Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself
In the closing summary of part one of the Physis of the Sinister, I concluded that all of humanity’s constructs, including the Sinister were reducible to an origin in fear. I stand by this and will attempt to illustrate why our internal behaviour and our external architecture has come about, why it has come about, and that it had its course set by the primal phenomena of fear.
The strength of my argument comes from a backward analysis of what humanity has created, the reasons why it creates it and continue to create it, and that this particular drive originated from the fear we experienced in the transition between Non-Being into Being. I am supposing that Non-Being is a tensioned state that does exist for the purposes of providing a tension to Being – which is another abstract, but which denotes a sentient semi-autonomous state (life) that the reader cannot deny.
Being; could be widened in term to encompass not just one’s causal life but the effects one has on the world that live on long after causal death; but in this case I have not widened that term and Being means a sentient autonomous state captured in the existence of the human organism (i.e. body).
It is difficult if not impossible to imagine what a priori non-being is like – with little to no evidence of reincarnation or an after-life. I therefore put forward that non-being is an absence of being (not death, but pre-life) until such time further evidence presents itself. It is not possible to be present in the womb where my thesis takes place – and thus my convictions about primal fear being present at our instant of transitional being are based on indicative behaviour exhibited by all human beings that denotes a specific treatment by human beings of all things.
All of a sudden – from non-being, we come to Be. When exactly the consciousness to receive stimulation develops in a fetus during gestation I cannot say and it still seems to be a matter of some debate – as illustrated by the sensitive issue of abortion and the definition of life.
But from nothing we are suddenly rushed into the world. Consciousness arrives and we attain senses, perhaps not so clear as to be touch, or sight, or hearing, or smell, or taste as we know them, but nonetheless there is a connection with ‘something’. It might be the texture of the watery uterine sac that triggers some stimulus in us, or some tiny psychic light that goes on, or perhaps darkness, or the sound of the mother’s heartbeat, the rushing of blood, the scrape of our tissues against the womb, or some other such sensation. But from nothing – to anything – is bound to be a tremendous shock and a profound experience – our first one. It is a shock that affects all of us, whether born in a womb or a test-tube and makes this inexplicable first encounter with being, inevitable and universal.
At this first point in our Being – we may not be considered alive by law of philosophy – but we are not dead, and we are not pre-life either. Whatever the world may term us, we are in a state of being that has emerged from Non-being. For the purposes of putting forward my point, and due to a lack of evidence, I am assuming that the tension of non-being is an opposing state to being that is soundless, tasteless, touch-less, sightless, smell-less, conscious-less/life-less and one might add lightless. And I believe the way humans interact after they grow beyond this primal state contains evidence that to go from this state of non sine qua to anything else exerts a tremendous and profound shock and an experience of fear that becomes the prime drive for everything that humans do – including why they behave the way they do and why they do what they do.
Firstly, the world is absolutely littered with examples of the lengths people will go to when they are afraid. We have individual examples such as the endowment of seeming superhuman strength when mothers are afraid for their children, of prisoners mutilating themselves to get out of a particular cell when they fear for their lives, of the enormous and exhausting web of lies and deception people will invent to get out of trouble, of the debilitating incapacity to act that cripples the body and mind, or the adrenaline rush that drives people to perform acts that are heroic, dangerous, or insane – for thrills, for war, for a cause, or a loved one, for example.
On a larger scale we have the example of Local, National and World Wars that have been motivated by losing land, power, resources, title, etc and the response to seek expansion, security, protection and prosperity for the National Ideal or their people at the expense of other Nations and their peoples. We have the Cold War: a nuclear arms race of extreme paranoia between the USSR and the USA that fearfully sought to conceal their own secrets from one another resulting in a massive and extended focus on espionage, spies, counter-spies, counter-counter-spies, double-agents, triple-agents, codes, misinformation, assassinations, covert killings, infiltration, propaganda and national fear campaigns. Fear of breaking sacred law or of not being immortalized got the pyramids built. Fear of invasion and corruption of way of life got the Great Wall of China built. Fear of reprisal gave rise to the secretive Ninja of Feudal Japan. Fear of God brought about the Crusades and the Inquisition, because God feared the Devil. Fear of other races brought about the Holocaust. Fear of losing brought the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fear of the sun, moon and sea, brought forth Gods. Fear of drowning brought forth life-jackets. Fear of the world brought forth form and the development of ways to explain it, control it, and conquer it. Why do we humans seek to conquer the world? We do so because the world is the embodiment of all our fears. We fear everything in all its tensions and opposites; Age, Youth, Beauty, Ugliness, War, Peace, Ourselves and Others. Because Buddhists seek to attain Zen, even Buddhists fear.
