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  • mono 9:10 am on April 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Art of Worldly Wisdom, Balance, , , Control, Haunted, , , , , ,   

    Controlling the Imagination 

    Photo by Norma Desmond

    Baltasar Gracian, in his book “The Art of Worldly Wisdom” writes, “Keep your imagination under control. You must sometimes correct it, sometimes assist it. For it is all important for our happiness and balances reason. The imagination can tyrannize, not being content with looking on, but influences and even often dominates our life (Gracian 15).”

    Our imagination covers over and creates what we call our “daily life.” The bubbling emergence of images, sounds, voices and ideas well up and overflow through the imagination. Our social networking and online identities also take shape in the imagination we have of how we would like to be perceived, how we would like to see ourselves through the eyes of others. The imagination is all-powerful, perhaps one of the most powerful gifts we have. Minds have imagined iPods and atomic bombs, mobile phones and the Tokyo Tower. The cityscape begins with imagination and is realized through imaginations. That is, a city or on online community is only as powerful as the imaginations that gather there.

    Our cities and Web communities are convergent points, networks of imagination. Through Twitter, I can imagine the other and, moreover, am forced to imagine them, for they are not here with me. Their voice points me to links, to ideas or perhaps only to an imagination of a simple part of their day (eating breakfast, preparing for bed, etc.) The facebook profile as well requires imagination and perhaps I imagine some “you” that you have not yet imagined.

    However, the imagination has a way of haunting humans as well. Perhaps we have all experienced the recurrence of a certain image, a kind of film that flashes before one’s eyes, a film that we would rather turn off and forget about, a film that comes from the other side, from the abyss of the imagination. The fear of the hacker is not only fear of monetary loss, but also the terrifying image of one’s identity being manipulated…having someone else’s imagination manipulate oneself.

    This morning my friend asked me if I was ever haunted by something and how can one deal with an overactive imagination. I turned to Gracian’s wisdom of controlling the imagination and recognizing the haunting image as being imagined. When the haunting image is recognized as imaginary, perhaps it can bring some solace to the day. Perhaps one can move out and sweep the floor or fold the clothes with some new peace. Moreover, a controlled and balanced imagination may help one to create better art, music or text. That is, a more precise imagination may be cultivated and striven for.

    How can we imagine ourselves into a better life? Is the life that we are leading the best possible life? How has one’s imagination of oneself served to shape that self in actuality? Can we imagine ourselves and our situation in a different and possibly more fulfilling way? Perhaps this is worthy of our attention.

  • mono 10:45 am on April 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Acheive, Balance, , , Fatigue, , improve, , , , , , Organize, Procrastination, , , , Web   

    Constructive Living as Lifehack Strategy 


    “Constructive Living” is the result of two Japanese systems of thought (ways of living) as synthesized by Dr. David K. Reynolds. The two systems used are “Morita therapy” and “Naikan.”

    “Morita Therapy” is a realistic action-oriented approach to daily life; “doing what needs to be done” and “holding to one’s purpose.” For example, If the dishes are dirty, try washing them one at a time. Don’t wait until you are “motivated” to wash them, simply begin washing the first dish and watch the dirty dishes transform into clean ones. If your legs are cramping from spending too many hours in front of the computer, take a walk, stretch, sweep your floor. Do what needs to be done. These things may need to be done and, while you are engaged in the task, the cramped legs disappear and perhaps a new wave of energy arises.

    What this is pointing to is what is controllable in our daily life. The stressful feeling that comes from some annoying colleauge may not go away at your leisure, but how you engage yourself and do what needs to be done is controllable. Moreover, the feelings you feel are a natural part of your person. As Reynolds writes throughout his books “Do the Now well.”

    “Naikan” stems from Buddhism (more specifically a lay Buddhist priest named Yoshimoto Ishin) and asks us to focus on three questions, a kind of guided meditation. The three questions (as used in close concentration on a specific person or object) can be expressed as follows:

    1. What have I received from this person/object?
    2. What have I done to repay this person/object?
    3. What troubles have I caused to this person/object?

    Now, even though feelings are quite uncontrollable, through Naikan meditation one may come to see the mediated-upon other under a different light, under a more balanced light. When was the last time you thanked your jacket for the warmth it gives you? When was the last time you focused on all of the people that went in to making it possible for you to be reading this blog right now (the computer designer, engineers, Internet Service Provider, the money you earned to buy the computer and so on). The idea of “giving back” comes into focus through Naikan, perhaps even the feeling of gratitude for the overwhelming support that one is receiving at all times every day.

    Again, taken together, Morita Therapy and Naikan compose the life-strategy known as Constructive Living.

    In an age of the digital, we may forget about the importance of “being-lived” or we may find ourselves procrastinating ourselves into excuses about why we didn’t do such and such a task. Our muscles wither, our brains fatigue. Perhaps, in these times of Web communication we are in need of this Constructive Living lifehack, for a more focused and productive living experience and a more balanced and grateful one as well. Thank you for reading this, you have just brought this post to life.

    CL links
    The California Center for Constructive Living
    Constructive Living on Amazon
    Constructive Living Online Texts

    photo by laughingmonk (CC)

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