American essayist Evan Puschak delivers a refreshing take on essays that are not boring, as most essays tend to be
Why was Ralph Waldo Emerson not so chill? Who really is Superman? And how many times can you watch the Lord of the Rings series? Evan Puschak’s muses about a wide array of subjects and takes you deep into his mind. Maybe to find life’s meaning. And to escape for a while.
Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars). From Emerson to Superman, Evan Puschak writes some of the best essays I have read. “Escape into Meaning” is personal and light to read without too many scholarly words that would keep away most casual readers. Reading the book feels like Puschak is having a conversation with you, one sunny day, sitting on a park bench.
In 2011, Evan Puschak wants to replicate the success of YA writer John Green. So he created a YouTube video as a springboard for his novel. The creator of the “NerdWriter” YouTube series did not succeed. But his video essay “How Donald Trump Answers A Question” became popular. “Escape into Meaning” is essentially his essays transferred from video to print.
The book is divided into chapters discussing various themes. But there are topics that I don’t care about like “Cyberpunk.” I know he’s trying to get to a point but the details are sooo boooring, not having played the game myself. But I get what he said about “the liberating feeling of disappearing into a metropolis.”
The chapter about Emerson’s magic is good and addicting to read. As a Tolkien fan, I also dig the “Escape Into Meaning” part which delved into the mythology of the Lord of the Rings and his experience in watching the films over and over again.
There’s a sort of melancholy on “Benches.” It feels like a love letter: “The bench allows you to step away from that herd. It transforms the surroundings into a place to be, instead of just a place to pass through. The simple act of sitting radically alters your relationship with the city, and the people you share it with. Public benches disappear into the background with whoever is on them, and in that camouflage, the bothersome ego can disappear, too.”
“Thinking in Ouvres” deals with his comparison of Yeats and Tarantino and there’s also a chapter about Jerry Seinfield’s own brand of standup comedy. Apart from the Emerson chapter, I also enjoyed reading “Superman is Clark Kent,” which discusses why the superhero is Clark and not the other way around. “To paraphrase Lois from Enemy of the People, Superman can thwart the hammer of evil, but Lois and Clark can go after the arm swinging it, and the system that grants it freedom of motion. The powers that influence the world are not always physical. In those spheres, as in the spheres of psychology and relationships, Superman is as powerful and powerless as anyone. In fact, his physical perfection makes him the ideal character to explore these parts of human nature. In him, the nonphysical is thrown into the starkest possible relief. A great Superman story shouldn’t turn on what physical might can do, but all it can’t.”
Puschak ends his book with his ode to friendships. “To quote the famous line: ‘Friends are the family you choose.’ They can also choose to walk away, much easier than family can, if the relationship ceases to be rewarding. To have good friends, you have to be a good friend. You have to be selfless and caring and generous.”
I’m a content creator with passion for travel, history, football, and anything on TV. Visit my YouTube channel onelostgeek for my travel stories. Business inquiry: firstname.lastname@example.org