File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2003/lyotard.0302, message 42

Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 19:14:35 +0000
Subject: Re: fear in a handful of dust


I'd read the below as suggesting a nostalgia for a moment when 'fear' 
was not all pervasive. I'm reasonably sure that this is not what you 
mean so could you expand on this a little more to clarify, perhaps, the 
difference between 21st Century fear and perhaps 1973 and 1700? Is there 
a difference between phenomenoligcal 'fear' in Kierkegaard's time and in 
the present?


Eric wrote:

>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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