If imagination is the core principle of interpretation and meaning making, to what extent can essays rely on imagination? Moreover, in what manner? I posit that imagination does not necessarily equate good criticism, but that good criticism requires a particular balance of imagination for resonance.
In order to explore this, however, my question hinges on a number of factors namely, what is imagination? What is good criticism?
My basis for imagination sprouts from the duality of the word 'cleave', which means either to cut, or to cling. Thus, I frame imagination as something to be cleaved to, and/or to be cleaved by. But should imagination function more as a calmative through which to cleave to, or as a meaning-making device by which we are cleaved? These questions arise from a fascination of the way meaning is made, fostered through ENGL units, - questioning the theories of not only how, but why and to what extent meaning blossoms.
Essays may capitalise on imagination via external and internal worlds. I use internal and external instead of Tolkien's (14) primary and secondary world terminology, as I wish not to prioritise one world as more important or real. I will argue imagination as materialising through the connection of various arbitrary internal and external 'realities', such as context, perception, audience and evocation which are mitigated by imagination in return. Imagination, particularly the cultural imagination often utilised in travel essays, can not only produce meaning, but also shroud it. Thus imagination functions in criticism as a highly fluid, volatile, and complex system. It follows then that, to some extent, a resonant criticism is one that interacts with or utilises imagination to construct, subvert, reflect or imply meaning.
Regarding consciousness, imagination requires simultaneously processing internal and external stimulus; an unbalanced interaction of external or internal stimuli can shroud and limit meaningful interpretations of reality (Bromhall 209). In light of this, I hypothesise that in order for a critical text to ring authentic, it must a balance the functions of imagination as a cleave, which (put simply) are:
Stimulating dislocation (from either external or internal processes) Stimulating connection (to either external or internal processes) Good Criticism Mindful of the nature of imagination and perspective, I tentatively propose criteria to measure the resonance of a critical text:
1. It must assume to present an argument that would resonate with its implied audience; 2. It must do so in a manner that is significant, coherent and/or fulfilling, to both composer and implied responder; and, 3. Have cognisance of its role and function as a product of perception and perspective.
The following essays will provide a basis for my exploration. They will be evaluated in terms of 'good' criticism, and utilised as a vehicle through which to understand the balance required f...