R.Michael Fisher's Posts (272)

I'd certainly rather talk about a much lighter topic than the near (potential) devastation of planet earth due to climate change and global warming caused by humans (e.g., CO2 and changing the surface of the earth so much it absorbs more heat)...

In the last few days myself and Barbara have been going through our own "existential crisis" as if it feels like at some point we just (really) GOT! the information of what is happening on the planet re: global warming and the reluctance of too many government and business leaders to ignore the impacts, when they could make substantial changes re: the biggest polluters, if they had the will to do so. Which means, if they had the moral courage, in the face of great social fear of being fully "green," of perhaps losing friends and losing money (at first)... and so on. It's risky to make the moral change in times like this.

I think the fearologists of the future (and today) will have to do their homework and really come up with ways to intervene in the way social fear gets in the way from all kinds of people and institutions changing in major ways. We need a (r)evolution of fearlessness. But over the last decade or so, even with calls for such radical shifts and such fearlessness, there is enormous inertia to do so. I find it a type of 'evil' that knows the problem but refuses to do anything about it (or does very little, and too late). Basic Premise: I have long theorized that the more the "terror" the more "fearless" as a new management system will arise and evolve and be available... the living cosmos is incredibly gifted to handle distress, fear/terror--we have to learned to pay attention to it's beautiful and available Defense Intelligence--and learn to work with it, and to "push" any lesser forms of defensive behaviors and thoughts toward a threshold where transformation can occur. It is not about being "hopeful" or "optimistic" for me, it is a matter of looking at the data and theorizing what has been happening on the planet re: Defense Intelligence (and, that is way beyond just humans, to be sure)....

Tipping points re: climate change and crisis after crisis on the planetary scale (e.g., major storms, extreme climate)... are more or less here on our door step. What we have to realize first, and it will be a great grief to admit, that humans (overall) have done some good things in evolution for sure, but late-industrial humanity and especially the urbanites, have now to 'take on' responsibility. A new book offers many creative ideas ("arts") etc. of how to live on this damaged planet. Here is the write up from amazon.com

"Living on a damaged planet challenges who we are and where we live. This timely anthology calls on twenty eminent humanists and scientists to revitalize curiosity, observation, and transdisciplinary conversation about life on earth.

As human-induced environmental change threatens multispecies livability, Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet puts forward a bold proposal: entangled histories, situated narratives, and thick descriptions offer urgent “arts of living.” Included are essays by scholars in anthropology, ecology, science studies, art, literature, and bioinformatics who posit critical and creative tools for collaborative survival in a more-than-human Anthropocene. The essays are organized around two key figures that also serve as the publication’s two openings: Ghosts, or landscapes haunted by the violences of modernity; and Monsters, or interspecies and intraspecies sociality. Ghosts and Monsters are tentacular, windy, and arboreal arts that invite readers to encounter ants, lichen, rocks, electrons, flying foxes, salmon, chestnut trees, mud volcanoes, border zones, graves, radioactive waste—in short, the wonders and terrors of an unintended epoch."

[extract from advertising on cover from "Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene" - note this is mostly an academic book]

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The following is a very brief version of a peer-to-peer counseling method that two or more people can utilize, without any necessity of either parties being "trained counselors."

I am offering below the simple explanation and process of how humans are hurt (focusing on emotional hurts) and how they heal. Everyone deserves attention when they are experiencing pain of some kind. That is a way to prevent unnecessary suffering. We are a social species that requires attention from a caring other during our distress. With confident support, all of us will destress, and more or less heal and recover our becautiful inner nature/self.

This short step-by-step process has an underpinning detailed theory which you can access in another blog I've written (see LPC) and an intro video I've made for how to 'balance' the peer counseling session so it is focused on the 'good' and the 'hurting' and not only focused on the hurting. There are many ways to destress from daily life, and how to heal and recovery our zestful and flexible inner nature/self.

