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[Round Robin] Down, down, down the Rabbit Hole June 3, 2008

Posted by bettynoire in anime, community, ranting, Round Robin.

[In which Bettynoire reveals she is a sap of the highest degree]

“It is a terrible thing to learn as a child that one is a being separate from all the world, that no one and no thing hurts along with one’s burned tongues and skinned knees, that one’s aches and pains are all one’s own. Even more terrible, as we grow older to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us. Our own selves make us the most unhappy, and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them, don’t you think?” — The Secret History, Donna Tartt

The concept of escapism is not something I have been able to understand, not since I had my Methods of Literary Analysis class a few years ago. I started, without realizing, to internalize the theories we studied in class not only as ways to read books, but as ways to read life. Or rather, as a way to observe my way of living life. Though I don’t think I’d be able to name the mish-mash of theories that lead to this one, firm belief, I can’t deny that it rings more truly than any single theory I’ve ever had to read.

I don’t believe that escapism is something that is possible, which is part of why I believe it is the most common hobby of nearly everyone I know — it’s right up there with people aspiring to live eternally after death, and people trying to find a perfect, effortless love. Those sorts of vital lies that we try to live on. I think what we call escapism is actually our attempts to find ourselves — which we mask by pretending that what we see is someone else, and not a reflection of ourselves. This is the only true direction life gives to anyone, in my eyes, and it’s purely from the nature of our separation as individual beings.

In an earlier entry I spoke of the main character’s purpose in any work of fiction, before realizing, in my tangent, that it doesn’t matter what character you like the most, inevitably they are a reflection of you. My disgust at the egotistical possibilities of having the main character be your favorite were completely naive — I was ignoring that ego drives our affection or dislike in all things. Who you are, who you were, who you want to be, who you don’t want to be, who you don’t think you could ever be but wish you could — these are all pieces of your sense of self. These are that things that we notice in other people, in characters: the things we like, we don’t like, we sympathize with. Our ego shapes our perception; our perception shapes our enjoyment. So it follows that anything we choose to escape with, ultimately is a piece of us.

Escaping from life into “fantasy” is a funny little metaphor. In fact, I actually laughed a bit that an allusion to Alice in Wonderland is one of the most commonly used phrases to reference escapism. Alice in Wonderland, in many ways, is a story about one girl discovering who she is — one of her most common questions is “Who am I? Am I the same as I was this morning?”. The sequel, for crying out loud, is titled Through the Looking Glass — if ever there was an obvious reference to self-discovery, I would like to bring this example as contest. So what does it mean that one of the most popular references to escapism is actually not escaping at all? Well, I’d argue that “escapism,” as we know it, isn’t actually escapism — but immersion. The series that, for me, serve to help me most “escape” my life, are the ones that actually help me define myself better, immerse me in it as if I were already there, had always been there.

One of my quirks is that I like to say that there are series I like, or enjoy, but then there are series that are a part of my soul. Yes, I am aware that sounds retarded. I say it like that because it’s more than just having it be my favorite — it’s like the series has carved out it’s own piece of me, or rather that it always had that piece of me and was waiting around for me to find it. There are plenty of series I loved, but very few that I think I could honestly say are or became a piece of my soul.

Black Lagoon was probably one of the best examples of escapism on my part. I watched the whole of it, both seasons, non-stop over the course of a couple days. I should’ve been doing my homework but instead I watched Black Lagoon. Why? Because Revy was all the parts of me that I hated, and everything I wished I was.

Revy is certainly a kickass gun-wielding female, so it’s obvious why anyone would want to be her. People want to be characters that are kickass because they feel weak, and they don’t want to be weak anymore. Funnily enough, Revy is weak. Her strength comes from her weakness — she pretends like she’s strong because inside she’s battling a sense of inferiority. She has an obvious victim complex, and has turned it into a domination complex. That’s where me and Revy are the same. I come off to lots of people as confident and unfazed, but really I’m just trying to prove that I’m not insecure or scared — really, I am those most of all.

Escapism is a funny thing. It’s not something I believe exists but I try to find it anyway through anime. What I find instead is big, resounding piles of ME. And somehow it’s more enjoyable that way.

Others on this topic: Hinano, elezend, animemiz, soshi, myu, blissmo, shizukie, choux, a day without me, usagijen, gia, kaeboo and BUNS.

[…And now I leave to another state with no internet for a week! Here’s hoping the plane don’t crash. *knocks on wood*]