Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan – Preface

Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Baltimore & London

Black = My thoughts
Pink = Quotes
Blue = An external reference


Before I start I must make one point, when reading a book that attempts to analyse culture you must take into account the personality of the writer, every day we meet different characters we don’t agree with, the same goes for writers; just because they have been given the permission and support to publish a book does not make them right. In this case within the first 2 pages I have already made assumptions about Yi-Fu Tuan:

– He talks about how he was surprised he enjoyed Disneyland as “well educated people, among whom I count myself, are taught to dismiss the theme park as an unreal, fantasy world supported by hidden – and therefore somewhat sinister – forces.” – This gives me a sense of snobbery, someone who doesn’t let themselves enjoy an activity that is below his intelligence – for me this gives me a bad impression of the book as at the moment I see escapism through media and entertainment as a way of disengaging the brain and being submissive to pure childlike entertainment. – My opinion on this might change however.
As Tuan discusses the differences between humans and animals he talks about how he aspires to be immortal – I think you have to be quite narcissistic to actually want immortality, again just like each writer puts their own opinions throughout their book, I the reader will read it in a different way than you might.

I can always resort to imagination, which is the most readily available means of transporting the self.” — “But imagination can lead us astray – into fantasy, the unreal, the unreal, and the grotesque; and it can tempt us into first picturing, the (too often) acting out evil.” – I’ve never considered imagination as escapism, only ever digital objects – this is an overlook perhaps of my generation. Now it seems obvious the original escapism is to daydream or imagine. It’s interesting to consider the difference between imagination and fantasy and think about their negative aspects not only positive ones.

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS – “And if the project is not food but a monument, a city, an empire, the amount of prior destruction, the exploitation of labor both animal and human, the sweat, pain, and death, add up to a picture closer to hell than heaven.” – The end point is the method of escaping (i.e. a house used to escape nature) but what has lead to it’s creation could take away from the “sanctuary” image we hold. – The escapism is lessened.

I haven’t even started yet and I’m raring to go, I don’t agree with everything Tuan has written, but that makes this all the more exciting. Stay tuned for chapter updates with quotes, thoughts and references.

Pecker Review

Pecker is a Film which explores the social interpretations of images and how these can effect people. Directed by John Waters in 1998 (who also directed the cult classic Cry-baby), Pecker is a young boy from a small town, he takes snap shots of everything, his grandma and her ‘lady marry’ statue, his girlfriend, and anything that passes him by. He gets his big break when an art dealer finds his work. At first it seems a good thing, but as people in New York receive his image in a different way he is threatened by law suits by his friends, and finds himself alone, having ruined the routine and comfort of his town. The story reminded me of Richard Billinghams work, what were just snap shots become iconic social documentary images to others. It’s a great, funny film which makes photographers and people having their image taken aware of the consequences images can have, both positive and negative. But as a photographer I found it a message of keeping you feet on the ground. Pecker always did and that’s what made him a great photographer, he never denied his heritage but instead embraced it and in the end uses his talent to benefit those he loves. With craziness, humour and truth Pecker is one of the best photography based films I have seen.