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February 7, 2011

…much of what I have written has taken me by surprise. What I know does not yield a full or adequate accounting for what I have imagined. It seems to have been “given.” My experience has taught me to believe in inspiration, about which I think nobody can speak with much authority.  -Wendell Berry, Imagination in Place

Wendell Berry suggests that the material produced by the imagination is given, a gift. We are never able to create ex nihilo.

While the imagination is a creative faculty, it works from a resevoir of supplied material.

Along this vein, there is nothing novel, “nothing new under the sun.” Even what I might consider my own, is really made from a composite of things given to me.

Coleridge captures this when he pens in The Eolian Harp,

Full many a thought uncall’d and undetain’d, \ And many idle flitting phantasies, \ Traverse my indolent and passive brain, \ As wild and various as the random gales \ That swell and flutter on this subject Lute!

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