File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2003/lyotard.0302, message 38

Subject: fear in a handful of dust
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 22:13:52 -0600


Certainly, I recognize there are various kinds of fear.  Once I was
hiking in the North Woods and accidentally came up on a brown bear about
50 yards away.  I certainly felt fear close to the bone that day. 

I think there are both strong and weak versions of the fear we
experience. Steve mentioned fear and trembling and I think it was
Kierkegaard who once described angst as fear without an object. That is
perhaps closer to the kind of fear I was talking about.

What I find so paradoxical about contemporary life here in America is
that in spite of the middle class's relative wealth and the high level
of technology (of which I confess I am a beneficiary) there is almost a
sense of regression with regard to security.  I wonder whether or not
our generation feels any less fearful than the generations that preceded
us.  My guess would be if anything we are more fearful. 

We fear more because in spite of our comforts because there is so more
chance and change today.  I may lose my job, there may be a terrorist
attack, I may come down with a terminal disease, global warming may
change the very conditions of the environment. It seems almost as though
a low-grade kind of fear has become a part of our atmosphere. Today,
Fear is the very air we breathe. 

Lacking the faith in god or the belief in progress we simply pass the
time and wait to die.  Fear is the natural response of an adaptation to
an environment that is unstable, uncertain and uncanny.

What I am concerned about is that to the extent I fear I can be
manipulated.  Fear is like the ultimate fetish of commodification.  The
products I buy do not offer happiness as much as freedom from fear.



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