Today, instead of a book review, I have a guest post from an awesome Irish author…

Reflections on the Imagination

By David Jordan

When I think of the imagination, two things come to mind: the poem, Adam’s Curse, by WB Yeats with its lines about creating poetry:

Better go down on your marrow bones

And scrub a kitchen pavement or break stones

Like an old pauper in all sorts of weather

For to articulate sweet sounds together

Is to work harder than all these.

And the ancient myth about the birth of the goddess Athena which tells us that she popped out of Zeus’ mind suddenly.

Both can be applied to the imagination.

For this writer the hardest part of creating is coming up with ideas. Imaginative ideas. It takes up so much mental energy that I have little left for the writing part. But when my energy is restored I find that putting words on paper and giving shape to my thoughts and ideas is a lot easier than that initial imagining. I usually lie down on bed for the initial imagining stage and it is by far the hardest work you can do whilst lying down on your back. Another line from Adam’s Curse comes to mind:

…and yet

Be thought an idler by the noisey set

Of bankers, school masters and clergy men.

The myth about the birth of Athena is typical Greek brilliance, an insight into the nature of the imagination. It comes, seemingly, from out of nowhere and therefore it is a mystery on a par with music and wine. That the myth refers to the imagination is perhaps confirmed by the role given to Athena in Homer’s Odyssey. She gives Odysseus ideas for getting out of trouble and getting back to his home on Ithaca. She is like a personification of the imagination. In the poem she is often referred to as ‘the goddess of the flashing eyes’. What could be a better metaphor for the imagination, for the third eye?

So the imagination is hard work and it is mysterious. All I can add to this is that it is stressful. It seems to come about by mental chafing in the same way that fire is started by rubbing wood against wood. We can bring in another myth here. The myth of Prometheus, who gave the gift of fire to man and was punished for it. Is fire another metaphor for the imagination? For the imagination in all its power and mystery must be the greatest gift that man possesses. All original thought comes from the initial spark of the imagination. Every invention, every great work of art is the offspring of the imagination. All civilisation and progress owes a debt to the imagination.

So the next time you are dreaming with your eyes open remember that you are not an idler. Or if you are an idler then it is an important idleness. You are partaking in an activity which has lifted humanity to its very summits. You are partaking in something divine. For the writer who must come up with an original idea it is hard work but once it happens and the words begin to cascade and flow no writer will deny that it is worth it.

 

About the Author

David Jordan is a writer from Cork, Ireland. He has an MA in English from University College Cork. He writes poetry and prose.

He has just released a book titled The Chronicles of Dan Lee O’Brien:

Steeped in Irish mythology, these stories bristle with singular imagination and exude style and narrative prowess. Playful and ingenious, they are a fresh new voice in Irish literature – one that captivates and enthralls with ease. So watch out. The gods are back…

Here’s a Taste:

One day Dan Lee came home to discover a stranger in his house.

He had parked his bicycle in the hall way and brought his bag of groceries into the kitchen when he sensed a presence, a strong presence. He opened the door to his living room and found that the curtains had been drawn. He could make out a vague shape sitting on the armchair. His armchair. His first instinct was to tell the stranger to get up but he resisted it. Instead he said, ‘who’s there?’

There was a silence before the person answered in a low, intense voice, ‘I am a friend of Balor. I come here to ask a favour of you, old man.’

‘That didn’t answer my question,’ said Dan Lee.

The stranger laughed. ‘I was told you were cute. To answer your question, I am Elatha, the Fomorian. Perhaps you have heard of me?’

‘No. Sorry.’

‘That’s quite alright, old man. But you’ve heard of my friend, Balor?’

‘Balor of the Evil Eye,’ Dan Lee affirmed.

‘Apologies for the darkness. Us Fomorians, we don’t like daylight too much.’

‘Then how did you get here?’

‘O, a pair of sunglasses helps. We don’t like daylight but we can tolerate it. We’re not vampyres.’

As Dan Lee’s eyes became accustomed to the gloom he could make out a handsome young man with long, tawny hair and beard.

‘So what does Balor of the Evil Eye want with me? I have never had dealings with the Fomorians.’

‘No doubt you’ve heard about our reputation, though? That we’re barbarians? Uncivilised? Given to the dark arts? Masters of chaos and destruction?’

‘Yes, I’ve heard those things,’ said Dan Lee.

‘Well it’s a tad unjustified. We’re not all that bad. But the perception lingers. My friend, Balor, needs you to do him a favour. A big favour. The thing is I can’t tell you what it is while we are here. Too many ears about. But rest assured you will be rewarded handsomely.’

‘And if I refuse?’

‘Well let’s just say you won’t be Balor’s friend and if you’re not his friend you’re his enemy.’

‘That’s coercion,’ said Dan Lee. ‘But I have to admit I’m curious. What the big secret is. It is big, isn’t it?’

‘Huge,’ replied Elatha. ‘And you have a huge part to play in it, old man. So let’s stop yapping and get a move on.’

Chronicles of Dan Lee O'Brien Cover

Find the book on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B01CLSDM58