Wall-to-wall campaign coverage during this political season spawns a mind numbing experience.
Impatience sets in. Of course this is the most important election in decades. Maybe ever. Yes, our nation has reached a turning point. Depending on how the vote goes, we may never again see the government our founders envisioned. If Obama receives a second term in office his planned changes for America will be irreversible. That’s why I made up my mind and voted early (but not often as in “Chicago style“).
“Give me a break” resonates with emphasis. From my perspective, the two presidential campaigns are well defined. The choices are clear. Even the measures on the North Dakota state ballot are straight forward.
I need a break. Most of us do. “Diversion” is the operative term that comes to mind. So does “distraction,” “pastime,” “entertainment,” “amusement.”
Spectator sports, for example, offer respectable pastimes. Football season is young with standings far from established. Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday -- take your pick. Professional or college.
On the other hand, baseball playoffs offer excellent respite from campaign carnage. At the time of this writing the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were in close contention for the National League championship. After beating the New York Yankees in the American League championship, the Detroit Tigers advanced to the World Series which begins on October 24. Mercifully, the World Series will carry us almost to the end of the campaign season.
Between ball games I’ve found an even better diversion. The old TV series “The X-Files” is on DVD and offers as much fantasy as any presidential campaign.
The X-Files ran from 1993 to 2002, spanning 202 episodes over 9 seasons. The protagonists include two FBI agents in an improbable relationship. Fox Mulder (played by David Duchovny) is a believer in paranormal phenomena. The driving force behind his persona was the abduction of his sister by aliens when he was 12 years old.
His partner, Dana Scully (played by Gillian Anderson) is a medical doctor, and a skeptic by disposition, leaning heavily on scientific analysis.
Mulder is assigned to a very minor department in a cramped basement office dealing with unsolved cases (the X files). Although they are a team, it becomes apparent that Scully was placed with Mulder to discredit his ideas about aliens and the paranormal aspects of unsolved cases.
The storyline revolves around a nebulous government conspiracy to cover up the presence of extraterrestrials among us. A shadowy “syndicate” implements the cover up.
Skipping from one fantasy to another, a flight from the fantasy of politics to the fantasy of a superb TV series, might seem like switching addictions, but it isn’t. It’s escapism plain and simple.
To be clear, escapism is mental diversion through entertainment or recreation. It is the avoidance of the banal or unpleasant daily events of life.
Whole industries built around escapism flourish. Many healthy forms of existence (eating, sleeping, exercising) may convert to an unhealthy form of escapism if taken to extremes or out of context.
But, by and large, escapism is not necessarily negative. It certainly has an element of emancipation in an attempt to cultivate a different reality. C. S. Lewis was fond of pointing out that the usual enemies of escape -- were jailers.
I’ll be engaging in more escapism if the liberal socialists dominate the November 2012 elections.