Though he was a genius of the intellectual high wire, Kierkegaard was a philosopher who wrote from experience. And that experience included considerable acquaintance with the chronic, disquieting feeling that something not so good was about to happen. In one journal entry, he wrote, “All existence makes me anxious, from the smallest fly to the mysteries of the Incarnation; the whole thing is inexplicable, I most of all; to me all existence is infected, I most of all. My distress is enormous, boundless; no one knows it except God in heaven, and he will not console me….”
As professor Gordon Marino notes we now have a cure for that. Anti-anxiety drugs will play with our synapses in a way that we’re slower to be upset, slower to anger, slower to feel that something needs to be done, slow to feel the impulses to be creative. That is a bit of exaggeration. Anti-anxiety drugs do allow for those things if done in moderation. On the other end of the spectrum are not the Kierkegaards or Woody Allen’s who learned to deal with and focus their anxieties, but people who are crippled by them. For those and the people in between, who need just a little break from their anxiousness, those drugs are a miracle.
Kierkegaard understood that anxiety can ignite all kinds of transgressions and maladaptive behaviors — drinking, carousing, obsessions with work, you name it. We will do most anything to steady ourselves from the dizzying feeling that can take almost anything as its object. However, Kierkegaard also believed that, “Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.”
In his “Works of Love,” Kierkegaard remarks that all talk about the spirit has to be metaphorical. Sometimes anxiety is cast as a teacher, and at others, a form of surgery. The prescription in “The Concept of Anxiety” and other texts is that if we can, as the Buddhists say, “stay with the feeling” of anxiety, it will spirit away our finite concerns and educate us as to who we really are, “Then the assaults of anxiety, even though they be terrifying, will not be such that he flees from them.” According to Kierkegaard’s analysis, anxiety like nothing else brings home the lesson that I cannot look to others, to the crowd, when I want to measure my progress in becoming a full human being.
Whatever a full human being is. That seems to be, for the thoughtful person anyway, a life long process – in pop psychology and self-help books the dreaded self-actualization. Anxiety can be a great motivator. It can keep one from being late. From putting off family and personal commitments. It can spur one to seek answers. Even if one does not find them, maybe there is less dark and a little more light after the effort. If the anxiety gets all bottled up inside you could do what much of America does on Saturday night and drown it temporarily in beer. Or you could write, or exercise, paint, create the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Legos.
Some short fiction, Fire Flies — a story of fly infestation, “its buzz elevating to an agonizing register, before plummeting to the carpet in a smoldered fireball.”
This harmless phenomenon, called a roll cloud, forms where cold air drives low-hanging, moist warm air upward. Cooler temperatures condense the moisture to form clouds. Winds create the rolling effect.
Looks like the low-budget version of a Steven Spielberg film. Which makes it scarier.
meadow spring wallpaper. this will come out a deeper green on your computer. i’m not sure what the deal is with the internets and green.
Psychologists have a concept called “the fundamental attribution error.” Essentially it means that people tend to view their own behavior as a result of circumstances, while viewing others’ behavior as a reflection of their inherent traits. So, for instance, if we see another car making a driving mistake, we think, “that driver is an idiot,” while if we make a mistake ourselves we think we were distracted or sleepy.
This is a useful prism through which to understand Mitt Romney’s propensity to lie. He says lots of things that are obviously false and that he clearly knows to be false – particularly, but not exclusively, about his own record. But it’s not clear that this tells us anything about Romney’s character. Lying is what politicians do when the truth stands between them and their goals. I don’t mean to completely dismiss the role of character here. Some politicians are more comfortable lying than are others. But circumstance plays a powerful role.
It’s Romney’s bad luck that fate has dictated his only path to the presidency lies in being a huge liar.
I stand corrected. My impression was that at the initiation ceremony, after they drove an ice pick through that part of the brain which differentiates genuine morality from false righteousness, conservatives swore an oath to lie like their lives depended on it.
Good Old War – That’s Some Dream