It seems that Alexander Pope’s essay on criticism, “Pleasures of the Imagination by Addison and “On Taste” by Edmund Burke have a few common ideas. First, that one must make good use of wit and good sense before throwing down one’s judgment. Two, that taste is established by a common nature and knowledge. Three, that one is expected to “judge properly of an imitation” (Burke, 6). And finally that our imagination, our sense of imagery, arisen from sight is founded on that “knowledge or improvement in the mind” (Addison, 4). It has power; in particular over our sense of pleasure.
It occurred to me the other day as I was driving home from Wal-Mart having purchased not the movie I was hoping to, but a different movie entirely, that perhaps maybe these eighteenth century thinkers were on to something. As Burk says and as most of us have figured out, is the imitation is not as good as the real thing. A rip off gaming console is not going to be as great as an X-Box, Wii or play-station and even within this group of like objects; one is seen as an imitation of the other. But I digress, in this case the movie I purchased (the imitation) vs. the un-purchased movie (the real-deal). Was it my sense of imagination telling me the movie I purchased was merely an imitation of the movie I had hoped to ascertain, like Addison believed? Could I only receive gratification from the original movie I had hoped to purchase or was it something else that this eighteenth century brain boxes were familiar with, simple consumerism? Was I just so obsessed, so consumed by my unhappiness that the movie I purchased, while a perfectly good movie was just not what I had originally intended on buying? I probably should have used my wit and good sense.