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Imagination

  • ... the curse of human nature is imagination. When a long anticipated moment comes, we always find it pitched a note too low, for the wings of imagination are crushed into its withering sides under the crowding hordes of petty realities.

  • ... I combined an absolutely uneventful outward personal life with a vivid life of imaginary experience.

  • My imagination longs to dash ahead and plan developments; but I have noticed that when things happen in one's imaginings, they never happen in one's life, so I am curbing myself.

  • So you see the imagination needs moodling, — long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.

  • We are all of us imaginative in some form or other, for images are the brood of desire ...

  • For after all, as great scientists have said and all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, compassion, and hope.

  • ... I doubt the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, that child would grow up to be an eggplant.

  • My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.

  • Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master.

  • Imagination is the highest kite that can fly.

  • There is almost no limit to the possibilities of the imagination, but to get the full power of it, one must trust one's imagination. If you say to yourself constantly, as the mother says to the child, 'But this is only play; this is not real,' you never can make real the things you have created in thought.

  • ... the people who are willing to talk about imagination seldom have much. Imagination is a guilty secret, usually, a possession best kept inside the privacy of one's own skull ...

  • If you don't have imagination you're lost. But it's a virtue that's becoming increasingly rare, especially in its higher form: spontaneity. Mad, happy spontaneity.

  • Imagination seems to be a glory and a misery, a blessing and a curse. Adam, to his sorrow, lacked it. Eve, to her sorrow, possessed it. Had both been blessed — or cursed — with it, there would have been much keener competition for the apple.

  • ... fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.

  • ... imagination is the first faculty wanting in those that do harm to their kind ...

  • Without imagination, there is no goodness, no wisdom.

  • ... there is no reasoning with imagination.

  • I suppose I am a born novelist, for the things I imagine are more vital and vivid to me than the things I remember.

  • Knowledge, like experience, is valid in fiction only after it has dissolved and filtered down through the imagination into reality.

  • Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.

  • The old proverb, applied to fire and water, may with equal truth be applied to the imagination — it is a good servant, but a bad master.

  • Imagination is to love what gas is to the balloon — that which raises it from earth.

  • Imagination comes from yourself and can deceive you, but vision is a gift from outside yourself — like light striking on your closed eyelids and lifting them to see what's really there.

  • ... imagination is a strong, restless faculty, which claims to be heard and exercised: are we to be quite deaf to her cry, and insensate to her struggles? When she shows us bright pictures, are we never to look at them, and try to reproduce them? And when she is eloquent, and speaks rapidly and urgently in our ear, are we not to write to her dictation?

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • to George Henry Lewes (1847), in Muriel Spark, ed., The Letters of The Brontës: A Selection ()
  • The imagination is far better at inventing tortures than life because the imagination is a demon within us and it knows where to strike, where it hurts. It knows the vulnerable spot, and life does not, our friends and lovers do not, because seldom do they have the imagination equal to the task.

  • ... the English don't go in for imagination: imagination is considered to be improper if not downright alarmist.

  • A corrupt practice may be abolished, but a soiled imagination is not easily cleansed.

  • A thinking woman sleeps with monsters.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • title essay, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law ()
  • Imagination has to do with one's awareness of the reality of other people as well as of one's own reality. Imagination is a bridge between the provincialism of the self and the great world.

    • Paula Fox,
    • "To Write Simply," Horn Book Magazine ()
  • I never saw a moor, / I never saw the sea, / Yet I know how the heather looks, / And what a wave must be.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • in Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, eds., Poems, 1st series ()
  • The Possible's slow fuse is lit / By the Imagination.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, / One clover, and a bee, / And revery. / The revery alone will do, / If bees are few.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1896, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • We need love and creative imagination to do constructive work.

  • I'm growing more and more to believe that our fundamental task as human beings is to seek out connections — to exercise our imaginations. It follows, then, that the basic task of education is the care and feeding of the imagination. We used to know this. Indeed, the earliest form of education was the telling of stories. But nowadays stories have been relegated to the realm of the frivolous. Education has chosen to emphasize decoding and computation rather than the cultivation of the imagination. We like, you see, what we can manage. We can decide what year we're going to teach which fact, function, or word, and we can give a child a multiple-choice test at the end to see if he has got it. We want our mathematics and our mythology strictly compartmentalized, for we know instinctively that the imagination is a wild, hardly tamable commodity. There is no way to measure it objectively, so anything in the curriculum that has to do with the growth of the inner life of a child we tend to classify as a frill and either shove it to the periphery or eliminate it from the curriculum altogether.

