Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Leesa's Imagination Pyramid

This diagram shows Maslow's hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more primitive needs at the bottom.You know, there is something called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Basically, his theory contends that humans seek basic needs, and then, once satisfied, will seek to satisfy higher needs. He organized these needs in a pyramid1, apparently due to the USDA's hyping of the food pyramid.

Well, anyway, when I was reading some of the comments on my last blog entry, and people were commenting how "Books on Tape" and book reading is not the same thing. This spurred me to think of an imagination pyramid.

Here is how Leesa's Imagination Pyramid works: similar to Maslow's pyramid, or a food pyramid, it assumes that people with limited imaginations will only seek media activities associated with the amount of imagination one has. Sadly, unlike Maslow's pyramid, once one seeks one type of media, one may not advance to seek the next type of media activity.

The media which needs the least amount of imagination is television. Some will bathe themselves in the media, choosing to just sit there and allow the images to float over them. The viewer is fed all of the information, all of the images, all of the sounds, all of the dialog. You don't use your imagination for this. If you use your imagination, it would be to guess who the killer is on CSI or to figure out how Jack Tripper will trick Mr. Roaper again.2 For those who want to trick themselves, they say that PBS is "thinking television." Again, you are still fed the images, the sounds, the plot. In short, it takes little imagination to watch much television.

Movies are sort of like television. I mean, you are still fed the images, sounds and plots, but you know, it seems like movies require a bit more imagination. When I watch television, I go into a vegetative state. For movies, it seems a bit more interactive with the brain. When I watch a movie in a theater, I sort of place myself in the movie. Well, sometimes, for decent movies. Again, it takes greater amount of imagination to watch a movie, according to Leesa's Imagination Pyramid.

Live theater seems like it takes more imagination than watching a movie. The actors are live, instead of on cellophane (what are movies made of now?), and it seems that more imagination is needed. Again, you are looking at images, but since the actors are live, sometimes you have to use a bit more imagination. You know, sometimes you have to imagine certain things – unseen characters offstage (either because of the artistic nature of the play or the inability to place the characters on the stage, "giants" for instance).

Okay, I am not old enough to just have radio as mass entertainment, but I have listened to old radio programs. There are no images to see, so you have to imagine what characters look like. You can here them and that might indicate something about what you see in your mind, but you still have to use imagination to get the full picture. Books on tape can fall into this category, as they are audio devices.

Okay, with reading, you do not have audio cues. When you read the stories, you have to imagine sounds, images, characters, and even some of the backdrops to the story. That, I think, is why most people think "the book is better than the movie." Our imaginations, for the most part, can come up with better images than directors can create. We are so imaginative, and it shows when we read. Similarly, I remember reading that when movies of popular radio shows came out (e.g., the Shadow), many people were disappointed. Peoples imaginations trump how directors construct the plot.

Writing has a higher level of imagination than reading. For reading, still the author is steering your imagination. To write, to fill a blank sheet of paper, there is no person directing the plot, creating the characters, discussing their thoughts, their goals, whatever.

I am not saying that television is worse than writing. Not that at all. Maslow would not say that certain needs are inferior to other higher pursuits (e.g., creativity above sex). I just wanted to prattle on about a subject that I was thinking about today. More imagination? Perhaps. Well perhaps not more imagination than watching Night Rider with David Hasselhoff. Now imagine him giving me a rub-down. Yum.

1A joke. Not the Maslow stuff, but the reasoning behind the pyramid.

2Okay, as you may know, I don't watch a lot of television. My sit-com knowledge is a tad old. So sue me. Not really.


~Deb said...

There are times where I lack imaginative thought process, but while watching a movie, I do have to say that sometimes I picture myself or relate myself to the character. TV- mindless. I totally agree. This pyramid was interesting – I love it! I do think writing is a form of art. It’s “creating”---whether factual or fiction. You create the words.

~Deb said...

FIRST...now second. Hmm.

