"What we can observe, we can imagine; what we imagine, we image." (Root-Bernstein, 57)

One of the most important things to take away from this chapter is the many ways in which we "image." It is not simply about visually seeing something. It is about calling forth sound or conjuring up a physical sensation in the mind. Imaging is about manipulating things within your mind from your experience.

This may be the working out of a piece of music, as was the case for Beethoven. He would hear the music playing and rework it many times within his mind before writing it down (Root-Bernstein, 58). Others say they hear the music as they read the notes on the page.

When you read the following words, what happens?

Oh, sweet Caroline

Is anything conjured up in your mind?

When you hear the clip below, what happens?



Can you fill in what comes next? How much comes back to you?

When you can hear the rest of the song from memory, that is imaging. The clue brought forth a song and you could hear it keep playing in your mind even though the actual tune stopped. Try pulling up other songs. Can you do it?

This is the same with taste and touch. You can bring to mind the sensation of a food or item. You feel the smooth skin of an apple against your lips, and the crisp piercing of it as your teeth break through and tear away the juicy white pulp. There is a slightly bitter-sweetness to the apple as the juices slide down your cheek and hands. Can you smell that subtle freshness? Now try crossing the image of a chocolate bar and the taste of the apple. Can you do it? Can you call to mind the taste of one over the image of another? That feels impossible, right? The experiences we have shape our perceptions.

"Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell , among other things, highlights the way that packaging can effect our image of the product. A slightly yellower box for 7-Up caused consumers to think the soda had a stronger taste of lime. The company had to go back to the original packaging. Cheskin company employee Darrel Rhea explained, ""We tested Seven-Up. We had several versions, and what we found is that if you add fifteen percent more yellow to the green on the package- if you take this green and add more yellow- what people report is that the taste experience has a lot more lime or lemon flavor. And people were upset. 'You are changing my Seven-Up! Don't do a 'New Coke' on me.' It's exactly the same product, but a different set of sensations have been transferred from the bottle which in this case isn't necessarily a good thing."" (Gladwell, 163).

Sometimes the taste that we encounter conjures up a specific reaction in us. Something that we might not be able to share or recreate in others. Much like that which was expressed in these clips from Disney's Ratatouille.






According to Root-Bernstein, to improve, one must practice.
"....Young or old, we can work on our imaging abilities just as we work on our observing skills. The steps are simple. First, recognize your own use of visual, aural, and other images. Do you see with your mind's eye just where you left your keys? Do you imagine the story you are reading as if it were a movie, as if you were acting in it, as if you were hearing it on the radio? When you imagine a banana or snow or a cat, can you see, hear, smell, and (even!) taste them all?

Second, indulge yourself. Image on purpose and to your heart's content. If you like to visualize, reimagine scenes form your favorite movie; better yet, rewrite and "resee" the movie so that it is perfect and perfectly your own. Try your hand at visual puzzles, such as those in the puzzle book Pentagames. If you like to think in images of sound, try to remember and hear in your mind not just the melody but the harmonies of your favorite song or concerto.

Third, take up an art. But don't just learn about music or dance or painting or cooking. Learn to make drawings, songs, poems, or gourmet dishes. In many of these activities imaging is part of the process of doing. Chances are you won't choose a color for your painting without thinking in color; you won't pick out a melody on the piano without thinking about and in sounds; you won't create a chicken dish without thinking about and in what tastes fair with fowl. Work at imagining these processes before you do them and at remembering them afterward. Finally, make up excuses to use your inner eye, your inner ear, your inner nose, your inner sense of touch and of body. Have someone pose math and science problems verbally to you; practice hearing different and seeing different physiognomies when you read a play; pay attention to what you feel and imagine as you listen to music. Like any skill, imaging becomes stronger and quicker with consistent and persistent practice." (Root-Bernstein, 65-66)