Have you ever wondered why there is so much fear in people, perhaps in yourself, and in society overall? Fear that is toxic and damaging to our well-being and functioning as a society is due to excess hurting and over-reliance on "coping" as if this coping is better (more efficient) than healing. I am interested in us all moving from a fearful existence and life-styles of coping to to a fearlessness way of being that is truly liberating for all. I teach this peer-to-peer method (LPC) because we've grown to be way too afraid of the healing process itself. We've been taught to rely on professionals for healing (e.g., therapies). Sure professionals may be needed in some cases, but our first line of defense to prevent excess distress is to do our own work on hurts and help them heal, the sooner the better.

MAKING A HEALING CHOICE (At no cost)...

Most of us never learned in a coping culture how to heal our emotional wounds. Most of us are operating on attention deficit because we never received adequate quality of attention when we were emotionally distressed in our lives. "Hurting" is defined by this shortage of attention when we needed it. This shortage is more profoundly damaging to our well-being than the original injury we experienced as painful or traumatic. ATTENTION is key to everything good!

We never learned about hurting much...and therefore, we never likely learned that we have at least 10 natural healers:

1. laughing   2. crying   3. talking spontaneously  4. shaking and trembling  5. yawning and stretching  6. righteous indignation (anger)   7. spontaneous creatiion-making  8. sweating   9. dreaming/trance   10. deep breathing

In a coping culture we have learned for the most part to negatively judge all of the above natural healers. This is the first step we have to reverse. These are all positive functions and are "natural" to us but our culture tends to tell us otherwise. Being patient in accepting these natural healers again, in yourself and in others... is the first step to recovering who we really are deep inside--and, is the way to leading a more joyful existence.

"Healing" in this peer-to-peer counseling involves getting "attention" on what is bothering us but not getting advice! What this model is about is freeing oneself using the natural healers (one or more at any point in a "session") and letting them bring us back into a more balanced self-regulation where we will be able to then think better to solve our own problems. The peer helping us is there to listen deeply without judgement and trust and encourage the natural healers as first priority. "Let people heal" and be confident in them that they can do so, including yourself.

When you and/or someone you care about are hurting, and you see their distress is getting the better of them, or of you. You can potentially partner up and offer each other positive attention (sometimes called "unconditional attention"). In this peer-to-peer way of supporting each other, you both need to take responsibility to follow a few guidelines for a "session" (i.e., of destressing, healing, and recovery).

GETTING A "SESSION" (Beginning to build a healing relationship, and a healing culture)...

A "session" here is defined as a conscious choice for you and another to willinging do "peer counseling" which involves taking say 15 min.'s each to get positive attention from another person for the purpose of destressing, healing and recovering your inherent nature as a curious, loving, playful, and zestful intelligent and empowered person. Excess stresses and hurts if not manage well become barriers to your functioning inherent nature and well-being--and, thus distress will inhibit you being able to treat others and yourself well. We all have stress and hurts in life and typically in a coping culture we do not deal with this stress and hurting very well. We often suppress it. In peer-to-peer counseling you will reverse that habit of suppressing and "forgetting" pattern and move towards healing and recovery. 

A "session" in this model of peer-to-peer counseling is a unique opportunity to care about another person without getting "attached" and "submerged" in all their distress feelings and thoughts. You take turns. Use a timer (start with 15 min. each). You (as counselor) don't interrupt the person sharing when it is their turn to get attention. You will get your turn right after them. Timing the session, with equal turns, really helps to prevent over-dependency on another person for emotional care. Too much giving care to another creates a path to eventual "burnout" for the caregiver.

DESTRESSING

This is the most basic means of releasing emotional and physical tension that builds up as inner and outer conflict, with feelings of hurt, anger, sadness, grief, depression etc. Humans are designed by nature to have good stress to function well and creatively in the world--it is part of all problem-solving and growth itself. However, if you have stressors over and over that become accumulating that can lead to chronic distress and post-traumatic effects, where you are not recovering back to a healthy stress level so you can function well. 

The most simple "session" then for destressing is merely to take time in a session to process tensions, using any or all of the natural healers. What you are aiming for is to be more flexible in your body and thinking after the session---if not, take another session or book another session soon. Sometimes it will take several sessions to find a more peaceful and joyful 'norm' for yourself. There is no magical pill here that will make everything better all of a sudden. It takes discipline and practice to get well.

