The importance of imagination in literature.
Of all the books I read, very few of them have such a powerful impact on me as those of an imaginative fictional narrative. J.R.R. Tolkien in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia, and countless other great authors have all used the technique of story to engage their readers’ imagination.
For most of us, we may remember having a much greater imagination when we were young. Probably, we associate it with childhood dreams— pretending to be our favorite movie character or living in worlds all of our own creation as characters made up from our heads. It is sadly true, that the happy days of Disney cannot last forever. As we grow up, most of us leave those days of imagination and creativity with the games of childhood. We grow up and set our minds to developing skills and living from day to day, solely in the real world. Life is full of decisions to be made, and learning that requires rational thinking and reason, all of which are totally important.
However, I would argue that imagination is somewhat less impractical than it may seem. The force of imagination is powerful; a story that genuinely generates interest will not only help you remember it and learn from it, but also sharpens your mind in general and forces your brain to work creatively. Don’t get me wrong, concrete ideas and hard facts are important; we’re living here to be in this world, not to try to escape to another. That said, finding time to allow your mind to be stretched, and your imagination carried off, can be extremely helpful for your personal creativity (as well as great fun).
It’s not that that adults don’t pursue pleasure, but it’s always easier to drift towards cheap pleasures that require less effort, like an evening of in front of the television—momentarily entertaining, though not something truly intriguing or provocative. Is it possible, that, most people, as adults, have lost the ability to dream, to do something for the sheer foolish pleasure of it, rather than because they have to survive or to better themselves?
What will it take to get us back to the childhood wonder of discovering the land of Narnia and being totally captivated by the wonder of a world that takes us beyond the realm of reality? Let’s not allow our imaginations to become dormant, dismissing all fictional stories as children’s literature. Rather, let’s challenge ourselves with works of the level of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to challenge our more complicated adult minds to an even deeper level than when we were children, forcing us to activate our imagination, and bringing us to greater heights of imagination and creativity. There is something about a lesson taught in a story that just brings it together, and makes it stick with you. Personally, I think a little room for some healthy fantasy would keep our minds a little more alive.