Imagination, fantasy, illusions, chimera #

Mythomane - a person with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating.

Literature is based on make believe. As Margaret Atwood wrote,

both the reader and writer know what is fiction, but agree to believe it.

Ashleigh Brilliant coined this saying:

Now that I have abandoned my search for truth, I’m looking around for a good fantasy.

For survival, we need some self-deception and useful delusions. When our dreams become unrealistic and supplant our aspirations, they can be damaging.

Einstein was not only a brilliant scientist, but also, a keen observer of life.

  • Imagination is more important than logic.

  • Logic allows you to count; Imagination is infinite.

  • Logic takes you from A to B; imagination takes you everywhere.

Maturity is having a secure sense of self and a grounded perception of reality.

Coleridge explores the possibilities of imagination and our potential to create perfection –“*in that dome in air” - * fantasies.

Similar to Keats’ later assertion that

“heard melodies are sweet but unheard melodies sweeter still”.

C.S. Lewis

“The greatest joy lies not in the having, but in the desire.”

The light that never fades; that is eternal, is what you most desire - out of reach.

Sexual fantasies are quite commonly inconsistent with one’s social values and this should not in itself be a cause for alarm.

It is the quirkiness and unruliness of sexual impulse: fantasies — of submission, abandon, extremity,— that do not necessarily translate into reality; they are untrue to the workings of the sexual imagination.

Christ’s Sermon on the Mount fails to distinguish:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (28) But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

But when confronted by righteous puritans demanding he punish a woman for adultery, Christ casually invited, He who is without sin, cast the first stone.

Mary Shelley claimed Percy Shelley loved to idealize the real – to gift the mechanism of the material universe with a soul and a voice.

Fantasies can be better that reality.

For some life has always been a performance—even in the pre-digital past.

Imagination induced by drugs can be distorted and visions become hallucinatory and cause delusions.

Beguiling illusions

The Castle’s tagline could easily be: “Tell him he’s dreaming!”

Death of a Salesman powerfully portrays a man of crumbling illusions.

Emily Dickinson #

“Life is full of fanciful illusions conjured from thin air; dreams that are hostile to reality, that dwell in possibilities”

For more:

Ulysses – James Joyce #

Joyce broke the sexual taboos of holy Ireland, Victorian England, and puritanical America, Life, in “Ulysses,” is the experience of the body, from tip to toe, as it wanders through the world.

When his publishers were found guilty of publishing obscenity, fined fifty dollars each, and forbidden to print any more installments of “Ulysses.” Joyce countered by saying,

“Obscenity occurs in the pages of life, too.”

Merve Emre New Yorker writes that Leo Bersani claimed that “Ulysses” brought to modern literature its most refined technique: a narrative perspective that was “at once seduced” by its characters’ distinctive thoughts and “coolly observant of their person.”

David Damrosch, Harvard University claims that Joyce’s linguistic violations and his refusal to tell the inside of a character’s head apart from the outside world.

Inner and lower were the directions modernist writers took literature, toward what goes on inside the head and below the waist.

In James Joyce’s Ulysses, writing about the bodily functions that caused all the trouble. Was Bloom masturbating at, to, or for a young woman on Sandymount Strand at dusk? The prepositions seem important.

Joyce described the episode as “the projected mirage,” and this may explain Gerty’s rhapsodic participation in Bloom’s excitement. Of course!

The text shows Bloom’s projection, not Gerty’s reality. She isn’t thinking about her underwear; she is thinking, like any young person on a beach, about life, love, art, and her dinner.

When Joyce was asked what really happened between Bloom and Gerty, he said,

“Nothing…It all took place in Bloom’s imagination.”

The book unlooses itself entirely in the mind of Dedalus and starts to dream:

“He comes, pale vampire, through storm his eyes, his bat sails bloodying the sea, mouth to her mouth’s kiss.”

Hang on. Did Stephen actually visit his aunt’s house, or just imagine that he did?

T.S Eliot #

Eliot wrote: “human kind cannot bear very much reality”, echoing Kant’s “Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.”

“Unsatisfied desires can play a most important part in keeping the soul alive and urging one higher,”

Eliot appears to have frustrated female issues.

Burnt Norton, the first poem of his Four Quartets.

Here he propagates Courtly Love’s adoration of the unattainable.

“What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.”

Emily Hale was not the only woman who expected more from Eliot’s friendship.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty #

Perhaps one of the best examples of Aristotle’s advice, don’t tell them, let the characters reveal themselves. The mystery of the short story relies on us to tell when James Thurber is depicting reality or the fantasies that keep Mitty alive by escaping reality.

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