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Quotations about
Imagination & Creativity

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Imagination is the soul's happiest retreat. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

The imagination is a palette of bright colors. You can use it to touch up memories — or you can use it to paint dreams. ~Robert Brault,

When you find imagination tracing the outlines and reason filling in the details, there you have a man. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Imagination," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942

She kept asking me if the stories were true. I kept asking her if it mattered. We finally gave up. She was looking for a place to stand and I wanted a place to fly. ~Brian Andreas, Mostly True: Collected Stories and Drawings, 1993

Some stories are true that never happened. ~Elie Weisel

I have frequently indulged in all sorts of fancies for hours together, and at times when people thought I was very busy. I am sensible how detrimental this is as regards loss of time; yet without some such "fantasy-cure," I should have never made it to this age. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). A little altered. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Memory has thousands of eyes staring into the experiences of the past, while Imagination peers into every corner of the universe. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards... ~Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There

Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one's face. ~James D. Finley

More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
~William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, c.1595  [V, 1, Theseus]

They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea. ~Francis Bacon

A fool-proof method for sculpting an elephant: first, get a huge block of marble; then you chip away everything that doesn't look like an elephant. ~Author Unknown

The Possible's slow fuse is lit
By the Imagination.
~Emily Dickinson

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. ~George Smith Patton, War as I Knew It, 1947

The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person. ~Frank Barron, Think, November-December 1962

[Y]ou can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~Mark Twain, "Chapter XLIII: The Battle of the Sand-Belt," A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, 1889

One is never happier than when a strong inclination determines one to live exclusively in this world. My misfortune is that I exist, never in this world, but in a number of possible concatenations and combinations created, with the help of conscience, by my imagination. And thus I lose a part of my time without reason being able to get the upper hand. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Far away in the land of "If and Perhaps"
The city of "Make-Believe" lies,
With its wonderful, beautiful towers and domes
And turrets that reach the skies;
'Tis peopled by fairies, pixies, and gnomes,
And nobles and ladies fair,
And the poorest gamin that walks the streets
Is a prince if he enters there...
~Cynthia M. McCague, "The City of Make-Believe," in The Outlook, 1898 March 12th

His faculty of imagination, his most faithful companion, never leaves him... ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "Concerning a Person of My Acquaintance"  [Writing of himself. An unfinished work. Translated by Norman Alliston, 1908. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Don't expect anything original from an echo. ~Author Unknown

I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. ~Pablo Picasso

There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds. ~G.K. Chesterton

Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life. ~Simone Weil

Personally, I would sooner have written Alice in Wonderland than the whole Encyclopedia Britannica. ~Stephen Leacock

Sometimes imagination pounces; mostly it sleeps soundly in the corner, purring. ~Terri Guillemets

Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its apparent opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence. ~Norman Podhoretz

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. ~Edgar Allan Poe, "Eleonora"

He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet. ~Joseph Joubert

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. ~Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, 1871

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept. ~Ansel Adams

I admit to having an imagination feverish enough to melt good judgment. ~Dean R. Koontz, Seize the Night

In short, the earnest and affectionate observation of Nature endows you with Imagination and Intelligence, and these two are of infinite value to you. They are, for home consumption the best part of you, whoever you are, the best part, I mean, of your own individual self which your mother loved, and which those who divide it into mind and body don't love a bit. Imagination and Intelligence keep mind and body together, and keep them keeping each other bright. ~Walter Moxon, M.D., F.R.C.P. (1836–1886), "Nothing: Being a Protest Against Buttermilk," October 1876

Things are only impossible until they're not. ~Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

When I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars. ~Vincent Van Gogh

Imagination is the highest kite one can fly. ~Author Unknown

In the realist you have the sorry sight of the five senses deprived of their imagination. ~Robert Brault,

The strongest nation on earth is your imagi-nation. ~Matt Furey

When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.
~Lewis Carroll

Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play. ~Henri Matisse

I pluck roses out of the air and press them to my yearning breast. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Songs of Longing: XV," At the Roots of Grasses, 1923  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The theoretician believes in logic and believes that he despises dreams, intuition, and poetry. He does not recognize that these three fairies have only disguised themselves in order to dazzle him.... He does not know that he owes his greatest discoveries to them. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings 1939-1944, translated from French by Norah Purcell

Trust that little voice in your head that says "Wouldn't it be interesting if..." And then do it. ~Duane Michals, "More Joy of Photography"

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun. ~George Scialabba

Not "cribb'd in, cabin'd, and confin'd,"
By that small closet's bounds, his mind,
In winter's long dark night,
Unfolds its wings; and fancy flies
Where landscapes, under summer skies,
Bask in its sunshine bright.
~Bernard Barton, "Stanzas on the Approach of Winter" (stanza XIX), Napoleon and Other Poems, 1822

Trapped by reality, freed by imagination. ~Nicolas Manetta

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. ~Henry David Thoreau

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
~Emily Dickinson

Anyone who can be replaced by a machine deserves to be. ~Dennis Gunton

To unpath'd waters, undream'd shores... ~William Shakespeare, Winter's Tale, c.1610  [IV, 4, Camillo]

If you see the magic in a fairy tale, you can face the future. ~Danielle Steel

I can always be distracted by love, but eventually I get horny for my creativity. ~Gilda Radner

Really we create nothing. We merely plagiarize nature. ~Jean Baitaillon, quoted in Reader's Digest Quotable Quotes: Wit and Wisdom for All Occasions, 1997

The hardest thing about reality is returning to it after an hour inside your child's mind. ~Robert Brault,

Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures. ~Jessamyn West

People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind. ~William Butler Yeats

I remembered a story of how Bach was approached by a young admirer one day and asked, "But Papa Bach, how do you manage to think of all these new tunes?" "My dear fellow," Bach is said to have answered, according to my version, "I have no need to think of them. I have the greatest difficulty not to step on them when I get out of bed in the morning and start moving around my room." ~Laurens Van der Post

I'm creative — you can't expect me to be neat too. ~Author Unknown

Man can lend himself to all the sallies of imagination; he consents to follow its adventurous bark through the narrowest and most perilous straights; but when once it has broken the tie that bound it to reality, he either ceases to follow it at all, or follows it without sympathy, with impatience, or anxiety. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)

I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant. ~Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night

I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see. ~Duane Michals, Real Dreams

I am now and have always been a stranger to the realm of practical matters. ~Anton Chekhov

I never did very well in math — I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally. ~Calvin Trillin

Those who do not think outside the box are easily contained. ~Nicolas Manetta

Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training. ~Anna Freud

To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted. ~George Kneller

When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge. ~Tuli Kupferberg

It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block. ~Paul Gauguin

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