Imagination and Fancy



An interesting quote from the article “Blockbuster Banality” by James Bowman (discussing the third X-Men movie) in the July/August 2006 American Spectator. The passage in question begins by referring to Superman and the Summer 2006 revival movie about him:


“More importantly, you are an insult to the imagi­nations of our children - as witness the still-stunted imaginations of the millions of adults who avidly watch such rubbish too - and a threat to truth, justice, and the American way. Some of us, at least, are sick of superheroes, and we're beginning to suspect that so long as we have them, we won't have the regular heroes that we need so badly. Stop me if you've heard this before, but it is helpful in understanding the real iniq­uity of the superhero if we remember Coleridge's dis­tinction, learned from Kant, between the imagination and the fancy. The imagination is the essential human faculty, the means by which we take the chaos of indi­vidual bits of information about the world we live in and turn it into understanding. The fancy - that we call fantasy - perverts and weakens the imagination by using it idly to conjure up alternative worlds. To feed the imagination with images of the real world is to nourish and nurture it, but fantasy - especially fantas­tical superheroes - is the fatty, sugary snack that kills the appetite for better things and finally poisons us. Reality is the cure for this debilitating condition, and those of us who are parents should not be pro-choice about administering it.”