Tag Archives: patrick harpur

Awe and Fear of the Minds Fire

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I am absolutely in awe of human creativity because people use their imagination to believe so much bullshit. A quick scroll through Twitter or glance at the news shows many people believing the most inane conspiracy theories. Humans can create lies as well crafted as any work of literature and believe them utterly.

At the same time, I am genuinely in awe of the good human imagination can do. The many books I’ve written sometimes feel like a legion of Minervas springing from my head, amazing things born magically. I see people solve problems and make the world better with creative efforts, and it’s beautifully humbling.

As of late, I’ve come to think people don’t truly appreciate their imaginations in every sense. We don’t always appreciate what our creativity can do, settling for squelched ideas and tightly bound lives. We also don’t appreciate how it can be misused or even realize that we’re using it to do and believe terrible things.

Author Patrick Harpur referred to the imagination as a powerful force, a kind of alchemical fire tying together and enchanting the world. One may not take such a mystical view, but I do see virtue in seeing our creativity as a power.

First, seeing our imaginations as power reminds us to use and cultivate it in ourselves and others. Our ability to dream things up is not ephemeral but a force that has made and changed the world.

To see creativity as power reminds us we all have it, and we can tap into it. It democratizes it and opens it up – and reminds us it is there to use.

To see creativity as power reminds us to use it responsibly, for it can be misused to harm others and delude ourselves. It is a safety warning.

To see creativity as a near-mystical power, ironically, lets us see how omnipresent and common it is. We become aware of how it’s a constant in our lives – and how we may be misusing it without thinking about it.

We need to appreciate our imaginations more. Certainly, as I look at the world, I’d rather have more elaborate fanfics and wild art than conspiracy theories and delusions. Perhaps if we appreciate the power we have, we’ll realize when we’re misusing it – or even just using it and not aware of it.

Steven Savage