Author Topic: Escapism  (Read 547 times)

nuduke

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2019, 10:33:42 PM »

Quite so!
John

BlueTrain

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2019, 02:49:59 AM »
I hesitate to make another comment here, partly because I don't want to monopolize the thread. You may tire of me.

If we go back in time, or rather, if we could, we might be surprised at the technology. The technology of a hundred years ago, and to only a slightly lesser extent, in Thoreau's time, were not so much primitive as it was different. Oh, one would certainly notice the differences, no doubt about it. The lack of electricity is probably the first thing you'd miss. And motor vehicles. Those things were around a hundred years ago but not everywhere. And of course, they were totally absent when Thoreau lived. Steam power was the energizer of the industrial revolution and even then, not everyone was happy about it. Now we worry about robots. We do, don't we?

But I don't think Thoreau wanted to live a primitive life. He wanted a simple life, although one wonders how stable his life was. In any event, he stated that he "went to the woods" to transact some private business. That is, he was going to write, although it would seem that much of his time was taken up by the affairs of his daily life, lived simply. In the book, he also stated that he no longer lived by Walden Pond.

There have been a few others who managed to live the life they wanted, something like Thoreau did. One such person was Richard Proenneke, who lived alone in a log cabin that he'd built himself. It was in Alaska deep in the bush. He was 51, I think, when he built his cabin. He was not a survivalist, though. He did depend on supplies flown in periodically and he supported himself partly by filming wildlife for either the National Forest Service or the Park Service. His journals have been published and are really nothing more than a good and fairly well-written record of his day to day living. He is better known as the subject of "Alone in the Wilderness," a full-length video. He doesn't really mention that he was escaping so much as he just loved living there. In fact, he described it as retiring there.

I might even go out on a limb and say there are people everywhere living out their lives in a simple way, never wondering for a minute "what it's all about," and just growing where they are planted, happy as they can be and thankful for what they have. It takes us well-educated and sophisticated types to worry about living, never happy or content with anything.

jbeegoode

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2019, 05:46:03 AM »

I might even go out on a limb and say there are people everywhere living out their lives in a simple way, never wondering for a minute "what it's all about," and just growing where they are planted, happy as they can be and thankful for what they have. It takes us well-educated and sophisticated types to worry about living, never happy or content with anything.
Oh, my thoughts are that there are plenty among the, "just don't know any different" people who have "what it's all about," on their minds. That's why there's religions, people often think about these things. Simple life doesn't equate with simple minds and wonderment.

On the other hand, I get what you say. Depends on the individual personality...which leads us to Ralf Waldo Emerson and his writings on individuality... a Transcendental guy.
Jbee
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BlueTrain

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2019, 12:37:02 PM »
To be honest, we never really know what other people are thinking. We can only infer such from their behavior, sometimes. Even so, we can still be surprised and often are. That is, if we actually associate with enough people. Yet we still have occasion to say "what were they thinking?" from time to time.

I did not mean to imply that simple living was for simple people (or simple-minded). And likewise, it should not imply that it is easy. If you heated and cooked with a wood-burning stove and carried water from the spring, that would be work, a lot more work than turning on the spigot or the gas. But you wouldn't get a bill every month, provided you had a woodlot. When I lived in the country as a teenager, the wood came from the sawmill, which cut up slabs from logs just the right size for a stove. But you had to do the splitting yourself and that's work, too, believe me. Escapism would never enter your mind if you did those things.

nuduke

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2019, 05:01:50 PM »

I'd like to be like Thoreau or a hermit in the wilderness....but just for 3 or 4 days with a well stocked supply cupboard, internet access and in warm weather! :D :D
John

BlueTrain

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2019, 06:56:01 PM »
I wouldn't have called Thoreau a hermit and I have doubts about what people call wilderness. One person's wilderness is another person's home. As for living somewhere else, all I can do is wish. Someday perhaps we might move but just moving a few things around the house makes me dread moving. Still, I can dream.

