September 16, 2011

In Defense of Escapism

Ok, so I'm supposed to go to sleep and get over the stomach virus that has been ravaging my god-and-gastric-juice forsaken digestive system, but I can't sleep.  So I thought I'd share some thoughts with you, my readers, that you might have something to think about. 

Having gotten some very supportive feedback about my rather indulgent manner of blogging, I thought I'd keep up it up and get to the point quickly this time:

Reality sucks.

I don't just mean it sucks in the sense that it's sometimes unpleasant.  I mean it sucks in that the situation of reality is, generally speaking, pretty damn grim.  Shall I list the reasons?  Our leaders tend to be self-obsessed idiots; our idols and pop-icons are usually morons with nothing substantive to contribute; no one has thought of a better, more reliable, less brutal system of economics than capitalism (don't even start, econ-people...I'm not willing to go into it now); and there are no dragons.  Yeah, you read that right: NO GODSDMAN DRAGONS.  Seriously...fuck this place.

This brings me nicely to the topic of my title: Escapism.  It's no secret that I love the realm of the fantastic.  Anyone who's spent more than a minute around me or in my apartment can instantly see that escapism is my drug of choice (more on that in a minute).  Since the reality of the world is so damn bleak, I turn to the realms of unreality to enjoy myself.  I do it with books, movies, tv, games, cosplay, and even just being in my apartment.  You see, I'm into this so deeply, that much of my life is spent narrating a sci/fi fantasy tale that I'm currently just enacting.  Chores like scrubbing my bathtub become much more tolerable when I tell myself I'm maintaining my rejuvination tank so that I can regrow my damaged technorganic components should they take damage while out on patrol.  See?  Doesn't that already sound more fun than the reality of scrubbing soap scum off of cheap porcelain?  Of course it does!  That's why escapism exists in the first place.

Quick caveat: I'm well aware that I have to live in reality...and I do.  I take my work seriously, I function in day to day life, and I don't talk to people like they're part of my fantasy.  But in the privacy of my own head, I can do as I damn well please. Right then, that's out of the way...back to the important part.

I encounter a lot of resistance to the world of escapism, both online and in person from people who claim that escapism is self-defeating or even delusional.  They say that people who devote so much time and energy to something that doesn't exist and never will are just wasting their lives and are missing out on the good things in life.  I have several problems with this line of thinking.  First off, it's definitely self-defeating and delusional if you're unable to leave the fantasy and join reality from time to time, so to that I can only respond: everything in moderation.  But that leads nicely into my real problem: What does moderation mean in this case?  Is it delusional to prefer to think of my winter coats as my Thermal Armor Shell?  Does it matter if that's how I choose to see it?  Or is it only delusional for me to express this out-loud? You'd probably never have known that if I didn't just reveal it. Where's the line? 

I don't insist that others follow my path in this regard.  I don't call someone else's coat Thermal Armor if I know they won't receive it well.  And even if I did, what's the big deal?  Isn't this sort of thing harmless? Children do this all the time and everyone thinks its cute.  Why isn't it cute (read: fun) once you cross some arbitrary line of "adulthood"?  Why do we stop playing pretend after a while?  I for one, never have.  You call it a TV; I call it my Primary View-Screen monitor.  You call it my computer; I call it The Hive Queen.  You say it's my cell phone; I call her Synapse, and she's my personal AI assistant who helps me manage my own personal network (think J.A.R.V.I.S. and Tony Stark), which I call the Hive Mind.  You know him as Tai, the Greeen Iguana; I know him as Tai the Perequian Tree Dragon (A combination of Peruvian and Equadorian - his pedigree by my best estimates). None of this is so "real" to me that I lose myself completely to the fantasy and stop functioning, but it makes the mundanity enjoyable.  As I said in my previous post, isn't enjoyment the whole damn point?  What is worth living for except the things you enjoy? 

The other argument I referenced earlier was one that says that these people "miss out" on the good things in life.  Well, if the reality they're framed in isn't good enough, why not spruce it up?  I'm just a little bit happier coming home to The Lair than I am to apartment 3A.  I don't think it's good to ignore reality, but that's a different thing from escapism.  Escapism is good for the soul.  It allows us to be and feel more than the plain truth of the situation would ever or could ever allow.  Ever daydream about winning the lotto, or getting to throw out the opening pitch, or move to Europe? Did you ever believe in Santa Claus? Escapism.  It gives us something to aspire to and something to be inspired by.  It doesn't even matter that it's not real.  I want to move one day, but I won't just move to a bigger place.  I'll be relocating my Hive Cluster to a new staging ground.  Why?  Because, with childlike abandon, I can.

And to those who would read all this and say "he needs to get a reality check and grow up", I will say only this: there's already a word for those that think escape is bad, dangerous, or undesirable - jailor. 

I was a happy child; I see no reason to stop being one.

As always, your comments are welcome.

End of Line.


  1. Rather than throwing aphorisms at a post so touchingly personal, I'll try to keep this short. (Ha, ha.) I really don't see why it should concern anyone else that you get your extra meaning from your own personal world. Everyone believes their world is more than the reality around them; everyone's adding significance somehow, whether it's using social labels and popularly affirmed goals like wealth and power or just measuring their own achievements against someone else's. Or here's psychology: you're delusional as soon as it causes detriment, and here it seems to do instead a world of good.

    My point, I think, is this-- while you may call it escapism, your unreality doesn't involve an abandonment of the world; it's an essential part of how you function in the real world. (And I don't think you're the only one for whom that's true.)

    Also, while I neither claim nor aspire to objectivity: for what it's worth, I still think the way you lay out your life is beautiful and fascinating, and I'm grateful as always to have had a window on it.

    First in line for that hypothetical Battlestar,

  2. Thank you, Pat B. for finding the words to nicely express what I, too, was thinking.