HEALING

This is more complex than merely destressing. It requires in a session that you as the client getting attention to put yourself in-charge and ask for exactly what you want (though, note: asking for advice from your counselor is not advised). You are to honestly face into and "feel" and use the natural healers to express and destress and keep going into what it is you feel hurt by--even if you have to guess what it is. You can 'bitch and complain' get angry and yet always notice that your aim is to recover your beautiful, natural nature/self. Healing requires the discharge of emotional and conflictual energy (i.e.., destressing) but also to then find clarity and rational thoughts that make sense for you in what is happening to you.

Healing involves dealing with the current hurts distressing you as well as looking at connections of how what you are feeling now may be related (in a post-traumatic way) to past unhealed painful memories and events that you experienced--or you even watched because other people were getting hurt. Healing fully is complex and requires this reconnecting of present with past--and, then rationally and intelligently planning out how you want to see your future and make your future the best it can be because you deserve it. Note, even thinking "good thoughts" about yourself at times will bring up pain, fear, shame, guilt and distress in general. You and your peer-counselor can work through this by you getting unconditional attention on it--and, at some point the counselor may offer non-judgmental observations from your session to bring more clarity to you (again, observations without advice-giving).

 

RECOVERY (Patience)

This is the short-term and long-term process of you taking charge to become the person you really want to be without all the negative thoughts and painful memories and habits that are so critical of yourself. The main thing in recovery is to journal on your healing and destressing sessions. To journal and keep notes on what you are doing well today, and when something doesn't go to well, ask yourself questions about how you could have maybe handled things differently with a better outcome. You have to be patient with yourself and say, "I'm still in recovery" and so are the people in a "session" that I may be assisting. We all have been brought up in a coping culture not a healing culture and so we have to recover a lot of our natural healing capacities and thinking rational capacities.

I always believe when you are in recovery it is best to not try to "change the world" or "change another person"--but focus on changing yourself for the better... and, that's a good place to bring more joy and intelligence to society--it will rub off.

 

Cautionary

When you first try this getting unconditional attention from a peer (who is informed in this model and guidelines)--there is the problem of finding it all very uncomfortable, and even the timing of the session--it seems to formal and not natural. This is a common complaint. My experience shows, the guidelines are very important to maintain vigilantly to make peer-to-peer counseling work best. Most of us have learned not to receive good quality attention--so, it will feel perhaps a little weird at first.

After the end of a "session" (say 15 min.) make sure you as client being listened to are coming "up and out" of the distress patterning and negative emotions and thoughts that may have come up in your session. Bring yourself to look around the room, and see the "benign" and "good" things in life right now in the moment--even though all is not perfect by any means. This is important also for the counselor to make sure the client is "up and out" and has some free and flexible attention for well-being and functioning in the world. Although, it is legitimate that a client also may want to rest after a session, have a nap, etc. It is important to give yourself some "space" from the day-to-day grind of responsibilities... because you want to let the healing effects of a session percolate and integrate a bit too. Again, you can always "book" another session with your peer-counselor and that helps for you to know that there is still good attention there for you.

Ultimately, all of the above guidelines and information are quite incomplete... so, seek further reading and study on this peer-to-peer method when you can make time for it.

If you wish to email me with questions on this material and method: r.michaelfisher52 [at] gmail.com

 

 

 

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Evolutionary Trajectories in Conflict

 

Dr. Jordan Peterson (critical and popular voice for a new "traditionalism" needed in modern and postmdern times (?)

I just created a first in a series of 3 videos "Understanding Jordan Peterson 1: Social Implications"

 

Ken Wilber (critical and popular voice for a new "integralism" needed in postmodern times (?)

THEME: How is the 'backlash' against postmodernism philosophy justified, how is it a good thing... and what is happening in the polarizing debates between the "progressives" so-called and the "conservatives"--a big battle everywhere in the world... this, one that Jordan Peterson is 'hitting on the nerve' is particularly important! 

