Imagine A Stick — On Arts and Psychology

Talking about Art and Psychology, but might also contain a bit of insight on Politics.

They say imagination encircles the world. That’s a good view, but there’s another story. Even though imagination may not necessarily be “finite”, it is still susceptible to human limitations. These limitations vary from person to person, and affects many instances of our lives (and even our beliefs).

How do you find out the limits of your own imagination?

First close your eyes.

Imagine a stick. Imagine it detailed, with contours and roughness. Imagine the edges are sharp, and could potentially prick something. Can you do that? Yes? Good!

Now imagine TWO such sticks. Imagine both of them as they are: individual sticks, not a cluster.

Imagine THREE individual sticks, each one with its details. Can you do that? Barely, but still possible, right?

Now imagine FOUR individual sticks. Keep adding one, and don’t lose sight of either of those individual sticks.

Eventually you’ll realize that, after a certain number of sticks, it’s either hard or nearly impossible to keep “imagining” the number of sticks, with their individual details. Instead, your brain automatically falls back on assuming that these sticks are, in fact, a “cluster”. A “group”. A collective is much easier to imagine than too many individual sticks with their own separate nuances. The brain can’t cope with handling too much information at the same time, so it defaults to “grouping” practices, even at the cost of stripping away the diverse qualities of each individual stick. It’s easier to “control” a data as collective, reducing elements to their bare commonalities.

Another exercise: Find a person you’ve known for, like, a LIFETIME. Look at their FACE for ten whole minutes.

Now get away from them. Close your eyes, and try to reconstruct what they look like. Every contour. Every precise curve. Every strand of hair. Every shade of color. Every pores of their skin.

Can’t do it, can you? Now that might make you think a lot of things there. Feel free to take some moment to contemplate on what that means.

They always ask me what are Arts useful for anyway. What kind of “value” can Arts ever give to the world. My answers are usually unique, depending on contexts, because Arts have contributed so much to the society.

But, for an Artist, it is also often a way to exercise their awareness. Even without having any kind of “Social Message”, Art can get you in touch with reality “as it is”, in its bluntness, harshness, and yet its most beautiful. Striving to make their imagination “better” via constant practice. Making your innards capable enough to connect with the outside world in precision. Being able to soak in the moment as they come to their fullest, and not crashing by being so overwhelmed like a Windows 95 computer.

There’s a good reason they call Arts “meditative” in a lot of regards. When you’re serious about it, it usually is!

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