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'Philosophy of Fearism' Offers Treatment for Fear Patients

-an Interview with Desh Subba

 Desh Subba 

Some years back he wrote a novel 'Insult' that made him popular; he then brought out a non-fiction book 'Philosophy of Fearism.’ More than a decade later he is leader of the' Philosophy of Fearism' movement. Deepak Sapkota talks with Subba on the foundations of Fearism:

Deepak: You have written a book Philosophy of Fearism. You have said, world, earth, life and air of our breathing, and there is also fear; “everyone lives in fear.” Do you want to extend fear’s importance?

Desh: It is not my intention to extend fear. I didn't say live in fear. We are living in fear. I said live with the unveiling of the cover of fear. For those who are running breathless in fear, I told them to run with fearless breath. You can see businessmen, employees, in the name of progress and success, they are breathless in running. People of Nepal often rush like this. Abroad, also people are taking their breakfast and lunch while running in their cars. If they don't run at this modern speed they fear losing business, job and prestige. There is fear in our breathing air. If not fear why should we use mask? Fear comes together with consciousness and breath. We are doing many activities to save our breath. Fear is a giant.                                                                                                                                                     

Deepak: What is Fearism? Please tell us in simple language?

Desh: Fearism is a combination of life, consciousness, knowledge, fear and cognition. We always have fear of dying in starvation and disease. We have fear of accident, incident and some problems. To manage our life from these fears we are motivated to doing invention, construction, profession and employment. Philosophy of Fearism is a philosophical explanation of all these.

Deepak: You said, “Life is conducted, directed and controlled by fear.” How it can be? Life is impossible without fear?

Desh: Among all, fear of starvation is the highest. Is there any meaning dying by courage? We are conducted by fear. To rescue, it conducts to work, when working, doing carefully otherwise can dismiss. This directs and controls us. That's why I said, “life is conducted, directed and controlled by fear.”  In the life fear is everywhere.

Deepak: Fear can be the subject of thesis, study and research? How can it be 'ism'? People might say it is nonsense?

Desh: I never meant for 'ism' as some formula. I did not read it has length, width, height, area, volume, color and taste. Zero has 'ism'. Absurdly has 'ism'. You used insulted word; has air 'ism' too? Marx, Lenin and Mao has 'ism'. If we calculate in percentage, how many people have Marx, Lenin and Mao in their life?  How many percentages do you have? 7 billion people of earth, how many of them have? But fear is with everyone. Human to animal all has fear then cannot it be 'ism'? And how is it possible Marx, Lenin and Mao to be 'ism'? How strange is the game of words and beliefs? 7 billion people and animal have fear, how can it be nonsense? Logic of fear(ism) cannot be mere philosophy as baseless. It is empirical fact.

Deepak: What is the reason for a deep study of fear? What advantage for society?

Desh: All human beings live in fear. They are encircled by many fears. They feel it. They are living with the thorns of death, disease, damage, accident and problems. Because of fear they are terrified and doing killings. This forces me to do deep study. In this vast human disaster, I thought I can make a contribution toward something good being done? What are sources of their fear? What happens more or less due to fear? These kinds of thoughts were coming in my mind. I thought of the many accidents of the world. I came to the conclusion most all sources of many problems are fear. Since early civilization fear can be taken as negative but I asked how can it be made positive? Moral questions were in my mind. How to make comfort from it? Many questions were hovering inside me. Then fearism emerged as an idea. It is not negative as normal mass understand fear. The most positive things of life are due to fear. Balance of fear has leaded us to success. Life makes us happy and peaceful. Innovative parts of life are defined by fearism. 

Deepak: Fear is director of life, Universe, black hole of space, light, creator, seer, mystery, beauty, courage, super power, parent, law and god. End with God is fear. These are your many meanings of fear in your book. It looks very abstract isn't it?

Desh: It is not abstract, it is simple. It looks strange because nobody explained fear like this before, not from this perspective. Michel Foucault said, 'knowledge is power.' Doesn't it look strange too? Does to know about dying have power? Take the example of law, does not its main motive come from fear and create fear?  Nobody will follow law if it cannot create fear. Fear is a law, it is not abstract.

Deepak: After reading your book, readers may recognize they suffer from depression. Except fearful readers cannot see, listen and understand anything about fear. Is your book about creating fear?   

Desh: After reading philosophy of fearism, this does not take readers to depression but helps them to see they may be a fear patient. It helps to reduce depression, stress, and violence created by doubt and fear. It gives an idea of the source of depression, it offers reason and explanation and routes of fear so they can better manage fear.  