Our survival instinct is the strongest thing we have. Endless examples of what the human being can endure based on the will to survive are plentiful – because we fear not surviving, and we fear Death. Women’s biology urges them to have babies to increase the species, men’s biology urges them to procreate and increase the species – nature gives us little time before it takes it all away, and as a trade-off she lets us make little copies of ourselves to go on after we are gone. Procreation is motivated by the fear of our mortality.
These are bold claims are they not? I believe that if we had the strength to search ourselves we would agree that all our words, thoughts and deeds stem from an innate sense of fear. But many of us – are too afraid to do that.
What happens when we push our fears underground? Psychology will tell us that we create a shadow ten times stronger than the original fear that will erupt from our psyche in intense and unpredictable fashions – and that since we cannot face it as our own fear, project it onto others.
America’s fear of Islam is not new – Americans, originating from Puritans, have made a national ideology of fearing things, elevated their fear above and beyond all reasonable logic – witches, blacks, communists, fascists, jihadists, weapons of mass destruction, the devil…
Adolf Hitler cites his fear of a shattered German economy and state as his motivation for the NSDAP. I will now attempt to remove us from the typical moral weigh-in of abstractions against abstractions that often forces its way into such discussions to concentrate on what lies beneath, i.e. beneath abstraction.
In effect, he only cites abstracts – In effect, Germany is just a name, a word, a sound as are all the other forms on which he centered his reasons, as are all the forms on which any of us center our reasons.
If you were to ask each person of a country to precisely draw the borders of their country they would doubtlessly each draw a different approximation of the boundaries. Because while the exact borders of Germany to the nth degree might be of interest to the Gestapo – the average person does not know these, because “Germany” only denotes a vague area, not an objective one with any clear or universal demarcation. Likewise if you were to ask the French to draw the precise borders of Germany, I am confident they would all differ on this matter too – because borders, like Germany, are subjective constructs.
If you were to ask American’s to circle all the countries in which the US has armed forces stationed, how many would they circle? All of them? That is not correct. Only some of them? Which ones? Now ask them to circle the boundaries of their country. By law, the US Embassies that occupy land in other countries Are American soil and thus form boundaries of the US. But how many people would get it right? Can it even be gotten right? And how many would be aware if parts of those boundaries had changed or were presently changing at that very time? None of them. Abstracts are vague, subjective things, not universal or objective.
Why do we seek to conquer? To understand the world around us, to get to know the world around us – we name it, itemize it, categorize it, and break it down into manageable chunks and specialty fields.
When we are lost in a town, we look for signs that are familiar, ring a friend, ask someone for directions, look for street names or try to identify the way we have come. A mass of strange and unfamiliar things in an unfamiliar place presents itself to us and it is like looking at something incomprehensible. We might experience panic, or fear, or worry, or stress – but will seek to find our way out of being lost by finding our way. We employ a variety of means to do this; reaching out to others, avoiding danger, locating where we are in relation to somewhere else, looking for landmarks, processing information that helps tell us where we are and sharing information that helps tell others where we need to be, etc. Using this process to overcome the chaos of being lost, to re-orient ourselves in a place we do not recognize away from our comfort zone and the consistency humans desperately value, eventually we are likely to find our way back home. This same process is used in our communications with each other via our language.
This process is made much harder if we get lost out in nature however, where there are seldom any signs, very few people to ask for directions, things can all look the same, we cannot reach out to others easily, and if disoriented cannot locate where we are in relation to where we need to be.
Even still, we are not stripped of our innate faculties to comprehend. We can attempt to climb a tree, signal overhead planes, seek shelter and food, look for ridges we can climb to get our bearings, follow the stars, think of our loved ones for inspiration to survive, and formulate some sort of survival plan by processing the information around us.
In both these cases, we are lost, but still able to make sense of our situation. We can reason through elimination and deduction, analyze our surroundings for clues, or even guess which way to go based on the sun, stars, moon, and lay of the land or the flight path of birds. If we were to simply concentrate on the fact that we were lost, and this happens quite a bit to people, we would build up great levels of stress, panic and fear.
There are many examples where certain people need to be calmed or even forcibly sedated after becoming lost or fearful of their survival and fly off into a panic that imagines every worst scenario and risks demoralizing the rest of the group with negativity.
