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What is an Image?

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An Image is to a "Halo" as the Light is to a "Star." Light is what enables one to see, carrying messages to ones eyes to give an idea of what is going on in and around the scope of that light. Anything that gives off light of its own is called a source of light (e.g. the sun). A Shadow Image is a result of the way light travels. If one stands between a lamp and a wall, a fairly sharp shadow of ones body appears on the wall. The shadow is the dark space where ones body blocks the light from the lamp and the size of the shadow depends upon where one is positioned. If the light source is big and quite near, there will be a black inner part and a grey edge to the shadow--called a 'Double Image' of a shadow. In the mind, this means an image suggests or turns into a second or possibly third image-- either instantly or after some contemplation. An After-Image is the persistence of a sensory experience for a brief time after the stimulus is removed. Like a true Memory Image, it is followed by recalling past experiences. If one looks in a Hand Mirror focused on a definite spot, one can see Images behind oneself. If ones stands between two mirrors facing each other, there will be no end to the number of images one can see. A Mirror Image is explained by rays from an object reflected in a mirror seemingly coming from its image, which is a sort of copy of the object. Yet, such Mirror Images do not happen if one looks over ones shoulder or into a Hand Mirror. The Image in a plane mirror has the same size and shape as the object and appears to be just as far behind the mirror as the object is in front. Hold some writing up to a mirror and notice that it reads backwards. The image is reversed--its right and left sides are exchanged. The image in a plane mirror is always reversed side to side but never up and down. Before telephones or radio, a "Heliograph" (sun, send a message) was used to transmit information from one point to another by directing the sun's rays in a series of long and short flashes. This is like what Images can do to ones mind.

The point: an Image's source(s), what it can do, and how it appears vary. Yet, none are the "what it is" actual Truth. In its earliest uses, "Image" meant a representation of a person or thing in solid form, usually sculptured or modeled. Even in its most sophisticated sense, Image retains the primary meaning of "a concrete representation of something not present to the senses" and yet it evokes sense-impressions by literal or figurative reference to perceptible or 'concrete' objects, scenes, actions, or states. Psychologists say an Image begins with sense perceptions. After that visual sensation, one has an Afterimage. Next comes a "Memory Afterimage, which may resemble the original Afterimage in quality, but differs from it in depending upon the original clearness and intensity of the sensation; upon the intention of the Receiver as to what to do with it; and upon what it stimulates in ones memory with which to associate it. Once it is established, an Image serves to stimulate ones memory for the reproduction or revival in what originally gave rise to that Image. An Image's components are: (1) conveying a meaning; (2) standing for and even naming something; (3) carrying the ingredients for describing something literally; (4) calling up associations of "Like-Kind" things; and (5) perhaps evoking something figuratively (as in a metaphor, simile, or personification). An Image may resemble a Symbol when it suggests further meanings and associations in ways that go beyond the fairly simple identifications of a metaphor and simile--in other words being like their halo.

Images can be on all planes of Cosmic Existence, with variety in what they represent, what they do, and how they appear. The Image itself is the mental picture evoked by Sacred and/or Figures of Communication. By possessing a psychological reality not tied to a physical presence, when skillfully guided, Images and Symbols are capable of not only re-evoking what is not present but also enable a human to retain an emotional disposition toward an absent object. For example, though my dog died, I retain his Image and my affections for him. Thus, an inner Image is a substitute for my dog. Hence, historically and apart from abstract argument or exposition language, Images have been a way to contact the unconscious mind and harness its powers in creative and physical performance, behavioral medicine, healing, meditation, mystical experiences, and magic. [This entire series is reproduced from Bailey: Teaching Black American Students].


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