Philosophical Rambling: Escapism

Tanaqui tweaver at
Mon Jul 17 15:25:42 EDT 2000

+ Hallie's mail ticked me off on another tangent:

[fantasy books as escapist drugs]

Well, um. I think not. Tempting as it is to cast books as "smart drugs", 
they seem not to have toxic or degenerative effects no matter how impure/cut 
they are or how many you consume. Their "good" effects are not quantifiably 
linked: reading 8 a night will not necessarily make you a better or worse 
person than the girl-next-door who reads 1 every 2 nights. 

I don't think books would ever count as clinically addictive, either, unless
their pages were imprinted with an actual substance, and that would be
cheating. It's not a physical craving I feel for books.

They can fill emptiness, or be comforting, but not in a chemical suppression
of one's emotive state or in a way that's guaranteed to have a specified effect.

+ self-righteous about not doing any drugs, not even alcohol, 

which is fair enough. Do you exercise to the point of endorphin rush?
Do you eat chocolate, or drink coffee/tea? Do you suffer from Seasonal
Affective Disorder (in which case, light can be a drug)?

+ Reading, especially fantasy is just another way to escape,

The side-effects of alcohol are possibly slightly beneficial, and in
excess are toxic (I drink, by the way). I don't think a DWJ binge could
harm one (my parents' comments on reading under the covers seemed silly
- I'm longsighted now!).

Books are compulsive and often broaden one's horizons with new possibilities.
Given that they have no measurable clinical effect, though, I'd say "addiction"
is a sloppy term. And in describing a book, you're unlikely to be quite as
silly as a drug-visionary trying to convey the import of a chemical vision
("Man, if you stand on the table, you can, like, *touch the ceiling*").

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