Sunday, June 18, 2006


I've heard it so often said that what Karl Marx said about religion is now true about (professional) sport. It is 'the opiate of the people'. But it is probably only the sort of people I know who think and say that.

I would say the truth is that escapisms like sport (and I don't mean participatory 'fun' outdoor recreation!) are becoming cheaper and cheaper to indulge in. At the same time the solving of the real problems of the global society are becoming more and more expensive and more and more difficult to solve as they burst out of the band-aids that are put on them. Some of these problems the media won't even touch. They are outside the parameters of debate to the media - for example population policy and the fertility of people who have no mental or physical capacity to bring up children in a manner that would make of them reasonably competent and well-intentioned citizens.

The rapacious greed of the average human being is one of the basic causes of not-being-solved global problems. Connected to that is the 'greedy' escalation of expectations and demand for greater and greater sophistication mainly to do with the 'image' rather than with the 'substance'.
(The child wants to be constantly entertained by technological wizardly, has no patience with delayed and worked-for satisfactions, wants to eat expensive stuff others have prepared for it, and off a dish that some other person will wash and make sure is sparkling clean for him of her.)

The other cause of growing difficulty with ever coming to grips with the world's disaster-inviting problems is growth itself the sheer 'overload', and the inability to check it or analyse what must be done. As a global community we can't even do anything about a disappearing species of inestimable value (though small, underfunded groups do try) - a species that has made pre-modern civilization possible before oil from the ground was discovered - now by bribary and corruption being hunted and cruelly slaughtered to probable extinction.

Escapisms are everywhere to divert us from this sort of thing. In my own way I am 'guilty' of falling back on it. I know that were I young I probably would have become an addict of sophisticated computer games. Even now I have been sorely tempted, and fell in by buying an extremely expensive complex game to be played on line with other players. And I bought it partly for my 11-year old grand son who is in danger of becoming an addict. There is now a clinic in Amsterdam for treating game-o-holics. Fortunately (perhaps) I have made a mess of trying to get into this game, and it sits on my shelf now seeming to be unworkable. I have also failed in trying to sell it on line.

Yet I am engaged in something rather similar to a complex computer game. That is, writing a fictional story involving old-style lords and ladies, kings and queens (but no unreal magic). It is a sort of escapism and the kind of thing that could be made into a game. Although it contains interesting observations on human nature and the beginnings of the modern world, there is nothing particularly original or world-shaking. Nothing will come of this writing that will make the slightest difference to the perilous condition of this world, the flight to escapisms and the escalating costs in trying to keep some semblence of a 'decent society' going in the parts of the world where it hasn't already pretty well collapsed under the weight of greed and collective pathologies or fanaticisms.


Anonymous tonya said...

The ultimate escapism is right now going on in Sweden - the soccer World Cup. It is a given topic at work and at social events, and when Sweden plays everyone is sitting in front of the TV. Except me, of course. When Sweden played against Paraguay last week I watched a play at an outdoor theatre (me and a number of middleaged ladies). Going home in the warm summer evening was almost eerie. The streets were more or less empty, and all was calm and quiet except for the blare of televisions sets in various pubs. Now and then the calm was broken by a great unison roar from all directions. Spooky! Imagine if people put all that involvement and energy into something that actually made a difference!

12:29 PM  

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