One night a few months ago, I suddenly had a brilliantly cynical idea for a topical political cartoon (about a silly controversy involving a politician and the national anthem). It was one of those ideas that just suddenly came to me and it made me laugh whenever I thought about it. However, there was one slight problem.
The idea was for a cartoon in favour of the opposite political party to the group of parties that I mostly (but certainly not completely) agree with. It was a brilliantly cynical and witty idea for a political cartoon, but it was one that I disagreed with. And, yet, there it was in my imagination – making me laugh and demanding to be drawn.
In the end, I scribbled a sketch of it in my sketchbook and decided not to post it online or even to describe it in detail. Even so, I ended up drawing it – and also thoroughly enjoyed drawing it too. Even though it was basically in favour of a political party that I mostly disagree with.
And, well, this made me think about both my own imagination and imaginations in general. In particular, it made me think about the level of control that we have over our imaginations. After all, if I was in total control of my imagination, then this hilariously cynical idea for a political cartoon probably wouldn’t have appeared.
Since everyone’s imagination is different (and the world would be an extremely boring place if they weren’t), I can only really talk about my own imagination here. But, like blinking, my imagination seems to be both a voluntary and involuntary thing. This is probably true for other people too, but there’s really no way of telling.
I can take total control of my imagination if I need to use it for something (eg: if I’m having a long-running daydream, if I’m fantasising or if I’m coming up with specific ideas for comics, paintings etc..) but I can also just let it do it’s own thing (eg: when I make most of my paintings, I often have little to no idea what my final painting will look like when I start sketching).
Sometimes taking total control of my imagination is the better option, but sometimes it isn’t. Both options are enjoyable in their own way.
Most of the time, I take a middle way and give my imagination a few ideas to work on before letting it do it’s own thing with those ideas. For example, when I make an art series – I’ll come up with the general theme of the series, but I often won’t know how long it will be or exactly what each painting in the series will look like until afterwards.
Even so, my imagination sometimes seems to come up with better ideas when I let it do it’s own thing. I mean, I’m certainly not the only person to have ever had sudden unexplained moments of artistic or literary inspiration. Ok, they don’t happen as often as I’d like them to, but they happen occasionally.
In a way, it can sometimes seem like my imagination is something slightly separate from, and much larger than me. It can be like a strange, ever-shifting parliament of thoughts, images, feelings and ideas. It can be like a wild, anarchistic stretch of mysterious unexplored territory. It can be something that constantly surprises me, in both good and bad ways.
If you take a totally “rational” approach to this subject, then it could be argued that the only reason why my imagination is larger than me is because I’ve been exposed to the products of so many other people’s imaginations. I’ve seen more films, seen more pictures, read more books, heard more opinions and listened to more songs than I can count. As such, this gigantic swirling mixture of images, words and ideas can easily end up producing things that I’d never have consciously thought of.
But, at the same time, the idea of my imagination being a separate-but-connected entity has both fascinated and frightened me in equal measure for quite a long time.
On the one hand, it’s kind of cool to have something that can occasionally give me gifts of great ideas and unexpected uplifting daydreams. On the other hand, having something that isn’t above suddenly “trolling” me occasionally (like with the political cartoon I mentioned earlier) can be either annoying or disturbing, depending on what my imagination does. Then again, the good parts of my imagination probably can’t exist without the bad ones and vice versa.
In conclusion, I guess that I don’t know if there’s really anything that you can do when your imagination contradicts you. After all, the same freedom that allows your imagination to come up with amazing moments of inspiration is exactly the same freedom that allows your imagination to “rebel” against you sometimes.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