mixed feelings, mixed signals: “imagination”

The uniquely human ability to imagine possibilities and outcomes by algorithms of memory, past trials and errors, is to me one of the most perceptibly divine qualities we as homo-sapiens possess. my question is, at what point does imagination become debilitating? I wonder because I dwell almost primarily in the realm of the imagined, trying to hone in on what it is I want to spend my life doing to the world. basically everyone besides john lennon tells me to stop dreaming and get a job. and yes, I do need a job, since my career as a commission-based break-up email specialist is off to a slow start. Here are some nice thoughts by other people afflicted with many imaginings  who managed to become reputable in their lifetimes.

“Reason is intelligence taking exercise. Imagination is intelligence with an erection.” Victor Hugo


“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” -Carl Sagan

guess that’s where I am…

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.” Ursula Le Guin

…but functionality and imagination are not mutually exclusive–Einstein himself pens perhaps the most well-known sentiment on the importance of imagination even in the realm of the concrete:

“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”

  …But then on the other hand, the literal definition of imagination, though the word has mostly positive connotations, seems a bit ambiguous, shaky even:

IMAGINATION –the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

  …sounds to me a lot like this one, which has both positive and negative connotations:  

FANTASY –Psychology. an imagined or conjured up sequence -fulfilling a psychological need; daydream. -a hallucination. –a supposition based on no solid foundation; visionary idea; illusion    

…and when you don’t want to give up your “visionary idea”? then you are operating under another noun, with almost entirely negative connotations:  

DELUSION an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument.

  I have issues with this “general acceptance” part. depending where you are, it’s generally accepted that the president is a terrorist and satan hid the dinosaur bones to trick us. So between the pretty sentiments and the ambivalent literal definitions, what really is our established cultural attitude toward the adult imagination, and the imaginative? I’ve been wanting to write a more formal essay on the matter, but I get tied up in my daydreaming and end up with blog posts. I certainly use my own imagination for at least as much evil as good.    

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