The Hostile Imagination and The Erotic Imagination
I did an image search on Canva for “stranger.” I got a series of photos of child predators in cars , some offering candy: Stranger danger. The big bad Wolf.
Or I got images like the one above the monsters we dread meeting at night when we are alone — a shadowy form with the claw like hand ready to grab you. Strangers, according to the hostile imagination, are not just unknown. They are by fact of their status as strangers, badly intentioned and criminal.
You would be right to be defensive of these strangers — strike before they take advantage of you.
The stranger could be anyone, and is in fact everyone. Amazingly adaptable to every political ideology, the stranger is whoever you need the enemy to be. Those who need an enemy, always find them.
The hostile imagination needs bad guys.
The more irredeemable the villian, the greater the feeling of superiority. This is the upside of of the drug of righteousness. The more morally corrupt they are more virtuous you prove yourself to be by comparison.
What are you really afraid of? Ambiguity, uncertainty and subtlety .There’s what vulnerability might surface.
Fear makes the world small. There are few people, if any , you can trust. Fear tells you, ost will take advantage of you if they can. Fear tells you the ‘smart” thing to do is to be suspicious and stay defended as a way of life.
We erect borders and planned communities and higher wallers and bigger security systems. We cliing to what we are, no matter how tired or predictable, because fear teachers us that what is familiar is good.
There’s another way to imagine strangers though there are not many images for this alternative, supplied by popular culture.
Why this is, is worth contemplating.
As in, who benefits from cultivating fear of and distrust in the unknown.?
The opposite of the hostile imagination is the erotic imagination.
One imagines the stranger as a figure of intrigue and fascination.
What if you could imagine strangers brought gifts, for real, no tricks.
I heard it once said that all stories boil townto two plots; someone leaves home or a stranger comes to town. In both cases being a stranger is one who is not afraid to step into the wider world. This is one who seeks expansion and adventures that make the world bigger.
The hostile imagination fears the unknown. The erotic imagination seeks it out.
Now I ask you, what kind of world do you live in?