Those that survive overcome this initial feeling by staying calm, staying where they are, or thinking carefully and economically about what to do. In effect, they accept that they are lost, believe that they can be found, and just need to stay alive long enough for rescuers to find them. They formulate a plan, decide on courses of action, and carry it through despite any adversity. They do this by processing where they are, what is around them they can use, how best to use it, how often to use it, and so on. They restrict panic by making their surroundings familiar – they orient themselves using the land and the sky. They see how far they are up or down by looking around. They look for rivers, landmarks, mountains to get some sense of where they are and what they can expect.
They identify dangers, and can name things in relation to one another to control the chaos of being lost from being overwhelming. They do all of these things to keep down the level of natural fear. And they can do it because they have experience, instruction, abstracts, training, and the ability to think process and learn information. They have past examples of trees or being lost to go on, learned skills to rely on, memories that motivate them to get back to what they love, and generally a fully functioning physiology to transport them, orient them back into themselves, and keep them from losing control. They can do all these things because they have a body and mind with sufficient experience to deal with fear, and they do all these things to keep away the feeling of fear.
But what of the fetal consciousness that is suddenly brought into being and “face-to-face” so to speak, with some warmth or wetness or darkness which they have no word for, cannot think about, cannot name, have nothing to compare the experience to, and cannot even comprehend only sense and in no way limit, curb, contain, explain, or control this onslaught from non-being to being? Without any means to reason or understand, and given what I have said above of how very hard we fight to stave it off, what could be our first experience of life but the innate primal experience of being from non-being which is physiological fear?
Fear is a word and an abstract itself for something that is universal – but because it is universal it is different from the Sinister. Fear denotes that sensation we all have physiological experience with, by whatever name you call it that makes us all seek ways to decrease it.
Fear that we don’t look alright when we leave the house prompts us to look in the mirror – fear that we might be vain – prompts us not to look in the mirror. Fear that I might be right may cause you to question some of my assumptions, fear that I might be wrong makes me double-check mine and be ready to accept new evidence. Like hunger, fear doesn’t need a name for us to know it is there. The Sinister does.
The Sinister is merely a by-product of fear and we create these abstracts, moral or not, i.e. ‘Satan’, ‘Dad’, ‘Pineapple’ to control our fear and limit the chaos of the world into small boxes that we can manage. There is evidence for this in the scientifically proven fact that humans limit the total information they receive, filtering sounds and sights and so on into relevance so that they do not hear or take notice of all of them – which is widely believed to be something that would simply overwhelm a person and drive them mad – or at least unable to discern one stimuli from another and so completely incapable of processing anything. We are white-knuckle frightened of that kind of Chaos – because it reminds us of our first experience with Being.
Even those that supposedly seek to promote Chaos use systems of order to limit it and prevent actual chaos from occurring – especially to their own forms.
Yet no item that we group as ‘fruit’, and then individually isolate further as a ‘pineapple’ is identical. No two pineapples are the same, nor is space the same – and I am going to have to use a neologism here because no terminology exists for this – nor is anyone’s spatial ‘gridding’ exactly the same – in that we each place different visual frames around things that changes how we view and interpret them.
If there were ten people on an island looking down the beach where there were some huts, a fishing pier, and a pineapple tree – and you asked people to describe what they saw, it is doubtful all of them would mention the pineapple tree because we each naturally perceive different things as important if not asked to focus in one some particular aspect.
If you then took them to the pineapple tree, asked them to look up and describe what they saw – you would most likely get answers along the lines of ‘sky’, ‘tree trunk’, ‘leaves’, ‘a pineapple’. But if you could somehow have the frame of reference people used to box in those items highlighted in magical glowing lines that demarcated what objects they perceived and the boundaries of those objects as separate from the scene they were asked to look at – we could then compare what objects they pulled out of the totality of available abstracts to what a geologist, painter, philosopher, botanist, thief, royalty, or smart-ass would choose to demarcate from the totality and bring into focus.
A geologist might say they see a good example of a surviving ‘genus’ from the ‘cretaceous’ era that only grows on volcanic basalt. His gridding would extend underground to relate the scene to the rock beneath – and perhaps outward to relate it to the world in general, or even as far as his laboratory back home where he has samples of some work related to this genus awaiting his perusal.
A painter might see the opportunity for a still life painting by noting the scales of the pineapple and the way the light is hitting the tree or fruit. For them their gridding focuses in more closely on the pineapple in detail, the colours and interplay of shadow in and around the folds of the leaves and fruit and the effect of natural light on a possible subject.
