— Andrew Delbanco, Columbia University
(as read in Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind)
Sometimes you can read the simplest things and have the most profound reaction. The master metaphor explaining why i do what i do lies within the words above, i think. The reason for everything i’ve ever done, for everything i am, is wrapped up in that single sentence.
In my view, escapism has a purpose — but it’s not the purpose most people assume. Escapism isn’t about letting people turn away from the problems of the real world, but about letting them gain the strength to deal with those problems. The whole history of fable and myth (including religion) boils down to that simple concept. We’re forced to live with what we have. We’re forced to deal with the world as it unfolds around us. But like any fight, the battle with life requires that we break away from the enemy once in a while, regrouping, finding our feet, choosing new offensive and defensive strategies. When we need to turn away from the world for a time, we need to step outside that world. And when we do, thoughtful escapism — escapism with meaning and literary purpose, whether SF, fantasy, film, RPGs, or what have you — lets us do that.
Though i’ve never thought about it this way — though i might never have used the word before reading it as i did today (aside: Pink’s book is great, get it) — i understand suddenly that when i sit down to write, it’s always about wanting to transcend. I understand suddenly that it’s always about wanting the reader to be able to rise above the real world with me.