience. Although in one sense it disregards experience, yet, on the other hand, it cannot transcend experience. Imagination must depend on memory. In its highest power, in its utmost flights, its images are but combinations of partial experiences given by memory; it, creates no new materials, it is only the particular combination that is new. Says one, “Experience is the quarry whence memory draws the materials with which imagination (Einbildungskraft) builds.”
“All presentations, external and internal, all sensations, emotions, desires, affections, volitions, and thoughts furnish, through memory, materials for imagination. Whatever can be remembered can be idealized.” It follows from this that our ideal world will be fashioned according to our actual sense world and thought world. The elements in which we live will determine the forms of our imaginary creations. Since the greater part of our sense life is occupied with visual objects, our ideal world is filled predominantly with visual images, i. e., of things seen. Auditory images, though numerous, are yet far less common than visual images.
Our imaginary creations are but the reflex of our personal experience. If we live in a low and sensual sphere our imaginations will be of a kind to correspond. To the Indian, heaven is a happy hunting ground, where game never fails, and where he shall again have his faithful dog, his bows and arrows, and his wampum. To him the Indian summer haze is the smoke from the Great Spirit’s peace pipe.
This principle has important application to the music student. What shall be the character of your musical ideals? That will depend upon your musical experience,the kind of music you hear and play, the musical atmosphere in which you live, the companions you associate with daily. If you live in a low musical sphere your musical ideals will be low. Strive to set up and maintain a high standard. Cultivate acquaintance with the masters. Avoid the trashy and showy kind. Musical culture consists in knowing and associating with the best. The brilliant is of low value and in the end serves only to display self. It is in music as in dress, the flashy and showy is always a mark of uncultivated taste. Be sure you have your experience with deep and true music. As we get better acquainted with it, we find it more and more interesting, it always has something new to say to us. We go to it again and again, and we always get new meanings, which inspire and elevate our thoughts. As our acquaintance grows and our taste improves, the truly classic music yields new beauties.
The principle we are urging has important educational consequences. Remember our ideals depend on our experience. As the stock of our ideas, so will be our imaginary creations. Here also it is true that the stream does not rise higher than its source.
The imagination is further limited to the individual and the concrete. We form no images of the general and abstract. The object immediately present to the imagination is an individual. Then, too, our imaginary creations must conform to rational principles. Those general principles of mind which condition thought in all departments are equally operative in the working of the imagination. For example, we cannot imagine a body not contained in space and yet occupying space, nor an effect without a cause, nor that a thing can be and not be at the same time, etc. Imagination cannot go beyond the necessary principles which govern all the thinking processes of the reason.
The Influence and Importance of Imagination. The imagination has wonderful power both over mind and body, in society and the state, in morals and religion, in general life. “Imagination,” said Napoleon, “rules the world.” And Prof. Baldwin says: “Imagination is a master power, commanding all our other capabilities. Memory, from our stores of experiences, supplies imagination with materials. Will contributes purpose and concentrated and sustained effort. Emotion gives wings to imagination. Thought contributes discretion and law. Imagination is the master builder, and our other powers are the cooperating workmen.”
First, Its Mental and Bodily Effects. Facts of common experience and observation furnish many instructive examples. The witchcraft craze, belief in pow-wowing, magnetic healing, Christian science, patent medicines, charms, hypochondriasis, and all the superstitions of life are so many instances of the power of imagination. Certain special cases are particularly interesting. Halleck gives the following:
A fussy man at breakfast would insist that the cream for his gruel was sour, made much trouble in sending out for a fresh supply. Finally, his wife told the servant to keep some of the same cream outside, and to bring that in whenever there were complaints the new supply always seemed much better.
Prof. Bennett, of Edinburgh University, mentions a case reported to him by the chemist who had witnessed it. A butcher, working in the market of Edinburgh, was in the act of hanging a heavy piece of meat on a sharp hook, when his foot slipped and he was caught by the arm and hung suspended in the greatest anguish. He was taken down and carried across to a chemist’s shop, where the case was at once attended to as one of urgency. The surgeon proceeded to cut open the sleeve of the man’s coat, the sufferer crying out in great agony as this was done; yet, when the arm was exposed, it was found that the skin had not even been scratched.