  • Imagination is a great thing in long dull hours, but it's a real curse in a dark alley.

  • Imagination! who can sing thy force? / Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?

    • Phillis Wheatley,
    • "On Imagination" (1773), Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley ()
  • Such is thy power, nor are thine orders vain. / O thou, the leader of the mental train ...

    • Phillis Wheatley,
    • "On Imagination" (1773), Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley ()
  • Hope sinks a world of imagination.

  • Imagination took the reins, and reason, slow-paced, though sure-footed, was unequal to a race with so eccentric and flighty a companion.

  • The Press wants facts, but it don't want plain facts. It wants facts viewed through the medium of imagination. ... You take a handful of dry stones ... and put them at the bottom of a stream and let the water run over them, and what have you got? They're still facts — you're not going to deny that. They're just as much facts as they were when you'd got them dry in your hand — but you're not yawning over them any more — they're not dry any more — they're a handful of jewels — they've got light and color, and movement — the water's made them come alive. Well, that's what imagination does to facts — it makes them come alive. And the Press wants live facts — not dead ones that are going to make people yawn their heads off.

  • Mediocrity is perhaps due not so much to lack of imagination as to lack of faith in the imagination, lack of the capacity for this abandon.

  • ... if we don't begin by imagining the perfect society, how shall we create one?

  • What is imagination for if not to conjure up the past?

    • Patricia Leitch,
    • letter (2008), in Susanna Forrest, If Wishes Were Horses ()
  • ... my mind is a world in itself, which I have peopled with my own creatures.

  • Man's most valuable faculty is his imagination.

    • Madame de Staël,
    • "Essay on Fictions" (1795), in Vivian Folkenflik, ed., Major Writings of Germaine De Staël ()
  • Imagination bound us stronger than love. Within its limitless borders we launched ships and love affairs, discovered lost worlds, made buildings and babies, found husbands, wrote letters and Broadway plays. We made ourselves up everyday.

  • The imagination is the power by which we all remold the world nearer to our heart's desire.

  • Imagination is the supreme endowment of the poet and romanticist. It is a kind of second sight, which conveys the owner of it to places he has never seen, and surrounds him with strange circumstances of which he is merely the spiritual eyewitness.

  • ... the virtue of imagination has this in common with the virtue of courage. Without it, you are less good: with it, you are not necessarily better.

  • Imagination! Imagination! I put it first years ago, when I was asked what qualities I thought necessary for success upon the stage.

  • Imagination, industry, and intelligence — 'the three I's' — are all indispensable to the actress, but of these three the greatest is, without any doubt, imagination.

  • To meet in imagination is pretty much like dining in imagination, and I like the one as little as the other. I intend, therefore, to come and see you in good earnest ...

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1843), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • Imagination makes cowards of us all.

    • Ethel Watts Mumford,
    • in Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, and Addison Mizner, The Complete Cynic ()
  • Imagination, like memory, can transform lies to truths ...

  • ... imagination is memory's chief instrument — the person who remembers only what has actually happened has little joy in reminiscence.

  • Radio is truly the theater of the mind. The listener constructs the sets, colors them from his own palette, and sculpts and costumes the characters who perform in them.

  • ... imagination has always had powers of resurrection that no science can match.

  • Imagination is the key to creation. With our thoughts and dreams we can bring anything into existence. Our source of originality and creativity is the divine spark within us.

  • I think imagination is one of the greatest blessings of life ...

    • Edith Roosevelt,
    • letter to Theodore Roosevelt (1886), in William O. Foss, First Ladies Quotations Book ()
  • ... it is only unimaginative persons who can be really astonished. The imagination can always outrun the possible and actual sights and sounds of the world ...

    • Sarah Orne Jewett,
    • "The Flight of Betsey Lane," A Native of Winby and Other Tales ()
  • Imagination is the only true thing in the world!

  • But sometimes what we call 'memory' and what we call 'imagination' are not so easily distinguished.

  • For with him the phantoms of the mind (which to the average man are merely phantoms) projected themselves with a bodily vividness and violence. Not only had they the colour and authority of accomplished fact, they were invested with an immortality denied to facts.

  • To imagine the unimaginable is the highest use of the imagination.

    • Cynthia Ozick,
    • in Tom Teicholz, "The Art of Fiction No. 95," The Paris Review ()
  • The imagination conjures gifts; what the ungrateful, unsentimental part of the mind has to do is to unwrap them, find fault with them, see them for what they are and then alter them.

