I think the very concept of trying to define what an image is, results in the same problems that arise when trying to define what language is. How and why we try to define these concepts are just as important as the questions themselves. Why does it matter what an image is, and what do we get out of the answers provided? Does it matter?
I find that asking “what is an image” only brings about more questions; and this rising cacophony of queries begins to make the reader forget what the original purpose of the question was. An image is the simplest thought, created within the first few moments of our birth and continuously growing as we age. Images are everything we have ever seen, jumbled and mashed together with very little creativity until we reach an age in which such purposeful pretending becomes attractive. I suppose, in my opinion, that a better question would be: “What is imagination?”
Because the imagination is where images, new and clever never seen before creations, emerge. It is in this singular and undefinable quality that everything that makes writing and the arts possible, a quality that is really only found within the human mentality. A more probing question, one I might have found even more intriguing, would have been “And why do we sometimes lose this imagination? Where does it go?” Anyone who has ever played make believe with a rambunctious five year-old knows that their ability to create vibrant and compelling stories on the spot far outstrips that of an adult. Where does our imagination go?
I believe that learning to use your imagination is just as helpful in writing and creating art as pondering what an image is, and then continuously writing. To stop and just create a story, as trivial and preposterous as it might seem, could be that spark to create an even better novel. To be shamelessly imaginative, to create the ludicrous and down right weird (looking at you, Alice in Wonderland) may create the grandest and most compelling of stories. Writing and drawing is great, but it would be very empty and dry without trying to be imaginative.