I don't really want to be a hermit. I'm already close enough to being a recluse. You can be a hermit or recluse almost anywhere, provided you can manage to get the necessities of life, which does not include internet access. There are several kinds of places that interest me but I'm not so sure I would want to be in the middle of the woods. That's too close to where I live now. Looking from the front of the house, I see the street and the house across the street. From the back, I see nothing but woods, at least when the leaves are out. So, wherever my dream house might be, I'd like a place with a view. Privacy almost doesn't even make the wish list.

Peter S

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2019, 07:57:24 PM »
Many here dream of a cozy thatched cottage in a village with roses round the door. The reality is old, ill fitting woodwork that lets in drafts, small windows that keep out light, small rooms infested with assorted wildlife, thatch that costs a fortune to replace every so often if you can find a thatcher, and sky-high insurance bills because of said thatch. And the roses round the door get greenfly.

Such things are dreams made of.
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BlueTrain

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2019, 09:25:10 PM »
Songs, too. There are Country & Western (though not very Western) that mention log cabins with flowers around the door and little churches in the wildwood. Such things exist, to be sure, along with mill ponds, skinny dipping, family reunions, country roads, deer hunting, RFD (rural free delivery), Warm Morning stoves and pictures of presidents on slabs of cedar. But there are also songs about trains and train wrecks, coal mining and river boats, all of which still exist, too.

jbeegoode

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2019, 10:15:26 PM »
I was also thinking about those of us on earth who live in what is labeled as poverty, third world and subsistence. There are a fair share of philosophers and religious outlooks among those people. Many get along well and haven't changed much for generations. Modern people are diminishing much of that reality.

So, making a balance by taking the healthy aspects of the old and rustic and pulling what is good out of the 21st century. Our ethnocentric perspectives keep us prisoners. For example, squatting is lost to us westerners, but it is healthy and we are getting sick and injured by not incorporating that into our lifestyles. Japanese getting up from pleasant tatami's on the floor several times a day, just may be the balance there. One must not forget one's biological roots for a new idea.

Instead of stressing about getting and trying and possessing "the latest," maybe reusing, recycling, reducing, getting creative instead of throwing away, and kicking back and focusing on good healthy food, like some "Good Earth Magazine," would be better and contribute to quality longevity.

So, am I talking about escaping from the modern rat race, by gathering fewer toys and moving more, or am I moving toward the honing of a life well lived and finding my own definition of that, like more natural by living without clothing as much as I feel, among other choices?

People tend to define themselves into roles, expectations, stories about who they should and shouldn't be, personas and myths with aspects that may work as tools for a part of a life, but ultimately need to change. I figure the more stripping away of these stories, the clear healthy function can be arrived at. Like stripping off a business suit at the end of the day, meeting people not in a costume, but just the naked truth at a given moment.
Jbee
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BlueTrain

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2019, 11:55:33 PM »
Much depends on what you think your own rat race is. Likewise, much so-called primitive technology was at one time the latest thing and people wanted it for good reason. That wood-burning kitchen range? That's not so old. Two hundred years ago, cooking was done in the fireplace. Even fireplaces evolved and Thoreau mentioned the Rumford fireplace, relatively new at the time. But don't misunderstand me.

I somehow manage without watching TV (my wife, however, can't), don't wear a watch, don't have a smartphone. Yet I certainly have a computer with internet access. So, do I have a simple life or not? Not really but I don't belong to any organization that takes up time (used to, though). I have no real commitments, other than to my wife, something that gives some people trouble. If you want more time for yourself, that's what you do: you don't give it to other people, in a manner of speaking. It is a little selfish, I suppose, and I do miss some of the associations I used to have, including at work.

On the other hand, I don't worry about eating healthy. I'm 72 with no health problems that can be related to food and eating but I'm certainly aware that I'm 72. My weight has been constant and I do get enough to eat, so I figure that part of life is covered well enough. I do think, though, that we as a society have lost things that some other societies still have and which we used to have, or so we like to believe. What we seem to have lost is community. It varies, though.

