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Mr. Ravioli And The World And Other Places

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1782
  • Category: Mind

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Imagination is the gateway to desire and perception of reality. Adam Gopnik graduate of New York Institute of Fine Arts and author of a Best Seller is the author of “Bumping into Mr. Ravioli”. In “Bumping into Mr. Ravioli” Gopnik discusses the importance of imagination and the role it plays in understanding reality. He also gives a better understanding of how the surroundings of a child shape their imagination and perception of those around them, and how it helps them gain understanding of how the world functions. Gopnik shows us how a child can at an early age identify with a group of people, just as Olivia the maker of Charlie Ravioli, who uses him to exemplify the life of the average New Yorker. Furthermore “The World and Other Places” by Jeanette Winterson features a character who attempts to form a future based on the imagination he had as a child. He constantly uses his past imagination to form his career and find himself.

Both authors touch on the subject of imagination; imagination, as conveyed in these two essays, shows how it not only influences one’s perception of what goes on around them, it also shows how a child identifies with things that influence them and help them form their perception of the world around them. reality is dependent on causal knowledge therefore constantly changing our perception. There is a direct correlation between the perception of the world and the logic behind it; the more in depth and expansive the logic, the more the world warps causing a need to set order. It is this order that is based on past experiences and created through imagination. It is safe to say that Gopnik confirms Winterson’s essay in some ways but for the most part he contradicts and complicates it, the reason for this is that the individuals in the texts encounter different outcomes when their imagination and reality meet. Imagination is influenced by a child’s surroundings and or desires. We see that the imagination embodies it’s self through ones experiences.

In “Bumping into Mr. Ravioli Gopnik presents us with the main character Olivia when he says, “ My daughter who just turned three, has an imaginary friend whose name is Charlie Ravioli. Olivia is growing up in Manhattan, and so Charlie Ravioli as a lot of local traits… but the most peculiarly local thing about Olivia’s imaginary playmate is he is always too busy to play with her.”(Gopnik 153). Here Gopnik presents us with not only Olivia but also her imaginary friend Charlie Ravioli. Charlie Ravioli is described as the average New Yorker never having time for anything or anyone, constanlty having to rush to all the activities that he has planned. Charlie Ravioli as what was mentioned in the text is a complete personification of the lifestyle of New York City. Olivia’s parents become concerned because they feel that the purpose of a playmate is to play, not for them to never have time for the child. What the parents fail to realize is that Olivia bases her imaginary encounters on what she has seen around her. Since New Yorkers are always too busy for everyone, her imagination takes that and incorporates it into Charlie Ravioli’s personality because he is also a New Yorker.

In Winterson’s essay, we see the opposite; the narrator tries to form a future based on his past experience. Winterson introduces the narrator in her essay by saying, “ when I was a boy I made model aero planes…there were six of us at night in the living room, six people and six carpet tiles…but on aero plane night we took one each and sat cross legged… we were going to fly away…” (Winterson 283). Here we see the narrator playing pretend with his family. They use their imagination to pretend they are on an airplane and they travel around the world, all while staying in their living room. When the narrator grows up he becomes a pilot we can assume this is because it’ what he imagined he would be since he was a child, but once the narrator is older he does not feel satisfied with his reality. The two authors have different approaches when it comes to imagination. When looking at imagination versus reality, Gopnik’s character Olivia has a better concept because she bases her imagination off reality therefore it leaves little room for her to be disappointed with reality, and instead actually accepts it. Winterson’s narrator does the opposite; he bases his reality off his imagination, leaving him to become unhappy with his reality.

When these too ideas are compared it is safe to say that since they do not agree they in fact complicate the concept of imagination. Imagination can help an individual form an identity. In both essays, the characters identify with their surroundings or desires based on their imagination. We see that Olivia identifies with being a New Yorker by the way she interacts with Ravioli. Gopnik mentions this when he says “we thought at first that her older brother might be the original Charlie ravioli… he is too busy to play with her much anymore. He has become a true new York child, with the schedule of a cabinet secretary…” (Gopnik 154). In this passage, it is obvious that Olivia understanding of being a New Yorker manifests itself in Charlie Ravioli’s inability to play with her because he is so busy. Many people imagine new Yorkers to always be in a busy frenzy and Charlie Ravioli embodies that personality in an impeccable manner.

