How to make the Evolution of Imagination dramatic

An argument I might try to make: the evolution of the imagination, that is, the ability to envision situations that aren’t real (yet), also marks the evolution of leadership, because now there’s a vision originating in one person’s head that must be communicated to other people.  Leadership I define as different from dominance – apes dominate each other, but through force, not through inspiration, I’d guess.  (Actually I don’t know a dang thing about apes; there could be very inspirational apes.)  Leadership means followers, which means making choices for other people, which means the followers must trust the leader, or the leader must resort to ape-like means to maintain control.  But even when leadership is founded on absolute love, it’s about choices, and any choice entails the sacrifice of alternate choices.  Choice is drama: there’s lots of tension in the act of imagining.  You could even say it’s the fundamental tension – a beast without the ability to imagine a different situation than the one it’s presently in, whether nice or nasty, would not understand the situation as dramatic, only a circumstance to be endured or enjoyed.

So: once we’ve established the initiating event of our story – somebody imagines something – then we have a tension, or a choice: to lead or not to lead.  To follow or not to follow.  To have faith in the vision, or to deny it.  The dramatic formula of our story, then: Napoleon going to Russia.  Ahab going to kill Moby Dick.  Jesus on His way to Golgotha.

All such stories end with disaster, and with the sacrifice of the leader.  Maybe this is a kind of revenge upon the faculty of imagination itself?  Maybe it’s a tension we feel in ourselves, between the part of us that’s happy in our garden, waiting for the potatoes to grow, and the part of us that says: not enough.

About Judd Trout

Judd Palmer is one of the Old Trouts.

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