Friday, June 9, 2017

Pictures in the Mind

I'm still reading On Stories by C.S. Lewis (which is both the title of an essay and the title of the essay collection). In a very brief piece entitled "It All Began with a Picture", Lewis writes:

All my seven Narnian books . . . began with seeing pictures in my head. At first they were not a story, just pictures. The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: “Let’s try to make a story about it.” At first I had very little idea how the story would go. 

That made me think of the "pictures in my head" that have lingered with me. They're very strange things. They seem to have meaning, or significance, but a difficult significance to unlock.

One picture that I've had in my head for as long as I can remember is two women sitting in a kitchen, drinking tea and eating cakes. They're in their thirties or early forties and they are housewives. It's midday, and the kitchen is filled with soft sunlight and the ticking of a clock, and an atmosphere of delicious lightness.

Another picture, which may touch on a Jungian archetype, is an old grandfatherly man talking to me in a study which seems to be at the far end of the world, or beyond the far end of the world. He is talking to me about high and solemn things, but not in an excessively solemn manner. It has no single form, but in many versions the room is full of leather-bound books. There is a window past his shoulder which looks into a desolate and deserted landscape. I tried to write a novel drawing on this, but I never got beyond a few chapters.

Some of my readers will remember the scene in The Matrix Reloaded in which Neo (Keanu Reeves), after a long quest, comes face-to-face with a white-haired man called The Architect, who has designed the Matrix itself. I was amazed by how much this conformed to this particular mental picture.

Another image is of a young woman in the nineteen-seventies in Times Square (where I've never been), at night, during a fireworks display. She's slender and has auburn hair and a rather dazed expression.

There may be others, but I can't think of them right now.
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  1. The ' grandfather' image reminds me very much of the cover of LORE (Clannad record [1996])

    1. Well, physically, yes, but he's dressed in a more scholarly way in my image.