A philosopher might see the exercise as futile and fade the scene out altogether in favour of some abstraction or deconstruction of the scene and their place in it, including the futility of the question, of fruit in general, or trees in particular. They may see an analogy in the scene somewhere that the pineapple is like us, hanging on for grim life until we are ripe and fall from the tree of life to be consumed or plucked before our time. Their gridding might fluctuate between scene and world and encompass the works or vision of a respective philosopher who had such things to say.
You might introduce new elements to the scene and think about the sand under your feet, or the noise of birds, or why you are on an island in the first place – the possibilities are presumably endless.
There is no way to know what will appear within a person’s gridding when they are naturally contemplating an object or perhaps even when they are asked to focus on a specific part – because the object does not exist, only subjectivity does. If you ask them to focus on the middle of the pineapple some will find a spot halfway up and look at that, some will think about the center of the pineapple inside the fruit and focus on that, some quantum thinkers may find the center of anything impossible to find, and others may make further unpredictable interpretations.
If peace for me means war against the Magian, sinister bloodshed and rallies to arms, and I communicate that part but forget to add specifically that no one should hurt my family even if they somehow come under the umbrella term Magian and you hurt my family because you believed you knew what peace meant for me in its totality – did you ever really understand what Peace meant for me?
What I place a grid around to mean Peace is always going to be vague to someone else. What I envision suffers from going from my idea into the world from many different filtering processes.
My sense of what peace means is not concretely defined in thoughts – it is a vague semblance, a notion, a dream without clear and precise boundaries. I attempt to define these boundaries to describe my sense of peace in translation in voice or word, but in doing so, immediately have to rein my free-floating dream of peace into a rigid container of words or speech. Since it is a moral subject it can no longer be as vague and undefined or malleable as it was in my head so that I can change my mind and include or exclude things without upsetting anyone trying to enact my sense of peace. I also have to omit things; it is inevitable because of the acausal connections of association we make with each and every abstract, a huge inter-connected web that is tied into everything else in some vague sense or another.
I have to omit things because I can never write down all the content in my head – I have to limit it and find what is relevant to “Peace” not what is relevant to what I had for dinner, even if that is somehow relevant to peace, as something I would do during peace for instance, for me.
In writing things down or voicing them, I suddenly lose the freedom ideas have in the head and bring into being say, thousands, of collective associations that are automatically made with the topic of peace by the consensus of language and mutual agreement – and also risk having the endless supply of individual other senses of peace others define being attached to my own. Also, the minute I write down a sentence, that sentence takes on a life of its own and requires, even forces, the accompaniment of other words, and other concepts to take place – because that is something language does.
So much is lost in translation from free-formed thoughts to express and thus limit the massive scope of total inter-connected human thoughts that the idea suffers inconceivable damage and turns a super-connected stream of conscious acausality into a narrow-minded tunnel through which only a portion of the original intent can be forced.
Once it has been channeled through this tunnel, it is now a shadow of its former self, but still subject to any number of further distortions. How and what the writer has expressed will have an unpredictable effect depending how they have expressed it – at the time they have expressed it – what others are expressing – if others are expressing something similar (and it becomes similar because language makes one thing look much like another) – who the writer is – the climate, culture or country in which they write it – and many other variables. It may also depend on whether the idea is written on prison toilet paper, scrawled on a brick wall, annotated in a diary, chiseled on a stone tablet, written in the sky, posted on a website or blog, published by a respected guild in a book, elaborated to a scientific symposium, or presented as an edict from the King.
The idea will undergo changes that cannot be predicted due to the number of variables that being thrown into the world and separated from home cannot avoid and the absolute chaos of a mine-field these variables create that must be navigated to reach the other side of translation from the thought process intact. But even this is only half the battle.
How that stripped-down, limited omission, channeled into voice or language will then be perceived is up against a whole new range of problems including personal interpretation by every reader – but even worse to come – re-interpretation by other readers, and almost certainly, other writers. What we managed to salvage together from our original web of numinous connections has now become chained to the world and at the mercy of its proclivities.
Many people relate the name Einstein to genius and credit him with the Special Theory of Relativity, E = mc2, but there is strong evidence that Poincare’s and other physicists had already formulated identical theories. Poincare’s ideas even if they were first, were struck from the historical record as first, and credit given to another, based on a re-interpretation of events and their time-line by other writers – writers in scientific circles who commanded the agreement of many influential people and people in power.
