Sunday, 8 November 2009

In which Foxie discards a word

Things have been a bit tough lately.  The UK Steampunk Network--which I still think is a great idea--is pushing me in all my uncomfortable areas and, although they need to be banished, it ain't easy.  And then there's the trouble I'm in at work.  I may lose my job on Tuesday and for nothing more than some manager's ego trip. 

Anyway, I was at work the other day and I just needed to escape.  You know, get out of that headspace.  So, I put my expensive headphones and listened to Free's Fire and Water.  That album is one of my happy places.

So there I am, listening, eyes closed, world screened out.  Up pops Anne and I tell her I just needed some escapism. 

“Why are the good things in life 'escapism', and all the bad things, 'real'?” she asks.

Why is a good movie, a beautiful song or breath-taking work of fiction 'escapism'?  The implication is that we're escaping from something, and the usual assumption is that we're escaping from life.  That would assume all these wonderful things somehow exist outside of life.  That's clearly not true, because they are part of life.  They exist in the real world, were created by real people and are accessible by real people without any special preparation.  They exist within the real world, therefore within life.

How are they any less real than my disciplinary?  Or my psychological hang-ups?  They all exist in the same fabric of life.

So yeah, why are all the good things 'escapism' and the bad things 'real'?  Why do I 'escape' into a song that reminds me how beautiful life can be, and 'come back to reality' for a piece of paper which reminds me how shitty people--and the world--can be?

I've not found an alternative phraseology yet, but I'm not going to use 'escapism' any more.  It's just reinforcing the human propensity to focus on the negative and discount the positive.  The 'escapism' is just as much a valid part of life as anything else.  You're not 'escaping'.  You're just changing the glasses you use to look at reality through.

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