Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Imagination Matters: Escapism

It has often been said that the arts and imagination are bad because they are "escapist." By the word "escapist" I mean that which takes us from reality into another world. So imagination produces something that differs from waking reality and is therefore "escapist."

The assumption that everyone makes is that "escapism" is bad. C.S. Lewis had a different assessment. He writes:

Now there is a clear sense in which all reading whatever is an escape. It involves a temporary transference of the mind from our actual surroundings to things merely imagined or conceived. This happens when we read history or science no less than when we read fiction. All such escape is from the same thing; immediate, concrete actuality. The important question is what we escape to.

When fiction, or our imagination, brings us into touch with a deeper aspect of reality it is not "escapist" in any negative sense. Often it is fantasy that deals with the fundamental things of life and therefore are not an escape from reality, but, as Flannery O'Connor said, "a plunge into it."

When evaluating the imaginative asses the world into which you go, and not only the one you leave.

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Blogger Sarah said...

I believe when I read or invovle myself with art I truly find God! Interesting post!

3:56 PM  

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