Leesa said...

~deb: I agree that different forms of writing are creative. I can't paint or take pictures or produce videos so I write.

~deb: sadly, no one else has commented today. Perhaps the pyramid does suck.

RWA said...

Knight Rider was a classic. I will agree that some television doesn't require much attention or focus, but some does.

I would also agree that writing would be the top of the "imagination" pyramid.

Interesting stuff. You should create your own pyramid and copyright it.

kathi said...

This took a lot of thought.

I love movies, wish I had more time for them. I love tv, wish I had more time for it. I've never been to the theater and I rarely listen to the radio. I love to read, ALWAYS wish I had more time to read. And, I love to write...wish I had more TALENT to draw from, though.

Anonymous Boxer said...

I think this is brilliant.

Leesa said...

rwa: I wonder if Knight Rider is still in re-runs. Probably on cable.

kathi: thanks, sweetie. I love reading as well.

boxer: well, not sure it was brilliant, but it was imaginative.

QUASAR9 said...

Writing has a higher level of imagination than reading. Perhaps. Well perhaps not more imagination than watching Night Rider with David Hasselhoff. Now imagine him giving me a rub-down. Yum.

Writing has a higher level of imagination than reading.
You are right Leesa,
what would I wanna imagine Hasselhoff giving you a rub, for?

Can I use my imagination instead, you naked on the bonnet of kitt ...

~Deb said...

In my opinion, your ability to ‘work the words’ is beyond talent. Not everyone can write like that. The word play, the thought provoking stories and theories as well as the way you capture your readers. You’re like a Picasso of the writer’s world. I truly would buy a book if you published one. I’m not being nice, I’m being bluntly honest here.

Prata said...

There is a problem with your pyramid. There is no such thing as safety of morality. Morality changes as society changes as a whole. Social custom and social interaction changes over time even if it is a slow rate of change. So, what exactly do you mean by safety of morality?

Morality is a social characteristic (good and bad) and is a learned balance, which would mean seeking out morality (as you put it already) is in the upper tier not the lower tier. Morality is also in constant flux, so securing morality is kind of a oxymoron isn't it?

Leesa said...

quasar: if I had not watched the one video recently (JackDaniels), I would have thought bonnet was a dirty word for something, not the hood of a car.

~deb: you are too kind, sweetie. Too kind.

prata: I did not think morality was part of the imagination pyramid. It is, I can see now, part of the graphic I used to illustrate my piece today. I did not create the picture, I used it from somewhere else. I don't think morality is in flux, though. A completely different argument. I guess one would steal, for instance, to secure food (thus securing part of the physiological part of the lower pyramid) rather than not stealing (a moral thing to do).

RWA said...

It probably is on Nick or TVLand or a station like that. I think a friend of mine actually has the DVD set - isn't that scary?

Ian Lidster said...

As a writer I can attest that not only is imagination a major demand, so is empathy in the sense: "OK, I get it because I'm writing it, but would somebody else get what I'm writing?"
Also, if it's being done right, lovemaking can demand the most imagination of all.

Prata said...

Damnit woman make your own graphics! =-P

Leesa said...

rwa: I love the old DVD sets of shows. That way, you can watch it when you want, like on your computer at work.

ian: So do writers make the best lovers? Is that where you were going with that comment?

prata: sorry, prata. Sometimes I do.

Anonymous said...

I like this, but I actually find the two ends of the spectrum the most natural. TV is so easy, when you´re braindead it´s the only thing I can be bothered with (if not braindead it bores me).

Then reading and writing because there´s so much more space for the imagination - an audio book or a radio play can seem like it´s getting in the way of the imagination, rather than aiding it.

Movies are an exception. If I´m awake enough, I always love a good film. I don´t know what they´re made of now, ones and zeros probably.

Leesa said...

mr z: actually, I remember listening to "the Shadow" in school. Teacher turned the lights out and played a record recording of the radio. It was quite easy to imagine.