Riding The Winged Horse. Part 2
(d) The gustatory image is common enough, as the idea of eating lemons will testify. Sometimes the pleasurable recollection of a delightful dinner will cause the mouth to water years afterward, or the "image" of particularly atrocious medicine will wrinkle the nose long after it made one day in boyhood wretched.
(e) The olfactory image is even more delicate. Some there are who are affected to illness by the memory of certain odors, while others experience the most delectable sensations by the rise of pleasing olfactory images.
(f) The tactile image, to name no others, is well nigh as potent. Do you shudder at the thought of velvet rubbed by short-nailed finger tips? Or were you ever "burned" by touching an ice-cold stove? Or, happier memory, can you still feel the touch of a well-loved absent hand?
Be it remembered that few of these images are present in our minds except in combination - the sight and sound of the crashing avalanche are one; so are the flash and report of the huntman's gun that came so near "doing for us."
Thus, imaging - especially conscious reproductive imagination - will become a valuable part of our mental processes in proportion as we direct and control it.
2. Productive Imagination
All of the foregoing examples, and doubtless also many of the experiments you yourself may originate, are merely reproductive. Pleasurable or horrific as these may be, they are far less important than the images evoked by the productive imagination - though that does not infer a separate faculty.
Recall, again for experiment, some scene whose beginning you once saw enacted on a street corner but passed by before the denouement was ready to be disclosed. Recall it all - that far the image is reproductive. But what followed? Let your fantasy roam at pleasure - the succeeding scenes are productive, for you have more or less consciously invented the unreal on the basis of the real.
And just here the fictionist, the poet, and the public speaker will see the value of productive imagery. True, the feet of the idol you build are on the ground, but its head pierces the clouds, it is a son of both earth and heaven.
One fact it is important to note here: Imagery is a valuable mental asset in proportion as it is controlled by the higher intellectual power of pure reason. The untutored child of nature thinks largely in images and therefore attaches to them undue importance. He readily confuses the real with the unreal - to him they are of like value. But the man of training readily distinguishes the one from the other and evaluates each with some, if not with perfect, justice.
So we see that unrestrained imaging may produce a rudderless steamer, while the trained faculty is the graceful sloop, skimming the seas at her skipper's will, her course steadied by the helm of reason and her lightsome wings catching every air of heaven.
The game of chess, the war-lord's tactical plan, the evolution of a geometrical theorem, the devising of a great business campaign, the elimination of waste in a factory, the denouement of a powerful drama, the overcoming of an economic obstacle, the scheme for a sublime poem, and the convincing siege of an audience may - nay, indeed must - each be conceived in an image and wrought to reality according to the plans and specifications laid upon the trestle board by some modern imaginative Hiram. The farmer who would be content with the seed he possesses would have no harvest. Do not rest satisfied with the ability to recall images, but cultivate your creative imagination by building "what might be" upon the foundation of "what is."
II. The Uses Of Imaging In Public Speaking
By this time you will have already made some general application of these ideas to the art of the platform, but to several specific uses we must now refer.
1. Imaging In Speech-Preparation
(a) Set the image of your audience before you while you prepare. Disappointment may lurk here, and you cannot be forearmed for every emergency, but in the main you must meet your audience before you actually do - image its probable mood and attitude toward the occasion, the theme, and the speaker.
(b) Conceive your speech as a whole while you are preparing its parts, else can you not see - image - how its parts shall be fitly framed together.
(c) Image the language you will use, so far as written or extemporaneous speech may dictate. The habit of imaging will give you choice of varied figures of speech, for remember that an address without fresh comparisons is like a garden without blooms. Do not be content with the first hackneyed figure that comes flowing to your pen-point, but dream on until the striking, the unusual, yet the vividly real comparison points your thought like steel does the arrow-tip.
Note the freshness and effectiveness of the following description from the opening of O. Henry's story, "The Harbinger."
Long before the springtide is felt in the dull bosom of the yokel does the city man know that the grass-green goddess is upon her throne. He sits at his breakfast eggs and toast, begirt by stone walls, opens his morning paper and sees journalism leave vernalism at the post.
For whereas Spring's couriers were once the evidence of our finer senses, now the Associated Press does the trick.
The warble of the first robin in Hackensack, the stirring of the maple sap in Bennington, the budding of the pussy willows along the main street in Syracuse, the first chirp of the blue bird, the swan song of the blue point, the annual tornado in St. Louis, the plaint of the peach pessimist from Pompton, N. J., the regular visit of the tame wild goose with a broken leg to the pond near Bilgewater Junction, the base attempt of the Drug Trust to boost the price of quinine foiled in the House by Congressman Jinks, the first tall poplar struck by lightning and the usual stunned picknickers who had taken refuge, the first crack of the ice jamb in the Allegheny River, the finding of a violet in its mossy bed by the correspondent at Round Corners - these are the advanced signs of the burgeoning season that are wired into the wise city, while the farmer sees nothing but winter upon his dreary fields.