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Record Type: Review   ID: 831

Our Sweetest Hours: Recreation and the Mental State of Absorption

Quarrick , Gene

This provocative work is on the role of absorption in recreational activities. Many of the activities considered also serve as triggers of EHEs. The range of the book is best portrayed by listing the chapter titles: "Absorbed Attention," Breaking Out of Everyday Consciousness," "The Enjoyments of Being Absorbed," "Story Enjoyment," "Ever More Absorbing Stories," "Recreational Drugs," "The Recreational Value of People," "Sexual Experience," "Motion and Emotion in Music," "Cultivated Diversions: Art," "Cultivated Diversions of Body and Mind," "Meditation: The Cleansing Awareness," "High-Processing Psychological States," "Low-Processing Psychological States."

Quarrick writes: "According to the view presented in this book, play is a contrasting and emergent condition that enhances the organism's sense of aliveness, rather than just serving the self's need for expression and satisfaction. Although the content of play is usually derived from everyday life, this is of secondary importance. What is of primary importance is the sense of diversion and contrast that is achieved, and the enlivening effect this has on the organism. All in all, it must be recognized that self is not a fixed trait in awake existence: it is a variable function that is "down" when play experience occurs. Self has an optimal level in everyday living, but depending on the conditions it can vary from this level. It can be intensified to a malignant degree, as it is in mental distress. And it can also be suspended to a beneficial degree, making possible play and mental relaxation.

"Today, scholars claim that Western civilization is being transformed by a new 'wave' or 'mutation,' characterized by affluence among the masses and the upsetting of the traditional work-and-play relationship. Affluence favors play, leisure, and diversion—as it has for the wealthy and the privileged throughout history. Affluence allows people to move beyond work and business, and develop the impractical but enjoyable spect of the organism—experiencing for its own sake. This, of course, is the specialty of absorption" (pp. 211-212, 213). It may be because of the latter situation that exceptional human experiences, fostered as they are by states of absorption, are being experienced by so many people.

Publisher Information:Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1989. 246p. Chap. bibl: 215-236; 2 figs; Index: 237-246
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