Escapism, Existentialism, and Other Minutiae

The best forms of escapism can lift us up, beyond ourselves, and inspire us to a betterment of ourselves. I personally engage in escapism every chance I get (when I'm not busy figuring out which ATMs I can and can't use at my recently merged bank), as any temporary reprieve from the suffocating inanity and ennui from my drunken life is welcome at any given moment.

Escapism can be defined as any and all of the following (plus some things I left out on purpose just to annoy you): movies, music, art, writing, reading, drug use, alcohol use, sports, television, the Internet, day dreaming, night dreaming, sleep, sex, pornography, commercials.

Commercials are an interesting case: Ford wants me to buy their truck because firefighters use it en route to a flaming house. I'm not a firefighter. When I myself see a fire, I do everything BUT run into it with a hose looking for small children and cowering pets. But it's that noble image Ford wants me to associate with their truck. If I ever WOULD need to get to a fire, I'd want the reliability of a Ford truck to get me there. I guess most people, if asked, would say they would run into a burning building. Not me. I have no illusions as to what my actions would be, and they would not include running INTO the fire, I can guarantee you that. In this way, though, the commercial tries to engage you into escapist thinking, as most people will never need a truck to get to a fire.

Sports is a compelling example, also (something I can never quite convince my girlfriend of, for some strange reason). My lack of basketball skills is legendary in my neighborhood, as people have started calling me the short white Manute Bol of Brooklyn - a title I take very seriously mind you. I have difficulty jumping over a phone book, OK? But by rooting for Latrell Spreewell I can vicariously experience a thunderous slam dunk. By rooting for him (and the Knicks) I want him to do well, intensely. The joy accompanying the successful action (a dunk) makes the vicarious experience more intense. When I watch Shaq Diesel dunk, it is a vicarious experience also, but one I don't feel as closely associated with, as he doesn't play for my city, I can't go to the arena and watch him play on any given night, he doesn't drive the same roadways I do, etc. like the Knicks do.

Escapism, bub, is one of the more fascinating aspects of human existence. I think some people are aware of it, most aren't, but the extent of it is just the same. As the only species on the planet that knows our ultimate fate of death, nearly all of our leisure activities are one form of escape or another.

Genetic distribution just ain't fair: this is obviously the statement of the man holding the losing lottery ticket. It is only the one who is saddled by the physical debilitations (the dandruff, the acne, the body frame, the foot odor, the hand size, the lack of any useful [read: money-generating] talent, etc.) caused by genetic flaw who is sensitive to this issue. For those unencumbered by such handicaps, the world is a much different and better place, and consider any arguments to the contrary to be those emanating from whiners and slackers. Such people cannot possibly fathom the miseries, the daily struggle against oneself, encountered by their encumbered counterparts. Escapism offers a short-lived break from the daily drudgery, and can become tantamount to a tolerable existence.

This is all meaningless in terms of evolution save this point: it is vitally important (and for 98% of the American population utterly disregarded) that those with such tinily mutated DNA must not reproduce. I mean, sure, there's a possibility that an offspring of mine could drag evolution along 1/9billionths of a centimeter, but the odds are stacked so heavily against this pitifully optimistic outcome that to take the bet would be as foolish as betting against Michael Jordan's Bulls in the '90s. Just plain dumb.

I, for one, have accepted my genetic lot, and have given up any foolish notions of reproduction. It is a balm for some very tender wounds.