Dr. Noble records a similar case in the experience of M. Boutibonne, a literary man, who served in Napoleon’s army, and was engaged at the battle of Wagram, which resulted in a treaty of peace with Austria in November, 1809. Towards sunset, when reloading his musket, he was shot down by a cannon ball. He felt as if the greater part of both legs had been carried away and all night he lay helpless, not daring to move, lest he should bleed to death. At early dawn a medical officer came to his help. To the question, “What’s the matter, my comrade?” M. Boutibonne replied, “Oh, touch me gently, I beseech you; a cannon ball has carried away my legs!” The doctor examined his legs, and with a laugh, bade him get up as there was nothing wrong, when the sufferer leaped to his feet in amazement. The cannon ball had carried away the ground underneath his feet, and he had fallen into a trench which had been suddenly opened.
A man sentenced to bleed to death, was blindfolded; a harmless incision was then made in his arm and tepid water fixed so as to run down the arm and drop with considerable noise into a basin. The attendants frequently commented on the flow of blood and the weakening pulse. The criminal’s false idea of what was taking place was as powerful in its effects as the ‘reality and he soon died.
“A person imagining that he is suffering from disease of the heart, and frequently directing his attention to the movement of that organ, may produce disease where originally there was none; and, in like manner, we are told that “the idea that a structural defect will certainly be removed by a certain act in-creases the organic action of the part, and sometimes produces a cure.”Dr. J. Muller.
These phenomena are explicable on physiological principles. Imagination fixes the attention, and the attention strongly directed to any part or organ of the body may produce congestion or disease in the organ.
“When the attention is directed to any part of the body, innervation and circulation are excited locally, and the functional activity of that portion developed. This is well known in the common forms of hypochondriasis, in which the patient being morbidly anxious as to the state of some particular organe. g., the heartconstantly directs his attention to it, and thus functional disorder, and even structural disease, are caused.”Dr Laycock.
“There can be no doubt that real disease often supervenes upon fancied ailment, especially through the indulgence of what is known as the hypochondriacal tendency to dwell upon uneasy sensations; these sensations being themselves in many instances purely subjective.”Dr. Carpenter.
Mr. Carter (On the Pathology and Treatment of Hysteria) relates the case of “a lady who, watching her little child at play, saw a heavy windowsash fall upon its hand, cutting off three of the fingers; and she was so overcome by fright and distress as to be unable to render it any assistance. A surgeon was speedily obtained, who, having dressed the wounds, turned himself to the mother, whom he found seated, moaning and complaining of pain in her hand. On examination, three fingers, corresponding to those injured in the child, were discovered to be swollen and inflamed, although they had ailed nothing prior to the accident. In four and twenty hours incisions were made into them and pus was evacuated; sloughs were afterwards discharged, and the wounds ultimately healed.”
Secondly, Its Effects in Practical Life. Imagination is a grand motive power in human progress. All progress comes from efforts to realize ideals, and ideals are our approaches to the perfect. Without lofty and inspiring ideals, there will be little progress in any department of human interest. Because the soul is progressive, it never quite repeats itself, but in every act attempts the production of a new and fairer world. This is what makes life so interesting; without it, the humdrum reality of life would be well nigh unbearable. In practical life, in art, in literature, imagination insures originality and progress. The leaders of thought and action, in all ages, have been persons gifted with powerful imaginations.
A cultivated imagination leads the way in high achievements. The reason for this is apparent. Where there are high ideals there will be corresponding deeds, but it is the office of imagination to make our ideals. Our ideals of perfect manhood lead us *Carpenter, “Human Physiology.”
forward and upward in our efforts at character-building. Imagination stimulates mental energy. By its aid we can do more and better work, besides robbing hard work of its tedium. Being a constant inspiration to effort, it leads the way to progress.
