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MENTAL IMAGERY AND STYLE IN WRITING T. H. PEAR O N a summer day in Austria, three years ago, I had two new experiences. By ajournalist or a soci~l . philosopher they might be regarded as excellent raw material. I will try to treat them psychologically. Now, as I write, 'On a cold spring morning- overlooking a very un-Austrian street, these memories reappear, and invite description, together with some of the problems which they·offer to the student of expression in writing, . . That same summer day, I saw a race for the automobile championship of the Semmering and a performance of Der Rosenkavalier. My pleasure in both these experiences was intense. To-day a string of visual images appears:' the vivid black and white of the.village street; the eager face of my host, a car-worshipper for whom Castrol is music in the nose; aworld-famed driver, tall, fair, lolling on his running-board, eyes closed, p~e­ tending to sleep, perhaps to discourage 'hero-worship; onlookers scattering at a hair-pin bend, as.a car, viciously jerking its tail into a heap of gravel, flings disdainf41 largesse over them. These .are all dear as pict.ures in the mind. There is, too, a faint sound-t:ne~ory: the ap- . proaching· pulsing rhythm of the first ra.cing car. It seems now to be preceded, not folls. He can tinues : So the course of description, when images abound, is apt to be more exciting, more varied, more rich, more jerky, and from a merely logical point of view, a little more difficult to follow than when meaning flows directly into words. Also, and this _ too is a matter. of the greatest psychological interest> it is less subject to convention and is apt to appear more definitely original. Images are, in fact, so much a concern of the individual that, as everybody knows, whenever in psychological circles a discussion about images begins, it very 'soon tends to become a series of autobiographical confessions. .Acknowledging with approval the hint that behaviouris_ts who do not discuss images may not be psychologists, and_ substituting "is" for ((apt to appear,'" I would point out the psychological intere'st, in this context) of the word«confessions." The differences between minds are not merely to be confessed to a priest or a ,psycho-analyst: they are the proper material for psychologists. One reason why ilnagers talk about imagery is that its phenomena are ,so varied, so numerous, and so widely ignored. In Remerrzbering., for example, eidetic imagery is not mentioned , nor are hallucinations, dreams, or "colouredhearing ." I t may be irksome, it may disarrange a theoretical scheme to read detailed accounts of individual 464 MENTAL lMAGERY AND STYLE IN WRITING differences in imagery. I t might be similarly disturbing for an anatomist to read of a new animal, but its discoverer would hardly feel called upon to c01·~.fess that he had found it. Professor Bardett regards the image as "a device for picking bits out ,of schemes, for increasing the chance of variability in the reconstruction of past stimuli and situations , for surmounting the chronology of presentations." ~'The image facilitates the operation of the past in relation to the somewhat changed conditions of the present ." This describes the image's function in a process which Bartlett defines as thinking: the utilization of the past in the solution of difficulties set by the prese'nt. He apparently ,refers to one type of thinking. It might, perhaps , be called "thinking-out," as distinct from "thinkingof ," something. Thinking-out, in a limited number of its aspec,ts, is aided by the technique ,of scientific thinking. Professor Bartlett seems to be dominated by the ideal of scientific thinking. Yet poets, artists, and musicians think, and some of them think little of, as well as about, certain developments of modern science. Mr. Robert Graves is one. In letters to me he has protested against the view that imagery is or may be merely the vehicle of thinking, that dream-life is necessarily inferior to wakinglife , and that imaging and thinking form a continuum in which sharp discriminations are possible. Perhaps the thought-patterns of his surroundings are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 453-467
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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