chapter  5
18 Pages

Dreaming awake

Where does imagination come from? No one knows exactly, but one quite logical explanation is that it’s originally precisely what I called it in Chapter 1: dreaming awake. When we imagine intensively, we go into a dreamlike state; brain activity gets closer to the way it is in dreams. Imagination itself may start to take over, showing us things we didn’t expect to see or hear or sense, almost like being asleep and dreaming. The dream state evolved in much earlier life forms, but Homo sapiens (so the theory goes) at some stage began to be able to go into something akin to that state more consciously, for quick, relatively controlled visits as it were.1 Hence we were able to use that mental image-making faculty more intentionally, to imagine and picture possible future actions and schemes as well as to summon up images of the past. Hence we were able to develop languages with complex past and future tenses, with words for things you could neither see nor touch nor taste.