At the bottom of all progress is the quickening influence of imagination on the mind. “Imagination gives vividness to our conceptions, imparts tone to our entire mental activity, adds force to our reasoning, casts the light of fancy over the somber, plodding steps of judgment, gilds the recollections of the past and the anticipations of the future with a coloring far transcending the dull actualities of life. It lights up the whole horizon of thought, as the sunrise flashes along the mountain top and lights up the valleys of earth. Not alone the poet, the orator, the artist, derive benefit from the use of the imaginative faculty, but it is of inestimable value to all men. It opens for us new worlds, enlarges the sphere of our mental vision, releases us from the bonds and bounds of the actual, and gives us, as a bird let loose, the wide firmament of thought for our domain. It gilds the bald, sullen actualities, and stern realities of life, as the morning reddens the chill, snowy summits of the Alps, till they glow in resplendent beauty” (Haven).
Perhaps no faculty of the mind is of more practical value than imagination when properly cultivated and held in due restraint. Especially is it of value in forming and holding before the mind an ideal of excellence in whatever we pursue, a standard of attainment, practicable and desirable, but loftier far than anything we have yet reached. To present such an ideal is the work of imagination, which looks not upon the actual, but the possible, and conceives that which is more perfect than the human eye hath seen, or the human hand wrought. No man ever yet attained excellence in any art or profession, who had not floating before his mind by day and by night, such an ideal and vision of what he might and ought to be and do. It hovers before him and hangs over him like the bow of promise and of hope, advancing with his progress, ever rising as he rises, and moving onward as he moves; he will never reach it, but without it he could never be what he is.
“The happiness and misery of every individual of mankind depends almost exclusively on the particular character of his habitual associations, and the relative kind and intensity of his imagination. It is much less what we actually are, and what we actually possess, than what we imagine ourselves to be and have, that is decisive of our existence and fortune” (Hamilton).
“Imagination, by the attractive or repulsive pictures with which, according to our habits or associations, it fills the frame of our life, lends to reality a magical charm, or despoils it of all its pleasantness. The imaginary happy and the imaginary miserable are common in the world, but their happiness and misery are not the less real; everything depends on the mode in which they feel and estimate their condition … At a distance things seem to us radiant with a celestial beauty, or in the lurid aspect of deformity. In the past our joys reappear as purer and more brilliant than they had been actually experienced; and sorrow loses not only its bitterness, but is changed even into a source of pleasing recollection.”
Hence, the fair picture of a ‘Golden Age’ , the dream of the youth of mankind. “Man never is, but always to be, blessed.”
In old age, when the future is dark and short, imagination carries us back again into the midst of days that were far better than the present; our happy past is brought back, tinted with colors more brilliant than any we ever experienced. “The young,” says Aristotle, “live forwards in hope, the old live backwards in memory.”
“Tis distance lends enchantment to the view And robes the mountain in its azure hue.”
Pleasures of Hope.
Imagination lightens the burdens of life. Dr. Hewett says: “A little boy, walking with his grandfather, complained of being tired, and asked his grandfather to carry him. `No,’ said the grandfather, ‘take my gold-headed cane and make a horse of it.’ The boy bestrode the cane, and galloped away happy”
Many a weary man at his daily toil finds his task less heavy when imagination points to the comforts which that toil may bring to wife and child. Many a poor, tired mother, as, late at night, she repairs the tattered clothing of her little ones, may find the task sweetened as she pictures the possible future of those objects of her care and toil. The teacher way well imagine what her troublesome little ones may become. Almost every cloud has its “silver lining,” but imagination must find it. Oh, the happy faculty that weaves into life’s sombre fabric some threads of gold and silver, that illumines the dark picture of daily experience with some bright colors!
In the language of another, “The more closely we study human knowledge and thought, the more clearly do we perceive that this word imagination’ has more compass and depth of meaning than any other word which we apply to our faculties. Wherever and whenever life becomes great and the world real to us, the imagination holds aloft its quenchless torch.
In every hour when a new truth moves back a little the horizon of thought, or a new birth of beauty expands a little the world of art, the imagination is present … It is to the imagination alone that second sight belongs, that sight which does not rest in obvious and material things, but through them, as through an open window, perceives another and diviner order of creation. Thus the imagination fulfils for the soul the double function of seeing and interpreting, of discovering and possessing.”
