... by imagining I do not mean merely the formation of images in our minds, but rather that process by which we take such images and the ideas we abstract from them and the feelings they generate in us and arrange them coherently and harmoniously into something new, in much the same way as the combination of two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen becomes a compound that is altogether different from either of its constituents by themselves. For all that we are hearing in this year of Darwin about a supposed connection between art and evolution, it seems worth noting that no other species has found it necessary for its survival to decorate a nest or lair with frescoes or adorn itself with jewelry or sit around and listen while one of their number sings a tale of bestial heroism or romance.
I think it only fair to mention that over the weekend my friend Dave Lull and I exchanged emails about this column and that Dave's sharp questions and observations enabled me to get a clearer idea of what I was driving at. The sentence that begins the above excerpt came about entirely because of that. So my thanks to Dave for taking the time to help me with this.