on Larry David, and running away from problems

"It’s like, I eat lobster. Do I go around pushing lobster on people? Do I say, ‘You must like lobster! It’s good, it’s good.’ It’s not only where you live. You go to Africa. You travel all over the world. ‘Eat lobster! Have some more lobster! It’s good. We want you to have lobster!’" - Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm, S2E9


We all need to escape.

From our job. Our friends. Our general hardships that come with being a human being.

And there are many forms that this escapism can take. Some choose to hike. Others learn a new instrument or play in a band. Even more just sit around and do nothing.

But for me, there’s perhaps no better way to get out of this world than to go ahead and jump into another – more specifically, the world of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

In the literal sense of the word, it's a ridiculous show. It’s nothing more than an absurd man winding up in absurd situations due to his absurd actions and their completely reasonable, yet somehow unexpected consequences.

But at the same time, despite its preposterousness, it's brutally accurate to the real world – accurate to the point in which I find myself saying ‘isn’t this something that Larry would do?’, ‘Larry would hate this’, in completely unrelated, mundane situations.

In a way, it’s done its job perfectly. The escapism has brought me to a point where I’ve begun to merge the real with the fake, the comedic with the dramatic in order to forget about my woes.

To the point where maybe it’s not escapism at all.

Phillippe Desan, in his introduction to Montaigne’s Essays, claims that human nature is nothing more than the “endless process by which people attempt to impose themselves and their opinions upon others through the production of laws, policies, or philosophies.” For Montaigne himself, it was “not that which really is, but what every man persuades another man to believe.”

Similarly, almost every episode of Curb contains a situation in which Larry tries to enforce his behavior onto another. Whether it be not taking his shoes off, taking the carpool lane by all means, or even making George a double-dipper in that Seinfeld episode, it was always a conflict of one’s laws or customs being inflicted onto another. It was always a matter who was right and who was wrong – it was exactly as Montaigne had prescribed.

Watching Curb wasn’t an escape from human nature at all. Sure, it may have made me laugh, or thrown me on a certain tangent through the Internet. But oftentimes, it was just a warped, comedic perception of what made me turn to it in the first place. It was exactly the thing I was trying to escape from.

And it’s not just Curb that reflects this. It’s not an anomaly that the show we watch, or the book we read is coincidentally sympathetic to our beliefs, our interests, our biases. We all think that we’re running away from our days, leaving our lives behind for a few minutes. We think that what we’re consuming is different, is challenging our norms, in a way.

Yet, we forget that the world we live in has made it practically impossible to do so. I’ve talked before about how we segregate ourselves into groups we feel comfortable with, and how we can’t watch the news anymore because it makes us uncomfortable. But apart from that, even through social media, through the algorithms we interact with, everything is curated. Everything’s a reflection of who we’re with, what we talk about, how we talk to each other.

The true meaning of escapism, what we’ve all been searching for lies not in forgetting then, in truly “escaping”, but in embracing the absurdity of it all. Like Sisyphus, eternally pushing the boulder uphill, we continue to watch Curb, or hike, or practice the drums hour after hour, day after day, knowing the futility of seeking a deeper answer within the comedic chaos.

And there’s a strange kind of freedom in that acceptance. In choosing to find laughter. In looking for connection, for resemblance in the face of the absurd. In acknowledging the meaninglessness without succumbing to despair. It's a sort of rebellion, a refusal to be defined by the occasional meaninglessness of our lives. A refusal to be put in a Sisyphean situation of our own, working alone towards our own demise.

Perhaps that’s what we were after all along. Not to escape, to be alone, to separate ourselves from the hardships that confront us.

But to remind ourselves that even in the midst of the ridiculous, of the absurd, of the double dipping – we're all in this together.