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Lecture 1: Introduction to
Adam Blatner

This is the first in a series given to the Senior University Georgetown in the Fall of 2014.

Imagination is part of everyone's mind. We live to some significant degree in our imaginations, in what we hope for, in what we fear; in reminiscences or ruminations on the past; in daydreams and night-dreams; in beliefs in many things that are not factually so; and so forth. It might fairly be said that many people live as much if not more in their imaginations than they do in ordinary reality, though in truth we live in both realms to varying degrees.

In the last few centuries we've developed a myth in Western nations that we're beyond mere myth and fantasy; we are realistic. This is just a little bit true compared to the depth of immersion in illusion and myth a few hundred years ago---but it's a matter of depth. When eight-year-old kids feel they are knowledgeable and lord it over their younger siblings, they feel that (relatively speaking) they have learned the secrets of more-grown-up-hood. So it has been with the modern age, looking back on the pre-modern eras: collectively we feel that truth is almost within our grasp. But mainly we remain mired in imagination.

Few people realize clearly how much of life is consensually constructed: That big-worded phrase simply means that we have made up so much: We've made up what words mean, and where boundaries are; what constitutes a nation and what is a rebellious faction; who gets to have a flag and what a medal signals. All of these are illusions, constructions, agreements. Laws, a great deal of what we learn about in school, much of what we call life, romance, what are the proper expectations for a role, etc.

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