The two main characters in this contemporary romance are artisans.
Each has a huge capacity for imagination,
not only with their crafts but with each other and their lifestyles.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein.
At a recent textile workshop, the tutor introduced us to this quotation; knowledge of how to do something is of course necessary and formal instructions may be available. (Though when attempting to assemble furniture that comes in a flat pack with diagrammed instructions largely unclear to me, some imagination helps to picture which bit could go where.)
So what to do with knowledge can entail imagination. In this felt-making workshop, where we all knew the basics of making the felt from pre-dyed sheep fleece, we were encouraged to give our imagination free rein to broaden our craft.Thick or thin? Put this colour with that? One or two dimensional? Change shape? A functional item or an art piece? We played with options, and supported each other with ideas and inspiration.
During the lunch break, we discussed imagination. We concluded that we all had lots of it as if we didn't, a) we wouldn't be attending this workshop, and b) we wouldn't be discussing it. We thought perhaps everyone has it innately to some degree, but not all develop or nurture it. A five-year-old boy of my acquaintance loves building Lego, and was busy following instructions from the manual. Then his grandfather hid the book, and to encourage the child to use his imagination asked him to build something by himself. At first he was a little puzzled, but an hour later he'd constructed a fairly complicated tower. "I didn't know I could to that," he smiled. "But I found out I could." Imagination nurtured.
I asked a group of five friends if they considered they had imagination, and at the same time, if they pictured the story in their heads as they read. One firmly declared no to imagination and no to pictures. After a moment's thought, she added that may be why she has no sense of direction - in a new area she has trouble visualising from a map which way to go; she prefers to read historical non-fiction rather than historical or any fiction, because in non-fiction she can believe the words. (Rather a sweeping statement?) Agreeing with this, another said he reads only non-fiction because it did not require imagination. These non-fiction readers (I have work to do on them!) shocked the others and led to a discussion on how, when reading fiction, we can suspend disbelief - if the plot, the characters are convincing, we follow their journey as if they were real people.
One friend was intrigued by my question. "Of course I see the story happening in my head. How else am I going to believe in the characters and their lifestyles?" In other words, she was suspending disbelief. A friend who on his two-hour train commute to work reads crime novels said he enjoys these because the plots and settings are so far removed from his experience that he exercises imagination to picture the story, sometimes mentally placing a scene in one of the suburbs he passes every day. One friend who can no longer travel likes to read fiction set in foreign countries which she has either visited, or can visualise the location and imagine with pleasure being there. So the three who read fiction use imagination and see the story in their heads. A very small sample, but still interesting.