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Barmecide's Feast and the Power of the Imagination

  • Date Submitted: 11/14/2013 09:21 PM
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The Barmecide’s Feast and the Power of the Imagination
Dr.   Marie Fernandes

What is this thing called imagination? Imagination is the power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. It is a creative ability or mental capacity for experiencing, constructing and manipulating mental images. Imagination is responsible for the entire range of fantasy, original and insightful thought and sometimes for a much wider range of mental activities. Everything we have and know today stems from someone's imagination.[i]

It is difficult to imagine what the world would be without imagination. Man would not have made much progress if someone had not, in eons past had a visual impression of the wheel, or a house, or talking with someone over time and space. Sometime, somewhere the first spark of fire translated into cooked food. When asked how to develop intelligence in young people, Einstein answered: "Read fairy tales. Then read more fairy tales". Fairytales and fantasies nourish the imagination and imagination supports our whole intellectual and psychological economy.

Tremendous stores of imagination went into the making of the great literary masterpieces. We are all familiar with the story of the Barmecide’s feast from the Arabian Nights. It is a story about the Barber’s sixth brother, Schacabac. When he had fallen on bad days and had no money to buy a meal, he went to the house of the Barmecide who was well known for his generosity, to ask for alms. The Barmecide asked him to sit down and went through the motions of washing his hands and pretending to eat the imaginary dishes that he had called for. Schacabac went along with the Barmecide and for his good humour he was immediately invited to a rich banquet where real food was served. He was soon put in charge of the Barmecide’s household to manage his affairs.[ii]

The Arabian Nights stories belong to the genre of the epic that has existed for...

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