Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Imagination

"The sound and proper exercise of the imagination may be made to contribute to the cultivation of all that is virtuous and estimable in the human character." - John Abercrombie

"The man without imagination has no wings, he cannot fly." -

"Memory is the cabinet of imagination, the treasury of reason, the registry of conscience, and the council-chamber of thought." - Giambattista Basile, aka Giovan Battista Basile

"The world of imagination is the world of eternity. It is the divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the vegetated body. This world of imagination is infinite and eternal, whereas the world of generation, of vegetation, is finite and temporal. There exist in that eternal world the permanent realities of everything which we see reflected in this vegetable glass of nature." - William Blake

"Death is the tyrant of the imagination. His reign is in solitude and darkness, in tombs and prisons, over weak hearts and seething brains. He lives, without shape or sound, a phantasm, inaccessible to sight or touch - a ghastly and terrible apprehension." - Barry Cornwall, pseudonymn for Bryan Waller Procter

"We can learn to overcome temptations. The pleasure we derive from physical and material pleasures is to a great extent based on our own imagination. We subjectively build up our feeling of need for those phenomena by greatly exaggerating their inherent pleasure." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"There is no more dangerous illusion than the fancies by which people try to avoid illusion. It is imagination which leads us astray; and the certainty which we seek through imagination, feeling, and taste, is one of the most dangerous sources from which fanaticism springs." - François Fénelon, fully Francois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon

"Our doctrine here is therefore that all reality... is brought forth solely by the imagination." - J. G. Fichte, fully Johann Gottlieb Fichte

"Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination." - Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

"Kindness and intelligence don’t always deliver us from the pitfalls and traps: there are always failures of love, of will, of imagination. There is no way to take the danger out of human relationships." - Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

"We are all tatooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"It is a certain rule that wit and passion are entirely incompatible. When the affections are moved, there is no place for the imagination." - David Hume

"Mortifications have their reward in a state of consciousness that corresponds, on a lower level, to spiritual beatitude. The artist - and the philosopher and the man of science are also artists - knows the bliss of aesthetic contemplation, discovery and non-attached possession. The goods of the intellect, the emotions and the imagination are real goods; but they are not the final good, and when we treat them as ends in themselves, we fall into idolatry. Mortification of will, desire and action is not enough; there must also be mortification in the fields of knowing, thinking feeling and fancying." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"He is the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart." - Washington Irving

"No man should think that peace comes easily. Peace does not come by merely wanting it, or shouting for it, or marching down Main Street for it. Peace is built brick by brick, mortared by the stubborn effort and the total energy and imagination of able and dedicated men. And it is built in the living faith that, in the end, man can and will master his own destiny." - Lyndon Johnson, fully Lyndon Baines Johnson, aka LBJ

"Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it; nor should it be suffered to tyrannize in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or to beset life with supernumerary distresses." -

"Wealth is nothing in itself, it is not useful but when it departs from us; its value is found only in that which it can purchase, which, if we suppose it put to its best use by those that posses it, seems not much to deserve the desire or envy of a wise man. It is certain that, with regard to corporal enjoyment, money can neither open new avenues to pleasure, nor block up the passages to anguish. Disease and infirmity still continue to torture and enfeeble, perhaps exasperated by luxury, or promoted by softness. With respect to the mind, it has rarely been observed, that wealth contributes much to quicken the discernment, enlarge the capacity, or elevate the imagination; but may, by hiring flattery, or laying diligence asleep, confirm error, and harden stupidity." -

"Doubt and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer, and the large mind transcend." - Garrison Keillor, fully Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor

"The Divine Mind communicates with the human mind through the imagination. A prayer, therefore, should be offered in the form of a mental image. Man must visualize the thing he desires, he must use his imaginative powers to form his petition in terms clearly outlined in his own mind. The profound concentration of attention and thought which this form of prayer requires fills also the heart with deep earnestness and devotion. Man must pray whole-heartedly as well as wholemindedly; he must believe in his heart that his well-being depends completely upon his prayer." - Morris Lichtenstein

"Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character." - James Russell Lowell

"Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young." -

"Reverie is the groundwork of creative imagination; it is the privilege of the artist that with him is not as with other men an escape from reality, but the means by which he accedes to it." -

"Who are happy in marriage? Those with so little imagination that they cannot picture a better state, and those so shrewd that they prefer quiet slavery to hopeless rebellion." - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"A strong imagination begetteth opportunity, say the wise men." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"To speak of morals in art is to speak of legislature in sex. Art is the sex of the imagination." - George Jean Nathan

