Bert Pursoo, Cebu City
1. One of the endearing themes in many a book or treatise on philosophy is that there is no reality and that life itself as we know it is little more than an illusion- something with which I am yet to come to grips.
2. Desh Subba is a Nepali philosopher and founder of Trans Philosophism and Fearism – an approach that is linked more closely to Eastern than Western philosophy. In his most recent book, Fearmorphosis, the author appears to contribute somewhat to this concept of illusion himself as he believes that without conscious awareness, we neglect to see that we live in a mythical world, largely operating on a vision of segmenting and reductionism, focusing on the smallest particles (while, I imagine the more important issues are left basically untended, perhaps to take care of themselves). In his writings, the author claims to look at things with “two eyes” or perspectives on interpretation and critical analysis. From his “two eyes”, Subba looks at philosophy, language, morality, politics, economics, and the environment
3. The author argues that it is time to excavate and rewrite history, culture, morality, politics, literature, and philosophy through a systematic criticism of Sisyphus, the Panopticon, and the Scapegoat point of view. He criticizes people like Marx, Keynes and other philosophers for inadequately observing human behaviour and contexts. The message in Fearmorphosis is that Fear is the power of all power and that it is a terminator that disposes of all other emotions. Fearmorphosis is another book on the Philosophy of Fear. Basically, the book explores ideas and issues underlying the emotion of fear and how it affects our life in general, but with a non-Western approach. Subba delves into the different types of fear and employs metaphors and allegories effectively.
4. It is not clear how we can excavate or simply rewrite history, seeing how history is cumulative. Culture is not specifically defined; it tends to evolve over a period of time and subject to other socio-economic factors. Morality and ethics, politics, literature and philosophy are under constant revision already, so no major effort appears necessary apart from greater review and analysis.
5. At first glance, Fearmorphosis comes across as being overly nihilistic or maybe skeptical. The author contends and perhaps rightly so, that to reach the mountaintop, we are prepared to subdue, by whatever means, our competitors and enemies, and scapegoat innocent people. The result is that millions become refugees, hapless labourers and disabled by wars, beliefs, egos, needs, desires and the pursuit of happiness. In the end, we scapegoat ourselves as well as Nature.
6. According to Fearmorphosis, it’s all based on fear. Sisyphus as dramatized in the Korean futurist story deals with unexplainable events but with the main theme of preventing an all-destructive war. Fear of the unknown and the unexplained has always presented a major threat to our very consciousness, with a fear that is unmistakably poignant.
7. In the Panopticon, we get to look at the fear that all our actions may be under scrutiny, without our direct knowledge, but we instinctively know. We are suspicious and this generates a different but powerful fear that empowers us to come together and react irrationally, sometimes to our own detriment.
8. Subba considers scapegoating a consuming fear wherein we are consciously aware that we will be forced to assume the blame for the faults and weaknesses of others at our personal detriment. Could such a fear move us to commit immoral or even illegal acts that are likely to backfire on us?
9. In his reference to Das Kapital, Subba is primarily concerned with the efforts we as the worker bees are literally forced to put out while the benefits accrue only to the capitalist elites. It is true that he doesn’t think Communism is the answer yet does not openly support either democracy or capitalism.
9. Metamorphosis examines our evolution on a more personal basis. As we grow, we morph or move from one stage to another acquiring duties and responsibilities. There is here the inherent fear of our concern as to whether we will be able to take care of our family as is to be expected. Are we capable of doing and behaving in a manner that is necessary to maintain the required relationship with our classmates, our workmates, and our club members? How strong is such a fear?
10. While I acknowledge the importance of fear as a motivator, I don’t consider myself a fearist. I am more of a stoic with a general dollop of pragmatism. Nonetheless, the fear of being defeated pushes us to be sufficiently strong in order to repel any attacks from within or without. Fear, does, however, have its negative effects. Fear of failure, for example, can be responsible for remaining stationary, despite the possible benefits to advance. As Caesar told Calpurnia: Cowards die many times before their deaths, but the valiant never taste of death but once.
11. In Fearmorphosis, Subba comes across as something of a sceptical philosopher but also an iconoclast. He wants to impose, or so it seems to me, certain aspects of Eastern philosophy and/or mysticism into the realm of Western thinking, through a greater degree of critical analysis, to the extent of reviewing even our most cherished views from the ancient Greeks to Camus, Hume, Sartre, Descartes, Bacon, Locke, et al.. What lends power to Desh Subba’s writing is the fact that a lot of his observations derives from personal experience