Creativity and Imagination LO31027

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 03/22/04

Replying to LO31004 --

Dear At, readers and researchers,

Thank you for your post. I can imagine several responses, here are a few...

 - for me all "minding" (and that inclused thinking, feeling,
intuition, preceiving, judgeing &c) is imagening. As you said,
imagination is the eye of the mind. The source of the trouble you
mention seems to be - for me - that most people somehow stop imagening
and start "thinking". In several ways, the mind's eye becomes
"troubled" or, to put it differently, reason takes over, or, in other
words, people "grow up". As you might know, i often use techniques
like mind mapping, brown paper and also computer supported
facilitation. In the latter case i print the ideas on small, coloured
hexagons and let the participant "create" their own meaning. More
often than not, most people see this as childish, a step back,
chaotic. In a way - my interpretation - people do not allow themselves
to be creative and imaginative. A Learning Organization is for most
people - the will not say this, though - a contradictio intermines.

 - Imagination nicely starts with an I. That is another source for
trouble with imagination: it requires a lot of self-knowledge, becaue
- i think - my personality, my ego and id - are also products of my
I-magination. I cannot imagine something that is not imagined by
myself. Most people learn nothing in school or in university about
themselves - except perhaps that they're able to cheat. "Be what you
would seem to be", seems the closest most people come to "to be or not
to be".

 - Or perhaps the root cause starts even earlier, when children are
thought their native religion. Religions have a strong urge to stamp
out imagination and creativity (Thou shall not make images, idols)
and direct it to one source, one destiny, one thought. Imagination
conflicts with adaptation. Imagine, your in dire straits and start to
imagine!. My own daughter lives in a world of her own, perfectly
happy, but some elements are not in line with reality as defined by
society. Like adapting to a school ritual. Adaptation - do not stand
out in a crowd - ensures a larger change for survival. Nations also
need stability, so that might be why religion and nation become tied
in. So perhaps there is a trade-off: i will not imagine and you - the
community - will take care of me.

 - There is a paradox in your statement:

We are losing our sense of living together as a community.

For me, most communities seem to say: loose your sense of imagination
when you want to live with us. Didn't you notice that not many artists
live in the centre of community. Only fashion designers and adverting
agencies (ok and perhaps real estate agencies, they do have a way with
words ;-) ) live in the centre of the world. A community is like a
Californian Hotel: "you can check out anytime, but never leave".

(side line: i can imagine now a nice reason why the gay marriage gives
so much political turmoil in the US (as it did in The Netherlands).
Marriage is the mother of communities - pun intended!. Having to
imagine a marriage between two people of the same physical gender (and
not noticing that some people differ in mental, spiritual gender only)
is blocked to the point it becomes self-destructive).

 - we have been in trouble always, such is life. The trouble has
shifted, none the less, because now we've become our own worst enemy.
We used to have the sabre toothed tiger as the most annoying partner i
hate to live with, then small bacteria and virusses and now, thanks to
our own success, we have won and try to beat each other. It is
"Success to the Successful with a vengeance". For thousands of years
we've been trained to become paranoid survivors, very succesfully and
now you're going to tell us: "relax, man. Imagine!". Yeh, sure, that's
going to work!

 - Learning - i've been thaught* - comes from making mistakes.
Forgetting imagination as a create* opportunity for making errors and
mistakes is a mistake that was likely to happen on the way to ... the
way to .. progress?

Kind regards and all the best,

Jan Lelie

AM de Lange wrote:

>The study of creativity is by large a post WWII phenomenon. But the
>study of imagination has been going on for thousands of years. The
>phrase "creativity and imagination" is now often found in sources of
>information, sometimes to the extend that they are considered as
>synonymous. But are they? What is the actual relationship between
>creativity and imagination? Is there any sense in seeking for this
>Education in many countries is falling apart.

>It is for me a great tragedy that so many hundreds of great thinkers
>have penned down their thoughts on imagination, but that hundreds of
>thousands of teachers and lecturers toil in education without having
>read even one book on imagination. Perhaps it is one of the symptoms
>of the pathology of the information explosion. But i think it is much
>worse and will come to it at the end of this essay.

>Yes, imagination is the eye of the mind. With it even the unimaginable
>can be seen, leaving the body far behind.

>We often speak of a LO (Learning Organisation) on this list and using
>the five disciplines to let it function optimally. But all this depend
>on each learner in it being able to explore the mind of every fellow
>learner. This can only be done by using the imagination. Survey bodily
>responses and react to them under the guidance of love. This exploring
>is far better than trying to control minds with fear, rules, dogma or

>Today i am convinced that creativity has a dual nature. It is
>concrete-physical and it is abstract-spiritual. Herein lies for me the
>actual difference between creativity and imagination. Imagination is
>purely abstract-spiritual. However, finding the actual relationship
>between them is much more difficult. At present i think that the
>imagination is a phenomenon which emerge from the creative activities
>of a human. In other words, "to imagine is to create" just like "to
>learn is to create".

>So what is imagination? For me it is to create a world in the spirit
>any time as complex (or even more) as the physical world. It is like
>making a movie. But nobody else has seen or will ever see any such
>movies. It is something which is intrinsically personal. Yet a writer
>will use his/her imagination to write a book. Someone else who then
>reads that book, will use his/her imagination to create self a mental
>movie. The movie of the writer and the movie of the reader will have
>some similarities, but they never be the same.

>I still remember the essay
> To Imagine or not to Imagine
> < >
>which i wrote a little bit more than two years ago. Only one person
>replied to it - Bill Hancy. I was disappointed.
>I will not be disappointed again when not even one person replies to
>this essay. Since that time i have become increasingly aware how
>imagination is dwindling in the minds of people. In the beginning of
>this year there was a great controversy here in South Africa of how
>schools prepared pupils for life and some for university. No one even
>mentioned imagination.

>We are losing our sense of living together as a community. Humankind
>is a flocking species like the vast majority of other kinds of
>mammals. When the art and practise of a learning organisation cannot
>help us to become sensitive once again to living together as a
>community, then we are in for deep trouble. We need our imaginations
>to live together as a community. I ought to imagine you spiritual
>world and you ought to tell me how close i am. But are we doing it?
>With care and best wishes,

Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) 
facilitator mind@work

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