This can also be interpreted in a way that makes it seem as if Olivia’s imagination is rather limited and sad. Rather than have a typical imganary friend who is an escape from reality her imaginary friend could easily become no imaginary and an actually person. In Winterson, the narrator’s reality is also influenced by his imagination. Winterson says, “my parents were so proud of me when I joined the Air Force ‘soon you’ll have your own wings she said’…” when the narrator grows up, he joins their Air Force to fulfill his dream of traveling the world. Here his imagination obviously influenced his decisions. Winterson’s narrator had an imagination where he was striving for something out of reach and almost impossible. He was a poor child who did not have much growing up but because he always imagined himself flying in the air he made that a reality contray to Olvia. In both passages, imagination and its effect of identifying in real world situations go hand in hand.

Therefore, it is inferred that imagination does effect perception of reality and reality does influence how one imagines things. As life complicates the ideal future that is fantasized changes. As is common with many aspects of life, as new expireneces occur the mind changes. The imagination and goals of a child are different from the imagination and goals of an adult. However these changes are not only limited to age but can even occur at the same age just by observing the surrounding. “Olivia would begin to tell us tales of her frustrations with Charlie Ravioli, and, after telling us, again, that he was too busy to play, she would tell us what she had done instead. Astounding and paracosmic tall tales poured out of her[…]” (Gopnik 160). At this point Gopnik has started to notice a change in his daughter. Before every time that she would complain about Charlie Ravioli she would always just stop it at the point where he was to busy. Now however, after she starts off on her story that Charlie was too busy to do anything with her she moved on to tell stories about her own grand adventures.

While it can be seen that it may not be healthy for a child to have an imaginary friend who contray to common use is not always there for the child Olivia’s Ravioli may serve a more practical use. It can be argued that most imaginary friends are created as mere toys and play things but Charlie Ravioli is seen as a reflection of what Olivia sees but also as a tool to help Olivia mature and deal with her surrounding. In New York City everybody seems to be in a rush and doing their own thing so this creates a strong social standard that everybody should be able to be independent since you may not be able to rely on people. For Olivia Charlie Ravioli is a means for her to deal with her surrounding and gain a strong sense of independece. Winterson’s narrator also goes through a change that is reflected on his thoughts of reality. As a child the narrator simply dreams of becoming a pilot in the Air Force and that is as far as his thoughts go.

As the narrator gets older he no longer feels like the only thing in the world that is going to make him happy is just being a pilot and he realizes he needs more than just that. In Winterson’s text the narrator describes his interaction with a certain fellow pilot, “For a while we travelled in silence. I watched him; strong jaw with necessary stubble. Brown eyes that never left the sky. He was pretending to be the only man in the air” (Winterson 286). This was occurred later in the narrators life when he left the Air Force after he realized it did not satisfy him. In this ineraction the Narrator is just flying alongside another pilot much older than himself. After observing the pilot the narrator sees that he genuiely finds pleasure in what he does. From looking at this man it is almost as if the pilot is still a kid and he is still in the same fantasy world that he has always been in, something Winterson’s character envys.

In Gopnik’s text Olivia was able to use her imgination as a tool to furher her identity while Winterson’s narrator used his imagination in a less efficent manner. Imagination is a tool that allows desire and reality to become what is most favorable. It is a tool that is used by adults, teenagers, and children. Everybody dreams of something grander than what they already have. Imagination can be used as a tool that helps make sense of everything around us and to improve our lives in general. Imagination can also be used to help identlify with other groups of people as what was shown with Olivia. Both texts proved that imagination is outstanding feat of evolution. Imagination is a result of evolution that has allowed us to constantly improve ourselves.

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