Escape in a Good Story

Occasionally I’ll find myself explaining to someone why I love reading good fictional novels, or playing a video game with a really good storyline. Inevitably, I’d find myself describing some form of finding an escape. And this kind of puzzled me.

Why did I feel the need to escape into a good story? Was there something wrong with my real life? Maybe you’ve felt something similar.

I recently read something that put into words an explanation to this that more than satisfies the question I had.

“…we should note that it’s not what readers are escaping from but what they are escaping into that counts most. Most of us do not find fictional worlds appealing because we find our own lives despicable, though censorious people often make that assumption. Auden once wrote that “there must always be … escape-art, for man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep.” The sleeper does not disdain consciousness.”

source: The Pleasures of Reading in An Age of Distraction

I love that analogy. We all long for a good nights rest, but that doesn’t mean that we hate being awake. It’s just that the rest offers us something different that completes the time that we are awake. And that is why I love a good story.

Whether it’s a RPG (role playing game) on the Xbox, or C.S. Lewis’ land of Narnia, a good storyline captures the imagination and taps into something deep inside of us.

When is the last time you enjoyed a good story?

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, Aiden, and Abel. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Lead Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Portland.

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