Imagination: The Art of Art
Five years ago, I visited the Mclhenry Tabasco factory in Louisiana. At first I was shocked and stared in awe at the thousands of red glistening bottles coming out in a single file line. The shiny machine, well oiled and well polished, functioned perfectly and I truly understood where the phrase “like a machine” came from. But the more I watched, the less impressive it became. I started to see little things such as a smear of grime or a pile of dust in the corner. I realized the machine was only a creation of man: a programmed piece of metal with no ability rather than that of making bottles. Many people believe in perfection, but I believe in imagination. The machine had the ability to produce but it could not create. It could not create because it could not imagine and because of this, it was horribly limited. Humans have the ability to imagine and because of this we will never create perfection. We will always imagine more than what we can achieve, and it is this imagination that drives us to achieve. It is an ironic curse since it drives and hinders us simultaneously. As for me, I use my imagination in music, and in this region Claudio Arrau, one of the greatest pianist of the 20th century, has described the role of perfection and imagination during performance. He said “It is no longer the end of the world when something goes wrong because I know I am a fallible human being … I can now disregard what anyone thinks and continue to get at the real meaning. This is, after all, what counts.” Arrau, in this quote, expresses that perfection doesn’t matter as much as the imaginative side of the piece. Some people however seek perfection at the expense of imagination, and in this case it can be said that perfection is the absence of imagination. It is for this reason that we should focus on imagination rather than absolute perfection. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.