Involvement and Detachment

"Involvement and Detachment", Norbert Elias, in "The Collected works of Norbert Elias", volume 8, University college Dublin Press, 2013

The fisherman, in short, found himself involved in a critical process which at first appeared wholly beyond his control. For a time, he may have clutched at some imaginary hopes. Fantasies of a miracle, of help from some unseen persons, may have crossed his mind. After a while, however, he calmed down. He began to think more coolly; and by standing back, by controlling his fear, by seeing himself, as it were, from a distance like a figure on a chessboard forming a pattern with others, he managed to turn his toughts away from himself to the situation in which he was caught up. It was then that he recognised the elements in the uncontrollable process which he could use in order to control its condition sufficiently for his own survival. Symbolically representing in his mind the structure and direction of the flow of events, he discovered a way of escape. In that situation, the level of self-control and the level of process-control were, one can see, interdependent and complementary.