Without imagination, civilization would have become a blank slate. If you were asked not to think of your brain, it would be impossible. How could you not think of something without first thinking of it? Now think about that three pound lump of nerves in your head being able to conjure up visions of castles, cathedrals, submarines and rockets. Is there a difference between your mind and your brain? Yes. You can have a brain without a mind, but not a mind without a brain. These questions lead to a brief discussion of imagination.
Imagination is not a physical body part like a heart, lung, or kidney. It cannot be dissected or studied under a microscope. It has confounded psychologists and philosophers for centuries. All that can be studied are the things our imagination can dream up.
In folklore, there is something called a “doppelgänger,” a paranormal double of a living person. In theatre, for example, the actress, director, and playwright’s conception of the main character’s doppelgänger could invest the play with a different dramatic flavor.
As we emerged from the Dark Ages, our imagination took us in different directions. It unlocked many of Nature’s mysteries. As Albert Einstein, looked toward the starry sky, his imagination laid the foundation for his Theory of Relativity, the Wright brothers’ imagination gave us flight, Edison’s imagination gave us electric lights.
Where our imagination will take us in the next century boggles the mind. Will it allow us to vacation on Mars, live under water, eliminate all disease, have cars that drive themselves, have tiny motorized robots crawl through our body like ants and sense medical problems, or have personal jetpacks that will allow us to fly from town-to-town?
Not unlike Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein, tomorrow’s imagination may permit us to recreate ourselves? Will a woman unable to have a child be able to open a catalog, find a company that manufactures children, and simply order one according to her specifications?
Two time capsules were prepared by Westinghouse at the World’s Fair in 1939 and 1964. In the capsules were buried all of the literature, scientific developments, architecture, music, pharmaceuticals, and a host of other creations of these time periods. The capsules were buried 50 feet underground in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York, and were to be opened in the year 6939.
Technology today, has one foot in the present and one foot in the future. Where both feet take civilization will provide future historians with a sample of our creative imagination.
- Professor Eisenberg was born in New York City and now lives in Belleair Bluffs. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II. His career consisted of teaching interpersonal/intercultural communication, public speaking, organizational communication, nonverbal communication, group dynamics, and persuasion at four major universities including Pace University and Manhattanville College in New York. His publications include fifteen textbooks on various aspects of communication. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.