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.
of managing reality, self-conscious reinvestment. The self-conscious 59 Escape Attempts element in this mode of orientation is hopefully limited to the decision to become recommitted or involved; after that commitment we hope that it will recede. So the wife who has cynically derided the nature of marriage during many years with her first husband may hope to bury such selfconsciousness under the symbolic weight of the marriage arrangements which she undertakes for the benefit of her second.
forces—guilt, anxiety and a sense of the absurd —which pervade ‘normal’ sex. There is another category of games which we will be examining again in the context of therapy: mind games, socio and psycho dramas, fantasy workshops and the like. Taking seriously the neo-Freudian enterprise of nudging consciousness towards some state of pure play and innocence, unencumbered by the hang-ups of industrial society, some popular therapies have directed escapers towards finding liberation through games. The
itself might be a literal free area: away from home and work we can sit quietly in the dark, relaxed, out of play and anonymous. Hyper-awareness of this experience can destroy it: this is me sitting in a dark building in a seat which I’ve paid £5 for and watching some images flickering across a screen. For those who feel at home in the world, for those who simply want a temporary release from pressures and are not investing too much in this escape, there is little reason why such forms of
be broken by extending the night out with the boys into a whole lost week of drunkenness. 155 Escape Attempts But even this compositing of free areas may afford only a marginal increase in the size and density of our escape zone. The complexity of the life plan will resist much further expansion; at home a sick child needs looking after, at work an urgent report has to be written, there’s an overdue tax form to complete, the mortgage to be paid, the car to be serviced, the garden wall to be
repaired. Paramount reality is a world of timetables, routines, duties, responsibilities, fixed times, fixed places. We have to learn that our temporarily extended free areas are only ‘binges’, ‘arousal jags’, ‘crazy interludes’, ‘mad flings’, ‘escapes’. They are not stageposts on the way to some alternative reality. However consoling they may be, they still remain compartmentalized features of everyday life. How may this compartmentalization be broken down, is there any way in which the free