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“Quite right; but why shouldn’t you try to apply the operation of a square root calculation to a negative number anyway? It can’t produce a real value, of course, and that’s why the result is called imaginary. It’s as if you were to say: someone always used to sit here, so let’s put out a chair for him today; and even if he’s died in the meantime, let’s act as though he was going to turn up.”


from The Confusions of Young Torless