Fourthly, Its Influence in Music. Art in general is the kingdom of the imagination, This is true both in respect to the creation of art works, and also the appreciation of art products. How rich and wonderful are not the creations of imagination as we see them displayed in the world’s great galleries! What a kingdom here! So in the temple of literary fame, how rich, how vast, how beautiful, how inspiring the empire of poetic imagery! But music surpasses all other departments of art in the wealth and magnificence of its imaginative creations. As music students, we are especially interested in the use of imagination, not only in the composition of musical masterpieces, but also in the appreciation and interpretation of them.
A lively and well cultivated imagination is of inestimable value to the musician in calling forth those ideal chords, those sublime harmonies in the soul which are the true content of all good music and which constitute its indescribable charm.
Imagination is to the musical artist what the sails are to the ship, namely, a propelling power. Wagner once said that a “composer, when at work, is in a state of clairvoyance.” What does this mean? Clairvoyance means clear vision, clearer than the sense can yield, a vision transcending the power of the natural eye, a power attributed to some persons while in a mesmeric state, of discerning objects not perceptible by the senses in their normal state. The clairvoyant power of the musical composer is but another name for his imagination. When his senses fail him, his imagination comes to his aid and opens up to him the beauties of the soul’s secret wonder realm, its fairyland of “vision beatific.”
What Wagner thus said of the composer is also applicable, in a less degree, to the player and the singer. His imagination transports him beyond himself, so that he is in ecstasy. Ecstasy (ex, out of, and sto, stand) means to be outside of one’s sell, or beside one’s self; as Festus said, “Paul, thou art beside thy self; much learning doth make thee mad.” When a player or singer does his best, he is rapt (from rapio, to seize and carry off, to snatch), carried out of himself, snatched away, enraptured, transported with love, admiration, and delight, wholly absorbed or engrossed in his performance. Hence, Longfellow’s phrase, “the rapt musician,” snatched away as by some invisible power and transported into a third heaven,where he hears sounds unutterable, harmonies transcending the powers of expression. It is his imagination that secures for him access into this wonderful sound-realm. It is this that gives his playing and singing inspiration. The musician’s whole self is concentrated in what he does, so that the world outside of himself fades away from his view and he communes face to face with the beautiful forms which animate his vision.
By this means the player brings himself into sympathy with the composer and with the occasion. A distinguished musician and author in the following extracts tells us a valuable secret:
“When I am about to perform music, I endeavor to concentrate my whole self on what I am to play. If I am to play a funeral march, I first strive to enter the house of mourning. There I see the dead one lying in his coffin, I see the floral offerings, and me-thinks I can smell the very tuberoses. I see before me the family of the deceased, with pain and sorrow depicted upon their faces, yes, I hear from time to time the moans and sobs which irresistilly escape their lips, breaking the monotonous and painful silence that pervades the death chamber. I hear the word of God read, I listen to the hymn of consolation, I see them close the coffin after the family have taken the last, sad glance. I see them carry the body out, I hear the creak of the hearse door, and a cold chill runs over me, as, in my imagination, I hear the terrible noise produced by placing the coffin within; I see the people standing on the pavement looking at each other with sorrowing faces, I hear the bell toll, I see the procession start, and thus I prepare myself to play a funeral march.”
“When I hear that tender Aria from the Messiah, `He was despised and rejected,’ I see my Saviour’s suffering face as he stands before Pilate, or as he is spat upon, mocked and struck by the rude hands of soldiers. I see his forehead bleeding from the thorny crown, matting his hair, and staining his lovely face. A voice says, ‘Ecce Homo!’ The Master’s loving eyes look at me, and when I play the accompaniment, where the instrument moans and sobs, as it were, I often shed tears at the sorrowful sight before me. Then, when the song is ended, I feel a sense of contrition and sorrow, I hardly dare to speak aloud, I see my own waywardness that has brought all this suffering of sorrow and grief on this man. Oh, what a power there is in such a song, how it lifts us up and brings us nearer to God!”
