Escapism

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Re: Escapism

Postby Jikan » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:05 pm

I've removed some off-topic posts from view. Enjoy the conversation...
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Re: Escapism

Postby Jikan » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:14 pm

Thrasymachus wrote:Escapism is when you deny social realities, to engage in fantasies, to avoid doing anything about actually existing social conditions. Under such a dynamic, problems tend to be ignored and only grow in scope, under this neglect. Thus all religions, including Buddhism are escapism, because they encourage people to engage in more consumption of personal packets of religion as panacea and avoid actually transforming their social environment.

Escapism is the biggest problem of modern society in my view. Without the massive escapism, people would have to attempt to do something socially, but today you cannot even create a social movement, unlike in the past, due to the much increased power and omnipresence of escapism thanks to the increased means of technological transmission, etc. In the past it was much more difficult for elites to get everyone else to believe and think the same, today we have massively centralized schooling and media to make it easier for them.


I think you're onto something here, even if I'm not 100% on board with your details. Related:

http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/

(note that the Bureau of Public Secrets website is run by a longtime Zen practitioner named Ken Knabb. I think you'd find a lot to like in Knabb's writings, Thrasymachus, particularly on the topic of "engaged Buddhism.")
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Re: Escapism

Postby Thrasymachus » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

I have known about Ken Knabb's page since 2002 and it largely doesn't interest me: his extreme fetishizing of the Situationists. I read Society of Spectacle back at the time too. I think they have a useful critique of many things, but beyond that, it is not very useful.

Ultimately if you don't produce anything you eat or use daily, you cannot revolt or change anything. Without that you can just develop delusions that things ought to change, and a desire to engage in fantasies of change. Since this is case: people don't use their creativity or exercise procuring what they need, they have lots of extra surplus energy and creativity to waste in an amount of escapism that exceeds the actual amount of time they work in wage labor. If they actually challenged themselves day to day and creatively engaged their environment and life's needs, they would need much less engagement with escapism.
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Re: Escapism

Postby Jikan » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:29 pm

Thrasymachus wrote: people don't use their creativity or exercise procuring what they need, they have lots of extra surplus energy and creativity to waste in an amount of escapism that exceeds the actual amount of time they work in wage labor. If they actually challenged themselves day to day and creatively engaged their environment and life's needs, they would need much less engagement with escapism.


Here, you've summarized part of Debord's argument on art and creativity, valued qualitatively, as distinct from the quantitative valuation that persists under the spectacle.
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Re: Escapism

Postby padma norbu » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:49 pm

I think a lot of escapism is related to our physical body. The more I think about ideas of reification and clinging/aversion leading to samsara, the more it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me... maybe that means I am close to escaping samsara and the need for esacapism! :)

Let's take sex, for example. I like sex while at the same time find it rather boring. It seems to be a craving based purely on my physical body and when I was younger and had more hormones racing through my body, I was much more interested in sex. No body would mean even less hormones... so, do you think I would really have the biological urge to procreate if I was a preta, for example? Pretas seem to be primarily preoccupied with food and drink, for some reason, although I'm not sure why because they are ghosts. How much sustenance is required for such a ghost body? Sex releases endorphins or something and my energy feels better. This is all evolutionary biology at work, the system of my body. When I die and leave this body behind, I will not be attached to such biological things. I pretty much don't look at women any more and think "ooooh yeah, I gotta have me some of that" and I am actually still attached physically to this body. No, my primary preoccupation with sex is that I get the idea in my head that I will feel better after sex and that is what prompts me to make a move on my wife.

Another example is intoxication. I used to get drunk all the time and that was truly and simply escapism. And it was produced by the fact that of dissatisfaction in the world. Nice to just turn the old brain off and forget I'm here.

I just can't imagine being free of the body, realizing I've finally left all this crap behind, and then as some sort of discorporated consciousness thinking "I want to eat and drink and have sex! OH NO! Now I am quickly hurdling toward a copulating couple and will be reborn! Dang it!"
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Escapism

Postby ClearblueSky » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:25 am

Some good points padma, and brings up interesting questions about rebirth and the physical connection. But ask any addict and they'll tell you sex and food are so much more than just the physical and biological cravings. A binge eater will eat even when their body is not hungry, simply to ease an emotion pain. A sex addict will masturbate all day, far beyond what their hormones are asking them to do. At the same time, all these reactions stem from the brain, which is part of the body, so I guess you could say it's physical too, in the same way you bring up hormones. But all our thoughts and attachments stem from the physical brain and animal desires, so if being free from hormones gets rid of our sexual desires when we die, shouldn't getting rid of our brain free us from all attachments? They all come from that physical part of the body, just as sexual/food desire comes from physical parts of the body. I'm not disagreeing, I think it brings up some valid points.

And I don't mean to pry but since you bring it up... Saying you're married, but feeling sex is purely based on physical craving, and finding it rather boring, is not such a good thing at all. There is also the emotional connection, and enjoying the fact that your partner is enjoying themselves physically and emotionally, and feeling happy about that. There's much more human connection in sex than just people using each other to rub skin together, at least there should be. Just something to examine.
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Re: Escapism

Postby padma norbu » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:59 pm

There is more than just physical with my wife, but that is not why I ever feel like having sex because I get the joy of making her happy just by being around her and joking and cuddling with her every day. Someone once said "everything in life is about sex except sex, sex is about power" and I think that's kind of true. Sex just isn't that important to me, neither is food or alcohol... and I definitely have an addictive personality and have had issues with all things.

I'm not sure what sort of science we can arrive at to satisfactorily classify the physical origin of the problems. As you said, it goes beyond hormones. In Tibetan medicine, they would probably explain it as disordered winds and have some other specifics based on the particular problem. To me, that sort of terminology sounded silly until I started doing the Five Tibetan Rites (supposedly not authentic, I know) and could easily feel the difference in my own body. When I skip the rites for several consecutive days, there is a feeling inside that I am all too familiar with which I can only describe as feeling like "disordered winds" or "disordered energy." It very much feels like that, like a bit of unpleasant chaos in my chest, mostly. This would have gone generally unnoticed before. I barely even realized this was what was called "anxiety." It was just how I felt more or less all the time. But, the fact that it's physical and related to the endocrine system (hormones, I would surmise) is evident by the fact that 5 stretching type exercises which particularly act upon the endocrine system fix the problem in under 5 minutes! So, it's not mental, it's physical. Whenever I feel REALLY upset (which is rare these days) and I feel like I need some sort of physical escapism (sex, get drunk, eat sugar), I have found that doing the Five Tibetan Rites takes care of the desire entirely. Quite interesting, really. Everyone with addictive problems should give it a shot.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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