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Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Life Hack 12: Imagination

Thomas Basbøll writes: 

"As I read your posts this year, I realize that everything you’re doing has to do with strengthening your imagination. Though you don’t say so explicitly, it seems like you are deliberately trying to maintain your receptivity … to poetry, to music, to food, to pleasure quite generally." 

This is not in itself a life hack, perhaps, but it is an underlying principle of all of them. Strengthen your imagination and thus the core of your appreciation for everything of the best that life offers.  

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Pleasure is not very hard to find. The contemplation of nature or the enjoyment of any of the arts is inherently pleasurable, as is the company of good friends, so it's a matter of deliberately cultivating these pleasures. You don't even have to avoid displeasure any more than normal, because a greater receptivity to everything will create a more balanced perspective.  

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There are scolds who complain that people are attracted to attractive people, or to food that tastes good. This is almost tautological, though. Adorno scolded that aesthetics should renounce hedone. A lot of people seem to think that depriving oneself makes one a better person, but it really doesn't. I know that certain things are zero sum. So if there is a pie, and I get more of it, then you get less. But basic enjoyment of life works in an opposite way.  If you are happier it is easier for you to make other people happier as well.  

 If your meal tastes good, you are not doing anybody any favors by not enjoying it. One way to not enjoy it is to be so preoccupied with other things that you don't even really taste it.  


1 comment:

Thomas said...

I think of imagination as setting a kind of limit to the efficacy of discipline. As I said in a response to one of your reflections on the scholarly base, "As a scholar, a worker in the 'spirit', you are by definition to avoid soul-destroying labor." The soul houses the imagination. One's discipline shouldn't be a house arrest.

T.S. Eliot said it well: "A poet ought to know as much as will not encroach upon his necessary receptivity and necessary laziness" (my emphasis).