“Handel said, that when he wrote the Hallelujah chorus, he thought he saw the heavens open, and the angels singing around the throne. So when I hear this strain, I stand on Calvary and I look up at the cross, and confess my own guilt, my lack of love.”
“When I hear a strain from the immortal Beethoven, I wander to the master’s home, I hear him complain of the hardness of this world, I hear him bemoan his deafness, I see him as a caged lion shut out from the world, and sadly I sit down by his side, and with fear and awe I listen to what he has to tell me. When I hear some of his strains, I imagine him to be a Jupiter; then again his strains impress me as would the appearance of the ghost in Hamlet. Suffice it to say, my imagination is never idle when playing this master’s wonderful strains.”
“When I play one of Mendelssohn’s Venetian Gondola Songs my mind goes to sunny Italy, and in my imagination I see Venice with her streets of water and her beautiful blue sky. I hear the music of the boatmen, and whether my fancy picture is correct or not it serves my purpose, it enables me to play and enjoy the little tone poem to a higher degree. Listen to it, hear its passionate yet tender melody, and notice how, as the boat has passed away in the distance and the song is no longer heard, there is a spell left behind that holds you as in a dream; and after the little strain is ended, I sometimes sit spell bound and listen, as if I could still hear the gentle strain that has vanished so softly.”
“I have a little slumber song which I love dearly. Before I play it I often go to a quiet country home. There on the rustic old porch, the mother has seated herself with her needlework; by her side stands a cradle wherein lies her little treasure, about to take its afternoon nap. Oh, I can fairly feel the stillness of the day; I see the glorious sunlight as it falls on the thick vines which surround the porch, letting in enough light to throw the strangest and most artistic forms of shadow on the floor and wall. I hear the hum of the insects, I hear the distant voice of the ploughman, I hear the tinkle of the cow bell, and while the mother rocks the cradle she sings this little air, called the slumber song. Listen to the accompaniment with its rock ing, and then hear that sweet melody as it finally dies away when the baby is asleep.”
From these examples we see that the true musician, when singing or playing, is, so to speak, out of the body; he roams in a land of fancy.
It is not possible to sing or play with expression without the aid of a well trained imagination. Thought and sentiment are indeed necessary on on the part of the musician for proper expression, but these must be supplemented by a lively imagination, the power which enables him to live himself in the situations and conditions so that he becomes oblivious to the outer world.
The power of imagination in music may be judged from certain innocent deceptions which are often practiced on people. A musically inclined lady in London once went to one of Paganini’s rehearsals. Having failed to bring his instrument along he borrowed one from a member of the orchestra, and, instead of playing, made merely a sort of pizzicato, indicating the time in which he would play the piece. After the rehearsal the lady addressed Mr. Cook, the leader of the orchestra, saying, “Oh, dear Mr. Cook, what a wonderful man this Paganini is; I declare that until this morning I absolutely knew nothing about music, I never knew what it is capable of.” “Indeed,” said Mr. Cook, “music is a great art, but allow me to say that you are indebted to your imagination for this pleasure.” “How is this, Mr Cook?” “Why, Paganini did not play at all, he did not touch a bow.” “Extraordinary,” replied she, “I am more than ever confirmed in my opinion of him, for if without playing he can affect people in this manner, how much more wonderful must be the sensation when he does play.”
Violin players in diminuendo terminations some-times practice deception on their audience. After the pianissimo has been reached they continue to bow as if still playing, but they are careful not to touch the strings. The listener hears in imagination a still fainter sound than the pianissimo.
Liszt on one occasion found himself surrounded by a bevy of ladies who importuned him to play for them, to produce for them “those ecstasies, those artistic raptures which his magnificent talent never failed to evoke.” Overcome by their persuasions, he seated himself at the piano and played. By his wonderful skill some of the ladies were soon overcome with delight; some even fainted! In telling a friend of the matter afterwards, Liszt said: “Believe me, I played many wrong notes intentionally; indeed, so palpable were some of my errors, that had I been playing at any elementary music school, I should certainly have been expelled as an impostor.”