[Originally published in Friday entertainment paper March 27, 2015. It is sister news paper of second popular daily Nagrik news paper of Nepal. Interview was by sub-editor Deepak Sapkota. [Original in Nepalese, trans. to English by Desh Subba, editing for English, by R. Michael Fisher]

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During the writing of my largest and most complex book, The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century (2010), I was aware that maybe I ought to first be writing an even larger and more complex book called The World's Fear Teachings. This latter book seemed to be the logical precursor to The World's Fearlessness Teachings. Right? You ought to know about how "fear" is being constructed as a concept and being reproduced in some forms of information and knowledge--passed on to others and generations to follow. Then once you have a big book to understand about "fear" in this sense, you could then better be able to use and understand the big book of how to cure the Fear Problem and it would naturally be something like The World's Fearlessness Teachings as the road to liberation.

Well, all logic of that aside, it turned out when I was contemplating writing a big book on my 25 years of research and experience studying fear and fearlessness, that I just couldn't make up my mind which book was first. I actually started some drafts of The World's Fear Teachings but then, it seemed too complex and would take many years to complete, as I envisioned it. So I stopped that project. And one day had a shamanic experience 'on the table' with a registered shaman (shawoman) in a therapeutic treatment session and then did my own self-shamanic journey to explore what I ought to do. I knew I wanted to summarize my work for the past 1/4 of a century. The dream-vision and my later logical rationale "pushed" me in the direction to first write the "fearlessness" stuff. I don't regret that move. I wanted to show the world that there is a Fearlessness Movement and Spirit that is always already there and ready to handle all the Fear that is going on and has ever been going on. All we had to do is know more about it, that "spirit of fearlessness" as our cura if and when we were ready to make the choice to utilize its guidance. This simple idea for that first big book more or less came down to the findings of all my research up to that point, in a nutshell, which formed a dictum in The World's Fearlessness Teachings, that is, "When fear arises, so then does fearlessness."

It was a short and sweet, optimistic note. Here was the dictum that I would offer to the world in the early part of the 21st century, and I was curious as hell to see how the world would respond. Guess what? It didn't. Well, not much. Pretty pathetic response. I knew it was a great dictum but why was it not taking hold?

This blogpost is not about this question of the value or lack of up-take of The World's Fearlessness Teachings, which apparently is not as positive and as inspiring as I thought it was. The blogpost here is about the companion volume I never wrote, but am thinking of again, and thinking particularly how to go about it so it will be more "fun" to write and not a multi-year slog out of scholarly pages that no one will want to read. So, I thought I had a really cool idea, and that's what I want to share, and get your feedback on as well. But first a quote, from the Foreword to my first big book on fearlessness:

"Fisher offers a vision.... And he wisely insists that because the terrible curriculum of fear has been implanted in us at every level of our being, it must be addressed in an integral, holistic manner that existentially transforms not only individuals but also their cultures. What Fisher offers us, at both the personal and collective level, are some preliminary theoretical ways and practical means to transcend the matrix of fear and step out (as is our birthright) onto the bright landscape of a teleological optimism--one that lies at the heart of Fisher's profound, and profoundly healing, educational vision."  -Dr. Clifford Mayes, Professor, Educational Psychology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA (p. x).

That endorsement is right on what my project is about, but this morning I am thinking maybe this companion volume to The World's Fearlessness Teachings will be just what is needed for the populations of the world to "wake up" and really get on the bandwagon to undermine the 'Fear' Matrix controlling us. Here's my little (big) idea for the companion book. It's title would be The Fear Bible.

Now, a little background before I say what would be in this book, The Fear Bible. First, I have been listening to artist-psychoanalyst and matrixial theorist Bracha L. Ettinger for a few weeks now (with Barbara) and we are so impressed once again at what she offers in way of a critique. The video we watched last night is entitled "Subject, Trust, and Carriance" (on Youtube). She takes apart the Bible discourses in a brilliant analysis of the (mis-)translations from the ancient Hebrew to Roman language and English. She does this showing virtually all the ways the (mis-)translation in English removes systematically any divine-feminine (Woman) from the text where it is really important stuff, and the divine-masculine (Man) is inserted. I won't give details, watch the video.

Point being, her matrixial feminine critical psychoanalysis is a "ground" platform to critique all the ways the paranoidal masculine has infiltrated the Western world, and the Abrahamic religious and cultural traditions and language (i.e., Discourse). In my way of looking at all this I want to do the same analogous thing with the Western world (especially), and show how "reality" has been (mis-)translated to us through texts, traditions and what Michel Foucault, the great philosopher/historian, called big 'D' Discourse. Discourse is the term for all the ways that ideas, and more than just ideas, flow through a civilization or culture in forms of information and then knowledge and then reproductions (e.g., cultural artifacts, architectures, teachings, etc.) of that Discourse.

