Imagination destruction

The latest Conversations on Philanthropy is hot off the presses, and if you subscribe you’ll soon have a copy in the mail. If not, however, and you’re just dying to read my review of Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, then you can click here.

If you’re not sure about clicking, here’s an excerpt:

The imagination of young people, it would seem, is in no danger of going away; if anything, one might be forgiven for thinking it could stand a good backhand. Many adolescents, in fact, live in a world of fantasy that encourages stupid choices and, eventually, crushed expectations.

Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, then, seems a welcome tonic. It appears we need to do some imagination destroying, and to replace what we level with common sense.

But wait—Esolen offers his book Screwtape-style, with an authorial voice that encourages readers to truncate the dangerous imaginations of their young charges, lest they grow up to be independent adults. What emerges from Esolen’s ironic treatment is a clarification that the baseless dreaming of the sort one often encounters among young people, as it turns out, is not imagination run amok, but a narcissistic self-absorption that crowds out genuine imagination, which Esolen might define as man’s inherent tendency to understand his place in creation, to grapple for truth, and to craft beauty within the context of being himself a created being.