Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Book Review: The Imagination Matrix by Stephen Aizenstat

Just below the reaches of your conscious mind, beyond the personal and collective human experience, is the Imagination Matrix.

I normally keep myself away from self-help books, especially the ones that say things like, "A quitter never wins and a winner never quits", and prescribe quick fixes like looking in the mirror and aggressively shouting, "I am a winner and y'all are losers". I've already read a truckload of them and have realised that the self in self-help is, in fact, the writer and not the reader. While picking up the advance copy of The Imagination Matrix, provided by the publisher Sounds True through Netgalley, I thought it was a book about the neurological process of imagination.

The book, written by Stephen Aizenstat, a depth psychologist, is a guide to enhancing creativity and innovation by tapping into the power of imagination. The Imagination Matrix is a generative force that is present below the surface of our daily experiences. Beyond the deductive and rational thought process that is inculcated in every human being through institutional education, the writer claims there is a realm of imagination, and it is possible to tap into that and produce radically new solutions to our everyday problems.

The writer introduces different facets of the Imagination Matrix like the four Quadrants, Soul Companions and Imaginal Intelligence in the first part of the book titled Internal Discovery. It details how one can take the plunge into the powers of imagination by practicing the skills of what the writer calls The Dig.

The second part of the book, titled In The World, elaborates on the real-life applications of connecting to the Imagination Matrix and how one can benefit from it in different walks of professional and personal life. It elucidates the concepts of Illuminated Consciousness and Imaginal Healing. It also describes ways to deal with the disruptive and intrusive technological advances that we are witnessing now.

The concepts of the book are very interesting to know about. It doesn't have the boastful and self-advertising tone that self-help literature normally adopts, which I loathe. The writer provides theoretical and practical backups for all the concepts that he introduces. I could see that he has crafted his theories by synthesising varied ancient and modern thoughts, myths, psychological studies, literature, and science. One could clearly see in the concept of the Soul Companions, the influence of the Indian worship system of deities and the Tantric practice of using imaginal beings for self-development.

While the book gives a very good theoretical background on the Imagination Matrix and how it can be beneficial for innovative and creative living, I felt that it failed to provide a practical route map to use it effectively. For me, this book is like a driving instructor who teaches his students about the workings of an automobile in the tiniest details and then asks them to open the door, sit down, and drive the car. A novice trainee needs some more handholding to acquire any practical advantage from all the theoretical lessons, which, to be frank, are illuminating.

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