We are inundated daily with millions of images, from our interior images and images from the world around us. Perception is on overdrive all the time. How often do we actually enter an image and experience what the image is? At first, all we know is that the image is present. When we participate in an image we can come to know the image in ways we never would, but by learning to become embodied by the image, a whole new reality opens up. A reality we had no idea was so alive. Where your attention is a liveliness will open up.
This is the process of entering the imaginal. It involves observing the image, slowing your perception of the image down, and allowing yourself to be overtaken by the image and see it in a way beyond your assumptions.
Observation brings a fundamental knowledge of the image. By entering and observing through descriptive definitions we begin to enliven our sensory awareness and start to feel as if we are in the image. As we slowly come to embody the image, we become infused by its alien nature and we learn to go into mimesis with the image. We as children naturally observed and mimicked others to learn to be in the world. As adults, this innate knowledge goes deep into the unconscious and we just forgot what a beautiful tool it was to be enlivened by life. We can bring this art of mimesis back into use by relearning this faculty we all had as children. This article by Mike Mowbray gives an overview of the mimetic faculty:
Michael Taussig, in Mimesis and Alterity (1993) describes mimesis as invoking an “optical tactility, plunging us into the plane where the object world and the visual copy merge…”
Once we have entered the image and begun to become like, it becomes necessary to bring the whole experience into slow motion. We then begin to observe in much higher detail, the particulars: the colors; the textures; the smells; the sense of place. According to Henry Corbin, this world presents itself as forms of intelligence that give substance to the image. These images are as real as the physical world. Now in order for us to accept this we have to move past the habitual mind.
If we can allow ourselves to not bring what we know to the experience of the image and act as researchers into the unknown, a new world reveals itself to us. As we explore this unknown intelligence, the sphere between the intellect and the senses, we become sensitized to its own organs of perceptions, which is the organ of the creative imagination. What seems foreign and impenetrable now will come to meet you.