Imagination or Fact by Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay

By Lemn Sissay, GDIF writer in residence

Imagination and fact. One persons memory of an event is hardly ever the same as anothers. Who’s right?  Is it through a moral framework that  fact is seen as more real than  imagination? Through a spiritual  framework is  fiction  at least equal to fact?  I look at religions and ask what is imagination – Jonah and the whale? – and what is fact?  Faith transports fiction into fact. Faith (in cinema… in the news…in religion) allows  imagination to become fact.  Faith allows fact and imagination to weld together as truth.  Every body has the right to “believe” and exercise faith.

Faith drives the heart of society with a bloodstream of facts. Are there weapons of mass destruction or  not?  Is imagining a better world iimpossible?  Matin Luther King thought not when he imagined a world he’d never seen. We call him a “visionary”. He has a vision.    A dictionary definition of imagination is “the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses”   Who said we only have five senses.  Sixth sense is a truth revealed regardless of fact?  What if Imagination was a sense too.  Whales are dying.  We steal evidence to build our cases  for living – our personalities our faiths, our structures, legal positions, our insurances and assurances – until they become unbending formidable fortresses of fact. What if they’re not.  The whale died earlier today. The Gas was about to explode.

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I was there.   But is there more to be said, more to be discovered, more enlightenment to be found, more truth to be told, more clarity, more honesty, more humility and humanity in the matrix of imagination than of manipulated facts? This computer I write on was first imagined.  Without imagination it wouldn’t be here. Those people in the occupy movementsand marches around the world are exercising imagination.

 

Jean Dominique Bauby once the editor of french fashion magazine Elle. On 8 December 1995 at the age of 43, Bauby suffered a massive stroke. When he woke up twenty days later, he found he was entirely speechless; he could only blink his left eyelid. From his bed he wrote the breathtaking book The Diving Bell and The Butterfly by blinking each letter of each word. “apart from my eye” he said “the only part of me that can move is my imagination”.     I’ve spent all damn day with the whale hearing the question  “is it real or is it not?  The point is not whether it is real or not. There is a greater message.

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The Great Greenwich Whale  #GreenwichWhale #gdif2013

Lemn Sissay is our writer in residence at GDIF and he will be around throughout.

Browse our full Festival programme including our Greenwich Fair and Island Fair  event listings and meet Lemn at the Festival from Fri 21-Sun 23!

www.lemnsissay.com
@lemnsissay
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