Escape Attempts: The Theory and Practice of Resistance in Everyday Life
Stanley Cohen, Laurie Taylor
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From sexual fantasies to holidays this marvellous book charts our escape attempts. In a series of dazzling commentaries the authors reveal the ordinary and extraordinary ways in which we seek to defy the despair of the breakfast table and the office But the book is much more than a first-rate cartography of everyday life. It crackles with important theoretical insights about how `normality' is managed. This fully revised edition contains a superb new introduction, `Life After Postmodernism', which exposes the conceits of the postmodernist adventure and which should be required reading for anyone interested in making sense of everyday life.
When esoteric sexual practices are described in detail in the pages of freely available literature such as Playboy, Penthouse, Forum and Mayfair, they serve both to guide and to normalize the individual’s own fantasy life. This is especially so if the descriptions are conveyed not in dramatic forms but in such styles as letters to the editor or highly scientific looking ‘surveys’—like the ‘Quest’ series in Mayfair. When 104 The Inner Theatre of the Mind sadists can buy their Gestapo uniforms
status. For much of the time fantasies merely help us through the day by providing the questionable reassurance that there is some portion of ourselves which is not fully committed to life’s routines and habits. Even this consolation can be rapidly undermined by any knowledge that we acquire about their dependence upon the common cultural stock. It seems that we have a poor legacy from the imaginative riches of childhood. The external world is now firmly separated from the inner, leaving behind a
generates these scripts—commercial co-option—also reminds us that individuality, mastery of objects and self-expression can just become commodities sold by professionals. In most conventional games and sports people can decide how much fantasy to invest in the activity. You can either just hit somebody with a padded glove or be striking a blow for black emancipation. But some games are much more explicit in exploiting fantasies. The adult parlour game is a good example. Playing Monopoly is
recognizes the religious significance of what has occurred to him. He has not had a blackout, a perceptual distortion, or a fit. He has been ‘converted’. Now the ability to conceptualize such experiences in this way is not universally available. In societies which do not employ the notion of ‘conversion’ in relation to religious experiences, individuals who experienced similar sensations to Ratisbonne would be faced with a choice between keeping quiet or else attempting to relate the experience
It would be tedious to spell out the numerous variations on the idea of patterning; in all attempts to distil the essence of the religious experience of the perennial philosophy, such a vision is dominant. The contrasting vision, that of the breakdown in connections, is perhaps most sharply indicated—in somewhat different ways—in various existential philosophies and in art movements like surrealism. The world of Kafka and Camus is stripped of connections and meaning; the absurb is the essence.