The Adventures of Dangerman
The Great Escape
To begin with…I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space.
When questioned whether the world itself was a prison, Hamlet replied that it was “a goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ the worst.” My first thoughts on reading this were that Hamlet had clearly never conceived of a gulag quite as dreadful as Calgary (Dangerman’s current place of exile).
However, it quickly struck me as odd how often we adopt perspectives relating our daily lives to some manner of jailing. Doomed to a cubical; saddled to a desk and blinded by pixels; chained to a relationship that feels more like familiarity and convenience than love; purgatoried in some endless engineering degree-program with seemingly no end in sight! What is it that compels us to reject the Matrix? Why do we look down on the relative comfort of steady living in pursuit of some imagined greener-grass?
Buddha’s four noble truths would suggest that this suffering of spirit we deliver ourselves to is actually caused by coveting that which we do not have and should not want. Further, that we perceive the absence of these things to be the source of unhappiness, which is delusion. The solution: stop wanting things you shouldn’t want, you deluders!
Sounds easy enough, but admittedly it also sounds like a bit of a cop-out. What is life if not to achieve things, to struggle against adversity and make ourselves better than we currently are? What’s wrong with wanting more?! More likely I’m simply misunderstanding Buddha and it’s actually about discouraging unchecked ambition and wanton material desire, the results of which I’ll agree do not lend to true happiness.
However, as far as prisons go and wanting to achieve some manner of escape, I propose there are only three options… Buddha would suggest the notion of prison is entirely in our minds and there also we should look for egress. Hamlet would probably just keep whining in iambic pentameter about accepting fate and ignoring any possible recourse. As for Dangerman…well, I would get the hell out!
Dangerman’s Four Ignoble Semi-Truths of Escapism:
- If you find yourself in a prison, real or imaginary, it is your sworn duty as a human being in full possession of a life that belongs to you and no one else, to seek your freedom by any means available.
- Follow MacGyver’s Maxim: Accept that any given problem can be solved with duct-tape, a Swiss army-knife, rubber-bands and a little ingenuity. A stylish mullet is also essential.
- To paraphrase Hemingway, the world breaks everyone, and afterward many are stronger at the broken places, those it doesn’t break it kills. Happiness might seem attractive, but it’s also boring and inevitably taken for granted. Struggle on the other hand builds character. Rejoice that engineering is challenging and not a complete waste of time.
- The first Dangerman, Patrick McGoohan — the proverbial “Prisoner” — possessed an imagination tortured by the notion of modern society crushing the individual; that we are all prisoners. In his honour, remember, you are not a number, you are a free person. Your life is your own.
Whether this article finds you deep in captivity or in free flight, I hope at the least it finds you satisfied.
Till next time,
 Hamlet – Act II Scene II
 “The Prisoner” and “Danger Man” are British spy dramas that were aired in 60s and remain cult classics.