"Five minutes, just before going to sleep, given to a bit of directed imagination regarding achievement possibilities of the morrow, will steadily and increasingly bear fruit, particularly if all ideas of difficulty, worry or fear are resolutely ruled out and replace by those of accomplishment and smiling courage." -

"The value of silence in art is its stimulation to the imagination." - James R. Quirk

"Art, in any meaningful sense of the word, must have three essential qualities: a formal correspondence in emotion and feeling, clarity and a vivid imagination." -

"The four cornerstones of character on which the structure of this nation was built are: Initiative, Imagination, Individuality and Independence." -

"Reverence requires imagination and vital warmth; it requires least actual achievement or power. The child is weak and superficially foolish, the teacher is strong, and in an everyday sense wiser than the child. The teacher without reverence, or the bureaucrat without reverence, easily despises the child for these outward inferiorities." -

"Gloom and sadness are poison to us, the origin of hysterics, which is a disease of the imagination caused by vexation, and supported by fear." - Madame de Sévigné, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné

"Of all exercises there are none of so much importance, or so immediately our concern, as those which let us into the knowledge of our own nature. Others may exercise the understanding or amuse the imagination; but these only can improve the heart and form the human mind to wisdom." - William Warburton

"Those things that have occupied a man's thoughts and affections while awake recur to his imagination while asleep." -

"Imagination does not often get away itself without breaking some rule or other or paying in some way or another." - Sylvia Ashton-Warner, fully Sylvia Constance Ashton-Warner

"To be a wit, intelligence is enough; to be a poet takes imagination." - Cardinal de Bernis Francois-Joachim de Piere de Bernis

"A panic is a sudden desertion of us, and a gong over to the enemy, of our imagination." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"Those who, without knowing us, think or speak evil of us, do no harm; it is not us they attack, but the phantom of their own imagination." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Poetry is that art which selects and arranges the symbols of thought in such a manner as to excite the imagination the most powerfully and delightfully." - William Cullen Bryant

"The imagination acquires by custom a certain involuntary, unconscious power of observation and comparison, correcting its own mistakes and arriving at precision of judgment, just as the outward eye is disciplined to compare, adjust, estimate, measure, the objects reflected on the back of its retina. The imagination is but the faculty of glassing images; and it is with exceeding difficulty, and by the imperative will of the reasoning faculty resolved to mislead it, that it glasses images which have no prototype in truth and nature." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"The real truthfulness of all works of imagination, sculpture, painting, and written fiction, is so purely in the imagination, that the artist never seeks to represent positive truth, but the idealized image of a truth." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"The source and center of all man's creative power, is his power of making images, or the power of imagination." - Robert Collier

"Your imagination has much to do with your life. It pictures beauty, success, desired results. One the other hand, it brings into focus ugliness, distress, and failure. It is for you to decide how you want your imagination to serve you." - Philip Conley, fully Philip Mallory "Phil" Conley

"When the imagination and will power are in conflict, are antagonistic, it is always the imagination which wins." -

"True invective requires great imagination." - George William Curtis

"It is good... to try in imagination to give to any one species an advantage over another. Probably in no single instance should we know what to do. This ought to convince us of our ignorance on the mutual relations of all organic beings; a conviction as necessary as it is difficult to acquire. All that we can do, is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is striving to increase in a geometrical ration; that each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life and to suffer great destruction. When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply." - Charles Darwin, fully Charles Robert Darwin

"Wine makes a poor man rich in imagination, a rich man poor in reality." - Edward Parsons Day

"We are weak today in ideal matters because intelligence is divorced from aspiration. The bare force of circumstance compels us onwards in the daily detail of our beliefs and acts, but our deeper thoughts and desires turn backwards. When philosophy shall have co-operated with the course of events and made clear and coherent the meaning of the daily detail, science and emotion will interpenetrate, practice and imagination will embrace. Poetry and religious feeling will be the unforced flowers of life. To further this articulation and revelation of the meanings of the current course of events is the task and problem of philosophy in days of transition." - John Dewey

"A mind risks real ignorance for the sometimes paltry prize of an imagination enriched. The trick of reason is to get the imagination to seize the actual world - if only from time to time." - Anne Dillard

"Immortality! We bow before the very term. Immortality! Before its reason staggers, calculation reclines her tired head, and imagination folds her weary pinions. Immortality! It throws open the portals of the vast forever; it puts the crown of deathless destiny upon every human brow; it cries to every uncrowned king of men, “Live forever, crowned for the empire of a deathless destiny!”" - George Douglas Brown, pseud. Kennedy King

"The mere formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a mark of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and makes real advances in science." - Albert Einstein