Imagination

"What's beautiful is moral, that's all there is too it."

Jerking the door towards me I swiftly rotate the key and am relieved to hear the click of the bolt sliding out of the doorframe. I step out of the Ethiopian dry dusty outdoors and into the dimly lit coolness of my apartment. Walking through the apartment I slide another key into a wooden door on the other side of the room, rotate it, and push. This is my room. Quickly I strip off my collared shirt and pinstriped pants and into a t-shirt and shorts. This is when it began, the voice resonating inside my head.

A bed of literature

“Think Galen, feel guilty, imagine, and write your scholarship essay.” It was the voice of my conscience.

“Shut up, I’m not talking to my conscience, crazy people talk to their conscience.”

“And what do you think you just did?” it boomed inside my head.

“Alright alright” I replied, “I’ll think about it, happy?”

“You know, Albert Einstein once said that imagination is more important than knowledge”

“For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. Yes I know now leave me alone.”

“What do you think that means?”

“What do I think it means? What do YOU think it means?”

“Hey, I’m just your conscience”

“Yeah one that won’t let me a moment of relaxation. I think that what Einstein was getting at is that knowledge is simply a database that can be loaded into the human mind that is close to the equal usefulness of a textbook, if it is used simply as a database. It is our ability as humans to access and manipulate that database that makes us unique, that allows us to innovate.”

“So you’re saying that our manipulation of the data is imagination?”

“Something like that”

“Hmm”

“Hmm what?”

“What do you make of the rest of the quote?”

“Well, I’d say that he is saying knowledge is a data measurement of the past, of what we already know.”

“So it’s the most recent stepping stone in human evolution, it’s as far as we have gotten thus far, that’s what you saying knowledge is?”

“Yes, exactly”

“So what to you make of ‘imagination embraces the entire world’?”

“Looking at the rest of the quote helps further that thought, ‘imagination embraces the entire world, and all there will ever be to know and understand’. I see this as really quite profound really. He is saying that imagination is the future, imagination innovates and continues human evolution by using that knowledge in new ways, it allows that knowledge to continue to grow.”

“What do you think would happen if we were left with knowledge but deprived of imagination?”

“Evolution would stop dead in its tracks, and people would start dying of boredom, there would be nothing new to keep our minds fresh, there would be no way to innovate, there would be no way to solve new problems. It would be a catastrophe, to the point where I have trouble visualizing what life would be like with absolutely no imagination. It affects so many aspects everyday life, so many simple decisions that we make as well as revolutionary breakthroughs that it is hard to imagine how we would function with no imagination, it’s ironic really.”

“It is ironic, and it’s a little fearful since I am a figment of your imagination”

“Now that; that just might be the only pro to forfeiting imagination”

“I’m going to ignore that last comment as ignorance. Now, let me see if I can summarize what you are telling me with your database metaphor. Knowledge is the database of human evolution up to this point, so what would happen if that database were wiped clean?”

“We’d find ourselves incapable of comprehending the world of technology surrounding us, we would be cavemen in the 21st century, that would make a great novel.”

“But we would be able to evolve and innovate to return to our present state would we not?”

“Yes, that is the beauty of imagination.”

“So now let us imagine what would happen if as well as our knowledge being wiped out, our imaginations too were wiped out.”

“Well that would be the event that would admit us into the animal kingdom.”

two worlds collide

“Exactly, so the reason Einstein says imagination is more important than imagination is what allows us to evolve. Knowledge is of course also extremely important, but by itself it is paralyzed as all that is already known and unable to tap into as Einstein says ‘the entire world’.”

“Imagination however is still able to function without knowledge, not as efficiently of course, but it can evolve and find knowledge.”

“Imagination creates knowledge!”

“That’s a pretty bold conclusion but it seems a reasonable one after our discussion. It is of course indirectly that imagination creates knowledge, and it needs a very small amount of knowledge to function, it needs something to manipulate. The ability of observation would theoretically be enough. Now, if you don’t mind I’m going read my book and eat some of that beef jerky my sister sent me.”

“How about a slice of banana bread covered in buter?”

“And why would you suggest that?”

“Well, for one you’ve finished your scholarship essay, and two you need the rest. You do remember that you have parent teacher interviews tomorrow, and you’re the teacher.”

“Don’t remind me, and what do you mean I’ve finished my essay?”

“Well, turns out I’m not really your conscience, but actually your imagination manipulating your knowledge.”

We rehearse the play, or attempt too...

This was my first run at my scholarships essay. I did not use this, in fact my final essay was of an entirely different nature, but his served to get my imagination flowing.