More from my interview with Mathew Block, who asks about the connection between the imagination and the fine arts.
CL: How do the fine arts—music, literature, the visual arts, and so forth—reflect the imaginative life in a special way?
The imagination is the source of the arts. It’s what allows us to be creative. We all use this creative aspect of the imagination—when we plan ahead for an event, for example, or when we make something in our work or in our different vocations. Artists similarly create out of the imagination. Painters, musicians, writers, even parents just telling a story to their children—all use their imagination to create.
At the same time, those of us who receive their creation also receive it with our imaginations. Let’s go back to the example of parents telling their children a story: when you tell a story, children picture that story and play it in their own little minds. That’s shaping their imaginations. By the same token, the music we listen to, the television we watch, all the different kinds of art we encounter can affect us profoundly because imagination goes very deep inside us.
Art changes you, and it can do so for the good or the bad. If our imagination is saturated with violence, or hyper-sexuality, or nihilism, or darkness, it affects us in a negative way spiritually. By the same token, art that is positive can teach us about the difference between right and wrong. It can teach us about the attractiveness of virtue and can help us to be repelled by things that are evil. More deeply than that, it can help us to understand the Gospel more fully and grow in our faith.