Around the photography groups here at MyOpera the concept of 'Desperate to Find A Shoot' (DFAS) has become known among many members who have albums of daily shots. It is a monstrous and evil thing that makes a photographer to shoot just anything to get the daily picture done. When using title 'DFAS', the photographer kind of state the picture is taken without careful planning and is nothing but a snapshot.
But what is really going on the background that makes us state something is taken only in desperation? I see there a loss of imagination, a point or edge where we have ran out of ideas and inspiration. This made me think what is the possible cause or causes for the lack of ideas, inspiration, and most importantly the lack of imagination. Like I have used to do, I searched on the topic. I found few reasons above all, that are claimed to 'kill the imagination'. They are television, fantasy and school.
It is quite common to blame television for many problems in our society. It is said to make us passive and spend all our time only for sitting next to that "magic lantern". You may have read Roald Dahl's book or seen the movie 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'. There it is said:
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK – HE ONLY SEES!
But surprisingly another 'imagination killer' is fantasy. Or at least it is according to Iris Murdoch:
But fantasy kills imagination, pornography is death to art.
And what does this mean? In short the idea is that fantasies refer to "unrealistic or improbable suppositions", which is different than "ability to confront and deal with reality by using the creative power of the mind and resourcefulness". Putting this into Iris Murdoch's own words, the difference is:
.. a distinction between the expression of immediate selfish feelings and the elimination of yourself in a work of art.
I myself find this one very controversial. Or at least it is one hell of a challenge to overcome. In photography it may mean that we need to illustrate something that most of us can familiarize with. And I don't mean just shooting everyday objects and landscapes, but really trying to achieve some profound feeling or message like 'death'.
Then there's that third thing that can be the reason for lack of imagination. In his wonderful speech Sir Ken Robinson has claimed the "school kills creativity". He does not exactly speak about imagination, but creativity hardly exists without ability to imagine things. The problem is that the current education system values hard natural science over such things as art. We have learned it is way more important in life to know maths, physics, geography and chemistry than it is to learn how to draw or dance.
So, those three: TV, fantasy and school, can be seen as guilty of killing the imagination in us. And in some level I'm ready to agree on this. Without spending all too many hours watching TV, I may have more time to do something more creative. Instead of saving and spending my money to fulfill my fantasies, I maybe could finally create something really wonderful and important. And if I haven't spent my youth on learning "wrong things", I could be doing something I really like and enjoy.
But on the other hand, someone has to do the maths, and peeps need "opium" to lessen their stress.
- Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
- Iris Murdoch, The Art of Fiction No. 117 http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/2313/the-art-of-fiction-no-117-iris-murdoch
- Television by Roald Dahl http://rockysmith.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/it-kills-imagination-dead/