Friday, May 23, 2014

The Double-Edged Sword of Imagination

"Imagination, rather than mere intelligence, is the truly human quality." --Terry Pratchett, The Science of Discworld

I've always wondered if our imagination wasn't a cognitive what-if mechanism; what if it had an extrasensory function, a "sixth sense" which lets us view alternate timelines, to see the could-have-beens and the might-have-happeneds. And I guess in some sense, that's what it is. In evolutionary terms, it is the greatest tool that humanity ever developed.

And like any other human creation, it is not inherently evil in and of itself. But it all depends on how you use it. A great many inventors have made great things and new technologies; artists and writers have created fantastical worlds and beautiful art. But warmongers and tyrants have often used it to inflict pain and suffering, because with imagination comes fear, the ability to imagine the worse 

I've been thinking a lot about alternate futures lately. How, if I'd done something different here, or acted less stupidly there, things wouldn't have turned out the way it is now. I've been crying inside and slowly dying inside and I know I need to get up and keep going but I just can't. I wish I could turn back time, and try it over again. But things are the way they are now, and it's no point changing the past. There's only a chance to change the future.

Stories. We need stories. Stories are our "narrativium", the thing that keeps the world sane, in our eyes. Everything is a story; we are ensnared by our own narratives. I can't do this, you shouldn't do that, we need to do this: everything is just a way of ordering up and making sense of the crazy random chaos that is reality.

I can't remember what I wanted to say here. It has gotten pretty rambling even after thinking about it for a while. But that's the thing; even the narrative of the narrative has to make sense; the meta-narrative has to exist. And we believe what we must in order to survive.

I guess what I wanted to say is that not all stories have happy endings.

But hopefully we'll always have new chapters.
The Edna Man

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