Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Idea of the Writer: December 13, 2007 WGA Theater

Defining Imagination:
In the Biographia Literaria, which I commend to your attention --

He was a junky, Coleridge, and that was before they had Metamucil. He was afflicted with horrible constipation and the measures that he had to take were not pretty.

-- Coleridge made an effort to distinguish between "fancy" and "imagination" as a principle of association. Now, this is very, very important because if you give up the Outline, which is logic. If you take a step back and think of what we're doing here, you are watching me associate as a principle of organization in our communion with each other. I'm associating one experience with another experience. I'm reacting to you. 
An imaginative association, Coleridge would suggest, is what we are doing now which is that available to us on the basis of this shared experience is an understanding of the substance of the experience. That is, how the artist gains access to the imagination of his audience through the vision of, and the vitalizing of, the bringing to life of experiences to which the viewer can relate on the basis of the operations of the imagination of the storyteller. Not because there's a prior expectation that, "OK, at the end of the first act: judges chambers! dnn-dnn dnn-dnn!" But as a vital exchange of energy. That's the way the universe works. OK?

A fanciful association, and this is the danger, the burden of inauthenticity that those of us who work without Outlines must bear, in the achievement of the act of imagination and that is fancy.

Now I kinda tried to plant, just the way I did with the "urine" when we were talking about "principles of association" and this gentleman said, "Oh, I was thinking of Coleridge and you said,'Coleridge'." And I suggest that that is not an accident but that the substance of what I was suggesting was bringing to mind an imaginative association from this gentleman's past where had he encountered those ideas before. So that's not an accident, nor is it a fanciful connection. It is an imaginative connection. That's what art does. We are creating art together here. The audience is always a participant with the artist in the creation of the art by apprehending it in faith. Which is why I urge you not to watch Law and Order, which is an exercise in logic.

A fanciful association is a private association.
(Around the 15 minute mark of the linked video).