Musical Interpretation. A vivid imagination is highly necessary for musical interpretation. What is interpretation, and what is implied? It means to explain, to tell the meaning of, to expound, to translate orally into intelligible or familiar terms, to show by illustrative representation, as an actor, e. g., interprets the character of Hamlet, as a musician interprets a sonata, as an artist interprets a landscape.
Musical interpretation implies a hidden meaning in the composition, else there would be no need of interpretation. What has no deep meaning needs no interpretation; a dime novel does not need to be interpreted. Shakespeare’s plays need interpretation; so do “Paradise Lost” and Beethoven’s Symphonies. Classic music needs to be interpreted, because there is always something new, something fresh about it every time we look earnestly into it. The sonatas of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and others afford opportunity for interpretation. It is the office of the musical interpreter to represent in tone and action the meaning of the composer, to reproduce the beautiful imagery which occupied the mind of the composer at the time he wrote the piece.
Take for example the dramatic actor. What is his office? In what does his art consist? It is to represent to the audience by means of words, gestures, acts, etc., the imagery and scenes of the play just as the writer of it saw them or conceived them. The great Shakespeare actors and actresses have been profound and patient students of Shakespeare’s plays. Thus alone can they find out the meaning of the plays. But this in itself does not make them good actors; they need a vivid imagination to represent, first, to their own mind, and, secondly, to the audience, the meaning of the play. So also is it in the matter of musical representation. The player or singer must have the power to image to his own mind the meaning of the composition, and then to represent the same to the listeners. From a thorough study of the nature and meaning of a work, the interpreter must form a correct mind picture of it. In this way he will be able to grasp the meaning of the work as a whole and represent it in life like form. His imagination is the power that will bring the work before the mind’s eye as a piece of musical sculpture or architecture.
Enjoyment of Music. It is in music as in poetry.
The works of Milton, for example, can not be comprehended, or enjoyed unless the mind of the reader cooperates with that of the writer. Milton does not paint a finished picture, he sketches it, and leaves others to fill up the outline. So the great musician does not play for a mere passive listener: he strikes the key note, so to speak, and then expects his hearer to make out the melody. In order to enjoy Spenser’s Faerie Queen the reader must abandon himself to the luxuriant fancy of the poet, and with him float along through the varied scenes of his enchanting fairy world in blissful oblivion of the realities of the senses. So, to enjoy the rare beauties of Mozart and Haydn the listener must rise on the wings of imagination into ethereal heights and view those heavenly visions which occupied the minds of the composers, all forgetful of the outer world.
Schubert’s music has a high degree of imaginary coloring: there is very much of the spirit of poetry in it. It is said of Dr. Johnson that when he got hold of a book “he tore the heart out of it;” with Schubert it was very much the same way. When he read a poem, he at once fastened upon it and transcribed it in music. Schumann said of him, “Everything that he touched turned into music.” Liszt said of him, “that he was the most poetical of musicians.” By his magic touch some of the finest poems of our greatest poets were enhanced and even surpassed when translated into musical language. He possessed in preeminent degree what Wagner has called “musical clairvoyance,” which is but another name for image vision. In listening to Schubert’s compositions it is often as if one were brought into face to face contact with music itself; it is as if in his pieces the stream from the great heavenly reservoirs were dashing over us, or flowing through us. Owing to these peculiarities, his music can best be enjoyed when the listener or player is in a similarly high wrought state of mind, rhapsodical state. Many of Schubert’s symphonies and other instrumental pieces are of a peculiar, wild, weird, romantic beauty, best described as “Schubertian.” Schubert is among musicians what Hawthorne is among story writers, a delightful romancer, and to enjoy his rhapsodical music one must let his imagination have loose reins to wander at pleasure over moor and fen, through field and forest, over mountain and valley wherever the weird fancy of the author may lead.
