What if there was no such thing as imagination?

As a child I was often described as having ‘an active imagination’. I am sure many of you reading this shared a similar label. It was both a blessing and a curse. Often times my active imagination kept me awake late at night worrying about all the possible disasters that could happen to me in the night while I lay there sleeping. I ‘really’ saw the ghosts that entered my room each night and it terrified me. I also ‘really’ saw the little gnome like people who lived by the tree in my backyard and enjoyed playing with them. I ‘really’ could fly as long as nobody was in the room to see and loved it. I ‘really’ had identical twin friends called Sasha and Tasha but I was the only person who could see them.

As a writer I believe part of my brain is wired to stay slightly more childlike than most adults I meet. Most adults happily leave the fantasy world behind. They become closed off and can only live in that fantasy world for short periods of time through acceptable adult activities such as reading books or watching films and television. Writers, artists and other creative types keep that fantasy world alive as it helps to house our muses.

Based on all of this I decided that each Wednesday, I will do a feature on my blog that explores one of my favourite questions. What if? Hopefully, this will spark discussions with other like-minded or not so like-minded people and help keep the creative juices flowing in all of us. After all, it works for children, right? So onto today’s What if?

What if there was no such thing as imagination?

I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.

Albert Einstein

Image via Wikipedia

Albert Einstein


I picture a world devoid of imagination as being grey, square, flat with the buildings and the clothing exhibiting such dullness. Could people survive in such a world? If they were ill would science still evolve enough to make medicines to cure them? What would they live for? Would insanity still exist? I look forward to your ideas on this.

If you feel inspired to write about a world like this please leave a link in the comments section below. I would love to read it and would share it in next week’s What if?

If you have your own What if? questions that you would like to add to future discussions, I am open to topic suggestions and guest What if? bloggers. Just send me an email message(usaukwoods at yahoo dot com) if you are interested and we will work something out.


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three who doesn’t really know what she wants to be when she grows up.
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19 Responses to What if there was no such thing as imagination?

  1. Jo Eberhardt says:

    What if there was no such thing as imagination?

    I think the state of the world would cease to matter, because people would cease to exist. Without imagination, there would be no impetus or drive to change things. There would be no desire to go places, see things, or wonder “what’s over that hill?”. There would be no capacity for love — what is love, after all, if not the dream that we are connected to another person through an imaginary bond of understanding?

    Without imagination, our base instincts — need for food, water, sex, territory — would exist. But our means of attaining them would be limited. Why plant food if we cannot imagine that a seed could grow into something greater? Why look for water if we cannot imagine that a landscape exists beyond the one we can see?

    Or perhaps I’m being too bleak.

  2. Selena says:

    I LOVE the idea of What if? Wednesdays.
    What if there was no imagination? I agree with Jo. And bleak says it all. It’s hard to ‘imagine’ a world with no imagination, and with it spelled out so succinctly it’s a frightening thought. No writers, no readers, no children, no dreams. Imagination is as important as the air we breathe.

    Wonderful post, Billie Jo.

  3. Jody Moller says:

    As a writer I believe part of my brain is wired to stay slightly more childlike than most adults I meet.

    I love this line Billie-Jo, it described me perfectly. The other parents at preschool often laugh at me because more often than not I can be found on the floor playing lego with the kids or colouring-in or goodness knows what. They find it difficult to believe that I find those things fun – I find it difficult to believe that they dont!

    • I am the same. I love messy play too. I think that was why I went into teaching young children. It was a way to play all day and still earn a pay check. If I did not have a creative job like I do now, I would go back into teaching again. I don’t think I would survive a starchy type job.

    • Jo Eberhardt says:

      I’m with you, Jody. One of the great side-effects of having kids is that it’s okay to get excited about turning some cardboard boxes into a robot, or creating an alien landscape out of a few blankets thrown over furniture. I can’t understand people who just give their kids electronic toys and tell them to go away. Where’s the fun in that??

      • If you are raising imaginative type kids it wouldn’t work anyway. My kids have electronic gadgets but they don’t use them. They prefer dressing themselves up and making a mess. I dread whenever anyone pops in unannounced, especially our tidy home friends because when the kids are awake our house always looks like we have been ransacked.

  4. This is a great idea for your Wednesday posts, Billie Jo!
    I too, had a vivid imagination as a child (still do). It got me into loads of trouble!
    I ‘imagine’ we’d live more on the level of animals, if we didn’t have imaginations. Imagination…being able to project our ideas out to their possible conclusions and outcomes, is what spurs on human evolution.

    • Thanks Cynthia, I think we would be more like animals but after reading Jo’s comment, I started to wonder about how much imagination even some animals must have. I think my dog clearly must have an active imagination because he can open the doors, knows enough to try and hide food wrappers to foods he has stolen and is forever finding new ways to hide under blankets or pillows so we don’t kick him off the couch. Poor thing hasn’t realised he is white with black spots and really doesn’t blend in with the lime green sofa.

  5. catwoods says:

    Well, in my mind, without imagination, there is no advancement. We would still be hunting and gathering. Yet somewhere, someone thought outside the box.

    A contemporary world without imagination would be my personal version of hell. My writing is my escape from the mundane. Without it…it’s just too icky to contemplate.

  6. scribbla says:

    Great question. I’m afraid I cannot answer it though, because even to do so requires some imagination. Mmmmmmm.

  7. Pingback: Monday’s Top 5 | The Happy Logophile

  8. sami ghanem says:

    What if we understood imagination all wrong? I think imagination depends on visual effects which are then stored in our memory. Without sight i think there would be no imagination. For instance, people who are born blind have never seen anything ever. Dont get me wrong, i am not denying the existence of imagination,but the way I see it,imagination would only exist if there would be sight and memory.
    If we were to say imagination didnt exist, i dont think it would be grey, square and flat, the universe was created long before we existed.

  9. Nelly says:

    Honestly, I’m 16 and you know how teenagers and imagination are as close as the moon and sun. But sometimes I also find that kids nowadays have their imagination killed. I don’t believe we born into creativity, we actually grow out of it. Imagination are dreams that does no exist yet, things too impossible to be real. But that’s why we have science in our days and nights, they are bones supporting those fragments of cloudy thoughts. I believe in imagination, in dreams.
    Sometimes that is all we have, in this big cruel world.
    No imagination, no hope.
    Maybe you should start asking Mrs Billie Joe ; What if there is no hope?

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