I see a Discourse of Fear, has been flooding humanity for a long time. We don't know fully how to even recognize this. I want to show that there is a Fear Bible that has been written but is not actually written down in one book like the Bible--and, that's the big problem because we cannot at least have one source to go to to find out how we are being conditioned into one hegemonic Discourse on "reality" that is fear-based (even though, the Bible, may say it is love-based). So, I would research and write the Fear Bible as the book that I believe captures all the ways (and discourses) that are hegemonic in determining how we thinking about "Fear" (again, analogous to how the Bible is the book that captures (most) all the ways we in the West thinking about "God"). Get it? 

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Rhetorical Ecology of Fear: New Scholarship

As the postmodern era of scholarship has recently opened debate and doubt about the nature and role of emotions, so also has been the case specifically with new postmodern scholarship on fear (what I prefer to call 'fear'). One recent example, worth checking out, is the edited volume Entertaining Fear: Rhetoric and the Political Economy of Social Control ed. by Catherine Chaput, M. J. Braun and Danika M. Brown (New York: Peter Lang, 2010). I had not seen this book until just a week ago and thought I ought to check it out. I only read the Preface and Introduction (by Chaput), and I must say this is great work going on regarding the way to conceive of rhetoric in a conceptualization Chaput calls a rhetorical "ecology of fear." Not having studied rhetoric and theory, this Introduction chapter is very technical, and theoretical and I was not able to follow it totally. It may take time to absorb through various re-readings.

I bought the book to add to my collection of new scholarship on 'fear' that takes it way beyond the psychology or philosophy of fear, and brings it into the intersectional dynamics of social, political and economic contexts and the way rhetorical situations and energies move--directly and most profoundly influenced by an "ecology of fear." This really interests me, although it is hard to get a handle on exactly what an "ecology of fear" is. There are other authors, from biology to cultural studies also using this phrase ecology of fear all with quite different meanings in some ways, and yet I am seeing some pattern that makes them all the same as well. So, hypothetically, and theoretically, the argument of Chaput et al., and my own thought, is that the best unit to understand 'fear' is by studying its ecology (and sub-ecologies). In other words, it is best we do not rely on studying fear "as an isolated event [or experience] rather than as a circulating energy" (p. 15). Let me cite Chaput some to give you a flavor of this ecological way she is attempting to create a discourse of understanding about fear for research and practical purposes (i.e., fear management/education):

"Global capitalism, as an extension of the past and an imagination of the future, relies on fear to pull us within its new modalities. Fear discourses [rhetorics] work in an paradoxical structure.... Although individuals certainly act on their own volition, their choices are powerfully proscribed by the rhetorical energy of fear.... What I am calling the rhetorical energy inherent in these discourses functions, according to theorists of fear, as a unbiquitous and apparently innocuous form of political and social control.... Unlike the visible repression of Orwell's watchful Big Brother, this form of social control occurs through the rhetorical energy circulating almost imperceptibly among many of the more open and free political and cultural sites of contemporary life.... this overdetermined rhetorical space of political economic reproduction [e.g., a campaign speech to preys on our worries] means that 'it is not necessary to make active or express threats in order to arouse fear; instead, fear can, and usually does, hover quietly about relationships [like a glue between them and the society's forms of social order] between the powerful and the powerless, subtly influencing everyday conduct without requiring much in the way of active intimidation' (Robin, 2004, p. 19).... [p. 14] the fear explicit in any one of these examples implicitly recalls the fear in the other spaces, and such [ecological] connections form the discursive undrepinnings of an overdetermined rhetorical ecology that sustains our current [conservative] political economic moment.... it is precisely this pervasive intangible quality that gives the rhetorical energy of fear its power.... Like ambient noises, fear resonates in the background of most contemporary experiences..." (pp. 20-21). 

What I make out of this way of imagining and using the conceptualization of a rhetorical ecology of fear, is that there has grown invisible 'channels' like grooves based on hyper-over-arousal of fear energy, circulating in these grooves (or veins) and each kind of experience that 'triggers' fear, then immediately lights up the entire grooved network of past and present and future imagined fears, and more fear energy is released from these sites in split second restimulations and accumulations but also in complex systems of constructing new ecological dynamics in which this rhetorical ecology of fear serves many things, of which global (predatory) capitalism is a major provider/host.

One almost has to talk about this organismically, and autopoietically, ecologically, as well as poetically, just to 'play' with ways to ensure we don't fall into an easy reductionism as fear is only in our brain, our self thought. No, an ecology of fear, especially via rhetorical discursive practices (many which don't seem fearful themselves per se or coming from someone afraid in any obvious way)-- takes on a 'life of its own' and thus 'fear' takes on a life of its own (a point Michel Foucault made about Discourses). 

There's an entire sub-field of study of the ecology of fear, in the larger sense, that I have long been a supporter of those naming this 'unit' and way of studying fear ('fear')... and, I am barely scratching the surface in this blog post... perhaps, as I read this new book by Chaput et al. more things will come clearer... and no doubt, more complex in how to understand fear ('fear') in our highly constructed rhetorical world today.

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