June 18, 2009

Imagination Run Riot

"The great instrument of moral good is the imagination" (Shelly, quoted in Charles Simic's review of Slako Goldstein's "1941: Godin koja se vraca" in the latest NYRB).

No, it's not imagination, it's that special form of imagination, empathy. Imagination without empathy too often becomes the sort of murderous paranoia that Goldstein's book describes (and that periodically plagues America). When that sort of imagination runs wild, people tend to die in real life, people tend to forget that there are individual humans at the center, the start, the end, the sights, of even the most imaginative movement or abstract noun.

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