On imagination


General Culture

I sometimes think that as we get to see everything our imagination shrivels away: Is there any need to imagine something when you can literally see it somewhere? But then I also realize that imagination is tied to more than just the visual. Take the most recent Beowulf movie, which shows lots of “exciting” images (a digital Angelina Jolie, emerging golden and “naked” from some lake), but which does away with everything that makes the story exciting in the first place - to replace them with visual gimmicks (a digital Angelina Jolie, emerging golden and “naked” from some lake). So there is a bit more to imagination than just images (which, I think, makes photography so interesting - is the photography that truly moves us really just a set of images?). Maybe this is why I find this movie (taken by the Messenger satellite, which is bound for Mercury, the tiny planet closest to the Sun) so exciting: It’s a real movie, it shows our planet, rotating why the camera moves away - nothing left to the imagination… except, of course, that seeing what we might have imagined opens up a whole new way to look at - and thus to imagine - things.