Someone said we know people on TV better than the people across the street. That's possible but my father did not generally know the people who lived on our street in the 1950s especially well. Why not? He was away at work six days a week. Ironically, he knew a lot of people in other places because he was a truck driver on a route up until he retired at age 62. I worked until I was 71.

One of the things we have lost is that old people are usually not cared for by their families the way they used to--or so we believe. Some families were large (my father was one of 13 who lived), others not so large. But my grandmother was cared for at home until she died in her 90s. If an older person had no family and could not manage by themselves, they might be cared for by the county but counties (these are American counties I'm referring to) don't provide services like that anymore.

But the world is full of surprises. I've been watching a number of rather short videos made in Nepal of mostly farmers and sheep herders way up in the mountains. Some of them are of people taking wool blankets to a market, carrying everything on their backs. The villages are quite isolated and appear not to be accessible by wheeled vehicles, not even carts. Haven't seen any pack animals, either. The villages look ancient, too. Then, in one video, at a wool or blanket market, someone pulls out a cellphone. So don't be fooled.

So, escaping the rat race may not mean escaping the pressures of life. Different people have different pressures and different ambitions.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2019, 01:50:37 AM by BlueTrain »

John P

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2019, 12:27:31 AM »
For those of us who live in prosperous countries, the modern world gives us an expected lifespan of over 80, and free instantaneous worldwide communication so we can tell each other how awful it all is.

Thoreau said "Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind." He died of tuberculosis, aged 44.


BlueTrain

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2019, 02:04:31 AM »
There is much to admire about Thoreau, like the time he went on a hunting trip to Maine as chaplain, as I think he put it. And we base all of our admiration for his simple living by only a couple of years of his life, too. The best thing of course is his writings. In Walden, he was very frank and detailed about things in a way to emphasize their importance in everyday life and even mentioned that he had to borrow some things to begin work on his cabin. The really remarkable thing is how readable the book is, compared with contemporary writers. Poe, for instance, is fairly difficult to read, although more movies have been based on Poe's writings than on Thoreau's, for what it's worth.

Poe also died, it is believed, of tuberculosis at the age of 40.

John P

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #27 on: July 04, 2019, 06:13:47 PM »
My favorite escapist poem.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnightís all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnetís wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heartís core.

eyesup

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2019, 07:19:42 PM »
This discussion of how things were better back when always puzzles me. We tend to idealize things we donít remember. Mankindís lot today in total has never been better. Which is a very sad commentary on human history.

I was lounging by the pool once, something the average man seldom did as little as a hundred years ago, when a very young person only a short time in the real world made a comment about how wonderful and exciting it must have been to be a prince or princess.

I asked if they were aware of history and how few people ever were actually those things and how tough life was for everyone else. The reaction was a bit defensive.

Those that have, keep it by ensuring that no one, or few others, ever also have it.

Quote from: Thomas Hobbes
. . .  which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."

Duane

BlueTrain

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Re: Escapism
« Reply #29 on: July 13, 2019, 03:20:30 PM »
It's called Romanticism. But there used to be a lot of castles in some places and lots of princes and princesses, too. Germany seems to have a castle on every hilltop, except that few of them are in decent shape. They don't have many princes and princesses, either.

Although there were some good things lost over the years (can't think of any right now), there were good years and bad years, and come late winter and early spring, you would be running out of things, too. The lord in the castle was probably no warmer than the serfs and peasants living at the bottom of the hill but undoubtedly better fed. Same with those living on the frontier in America who, in some places, were in 1940, still living pretty much the same as people lived in 1840, in some cases, in the same houses. That was true in one place I lived in West Virginia. Horace Kephart referred to people in those places as 'our contemporary ancestors.' But 1940 was almost 80 years ago, a very long time in human terms. They didn't even have electricity in 1940 but that was unusual. Now they even have city water.

In an old movie, a travelling salesman finally made it to the general store somewhere deep in the mountains after an arduous journey. Apparently he had a very difficult time getting there and he asked one of the local people hanging around the store how they got there. The answer was, "We were born here." It isn't a lot easier now.