 

I, like many, are watching the incredible popularity of the digital 'guru' of media on the internet (youtube world and beyond)-- professor Peterson ... and, to make sense of his arguments, his style of delivery and his own ideological commitments and rigidity (his fears)-- I think a really good critique can be made by looking at Integral Philosophy (via Ken Wilber's work, whom I use a lot in my work on fear and fearlessness)-- see the interview (as an e.g., of an integral lens applied on Peterson's philosophy and the movement he is spawning rapidly)- this interview commentary by Jeff Salzman, a student of Wilber's for many years, brings many good points to light... 

I plan to do a video (on my Youtube channel) soon exploring how a fearlessness context (lens) could be brought into a critique of Jordan and his followers in general... stay tuned. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scarred for Life--by Fear(?)

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The above is an excerpt from a popular article online which really raises interesting questions for a philosophy of fearism, a philosophy of fear, and philosophy of fearlessness? 

The field of "epigenetics" is a field of knowledge construction, largely out of the biogenetics-psychology domains, with its own biases in how it understands fear and how it understands trauma etc. 

 

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For my latest FearTalk2 video with Luke Barnesmoore, an up and coming young philosopher (doctoral candidate) from the Geography department of The University of British Columbia: 

Description of what is on this video: 

This is a lively (sometimes heavy) discussion between two perceptive philosophical thinkers as comfortable with vulnerable intimacy and abstract ideas as they are savvy with the aesthetics of oppression (via fear of the Eternal) and the many neurotic loops of fear-based escape routes from the Real. With a deep concern for finding the best ways to build a healthy and sane society, their Integrating of East-West, Indigenous and ecological knowledges brings forward a synthesis of ideas to be reckoned with. Dr. Fisher, founder of The Fearology Institute and Luke Barnesmoore a doctoral student in the Geography department at The University of British Columbia (https://ubc.academia.edu/Barnesmoore) caress the contours of fear and fearlessness and the importance of admitting how much fear exists in most all places humans dwell in contemporary urban societies. if we are to avoid the worst catastrophe's of crises we face on the planet in the very near future, Fisher and Barnesmoore are sure that fear is going to be a major player in the outcomes. Note: Dr. Fisher's reference to his work with the A-D-Ness model ("test") re: an aesthetics of fear -- go to https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED... Also a discussion of A-D/ness can be found in Fisher's video "Do's and Don'ts of Fearology" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcNte... A fitting poem that Barnesmoore wishes to share relevant to this discussion: "Each and All" …All are needed by each one; Nothing is fair or good alone. I thought the sparrow’s note from heaven, Singing at dawn on the alder bough; I brought him home, in his nest, at even; He sings the song, but it cheers not now, For I did not bring home the river and sky;— He sang to my ear,—they sang to my eye. The delicate shells lay on the shore; The bubbles of the latest wave Fresh pearls to their enamel gave, And the bellowing of the savage sea Greeted their safe escape to me. I wiped away the weeds and foam, I fetched my sea-born treasures home; But the poor, unsightly, noisome things Had left their beauty on the shore With the sun, and the sand, and the wild uproar… Then I said, “I covet truth; Beauty is unripe childhood’s cheat; I leave it behind with the games of my youth:”— As I spoke, beneath my feet The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath, Running over the club-moss burrs; I inhaled the violet’s breath; Around me stood the oaks and firs; Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground; Over me soared the eternal sky, Full of light and of deity; Again I saw, again I heard, The rolling river, the morning bird;— Beauty through my senses stole; I yielded myself to the perfect whole.” (Emerson 1914, pp. 7-8)[1] Ralph Waldo Emerson 1914, The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson Vol. V Poems, London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd.

 

Also check out my 2nd part on FearTalk 3 video with Luke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI3Gjn10t38

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International Journal of Fear Studies

Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Approaches

 

Call for Papers and Creative Submissions:

Dr. R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D., founder/editor of IJFS, has set the wheels in motion for a first edition of an on-line journal that promotes academic scholarship, professional explorations and popular educational and creative works for a variety of serious readers interested in fresh thinking and ideas about the nature and role of fear in societies. Articles and creative submissions may include large technical and philosophical works, research studies and results, essays, opinions, poetry and other art, etc.

