Philosophical Rambling: Escapism

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Thu Jul 20 13:40:44 EDT 2000

On Mon, 17 Jul 2000 17:35:07 +0200 (CEST), Britta Koch wrote:

> But then it hit me: what is reading but
>escaping? Reading, especially fantasy is just another way to escape,
>it's just healthier and free of any (bodily) side-effects, and you
>really can escape from your own life - even if you have to face other
>people's problems.

>So,as an afterthought (and forgive my nosy questions ;): do any of you
>smoke? Or regularly take part in alcoholic excesses? Or did you at any
>point in your life, and did you read much?

No to all of the above--no drinking, no smoking, not even much caffeine
(none at all right now while I'm nursing a baby).  But I do see in myself
the potential for addiction, which was scary to discover and a little
embarrassing (since I've been just as smug about living so cleanly).  So
it's just as well that I have religious reasons for abstaining--it's self

I have, on occasion, found myself reading in a way that dulls my mind;
usually I'm reading too fast for real comprehension, and I'm tossing aside a
finished book to pick up another immediately, and I'm ignoring other demands
on my time--ones that I ought to be taking care of.  I agree with what
Tanaqui said about books not really qualifying as addictive drugs, but I
think in the above case my *behavior* has a lot in common with an addictive
behavior.  So I think it's the act of reading that is habit forming and not
the reading matter itself--what was that about reading the backs of cereal
boxes (the U.S. term) if nothing else is available?  I don't know where,
clinically, one draws the line between a habit and an addiction, but I think
it must be related to the difference between a hard-to-control behavior and
the physical or psychological need for a substance.

Anyway, not to destroy Britta's whole thesis or anything, but in my own case
I suspect that being an avid reader is an expression of the likelihood that
I might be an avid consumer of anything.  I tend to get deeply involved in
passing crazes--not public crazes or fads but my own interests--and then I
burn out after several days or weeks of intense participation.  Like I'll
play a computer game for a while and then lose interest, even if I haven't
finished it.  I never did finish Riven or Grim Fandango, come to think of

Melissa Proffitt
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