What is escapism? Supposedly, the desire to escape the
real world. Check out the real world. What’s to like? What’
s the intrinsic appeal of a nuthouse with built-in politicians,
psycho bullies and criminals? What’s the appeal of a
restrictive, obsessively materialistic society, based on
endless acquisition of essentials?
I suggest to you that anyone in their right mind would be
trying, hard, to avoid such a world. It’s ugly, it’s dangerous,
and the only “reward” is another day in the same
situations. Escapists in this sense are ultra-realists,
survivalists par excellence.
In practice, escapism is no more or less than going to a
preferred mental state and situation. It’s the difference
between having a broken leg and wishing you didn’t have
a broken leg. You prefer affluence to poverty, so you think
that way. It’s natural, and a lot healthier than the
alternatives in each case, giving a sense of preferred
As a matter of fact, you can’t be “escapist” without a
legitimate desire to escape from something which you
dislike. You don’t try to escape from things you do like. It’s
a realistic approach to real issues- Find a way out.
The only real objection to escapism per se is that most of
the escapes are temporary/theoretical. They tend to be
distractions from the sewer-like world in which humans
unwillingly participate. A real escape from money
problems is provided by money. Escaping an unpleasant
society is achieved by moving to another society.
It’s this lack of ability to get out of unwanted situations
which is the real issue. Societies in general don’t provide
many options for remedial escapes to better
environments. They tend to spread the problems, rather
than the solutions. The result is human misery, well
documented since the beginning of recorded history.
Exactly why anyone thinks they have the right to criticize
“escapists” simply for doing what they prefer to do isn’t
even debatable. It’s hypocrisy on a gigantic scale.
Everyone, without exception, does what they prefer to do,
given the slightest chance.
The ultra-real world advocates will demand attention to any
and every material or social situation as a way of “living in
the real world”. They’ll then talk your ears off about their
favorite movie, something fictional which even by their own
standards, doesn’t exist in the real world. They’ll rave
about their holiday, a physical departure from their own
Even hyper-successful people in the lottery of the “real
world” tend to succeed, then spend the rest of their lives in
pursuit of quite literally nothing. They’ve won the game of
Monopoly, and that’s their straitjacket. They know nothing
Materialism isn’t “wrong” simply for being materialistic. It
becomes wrong when it buries all else in people.
Materialism isn’t the only game which must be played. The
other game is personal. Can you “win” yourself? Are your
emotions protected by your obsessive need to buy a new
It’s difficult to imagine a less relevant approach to living.
After all, who’s doing the living?
Who’s feeling the feelings?
Some people are so “personally dyslexic” they can’t even
read their own emotions.
Some trip over major psychological conditions when they
suddenly realize they don’t even have feelings when they
This “emotional illiteracy” is actually quite common. The
environment imposes a different range of priorities, so the
person simply adapts to those priorities, rightly or wrongly.
You’re supposed to grow out of it, but many don’t.
The real world includes a lot of possible personal
disasters. The personal game is very hard to win, for many
people. Arguably, those whose personal game is a third
class citizen in their minds are the typical losers. Money-
grubbing can’t make up for catastrophic personal
All the money does is minimize the possible impacts of
other problems. It can’t undo catastrophic emotional
damage. It can’t kiss it better. It can’t be
Psychologically, there’s a huge irony here:
Materialists, basing their existences entirely on objects,
could be said in some ways to be effectively escaping
from their own personal lives. A brain could be said to be
a material thing, but its products and processes, when
articulated, or in the processes of articulation, aren’t.
Emotions are physically generated, but the feelings on the
personal level aren’t, in terms of their effects.
Denying the realities of one’s own existence in so many
ways, particularly in the name of “realism”, is an argument
comprised largely of holes. It’s absurd. Equating yourself
with the furniture is also wrong by definition. However
much you may want to be a deckchair, you’re not one.
OK, that’s the obvious described.
Now- Another view of escapism.
If the human race had a single working brain cell in its
entire media-addled carcass, it’d encourage escapism.
Escapists are also the people who find a way out of
situations. It’s their natural forte, something they’re good
You’d need an ethical, emotional and spiritual generation
of Houdinis to find the way out of all the situations with
which humanity inflicts itself on a minute by minute basis,
but it’d be worth doing.
I should know. My books, particularly the Threat-Hamster
books, are all about situations nobody’s ever been in
before. Escapism? Not really. People are often trapped in
situations of their own making. Writers, of all people,
should know that.
Fun, yes. How do you find an escaped symphony?
Obviously, you use a kid, an Scottish wildcat, and Autumn.
How do you escape from a world with seas made of
packaging while besieged by phone sales people? You
uncover the war between cheeses and biscuits, naturally.
If you’re getting the idea that the logic of escapism is a bit
different from anything materialism is able to produce, I’ve
made my point.
What/who is escaping from what/who?
Can your emotions escape from themselves?
How much escaping from materialism’s nasty little
hobbies do you do on a routine basis?
If “corporate” is the definition of uber-reality, how
“corporate” are your wildest desires?
Which do you prefer, your wildest desires, or
If you answered “corporate”, get a close friend to introduce
yourself to yourself. You may not have met before.
You may also have to escape from yourself, to achieve