There is also going to be space to share the kinds of work (theoretical or practical, complete or incomplete) you are doing on fear that deserves international recognition. The primary criteria is that works have an interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary approach, while at the same time are progressive and open-minded works that instigate insight, healing, liberation, creative thinking, critique, and synthesis. We simply require a new journal format like IJFS because there is no other place to focus on fear as a subject matter in any journal to date.

All authors retain their own copyright of their works published in IJFS. The journal will consider re-published submissions as long as copyright approval has been made.

Submissions Due January 20, 2019 for the first volume edition of IFJS. Feel free to send the editor (r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com) a proposal of what you would like to submit ahead of time if you want feedback first. Otherwise, send your completed work and it will go out for peer-review and final editing by Dr. Fisher. Citations of references is essential in papers and should follow a standard style format (e.g., Chicago, APA, Harvard, etc.) in most cases, but also feel free to be creative in style format as well but provide a rationale for any such deviations from standard formats. There is no word-length requirements of submissions. If all goes well the first journal will be published in Spring 2019. There’ll likely be two issues/year.

If you would like to be on the Editorial Board (and/or be a Reviewer for IFJS) make your interest known to Dr. Fisher as soon as possible. We look forward to your participation to make this journal a success. The first edition will be available in an open-access pdf format and housed on the Fearlessness Movement ning (hosted by R. M. Fisher) and eventually, IFJS will be archived in a university library digital repository with open-access and full linking to academic search engines.

If you would like to gift a donation to IFJS, please contact R. M. Fisher. Your support is greatly appreciated. 

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Fisher's Four Paradigms: Human Condition

This Figure is my latest mapping of my own evolution of thought, philosophizing and theorizing about Love and Fear ... and, right to my latest version (Trialectic-Upgrade) which has emerged from my reading of Moreno's (1971/77) book (see my blog below). This has been 30 years of thinking critically about how to understand the "Human Condition" (and, concomitantly, how to understand "Human Nature" and "Human Potential"). I am convinced that without a good understanding of these relationships, there will be ineffective paradigms created for "managing" humankind and our future--especially, when we take into account the nature and role of Fear. Philosophy of Fearism (a la Subba) and Philosophy of Fearlessness (a la Fisher) and Philosophy of Fear (a la Eneyo etc.) ought to be very engaged with these four paradigms and/or adding more--around this deep search for understanding the primary forces of human meta-motivation. 

Of course, I am only giving you the barest skeletal diagrams here, as a small book could be written on describing the ontological details, rationale and potential applications  for each of these models and why they have evolved in my own thinking---and, I would argue they are each one an improvement upon the prior paradigm--a kind of evolutionary maturity is shown. For a general understanding of my own intellectual critique and evolution of the first 3 paradigms go to Fisher 2017 Radical Love.pdf" as it is an article published in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. 

 

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Book by Francisco Jose Moreno (1971/77)

I appreciate being notified of this book by Dr. Randy Auxier, philosopher at SIUC, as he informed me that he was reading Moreno and found the first two chapters to be all about fear at the base of the human condition and of reason itself. Moreno (1971/77), a political philosopher (Mexican-American?) wrote, "Fear is one of the fundamental motivating forces behind our actions. The history of [hu]mankind is to a very large extent the history of our attempts to deny, repress, or escape from fear" (p. 1). "The fear resulting from our ability to reason [i.e., awaken to uncertainty and our own vulnerability] affects us so profoundly that it permeates our whole existence. This fear, which we struggle to suppress...never [completely] abandons us..." (p. 6). 

FEARISM: Roots (Precursors) of a Philosophy of Fear

Although Desh Subba points to several sources of theories and philosophies in his 2014 book [1] that somewhat point to the central importance of fear, Subba is not able to find any distinct "roots" that satisfy him that the "philosophy of fearism" (he coined) has a forerunner. This makes philosophy of fearism a unique creation for sure and that is worth celebrating. However, it also makes me question as to whether there are not indeed "roots" (forerunners) that already existed before 1999 and Subba's subsequent development of fearism. I am currently writing on this topic. It seems there are some authors, and Moreno (1971/77) is one of them, that may indeed be precursors to a philosophy of fearism. Because I just got this book in the mail today, and haven't read it, but only read reviews of it, I'll keep you all informed of my findings--but the two quotes above by Moreno are indeed compelling evidence that Moreno was "onto" a form of philosophy of fearism nearly a quarter century before Subba's fearism notion arose. 

