mark_jay_mirsky's picture
writer and founder and editor of Fiction Magazine
Mirsky's Law

Imagination precedes reality.

To imagine the universe is to fear it, even as one feels the power and pleasure of trying to find its furthest boundaries. To meet that fear one has to seek consolation whether in scientific theory or intuitive vision.

As a corollary to that, the return of past time in the present, as death comes steadily closer, if not unique to the human mind, is certainly one of the consolations of consciousness, and of the shadow realm of dream. If there is hope it is in our ability as men and women to imagine ourselves not only in other worlds but as an "other," as an opposite. Robert Musil, Proust, Kafka, Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri together with the anonymous scribes of the religious epics, Gilgamesh, the Old Testament, were uncanny in their ability to imagine in this way.

Imagination precedes what we call reality. I would propose this as a law of daily life and suspect that it plays a large part in our evolution. Trying to preserve and recreate what was best in my past and the past of distant ancestors is part of what keeps me balanced before a future in which I want to hope.

To imagine is not just to exist, but to prolong existence. At the last moment Spinoza could not surrender the idea that somehow memory of what had happened would not be lost in the vastness of the universe. Spinoza needed that consolation. Whether it does or not, we need to believe that memory persists, and that we are capable of influencing just what memory will be valued and given predominance.