6…Dream Worlds

"Those youngsters will throw their lives away..."“Those youngsters will throw their lives away…drawing things that never were.”

-Grandpa Simpson

“The Simpsons” may not be a reality show, but… it does tend to ring true.

Grandpa Simpson’s lament is the self-same of many who don’t quite see the value in imagination, or the “creating” part of “creativity”. They forget that thinking tends to have practical, purposeful ends. Even industrial capitalism in all its instrumentality, once figured more as a dream and less as a reality. Now it is a nightmare, the alpha/omega of ingenuity and all of ingenuity’s disastrous side-effects…

But come again? How many ways can we read (and heed) Grandpa Simpson’s cry? Is he himself oblivious to the worth of those youngster’s activities? Or does he see the dreamers and drawers as making triumphant but ultimately wasted efforts to imagine things differently? Or, might he be fearful that his progeny will naively place too much faith and expend too much energy in a bankrupt profession that society consistently devalues?

More to the point, just how does he imagine their (our) time would be better spent?

If one draws things “as they are”, one’s claim to truth will eventually be overturned or, at the very least, subsumed by the multitude of conflicting claims to truth. In this sea of conflicting claims, does a contested truth amount to a “thing that never was”? Or is truth a non-euclidean space, wherein two truths (or more) can easily co-exist (no matter how contrary they seem)?

If one opts out of drawing anything at all, what imaginative space would be left and in what ways would cultures (the majority being so steeped in the representational world of the image) be affected?

If one draws only schematics, that can and will be materialized, is one not then a designer of a “new world” within which others must then live, with no hope themselves of imagining other versions unless they can be sure enough (and by sure, read: privileged) that their vision will in fact become a reality?

But I’m not drawing a picture here of things that never were. These “what ifs” are true to life as far as I see it.

And, truthfully:

We need youngsters to keep drawing themselves out of tight spots, and imagining things that have not come to be, and following lines of flight however fanciful they appear.

We need to come to the table without our minds made up, and without being so quick on the draw (so to speak!) to dismantle the other stories being told or worlds being imagined or images being pictured.

We have all been youngsters once, with tremendous capacities for “divergent thinking” and its haphazard genius. Those youngsters (or youngsters-at-heart) who still see multiple answers to all of life’s questions have a story to tell that is worth hearing, they have a drawing that is worth drawing—regardless of its worth in the marketplace.

RSA Animate, check it:

“Changing Education Paradigms” Sir Ken Robinson

“Smile or Die” Barbara Ehrenreich

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