The Deep Imagination, Metaphor, and “All’s One” Vision

This is an excerpt from one of the presentations featured in the Pari Center’s event The Enchanted Universe, in Pari from August 29 to September 5, 2022.

with Alison MacLeod

In our era of ‘fake news’, the human imagination often seems faulty. It ‘makes stuff up’. It ‘messes with the facts’. With instances of literary censorship on the rise, imagined worlds are also increasingly deemed dangerous. At the same time, some exponents of artificial intelligence argue that AI will render the labours of the imagination redundant. Yet, to arrive at a better future, we must imagine it first. How do we re-discover the vital nature of the deep imagination?

In this session, participants will be invited to reflect on and renew their own sense of the imagination’s transformative force. As children, we had an innate understanding of the creative plasticity of the world. We knew that all seeing is seeing as. A cloud in the sky was a galloping horse. A tree was a castle. A stick was a wand. ‘Deep imagination’ arises from this agile, seeing-as form of perception – and metaphor is its fundamental atom of expression. Metaphorical thinking yokes experience and knowledge; empathy and intuition; body and spirit. It locates us within ‘threshold states’ in which we can, through acts of curiosity, attention and play, see through to the living flux and ‘connectivity’ of the world.

What is a good metaphor? What is its magic? What is the power of metaphorical thinking in our daily world? In this presentation, Alison MacLeod will consider these questions and offer creative approaches towards metaphorical thinking and a re-engagement with the deep imagination.

Alison MacLeod is the author of six books.  Her new novel, Tenderness, was a New York Times ‘Best Book of 2021’, a ‘Book of the Year’ for The Spectator, a ‘Best New Book’ for PEOPLE Magazine, and The Sunday Times‘Historical Fiction Book of the Month’.  Her last novel, Unexploded, was long-listed for the Man-Booker Prize for Fiction and named one of the Observer‘s ‘Books of the Year’.  It was serialised for BBC radio and optioned for television.  Her most recent story collection, All the Beloved Ghosts, was shortlisted for Canada’s Governor General’s Award, named one of the Guardian‘s ‘Best Books of 2017’, and shortlisted for The 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize for best short story collection in the UK and Ireland.  She is often a guest on BBC programmes and is an occasional contributor The Sunday Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph.  She has appeared at numerous literary festivals internationally and has been a guest speaker at universities throughout the UK.  Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester until 2018, she now writes full-time and is Visiting Professor at Chichester.  Currently, she is also a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund for the Cambridge University Researcher Development Centre.