57: Escaping Katrina

"'That's Lakeview,' says George, my boyfriend. Slouching in the window seat next to me, he casts swift, tightened glances at the ravaged earth below. Somewhere, down there, is his family. 'Over there,' he gestures vaguely. 'That's where the levee broke.' "Lara Crigger striggles to find meaning in escapism amidst the wreckage of a natrual disaster in "Escaping Katrina."

Escaping Katrina

I didn't want to read this article. As someone not physically touched by Katrina, I've been able to put aside detailed examination of what the survivors must have felt/feel or experienced. Lara Crigger did a masterful job in crafting an article that draws the reader in, and in a few short paragraphs makes you feel what she saw, and actually care about the people she is describing. I was very touched by the story--for the story of the experience, certainly, but more by her gentle and thoughtful reflections on human nature. George's seeming indifference to his warped Magic cards and poster, and how they only represent something that truly is permanent, struck a chord with me that is still resonating. Kudos to Lara, and please publish more of her work!

This article was very personal, and I thought Lara did a great job. It is said that it takes such a tradegy for us to realize that the material is not all that matters in life. I imagine I am not the only one who struggles with this. I believe that most people are motivated by a mix of two things: materialism and idealism. When the material is stripped away, a person becomes more aware of ideas, and for a time may be more idealistically motivated. It is hard to say that one is completely motivated by one or the other. A professor in college was giving a lecture on human motivation, and he said that he likes to think that he is more of an idealist, which he said is why he became a professor. Then he turned away from the board, pointed to his midsection (he was more than a little overweight) and told the class that it was obvious that he wasn't just idealistically motivated. It is a nice anecdote that helps prove my point nicely.

I think society as a whole is becoming more and more materialistically motivated, and less idealistically motivated. After 9-11, ideas were king. We came together under the ideas of America, patriotism, and revenge. Now, several years later, people are still dying for those ideas that we all believed in just a few short years ago, and what are most people talking about? The material. Around the water cooler at work, people are talking about the price of gas, and not what was so important a few years ago.

I am not saying that we stopped believing in the idea of America or patriotism, but it is that those ideas became less important over time, and we just pull them out for 9-11 memorials and the 4th of July. It is just that most people are more materialistically motivated than they perhaps realize, and an event like Katrina, 9-11, or the 4th can really give people a sense of understanding that there may be things in life more important than their Magic cards. The ideas behind the Magic cards: social interaction, being together with friends, happiness, etc. become more important in retrospect than the cards themselves.

An incredible piece of writing; the writer captures so much about the value of games in general, not only in times of crisis, but their value to us as people. The best Escapist article by far, in my opinion. I teach a course on games at a university, and I'll shove this in their collective stockings next week.

wolvesevolve:
An incredible piece of writing; the writer captures so much about the value of games in general, not only in times of crisis, but their value to us as people. The best Escapist article by far, in my opinion. I teach a course on games at a university, and I'll shove this in their collective stockings next week.

I guess there's no greater compliment than someone inflicting your work on an unwilling student body. :) Nah, just kidding. I'm glad it could be of use.

And thanks to everyone for the comments. It's always nice to hear that your work has resonated with an audience.

BTW, you were Slashdotted yesterday...

I just read the article, and as much as I thoroughly enjoy every issue of The Escapist I've come across, that's the best piece of games related journalism I've ever read. I can't really say why that is, but it reverberated deep down inside me somewhere and moved me. Fantastic article Lara: bravo.

You have taken game journalism to a new level. In an industry where every article seems to be motivated by mindless fanboyism or pure marketing (The Escapist excluded of course; most of the time anyway...) it's refreshing to see a piece of work that actually means something and evokes an emotional response. I only hope that The Escapist is able to continue to carry articles of this caliber and that Lara continues to contribute.

*Applause*

One of the best articles I've read in the Escapist. Deeply moving and insightful.

I add my *Applause*

Excellent article. I would only add that the useless nature of escapism in a society or community in crisis is also a matter of distance and immediacy. Those in New Orleans still dealing with Katrina's aftermath, and perhaps even New Yorkers now five years after the event, may find simple escapist fare rather trite, but in the rest of the country, simple and easy entertainments gained a great deal of popularity. The same of Astaire/Rogers musicals during the great depression. I'm wary of the "comfort food" theory to explain everything, but it makes sense that when a threat is immediate and obvious escapism is unimportant, but when a threat is abstract and distant (terrorism, economic depression) people find their world worrysome, and use entertainment as some form of relief.

But again, excellent article, let me toss in my *applause*.

 

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