You probably heard all of the knocks against escapism growing up. Stuff like: “Grown-ups don’t waste their time with that kind of stuff.”
Like what? Reading a book?
With all the ugliness and strife in the world, who wouldn’t want to escape? That’s where we come up with some of our best ideas.
Escape . . . removing oneself from confinement or a dangerous situation.
And yet escapism gets a bad rap. It’s seen as retreat, a frivolous diversion into the unreal. Avoiding real life and real responsibilities.
Even the dictionary seems to hold this view:
. . . habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity . . .
But that’s not what we do. We aren’t forced to flee to these imaginative worlds by marauding enemy hordes (though the enemies of civilization, intellectual and physical, do fit this bill). We seek to escape to somewhere better, even if only for a little bit, to recreate ourselves.
Recreation = re + create
Retreat is running away.
Escape is rearmament.
There’s been a lot of mockery directed towards the political class’ constant referencing of the Harry Potter series, but in a way it does make sense.
Stories are how we make sense of the world. There’s plenty of references to other works of fiction, be they literature or film, that provide deep and abiding lessons and insights into human nature.
Not to mention epic battles, magic, giant robots, hard-boiled detectives, romance, and lawyers and politicians and other strange, bloodthirsty creatures from the depths of hell.
This is why I’ve been loving the #PulpRevolution stuff and have been so excited by it.
And to detractors of escapism, what do you call spending forty-five minutes listening to a Beethoven symphony but escapism?
Read those books and play those games. Watch those movies. Listen to that music. Sometimes they provide more insight and renewal than the reality around you that wants to chew you up and eject you on the other end.
Maybe you’re discouraged from escaping because the world at large doesn’t want you to hear those other ideas . . .