Cultivation of the Imagination. If the imagination has such power and influence, as we have now seen, the importance of carefully cultivating it immediately follows. The need of cultivating the imagination arises from the nature of its action, viz., a tendency to disregard truth in its creations, and to become wild and romantic in its operation. In all these respects there is a tendency towards injurious excess. If a youth learns to satisfy himself with his imaginative indulgences, he becomes unfit for the serious work and duties of life. Excessive use of the imagination destroys the power of decision and action by weakening the will. For will and judgment as regulative principles of life, it substitutes emotion, and the life which is governed by emotion is apt to swing off into all kinds of extremes. So in order to keep the intellectual life in its normal balance, and secure for the imagination its proper place and value in the mental economy, it must be subjected to restraints and wholesome discipline.
The fact that the maximum activity of the imagination occurs during the formative period of life, when all other powers must be subjected to training in order to secure them their normal development,makes it necessary also to cultivate the imagination during this period. Herbert Spencer says: “There is a certain sequence in which the faculties spontaneously develop, and a certain kind of knowledge which each power requires during its several stages of growth. It is for us to ascertain this sequence and supply this knowledge.”
This is an educational principle of great importance. If a faculty is capable of culture, very manifestly the psychological foundations of education demand that the time for such culture be the period of growth.
When is this period of growth? In childhood phantasy is very active, but the higher imagination only moderately so. Infants possess what we have called sense-imagination, but little if any of the higher modes of imagination. In youth this faculty becomes marvelously active, but its products are crude. About the age of fourteen it bursts forth into wonderful activity, and becomes more and more vigorous as the years go by. In manhood, about the age of twenty-one, imagination attains its full activity. From this time till after the middle of life it continues its sway.
According to the educational principle above laid down, namely, that the time for training a faculty must be the period of its growth, the right time for cultivating the imagination is between the ages of twelve and twenty-one. This is also the period when our ideals are shaped.
Means and Methods of Cultivation. Even imagination conforms to law, and consequently educational laws are applicable to the training of it. Well directed effort under the guidance of judgment and will occupies the first place among the culturing means. Proper use improves the creative faculty, while neglect weakens it. The unimaginative must put forth effort to picture things; the over imaginative must restrain their excessive fancy. Studies and exercises which have the effect, either to stimulate or to restrain as the case may require, have high disciplinary value. Among these, music ranks foremost. The effort to picture in one’s mind the composer’s conception as a whole, so that his tone concepts may stand forth in vivid, almost visual outline, has the effect to greatly strengthen and develop the picturing faculty. Effort to create musical ideals educates the musical imagination. Hence, it is a good. thing to encourage the pupil to compose. Where this is not practicable, it is an excellent practice for the pupil to try to reproduce in his mind the ideals of composers as embodied in their compositions.
Kindergarten methods are to be encouraged. They embody the best philosophy of education in general. The imagination is cultivated by easy objective work. By the kindergarten method the child is led to make new combinations of blocks, sticks, lines, etc,, riew forms in paper, wood, clay, etc., new arrangements in stories, plays, pictures, etc., in all of which his power of imagination is called forth. Many of the principles involved in these methods, though designed for children, are just as applicable to adults. The great thing in this kind of training work is to cause the learner to originate new combinations according to ideals which are his own, whether with blocks, sticks, lines, notes, or whatever else.
The pupil should try to image what he reads or studies. It is not enough to read the notes as they stand on the staff; you should associate with them some image of vision or sound. The imaging habit is essential in learning to read well any ordinary book. A reader will be able to express adequately the sense of what he reads in proportion as he can make the sense stand forth in clear and distinct images. For instance, take the sentence, “See the pretty snowflakes falling from the sky.” It is apparently very simple and easy to read; but no one is able to read it well, i. e., appreciatingly or realizingly, until he can image correctly the falling snowflakes. Suppose you are teaching a class to read this sentence. It will help the imaging process if you draw a picture of a snowflake; then cut out of white paper a number of snowflakes. “Who can make a snowstorm?” you ask. Taking a handful of the paperflakes, hurl them into the air, and you awaken in the minds of the pupils an image of the falling snowflakes. The music teacher can devise similar means for cultivating in his pupils the habit of imaging what they play or sing.
