Imagination is the single most creative tool available at our disposal, and every one of us possesses it. Right from our earliest childhood we learn to exercise our imagination – perhaps more so as children than adults – creating ever-changing backdrops to our play, ambitions, dreams and diversions.
The imagination is an incredibly flexible attribute: It can be influenced by the world around us, by history and by our perceptions of the future. We may imagine scenarios that revolve around our present condition, our hopes, aspirations and the complex interplay of the the world and our place in it. We may picture the future, or hark back to the past, and – no matter what our imaginings may be – we have almost infinite capacity to explore, develop and build upon what we see in our mind’s eye. We’re certainly not constrained by rules or the limitations of the real world, and that is one of the great pleasures of the the imagination – it doesn’t matter how outlandish, unlikely or impossible the meanderings of the mind, everything is possible and, through the unique way in which the human mind is engineered, we can experience those imaginings in such a way that they can feel as real as any physical experience.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of imagination however is that it is perfectly possible for those things we imagine to make the transition into the real world. Indeed, pretty much every invention, every piece of art, every song, poem and piece of architecture has its formative moments in the imagination of somebody. Some of the greatest works of art, triumphs of science and feats of engineering have their origins in dreams and the imaginations of their progenitors. Even the most bizarre and outlandish thoughts and ideas have spawned real world creations, some of which have become the bread and butter of daily life, whilst others have quietly died a death without making a terribly impressive mark upon the world in general.
Then there are the dreams and visions of the imagination that, for one reason or another, have stayed firmly within the realms of thought. The reasons are legion – our imaginary constructs may remain imaginary and never find their way into the world simply because they are indeed impossible or downright crazy. So dragons, flying through the air like Peter Pan, and dreams of dating the hot girl from Customer Service stay firmly within the realm of the imaginary – although that’s not to say that we can’t simulate or approximate what we see in our imagination, should we so wish, perhaps through the medium of LARP or, alternatively, by directing our thought-processes in an alternative creative direction… Writing, art, modelling etc.
The other, perhaps somewhat more disappointing blocker to our imaginary concepts becoming reality is the rather prosaic reason that we simply don’t have the skills, time, resources or capability to make them happen in the real world. We may imagine a working time machine, but to make such a thing happen and become reality requires potentially far more in terms of effort, ability and inventiveness than we are able to offer. That, in my opinion, is a great shame – wouldn’t the world be an amazing place if we could turn the less plausible and possible creations of our imaginations into the real thing? Sadly, that’s not the way the world works.
It is, however, the way that SL works. In fact, SL permits us to go much further – not only can we bring into being our plausible imaginings, but also the implausible, impossible and incredible. This is no happy accident – right from the outset, the intention was that SL should permit people to explore their imaginations and translate them into a virtual reality. I came across the TED Talk below, which neatly deals with that point in the first ten minutes or so, and I think there’s a huge correlation between the way in which Philip Rosedale approaches his own ability to imagine creatively and the way in which SL was designed to evolve…
Some people find SL to be confusing and illogical. They ask for rules and try to define it in terms of a game, with set objectives and outcomes – but that is to ignore the fundamental concept that underpins much of our virtual world. What we see, experience and do is linked incontrovertibly to the imaginations of those who have created it: Imaginations that are not bounded by rules and gameplay and owe less to reality than they do to dreams. You can’t make a sensible, logical world from such things…
But you can make it a fun one!
Newspaper taxies appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you’re gone
The Beatles – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds