Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.
Ti-Grace Atkinson pointed out … that there is an enormous gap between what one can do and what one can imagine doing. Humans have what she referred to as a “constructive imagination” which, though obviously a blessing in some ways, is also a source of great frustration. For it provides a constant tease of imagined accomplishments and imagined threats—to neither of which are we physically equal.
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
The imagination is the spur of delights…all depends upon it, it is the mainspring of everything; now, is it not by the means of the imagination one knows joy? Is it not of the imagination that the sharpest pleasures arise?
Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places. Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathise. And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know. I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do.