Escapism Is Not A Dirty Word


We say escapism sometimes in the same way you might describe a mediocre sandwich — like it’s this half-thing, something that’s, ennh, fine, but not really recommended. We have better things to consume, after all, than escapist fiction. Deeper into that is the connotation that we should not endeavor to escape. Rather, we should stare our world and our problems right in the face, hawk up a hard loogey, and spit our gnarly phlegm right in reality’s eye. HRRRK. PTOO.

Yeah, no, fuck that.

Escapism has never been more necessary. I am staring at the news daily (hourly, minutely, secondly) and each time it’s like finding Sauron’s gaze fixed directly upon you — as such, I am looking for any opportunity at all to wince away for a time, just to be reminded that other things exist beyond that UNBLINKING SATANIC STARE. That’s not to say you should remain staring in the other direction, or that you cannot also read fiction or embrace material that is more serious and complicated. But at the same time, man, whoo. We gotta find the equivalent of emotional comfort food in a room full of happy goddamn pillows.

The other night, I posted a list on Twitter (which you can find here) of things that were essentially keeping me sane in this decidedly cuckoopants timeline.

So, I’m opening the comments here for you to do exactly the same thing.

Drop into the comments at least one (but not limited to one!) thing you’ve been using as an outlet for escape. Books, movies, games, comics, foods, people, something, anything, whatever.


  • Petting the dogs. Cooking for the family. And writing, because at least on the page I can damn well have a happy ending if I want one – and if I want to kill everyone in a fit of vengeance and righteous anger, well, I can do that too.

    Thanks for this, Chuck. It’s good to be reminded now and again.

  • I hurt myself snort-laughing at this. I’m reading the bit about the Satanic Staring Eyeball of Sauron and I look to the pop-up ad to the right of the screen. Not sure a snippet will paste here, but it was a Philly Cream Cheese shaped like a bloody football and looked like a meaty eye of Sauron with crackers for lids. Here’s a link to the recipe, if you need to admire the timing of this one:

    Also good if you’d like to devour the Eye of Sauron during the super bowl.

  • My cat…The interesting thing about this cat as a distraction is that I know *she* is using *me* in the way of a surrogate and distraction, too. She grew up with sisters, and they used to curl up and groom one another, and this one was the more reserved cat who usually let the whinier cat *have* the human attention. Now she’s lost her sisters and can’t seem to get her (young male) son to spend as much time cuddling and grooming as a middle-aged cat wants, so she’s focussed on me. Only this winter has she ever licked my hand. Now she very systematically *wets* my hand and presses it against the patch of fur she wants to wash. A normal cat would use its own paw to do that; a social cat believes somebody else–preferably a cat, but if necessary a human–should apply cat saliva to all those hard-to-reach places.

  • I am on the board of a tiny non-profit that runs a girls’ summer wilderness camp, Camp Little Notch, in the Adirondacks. We are creating the badass leaders of tomorrow. I have 443 acres of amazing beauty to take care of. This hands-on caretaking keeps me focused on what is Good. TADT is a bag of shit but wild otter tracks in the snow are magical.

  • My friends and I are building our own music recording studio. Being one of the least fickle musicians in the bunch, I’ve found project-managing the operation to be immensely restorative. To that end, playing bass guitar, teaching myself violin, and just continuously writing music have all been my primary escapes.

    Mountain biking is up there, too. Nothing evil can touch me when I’m on my bike. Just cars, and meteorites and orange bitey things. But nothing evil.

  • February 3, 2017 at 7:38 AM // Reply

    Playing Dragon Age, my kids, my husband, reading, writing. These things make the world fall away and bring me true joy.

  • My wife and I are re-watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We are also playing World of Warcraft. Watching strong women slay monsters is cathartic right now.

  • Ok, Chuck, books it is! I’ve been rotating through Sci-fi (because of James Corey’s Expanse – OHMYGOD!!!), Fantasy, and Mysteries:

    A Long Way to a Strange Angry Planet, Becky Chambers (crew reminds me of Firefly)
    The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Ardin (Russian fairy tale of old gods versus New)
    The Devil’s Detective, Simon Kurt Unsworth (investigating murder in hell!)
    The City Stained Red, Sam Sykes (awesome, awesome fantasy – terrific characters)
    The Warrior’s Apprentice, Lois McMaster Bujold (old school sci-fi with a nice guy)
    The History of Wolves – Emily Fridlund (WOW!!! dark as hell dystopia but with hope)
    An Obvious Fact – Craig Johnson (present day sheriff in Wyoming solving mysteries at Sturgis)
    Among the Wicked – Linda Castillo (mysteries set in Amish territory)

    looking for anything with signs of hope for humanity!

  • My family, cats (mine and pictures of random ones on Instagram wearing hats and ties), exercise, writing, editing, Shonda Rhimes TV, memes making fun of all the insanity, and trying to get a new business off the ground while still building the first. Whatever keeps you busy keeps your head on straight.

  • Escapism for me, at 50, is writing my own pulp fantasy adventures, having my kids read them, and sharing them with friends and family via my own website.

    Writing is such a great release. you can’t beat the fun of writing a scene with your heroes battling a host of monkey mummies in the shadow of an airship.

    Also, when in doubt, take “Sandman” off the shelf.

  • Listening to Buffering the Vampire podcast and the StoryWonk Dusted podcast while re-watching Buffy. The approach of those two is just different enough to make it worth listening to both, plus it’s fun when they both have a comment like, “omg, Xander’s shirt. why?”

    The Vorkosigan re-read on Tor.

    I realized around Christmas that I wasn’t reading as much because all of the books I was getting from the library were Very Serious Books and I was getting burned out. So I’ve been searching for various “funny books” lists. A few titles that have proved satisfactory: “Cold Comfort Farm” by Stella Gibbons, “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh, “The Mischief of the Mistletoe” by Lauren Willig. Two that aren’t funny, “First Frost” by Sarah Addison Allen and “A Study in Scarlet Women” by Sherry Thomas (which is actually a little disturbing). I’ve been slowly reading “The Weird” edited by the VanderMeers, which is strangely comforting, I think because so many of the stories are so very localized, about only one or two people.

    Also abandoning any fiction that is just not doing it for me right now promptly and without remorse.

    Watching Steven Universe and various iterations of Star Trek with the Kid. Also reading the “Wings of Fire” series with her and talking about dragonships.

  • For me it’s been playing the Sims 4, finally watching those movies that have been on my “to watch” list forever (Sicario was a pretty good one), and gearing up to go back to school for my Master’s degree.

  • I’ve been playing a whole lot of Pokemon. And Harvest Moon. The games that never end but you can never win…or lose.

  • FWIW, I spent the last week escaping into Zeroes. It worked quite well, especially as I got to feel like I wasn’t entirely ignoring the issues.

  • Getting out into the country, or just the park, with the help of an early spring in my part of Spain. Hard to be angry at the world while there’s a blackbird singing overhead.

  • Yeah, I just lock myself up in my apartment, slip into my pajamas, put on my noise cancelling headphones, and watch nature.

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