To what extent does imagination improve our experience of reality?

Essay 4
Rough publish: 3 full pages,  due date: see schedule
Final publish: 5 full pages-6 pages, due date: see schedule
Texts: Gopnik and 1 previous reading

For most of the semester, we have focused on the complexities involved in finding identity and meaning in the context of a constantly changing modern world. First, we read de Botton, who challenged our belief that inspiration lies in exotic journeys rather than in a reevaluation of our everyday lives.  Afterwards, we read Kimmel’s piece, which explores how the expectations of Guyland influence the way men and women define themselves and each other.  Then, we moved on to “The World and Other places” and looked at the long and fruitless journey of Winterson’s narrator, who deliberately arranges his life around his project of finding himself.  In its own way, each of the above texts chronicles a struggle for identity and meaning that is specifically connected to, or works against the grain of, a modern world that has been shaped by innovations in transportation, advancements in medicine, and the growth of globalization.  Each of these texts also explores the key role imagination–a word with a broad range of possible interpretations—plays in shaping our world and how we approach it.

In “Bumping into Mr. Ravioli,” Olivia’s busy imaginary friend helps spark several questions in Gopnik’s mind, leading the author to take a closer look at life in New York. We go on to read that communication and transportation advances flood the schedules of Manhattan life, leaving New Yorkers with little spare time and largely impersonal relationships.

To what extent does imagination improve our experience of reality? How might Gopnik’s essay confirm, complicate, or contradict one previous reading when it comes to imagination’s ability to enhance our lives?

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