File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2003/lyotard.0302, message 32

Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 10:28:23 -0500
Subject: Re: Fear.

Yes, Glen.  Yes.  Thank you very much for your generous 
thoughts and citations.  I'm putting Massumi, Badiou, and 
Altheide on my plate.

How fear activates conditioning is also a provocative 
intersection I'd like to meditate on.  

Can't say as I've experienced any real, sweating sort of 
panic since I was a kid.  I do get quite angry, however, and 
impatient, as I've mentioned, which, I think, does indeed at 
least touch on what you speak of with regard to our sense of 
impending harm.  My feeling is that the sense that impending 
harm is impending triggers an albeit minor sort of fear, but 
it is a fear that, broken down far enough... and I suppose 
I'll find this explored in Massumi... affects our quotidian 
experience fundamentally.  Yet perhaps your example of how 
someone who stutters learns to cope in advance is evidence 
that I'm chasing something of a red herring.  Perhaps fear is 
not so automatic and can be diverted successfully with 
practice.  But again, how free of fear can any one of us 
become and what might we look forward to as a result?  
Certainly, of course, I'm not trying to advocate the wooden 
headed calculations of "political" monologue, but quite the 
opposite.  What I seek is how to be more affective 
politically... if only to advance economic changes or to 
function as a better "intensity-conducting body."  

Thanks again for your wonderful indulgence, 

>The intro to the book "The Politics of Everyday Fear" ed by 
Massumi can be
>read here:
>The trauma you speak of seems it would initially be one of 
Badiou's events
>(event-uating the possibility of another reality/ possible 
world). The echo
>of the event is very interesting... I do not know enough 
>psychoanalysis to have a play with that idea though...
>David Altheide suggests there is a difference between 'risks 
and danger' as
>a signification of possible harm and 'fear' that is the 
emotional response
>to an imminent harm that should be avoided (188): "Risks and 
danger signify
>an awareness of potential harm, and they are often 
associated with specific
>acts or objects. [.] Fear is much different. It is an 
emotion. It is a
>general orientation that harm is imminent and that steps 
should be taken to
>avoid the source of fear [.]" (188). Altheide, David L. 
Creating Fear :News
>and the Construction of Crisis. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 
>I theorised fear in terms of being an essential element in 
the technologies
>of control utilised by the State to generate 'docile' car-
>(Commuters), so your example of the post-adolescent was 
great as it
>supported by general thesis (which was not about Commuters 
and fear, and
>more about Hoons (the reckless driving post-ad.) and 
different kinds of
>fear, mainly of a caged oblivion. I would argue they (hoons) 
are not
>apathetic, just that they have empathy and emotional 
investment in fields
>that wouldn't make much sense to the Commuter).
>Anyway... when a risk becomes a fear the ability to 'think' 
(in a critical
>Deleuzian sense) is lost, and conditioning takes over. Fear 
is an
>interesting intersection of the virtual and actual. Where 
the risk may seem
>to be (and probably is!) fully real it is albeit virtual, 
however, 'fear'
>processes this risk into an imminent and actual danger.
>A personal example is that I used to have a terrible 
stutter. I could hardly
>speak, and I am not sure how much this has effected me over 
the years. I
>have never encountered anything else quite like the feeling 
of knowing
>exactly what you want to say (the words, the spelling and 
meaning of the
>words) but simply not having the physical ability to speak 
them. (Except
>maybe when speaking to a pretty girl;) I still do to some 
extent however I
>'manage' my stutter so that I calculate the risk of 
stuttering (or having a
>'block') on certain words and manipulate the rhythms and 
selection of my
>spoken words to minimise the disjunctive rhythms of my 
speech impediment.
>However, the fear I have of stuttering is actualised by/into 
a visceral
>reaction (panic, sweating, further stuttering, etc), when I 
begin to stutter
>or know that I am particularly susceptible to a block or a 
stutter (ie when
>very tired), so that I am fearful of 'actually' stuttering 
(and not
>necessarily the effects of the stuttering). It can be quite 
>'choosing' every single word while maintaining 'normal' 
rhythms of speech,
>so much so that when I am not tired I speak very very fast 
(haha)... I have
>been somewhat successful returning to my managing my speech 
>calculating risks even when the fear of stuttering/blocking 
grips me, so
>that I force myself to 'forget' my fear (break the feedback 
loop generated
>that amplifies my visceral reaction) and relate to the words 
I speak on the
>level of a calculated risk. A bit like a politician I 
>I don't know if this is at all helpful?


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