Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan – Preface

Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Baltimore & London
1998

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

Preface

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.

Ishiuchi Miyako – ひろしま Hiroshima

Ishiuchi Miyako

ひろしま Hiroshima is a series by Ishiuchi Miyako, is consists of 45 large scale photographs of clothing from the victims of the 1945 atomic bomb at Hiroshima. The series was made in 2008 and has been exhibited worldwide. The depiction of the clothing brings an emotional feeling to the viewer, it makes us think about who used to occupy these clothes and what they must have gone through.

 

 

 

Photo by Vitor Munhoz – http://satellitegallery.wordpress.com/2011/11/26/art-history-and-hiroshima/

others explorations of Japanese escapism

With my newly focussed idea I decided it would be best to look for articles and essays written on Japanese Escapsim and see other peoples take on this aspect of Japanese Popular Culture.

Bloggers without borders – “Japanese escapism

Article Link – http://bloggerswithoutborders.com/2012/08/30/japanese-escapism/

 This article starts off by talking about how Japan is the place to go if you are looking to escape, whether it’s through video games, manga and themed restaurants. It then contradicts this with a link to Japanese suicide rates and pressure to create perfection and be the best you can. Linking these two juxtaposed aspects within Japanese Culture to explain why there Popular culture is so connected with escapism and is so intense. The same ethics are used in the work place and in entertainment. All or nothing. It then goes on to explain about the culture of Otaku (Geeks, Freaks, Obsessed), men (predominantly) who work hard a are well educated and have good jobs, but who then have an alter ego, obsessed with teenage girls and anime. A great social group example of both worlds.

Key Quotes:
“I’m not aware of any other nation where fantasy, escapism and the cyber world have fused with such intensity.”
“As Japan is very regimented and cold. So, pop culture, is everything but regimented. Pop culture in Japan is all about creating a world where anything is possible.”
“could it have anything to do with the great despair the Japanese live in? There is no country where there are so many complaints about the great expectations every one has to live up to. Maybe these expectations are just too much for many and they seek enjoyment in the alternate universe of Otaku.”

NY Times – “Japanese Obsessions

Article Link – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/opinion/15iht-edcohen.html?_r=0

Oddly enough this article begins at a Japanese Gym, where the writer Roger Cohern see’s images of food whilst on a treadmill. he began to be mesmerised by this strange addition to workouts which he had never seen.

The exploration of Japans intense popular culture is broken down into 4 sections in this article.

Wealth- Japans economy is strong, but whilst they are one of the wealthiest countries they have not gained the leading position in exports and products that was expected, China has that role now. So Japan is left somewhere inbetween America and China, with lots of money and no heavy restrictions on where it should be spent.
Postmodernism –
Conformism – The individuals need to escape from millions of other doing the same thing in the same country.
Dispair –  Natural disasters and economies all around collapsing.

Key Quotes:
“I’m not aware of any other nation where fantasy, escapism and the cyber world have fused with such intensity.”
“My sense is that four factors have contributed to this: wealth, postmodernism, conformism and despair.”
“Japan is also moderately bored. The days of rising Japan Inc. when the former U.S. ambassador in Tokyo, Mike Mansfield, could speak of U.S.-Japan ties as “the most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none” and fears of a Japan takeover were rampant — those days are gone. China has occupied that space.”
“So what’s left for this comfortable, perfectionist society of narrowed ambition is otaku escape, the games I found myself playing to fool exhaustion as Chinese dumplings adorned the treadmill. “What’s all this food?” I finally asked a man on the neighboring machine. He had no doubt: “Things you should not eat.””