    • Rose Tremain,
    • in Clare Boyulan, ed., The Agony and the Ego ()
  • The difference between men and women is inalienable. It is not a political fact, subject to cultural definition and redefinition, but a physical verity. We do truthfully experience our lives differently because our bodies are different. It is in what we do with our experience that we are the same. We feel, absorb and examine with the same intensity, and intense experience honestly examined informs the art of both sexes equally. ... The power of imagination illuminates all human lives in common.

  • ... you pay a price for the 'gift' of an active imagination. While mine played a major part in making me a writer, it also made me adept at transforming run-of-the-mill molehills into towering mountain ranges.

  • Great imaginations are apt to work from hints and suggestions and a single moment of emotion is sometimes sufficient to create a masterpiece.

    • Margaret Sackville,
    • introduction, in Susan Ferrier, The Works of Susan Ferrier, vol. 1 ()
  • With our progress we have destroyed our only weapon against tedium: that rare weakness we call imagination.

  • Before we love with our heart, we already love with our imagination.

    • Louise Colet,
    • in Marilyn Gaddis Rose, trans., Lui, A View of Him ()
  • ... Gertrude loved with all the delusion of romance, and, like many a young enthusiast, had mistaken her imagination for her mind ...

  • ... fantasizing is one of the earliest languages in the child's mind. We are in touch with our imagination and dreams before we engage with logic and reason.

  • I understood that life is lived most fully in the imagination — that, ironically, imagination is the key to reality.

  • The sorrows we imagine are more profound and inconsolable than real life leaves us time for.

  • That the covers of books / Will open / And the pastel animals / Run loose in the woods / That the cat / Will write in his diary / Dipping his whisker / In ink / That the stars / Will stroll through the sky / Doing their shopping / That the brook / Will erase the mistakes / Of the bank / That the fish / Will rise up on their tails / And sing to the owl / Until he is blinded / With joy, / That the mice / Will grow antlers / And run in the moonlight / In herds / That the four-chambered rocks / Will know themselves / Pulsing with blood / That the sun / Is behind a curtain / Smiling / And will rise / In the morning / Palming it all / Like a great golden mole / The day in his teeth / Like a jewel.

  • One of the best things about aging is being able to watch imagination overtake memory.

    • Harriet Doerr,
    • "Edie: A Life," The Tiger in the Grass: Stories and Other Inventions ()
  • Without imagination, nothing is dangerous.

    • Georgette Leblanc,
    • 1898, in Janet Flanner, trans., Souvenirs: My Life With Maeterlinck ()
  • The paradox of reality is that no image is as compelling as the one which exists only in the mind's eye.

  • ... what man can imagine he may one day achieve.

    • Nancy Hale,
    • in Richard Thruelsen and John Kobler, eds., Adventures of the Mind, 2nd series ()
  • ... imagination is new reality in the process of being created. It represents the part of the existing order that can still grow.

    • Nancy Hale,
    • in Richard Thruelsen and John Kobler, eds., Adventures of the Mind, 2nd series ()
  • Imagination is built upon knowledge.

  • Imagined life is not merely a substitute for reality, but is itself experience of a kind.

    • Jane Resh Thomas,
    • "Across the Marsh," in Michael Dorris and Emilie Buchwald, eds., The Most Wonderful Books ()
  • Imagination is so much harder to face than reality.

  • Imagination! My problem is that I have so many ideas, I never have enough time to use them all. Just the other day I thought up eleven things I could do with a flowerpot. Eleven! Three of those things didn't even involve plants.

  • Exercise your imagination muscle! How many uses can you come up with for a flowerpot? Write down your answers. But don't write them in this book. Grab a separate sheet of paper. I didn't spend two and a half weeks writing a book just so you could mark up the pages with your silly ideas for things you can do with a flowerpot. When it comes down to it, what's wrong with a flowerpot not being a flowerpot? Why is nothing ever good enough for you?

  • Imagination gives wings to the intellect.

    • Elia S. Parsons,
    • in Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons, The Mother's Almanac ()
  • People who live entirely by the fertility of their imaginations are fascinating, brilliant and often charming. But they should be sat next to at dinner parties, not lived with.

  • The imagination is far better at inventing tortures than life because the imagination is a demon within us and it knows where to strike, where it hurts.

  • I wanted one [an imaginary friend] and tried to conjure one in different ways but none came. Finally I just lied about having one. Which meant I had an imaginary imaginary friend.

  • I'll borrow of imagination what reality will not give me.

  • Children are born with imaginations in mint condition, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Then life corrects for grandiosity.