Growing the Edge of Imagination

For someone who holds himself out to be in the imagination business, I have remarkably little skill in being able to imagine physical spaces not as they are.

Witness this photo of the end of our upstairs hallway: Lisa wallpapered it last week in a bold, black and white, geometric pattern:

Black and white patterned wallpaper on a back wall with a window.

When she proposed the idea I was queasy: unable to conceive of what it might look like, I had to rely on Lisa’s well-developed spatial conception engine.

I trusted her. The result is lovely. Truly lovely. In ways I could not have possibly imagined—something I write not hyperbolically, but literally: my mind simply could not picture this result.

And yet it makes my soul sing every time I climb the stairs.

I have been trapped inside this limitation for a long time. Which is to say that I have trapped myself inside it. I know enough about how my mind has been expanded by sketching, by setting type, by poking at the edges of the web browser canvas, to know that it’s possible to grow. And I know that to be a good partner, to not be at the effect of another’s design sensibility, it’s the edge I have to grow.

And so off I head, to enhance that part of my brain and that part of my spirit.


Oliver's picture
Oliver on July 12, 2023 - 19:04 Permalink

I think you might well be able to develop your pre-imagination capacity, but I think also it's just an relatively uncharted way people differ brainwise. Definitely I can imagine developing some work-arounds to mitigate the handicap.

Oliver's picture
Oliver on July 18, 2023 - 02:11 Permalink

Maybe it’s also worth noting that a lot we celebrate as “imaginative”thinking hasn’t involved any pre-picturing. Imagery is in the history of the word but isn’t essential. So having a weak mind’s eye doesn’t mean you lack imagination absolutely. I’d say it’s like being slow on your feet doesn’t mean you’re not of Olympic gold medal caliber—because there are a ton of ways to win a gold at the Olympics. And I think like certain Olympic events envisioning things may be preeminent as a type of imagination, yet still subject frequently to overshadowing by other types