The original events that took place are always forever lost to us due to omission, filtering, perception, bias, and re-translation of them by a succession of writers who each based their foundations on what was previously written down about these events – until many stages later, the events recorded are changed. The condensing of these events is not limited to discoveries of theories – but world events and indeed that tablature of lies and half-truths; History.
But while facts and truth are esteemed abstracts that science and the world supposedly collectively strive for – our world can only ever be built on fabrications. The problem with Law and the Judicial System for instance are that those who preside in the Jury, or act as Judge were not present to observe the crime itself and must rely on evidence. Evidence is always a matter of opinion, but is the only thing that can connect someone to said events. But often evidence is translated second-hand by Solicitors and Lawyers who seek to present the evidence or testimony in such a way that it condemns or absolves.
History is an art of falsification and fabrications too, causing any number of headaches for those who do try to get to the source of its veracity, but even when it is proved wrong – just like propaganda, History breaks things down to the lowest common denominator.
For instance, our chronological measure of progress in evolution is measured by certain events. Maps and thus the knowledge of certain landmasses, is taken into account to work out who came from where and at what time. America still teaches that Christopher Columbus discovered America despite the fact that he didn’t.
The entire explanation for the evolutionary development of our technological processes and exploration dates is thrown into question by Icelandic maps that show carefully charted maps of the coastline hundreds of years before maps were supposed to exist. This throws all the careful calculations of how and when we migrated and what technologies we had when, into dispute. As do the Dead Sea Scrolls which greatly contradict the established text of the Bible.
But despite the evidence – we do not often change history to suit the truth. Yes, because it would be an incredibly difficult logistical exercise to have to re-print books, flags, correct facts, and make suppositions about anything – which is unavoidable – but which omission of fact concretes my assertions. And no, because that is not what history is for. History is a re-write, a translation of events, by which events means linear causal time constricted to key players or groups and personages – not the totality of human beings who may or may not have had a role to play in said events, or that were omitted from record. Just as the totality of thought is reduced to a sliver of what it used to be when we express an idea, so is History reduced. So is everything reduced…
Our world is built on nothing but fabrications. Fabrications we do not seek to address or change to reflect new evidence in spite of our insistence of this practice in Law. Why are we happy to let these fabrications be treated as facts, as reality, as totality?
It is not just because they are convenient – necessary – that nonchalance masks something else. Why are they convenient, why are they necessary? It is because they serve the function of limiting things. Because they make the calamitous experience of being measurable, definable, reliable, consistent, and comprehensible. And why do we need these things? Because nature quite frankly terrifies the living shit out of us, our nature, the nature of others, and being part of nature herself. The only way to control the enormity of it all is to break it down infinitesimally so that we get right down into universes, planets, tectonic plates, continents, countries, nations, capitals, states, cities, towns, villages, houses, rooms, furniture, solids, gases, liquids, particles, mesons, quasars, quarks, dark matter, anti-matter, the acausal… It all serves a purpose of explaining what we do not know – the fear we experienced when we came into Being and the need to control it. The need to invent names, language, symbols, descriptions, titles, sounds… anything at all and everything at all to stop from being afraid.
Those who supposedly do not fear do fear. They fear any number of things, they start fights because they fear what others think, what others will think of them if they do not, they fear being weak, they fear being trampled, they fear being the victim. Those who are supposedly fearless, fear letting others perceptions down, fear not being fearless, or like every single one of us – has their own network of private fears that shape the way they deal with the world.
All the things we create to cover the formless mass that we chop into grids to isolate objects and interpret reality are grounded in attempts to keep away fear. Everything we build, or raise up, or write about, or go to war for, everything we say, is grounded in a compensation for that one horrific shock for which we had no defense, no choice, no way to lessen, of the primal fear of non-being into Being. Of this, there is more than ample empirical evidence and to the contrary merely rabid non-acceptance.
In Part 3:
Part 3 of this essay will contend that in the moment we first conquer or lessen the all-pervasiveness of fear in our being – we discover Love. Love is the absence of fear, the tensioned opposite by which fear becomes known, and countermanded. Love is the reason we find solace in objects, in others, on ourselves, in control, power and conquering fear or seek to – which is simply because it beats the alternative. Our world was built on Love by Fear; we covered the earth in architecture and names so that we would not be afraid, and that we would know only Love. This legacy, begun by our world ancestors, continues – ingrained since forever in all of us as habit – but without any consciousness knowledge of what we are doing and why; because we would all rather forget. To forget is to know love.