The Power of Images / by gene talbott

When I was young I read The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I loved them. They were full of magical and moving images that at the time spoke very strongly to me. (Some still do.) One of the most powerful for me at the time was the following from the book Prince Caspian:

Old Dr. Cornelius is talking to young Prince Caspian about the 'Old Things,' Old Narnia of long ago, when there were talking animals and walking trees, and which Caspian's people have chased away or exterminated out of hard-heartedness and fear. Wistfully Caspian wonders if any of Old Narnia is left, and Dr Cornelius says:

Sometimes I am afraid there can't be. I have been looking for traces of them all my life. Sometimes I have thought I heard a Dwarf-drum in the mountains. Sometimes at night, in the woods, I thought I had caught a glimpse of Fauns and Satyrs dancing a long way off; but when I came to the place there was never anything there. I have often despaired; but something always happens to start me hoping again.

This truly transported me! I could see those shadowy mountain valleys and hear that faint dwarf drum. I saw the fauns dancing in a tiny circle of light a long way off. I felt a deep longing for the magic and power hidden just under the surface of the world. I was young enough to still sense that hidden reality strongly but was growing away from it. This image presented me with something seemingly strange but in essence very familiar. I believe everyone experiences this sort of thing. A recognition, from time to time. Without it we would wither.

This is not wish-fulfillment I am speaking of, though in entertainment it does degrade more and more into wish-fulfillment. In good art it lives as a half-conscious revelation. The human soul is looking for itself. In other people, in nature, in art. In possibilities. And it leaps with joy when it catches a glimpse. Mostly we are surrounded with faint, faded reflections, hard to access, or with distortions. Now and then, though, you see or hear something that takes a part of your soul and places it right out in front of you. You may not realize it clearly. But something in you says Yes!

In a sense this image from Prince Caspian presented me with me. That is one thing good art can do, take a (sometimes barely recognizable) aspect of your own human nature and inspire you with it.

I think that inspiration is worth finding.