the difference between imagination and fantasy

November 24, 2010

Imagination draws its energy from a confrontation with desire. It feeds off desire, transmuting and magnifying reality through desire’s power.

Fantasy does the opposite; it avoids desire by fleeing into a crude sort of wish-fulfillment that seems much safer.

Fantasy might be teddy bears, lollipops, sexual delights, or superhero adventures; it also might be voices in one’s head urging acts of outrage and mayhem. Or it might be the confused world of separation and fear we routinely live in, a threatening yet seductive world that promises us the happiness we seek when our fantasies finally become real.

Imagination confronts desire directly, in all its discomfort and intensity, deepening the world right where we are. Fantasy and reality are opposing forces, but imagination and reality are not in opposition: Imagination goes toward reality, shapes and evokes it.

– Norman Fischer, “Saved from Freezing”

2 Responses to “the difference between imagination and fantasy”


  1. This ties in nicely with the article I read recently about the Harvard study on daydreaming and unhappiness.

    • Scott Says:

      I love discovering words we often treat as synonyms but, after a small amount of study, realizing there are entire separate worlds that can reside within the difference between those “synonyms”. Just love it.


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