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

Posted by bettynoire in anime, community, ranting, Round Robin.
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[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*]

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Comments»

1. lelangir - June 3, 2008

Damnit, I was trying to write a post on how ‘escapism’ isn’t an actual movement in that sense but rather just shifting things around us to make the motion seem relative, or something – but your post was much more lucid. I didn’t even think of escapism-as-immersion (doh), nor did I ponder about the looking glass. The end result is still similar – both variations are about experiencing something unrealistic, although I’m sure both models have different implications…

2. alexa - June 3, 2008

Its funny that you bring up Alice in Wonderland and escapism and all that business, because I was watching Pan’s Labyrinth last night (which a lot of people see as a new version of Wonderland), and I found it so interesting that the main character, Ofelia, goes into this fairytale world with the intention of escaping her very (very very very) harsh reality, but the fairytale creatures don’t let her. They force her to face who she is before she can join them, which I thought was awesome and was rather disappointed that it isn’t actually a kid’s film because its got some great lessons for kids.

Also, in a strangely related way, I was thinking about finding reflections of yourself in regards to this movie in terms of race. You know how I’m always annoyed with multiculturalists who claim that people need to see people of their own race, see heroes of stories that look like them, in order to gain a sense of identity. But when I started watching Pan’s Labyrinth I felt strange sort of excitement in seeing a main character that looked like me because she was Latina, but quickly realized that it was by no means some profound sense of connection with those I shared some genetics and culture with, just vanity.

P.S. I appreciate the Secret History quote. And if you think that book was so much like me, I don’t know what you’re going to think when you read Island, which is a book I view as a piece of my soul.

3. adaywithoutme - June 4, 2008

I really enjoyed your criticism of the concept of escapism itself.

As for the Alice in Wonderland allusions, I suppose the best way to define it is to say that one must escape from oneself in order to really know oneself – one must step outside of one’s existence and experiences, for to look from the inside is to not truly know oneself. Alice might think she’s going down a rabbit hole and away from what is sensical, and therefore her act can come across as escapism, but she finds herself – for a few of us, I think our responses illustrated this fact; I know mine certainly did.

4. blissmo - June 4, 2008

I liked Alice in Wonderland

5. Escapism: Blogging versus Anime? « “Lelangiric”, or so they say… - June 4, 2008

[…] by lelangir on June 4, 2008 Thanks to the most recent pieces written by Bettynoire and Iniksbane, I have gotten new material to spring off of in response to the round-robin. There […]

6. TheBigN - June 15, 2008

Glad to see that something has got your brilliant mind to posting again. :3

It does make sense that escapism is just another way to confirm who we are. I do wonder what that means in regards to what you indulge yourself in order to escape. Anime? Music? Sports? Does what medium you choose to escape in say something as well?

7. bettynoire - June 15, 2008

@lelangir — I’m glad you enjoyed my post. ^.^;; I kept babbling when I originally wrote it, so I’m glad it turned out understandable as it did. It’s funny how the way we word something, even if we mean the same thing in the end, can carry such different implications, like you say. I’m sure people would have read you’re intial idea and thought completely different things than my post might have evoked. That’s sort of why I love blogging so much.

@alexa – Pan’s Labyrinth was awesomesauce, for pretty much exactly the reasons you stated. And anyways, so long as you don’t mind, I’d love to read a piece of you soul. Rofl that sounds kinda creepy. Secret History definitely deserves a second reading, as well.

@adaywithoutme – It’s very true — that’s definitely why Alice in Wonderland has been one of my favorite stories for so long. It’s odd and different but so incredibly familiar — the way the best sorts of stories have to be, I think.

@blissmo – Me too. :-D

@TheBigN – Waaa~ You compliment me too much! ^.^;; Anyways, blame itsubun and some other gals for being so insistent about getting me to join the round robin. I can’t guarantee I’ll be consistent but it’s much more motivating to write when I know people are going to read it. Pardon my ego, haha. I do think that the ways we “escape” probably say something about ourselves, though perhaps something a bit more abstract, and if not abstract than certainly less easily defined. So many people choose the same hobby – even the circle of fools this hobby collects makes that sort of obvious, I think. And I say fools as in jolly court jesters, not stupid people. :-p

8. Coffee Spoons» Blog Archive » First Round: The Rabbit Hole [Anime & Escapism] - June 27, 2008

[…] Participants: Hinano, elezend, animemiz, soshi, myu, blissmo, shizukie, choux, a day without me, usagijen, gia, kaeboo, and dick […]

9. Round Robin: The Rabbit Hole – Anime & Escapism « myucon - September 9, 2009

[…] robin kaeboo: AGRR rnd I: The Rabbit Hole elezend: The Rabbit Hole – Anime and Escapism dick: Down, down, down the Rabbit Hole usagijen: Anime and Escapism: Living in and Out of Your Comfy Anime Burrow A Day Without Me: Anime […]


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