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Chasing the (Literal) Dragon (theparisreview.org)
14 points by benbreen on Jan 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments

I don't really get this article. He wishes as a teenager he had spent more time reading serious works of history, but that's just not really what teenagers do. He talks about how most Fantasy novels are just escapism, but so are more novels period along with sports, reality TV, sitcoms, and scripted drama. Basically he's saying it would be nice if we didn't have to relax at all and spent all of our time consuming educational media but that's not what most people want to do to unwind.

It's academic humble-brag. "I wish I had spent my teenage years reading about queer domesticities in Edwardian England or Pan-Africanism" is just him saying, "I now read about queer domesticities in Edwardian England or Pan-Africanism, and that makes me a virtuous person."

Yeah, playing games of driveway basketball to fifty baskets didn't teach me a lot about history, either the type I now prefer to read or the type he thinks I should be reading. But my main regrets about driveway basketball are that I didn't think about what a dribbled basketball sounds like at 7 am, and that I didn't work more on my vertical leap.

And didn't C.S. Lewis say that those opposed to escapism are commonly called "jailers"?

> We escape to worlds that are safer and more understandable than this one, and nothing about, say, Ron Weasley’s casual racism can shed any meaningful light on our own, except to remind us that racism is pervasive. He’s an object in a wind-up world of one white heterosexual British woman’s devising; he cannot be the tool of anyone’s deliverance.

That is quite the unsubstantiated dismissal, and I think this author got a lot less out of the teenager's literary canon than I did. Maybe the self-anger should be directed not at failing to read works worthy of serious scholars, but at failing to recognize that the works that were read were in fact worthy of serious scholars.

I will suggest to the teenagers reading this that reading these works in community is very important (and the fanfic community is a great one for so many of the works in the teenager's canon). If you only see your own interpretation of the works, and your own interpretation is primarily about family trees of obscure half-ogres, you're missing out.

I read all that only to find that its author apparently misses being abused and so does it to himself.

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