The study of onomatopoetic words and phrases has excellent value in training the imaginative faculty. Onomatopoetic words are such as imitate in their sound the sense they convey, e. g., “buzz, “hiss,” “crackle,” “bang,” “splash,” “thud,” “roar,” “rumble,” etc. The verses of Milton abound in examples. The following stanza from Saxe’s “Rhyme of the Rail” illustrates the point:
`”Singing through the forests, Rattling over ridges, Shooting under arches, Rumbling over bridges, Whizzing through the mountains, Buzzing o’er the vale Bless me! this is pleasant, Riding on the rail!”
Or take some lines from Southey’s “Cataract of Lodore” Dividing and gliding and sliding, And falling and brawling and sprawling, And driving and riving and striving, And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling, And sounding and bounding and rounding; And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling, Delaying and straying and playing and spraying, Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping, And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing; And so never ending, but always descending, Sounds and motions forever are blending, All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproarAnd this way the water comes down at Lodore.”
The study of descriptive music is good exercise for the imagination. Schumann’s picture music affords excellent specimens. Mr. Derthick has said, “There is no book of fairy tales in all the world that has in it so many beautiful stories and pictures as you will find in the two books of Schumann, called “Scenes of Childhood’ and ‘The Album of Youth’.” This “picture music” or “program music,” as it is sometimes called, is intended to convey to the hearer, by means of instruments and without the use of words, a description or suggestion of definite objects, scenes and events, which of course can be apprehended only by the aid of the imagination.
Study the beautiful in nature and art. Beauty marvelously quickens the imagination. Commune with nature; study her forms, her colors, her sounds, her motions. Oh, the beautiful world we live in! Cultivate an appreciation of art from the standpoint of the artist. In the products of art see the artist’s ideals, he created the ideals which he has embodied in his pieces; creating them over again on the part of the pupil educates his imaginative powers. Still more does it cultivate his imagination if the pupil tries to create original art ideals and strives to realize them. Cultivate a correct art taste. There is prevalent in the word, unfortunately, mach very bad taste. There is a tendency to extravagance and show. We see it in the excessive foliage of vegetation allowed to run wild, in dress, in the architecture and decoration of our houses, in the style of living, in music. Extravagance belongs to the inexperience of childhood, the crudities of the savage, the, Philistinism of the half educated. Acquire a thorough knowledge of aesthetic principles and the principles of art criticism.
Add to the stock of concepts. The imagination must have an abundance of, materials out of which to shape its creations. Just as a child must have sufficient nutritious food for the proper growth of its body, so the imagination Must be supplied with concepts in order that it may attain its right development. Therefore, extend the field of knowledge, multiply points of contact with the great world of thought and achievement, read the best poetry, history and science, cultivate familiarity with what is grand and lofty and inspiring in letters, art, oratory, music. No one can be familiar with the creations of Shakespeare and Milton, Mozart and Beethoven, Raphael and Michael Angelo without catching something of their, inspiration.
It is the business of imagination to seek out pictures and materials for pictures in the realm of the real in order to construct and adorn the realm of the ideal. If a child has only few and poor blocks his constructions are limited; if he has many blocks, he will build his temples and castles and cities on a grander scale. So the first requisite to a fine creative imagination is a sufficient supply of preceptional and conceptional materials. If you possess only few accurate ideas, you need not wonder why you have no greater imaginative power. Imagination builds on the suggestions of experience. And it does not require unusual, rare, out-of-the-way, materials to make a fine imagination. Suitable materials are found in the life of every person. Just look around you and note the great wealth of materials for fine fancy sketches. Autumn leaves with their glorious coloring, waving grain fields, lights and shadows over forest and moor, meadows adorned with clover and daisies, blooming orchards over against the blue summer sky, the singing birds, the babbling brooks, the glowing sunset, the fantastic silver edges of the thunder cloud, the brilliant bow of promise, the drapery of mist skirting the mountain side, the brilliant stars, the flush of morn, the sighing breezes, the roaring tempest, the hum of machinery, the buzzing of bees, the sports of the insect world, the herds and flocks of the field and barnyard, the “human face divine,” busy life in all its phases these and ten thou sand other things are strewn about the pathway of everyone and afford rich materials for the beautiful creations of an active imagination.