Examining Imagination

A study on the properties of imagination

BY Y.K. Goon

Calling something a "failure of imagination" comes across harsh. It suggests a cognitive failure that couldn't foresee something that never was.

The lack of well-known profound classical texts on the quality of imagination suggest to me that it's not a quality that's prioritized or aspired to. But anything new and valuable started off as an imagination in someone's mind. So it's safe to say all progress rest of imagination.

Yet we're not taught how to imagine. Is it even teachable, I wonder?

Imagination seems to be a root quality that doesn't rely other qualities. You don't need strength to be imaginative; you don't need to be kind, maybe not even very curious. That makes cultivating imagination tricky.

I've been thinking about coming up with a framework that spurs imagination, like a kind of Hero's Journey for what never was. It didn't take long for me to doubt such an approach.

I'm rather convinced that deduction doesn't count as imagination. Suppose you were tasked to come with a fictional premise to an alien world and try to be imaginative about it. You do that by making the population single-gender and give everyone the ability of teleportation. The story proceed as logical progression of those premises. While the end result might come off as imaginative but what takes place in this fictional world is likely logical deduction on the premise.

A common advise towards better imagination is "read more". But all that does is exposing yourself to more existing ideas. By knowing more the chances of coming up with something to *you* would be higher. Does that necessarily mean you are capable of conjuring up something entirely new on your own? I'm not sure.

This relates to the burden of knowledge. Is knowledge an asset or a burden to imagination? In other words does knowing more refrains your imagination to the shackle of what's possible? If so then someone completely ignorant should make the most imaginative person. That doesn't fly.

At this point I'm reminded of how drugs make you creative. The factor lies in the *connections* between knowledge, not in the amount of knowledge possessed. The more rigid the connections between concepts, the less imaginative we get.

Imagination happens when we connect concepts that have never been connected together before.

Now I'm interested in the *process, not outcome*. I wonder how the first human (maybe HG Well?) who came up with the idea of time traveling machine landed on it. I wish it's not entirely accidental. If there's a process to it (even if he was entirely unaware of it) can it be repeated?

The phrase "limited by your imagination" positively connotate that possibility is vast. But imagination on an individual level isn't as vast as it sounds. Imagination is often the one thing that limits you.

Y.K. Goon

Y.K. is a software engineer; investor; a man blessed with curiosity
attempting to learn the art of being, in search of antifragility.


Hubris In Psychiatry


The Greek word ‘Hubris’ is defined as having an excessive self-importance or arrogance. It is a word I have been thinking of over the last few days particularly after a meeting I had with a consultant psychiatrist recently. To say I was under-whelmed is an understatement. Not for the first time I came out of a meeting with a consultant with a combination of little hope and total disappointment.

For years now I have been engaged with mental health services. During that time my over-riding impression of the paradigm within which psychiatry works is deeply flawed and is failing those whom have turned to the services for

This is down to a number of reasons one of which being the role performed by consultant psychiatrists. My overall impression of those I have met is they are out of touch with the pain and suffering some of their patients are
experiencing and are lacking in any meaningful duty of care.

They seem to believe because the so called ‘service user’ has a problem of the mind they are in some way intellectually challenged or deficit in an ability to cope. The profession seems to be over-run by doctors who think they know
better or possess a degree of arrogance and inertia unsurpassed by most.

In essence there is very little compassion in psychiatry. Just because someone is living with a mental illness does not mean they are deficient in intellect or emotional intelligence.

The truth is Psychiatry is all in Head while Life is all in the Heart.

Liam Flanagan is a 47-year-old living in Galway on the west coast of Ireland. Degree in English and Philosophy. Teaching Diploma in IT. Ten years of experience working in the IT industry. Likes Sport, Music, Film and Politics.

An Ode To Arthur


The thirst the anticipation the pleasure
A pint of Guinness please
How are things? How is the reopening going?
Small talk as I watch the pour
A tilted glass a slow deliberate pulling of the tap
Careful now you don’t want to fill too quickly
Three quarters full now is the time to let it settle
Magically the brown cloud transforming into a dense black liquid with a creamy white top
A thing of beauty to behold
A couple of minutes pass
Feels like a lifetime as the pint takes shape
The top up the completion of an act of perfection
The careful walk back to the table
Make sure there is no spill now
Destination reached two more minutes of diligent
The time has come
Clutch the hand around the glass
Lift with care and deliberation
Take a long slow satisfying taste of this black beauty
Thirst quenched destination reached time to settle


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