imagination and insanity: allow me several brilliant quotes from the first chapter of Chesterton’s Orthodoxy as I move on to my point. “These is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination , is dangerous to man’s mental balance… (but) imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason…Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite…The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” and lastly, “The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”
While are the beginning of the 20th century of Chesterton it was a big deal, but the recovery of imagination is nothing revolutionary here are the beginning of the 21st century. The analogical (metaphoric) has supplanted the logical (literal) as the foundation of cognition, the dynamics of imagination and scientific discover is common place, and imagination and volition are tightly bound together…etc, etc.
The question for us is whether we have appropriated a mystical imagination, or a deconstructive one. Let me explain by another quote, “Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity…The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.”
Too often I hear all this talk about being de-centerded, centerless, the return of the margin, but we do this in the strictly deconstructivist manner. We revel in the void of the center, thinking that we have escaped modernity and its foundations. But tarrying in the void is still the gesture of immanence, a false sense of transcendence. We imagine the void, not the mystery, and continue in insanity.
The center that hold all things in place is not the absence of center, but the fullness of mystery. That which we know by can’t explain; that elusive presence called the incarnation.