Reimagining a hopefilled world

Himan Brown, developer of such popular Radio Dramas like “The Adventure of the Thin Man” and “Inner Sanctum Mysteries” was a narrative genius long before there was television. Though not nearly as popular as they once were, Radio Dramas have a unique “hold” on our psyches. Here is what he has to say:

“I am firmly convinced that nothing visual can touch audio,” Mr. Brown said in a 2003 interview, his eyes sparkling. “I don’t need 200 orchestra players doing the ‘Ride of the Valkyries.’ I don’t need car chases. I don’t need mayhem. All I need to do is creak the door open, and visually your head begins to go. The magic word is imagination.”

The magic word is “imagination”. It is the one quality that separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is the most powerful resource available to us. We are fundamentally imaginative creatures. With imagination we can dream up entirely new worlds to explore. With imagination we can surmise what a world free from violence and war might be like. With imagination we can simulate past emotions and learn from those experiences to feel empathy for all those in the same situations.

In a question-and-answer session 2001, the author John Irving was asked how much of his work was autobiographical. He answered that his life was not especially interesting, but ''I can invent more interesting characters than most people I know.'' As he said in an interview, ''In the world of writing about writers, personal experience is, in my view, always over esteemed, and the imagination is almost always devalued.''

A valued imagination can put sizzle in the steak, fizz in the drink, and current in the wire.  Imagination is a central source of meaning and hope in our lives. Think about it. Most things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of imagination. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied the New York Times' list of most-emailed articles for more than six months to find which were the ones most forwarded to another person. More than anything else, readers felt compelled to share articles that inspired awe. More evidence that we long for something greater than ourselves, greater than our circumstances; to use our imaginations to inspire hope.

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