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As You Can Imagine
I have never heard of Google images and cannot find them on my computer; well four desk top PCs, three lap tops, two smart phones, three tablets and my wife’s iPad. I therefore found today’s prompt beyond me. But perhaps not the spirit of it. As a student of iconography and all forms of image-evoking art, I decided to write about the whole concept of images and imagining within the limitations of abstract human thought processes. As you can imagine, by this medium so can you be an individual. Think about it. Imagine it, if you will. What do our cerebral images tell us that is actually of any value to us at all when we are not using our eyes? They may be shut in prayer or meditation, under anaesthetic or just asleep, but whatever the cause, I wish to discuss briefly the use of those images which crowd our minds when we are not using our sense of sight.
The most common form of non-cognitive cerebral image perception is probably the nightmare. I so much prefer the French ‘cauchemare’, it somehow gets right inside you before confusing and frightening you. But the nightmare is invariably a sequence of tableaux which scare you. And this is not least because the pictures they paint across your subconscious are in vivid, screaming colours, yet include recognisable faces of people you know who are either suffering themselves or causing you pain. Many psychiatrists associate nightmares with guilt complexes, but this does not ring true for me. No, for me the nightmare is only the experience of horror or shock which we have stored up when awake and are incapable of suppressing when asleep. Lucky the man who can remember his dreams, they tell him so much about himself.
And on the role of all dreams in this discussion, how sweet it is to dream of love and conjure up in your dream the face of the person without whom you cannot envisage continuing living. For me it is the power of a long remembered smile, a ringlet wafting across her face, an infectious contortion of her entire corporal frame which invariably accompanies a happy giggle or the sensual delight of a playful tickle. When awake I have never seen all these images at one and the same time. But asleep, oh the excitement of them all being there at once! And I dream also of mysteries I can never solve but whose answers appear before me as I slumber. A saint’s face, a racing car cornering at two hundred and thirty miles an hour, my dog playing with the children while guarding them too. Their happy expressions result in such vibrant emotions being stirred up in my brain that I start to think I am awake. But all I am doing is wishing I was, because when I am they are never quite so strong. More real, perhaps, but nothing like as pleasantly engaging..
Now, I did question if such images had any value because we are not using our eyes, well not controlling their use. I have to say I think they do. I have nearly died several times, helicopter crashes, bombs, gun shots have all pushed me a little closer to the abyss, but the worst moment was just before being put unconscious before a life threatening operation. I deliberately tried to focus on God as I went under, but it was so quick and my return to consciousness eleven hours later was so fast that I recall nothing that passed before my mind during that time. But the next time I fell asleep I dreamed I was dying and the images that sped across my uncomprehending brain were so awful I can never forget them, but neither can I describe them. You ask where was the value in that? Think, my friend. Is it not obvious? I can now talk about things I saw but never set eyes on, eternal mysteries and their solutions I contemplated without ever understanding them. How lucky I was, we all are, that this type of iconograhic meditational experience is possible and happens to everyone. It is what makes us individuals. And, more importantly, we all enjoy our mental pictures, be they pleasant or terrifying, as you can imagine.