All fearists, of any scholarly pursuit, will want to look at this little book (129pp) from the 1970s, from an original thinker--not because he identifies fear as at the source of distorted thinking "but in locating the root of fear in reason itself" --that is what makes his philosophy of uncertainty (i.e., of fear) a unique and important and courageous contribution (quotes from Michael A. Weinstein, in the "Introduction"). Such a claim by Moreno is going to really challenge all the "rationalists" and believers in "reason" as the best way to manage fear. Moreno seems to be turning that common and dominating thesis upon its head.

As I read these brief comments and quotes, at this point, I am strongly sensing Moreno is a precursor philosopher (from the political field) who sees through, and sees beyond fear of fear itself--and moves forward to articulate a philosophy of the human condition where fear is central and it is this fear that is the glue that links Reason and Faith--it is fear that is in between Reason and Faith (the psychic and cultural (and intellectual) defenses of individuals and collectives that try to repress fear and its impacts; that try to deny fear is central but prefer to put reason and faith first and central).  

 End Note

1. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris; see also Fisher, R. M. & Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris. 

 

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I recently found this image (as Halloween, or 'Day of the Dead' or Hallomas or Samhain) on the internet. The title was provocative and speaks to the concept of which this blog is all about: that is, the proposition (if not theory) that the basic core of the human condition is fear (or fear-based) (?)

The philosophy of fearlessness (Fisher) and philosophy of fearism (Subba) [1] is arguably a combination of supportive philosophies for the above claim. Others, like Eneyo who in part takes some aspects of the Fisher-Subba philosophies in his own "philosophy of fear" prefers to make the core of the human one of love, yet he agrees fear is also core but secondary [2]. The Fisher-Subba position is not opposed to Eneyo's claim but is more a nuanced branch of a philosophy of fear that situates understanding the human by focusing on fear over and above focusing on love [3].

My point of writing this very short blog is to say that there is still not an adequate (referenced) scholarly synthesis of important writing (philosophy and theory) on the proposition in the internet poster and/or in the authors' work mentioned above. There are fragments of support references for their claims but not yet the document that is needed to give scholarly credibility (at least, not as far as I am concerned).

I am of late beginning to see some critical thinkers in the early 1970s that I will be documenting their positions and arguments, theories, and works...coming from backgrounds in philosophy/anthropology/political science/theology... it is still too early for me to make my case for their support of the Fisher-Subba position re: fear is the core of the human condition and history itself is the unfolding of that human-fear relationship--as one of, if not the most powerful relationships on this planet (i.e., fearuality, fearological reality).

I'll keep you updated as this paper (booklet) I'm writing evolves.

Notes:

1. Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris. Another young budding philosopher of this synthesis with his own nuances is Osinakachi Akuma Kalu (with his two books on fear in the last two years; e.g., The First Stage of the Fearologist. Amazon CreateSpace).

2. Eneyo, M. (2018). The philosophy of fear: A move to overcoming negative fear. Australia: Xlibris.

3. For a brief intro. discussion of Fisher and Subba on fear and love, see Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris (2016), p. xxxi. 

 

 

 

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Black Consciousness: Fear and Liberation

 

This radical minister is one who is part of the same religious-liberation movement as Malcolm X was (in the USA)... I do not necessarily support this minister and his religious group and their leader(s)... but he is an influential voice, and speaks some wisdom that all need to hear (same as did Malcolm X), especially, as he calls to Black people all over the world: for the 3 min. video talk

 

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The Fearology Institute: Update

Students of Fearology... young and old, from around the globe... India, Africa, America, Europe, Canada... are leading the way to a 'new' way to critique, understand, and intervene in the global Fear Problem(s) of our times... 

Hello all who may be interested in The Fearology Institute (TFI) online higher education. I am pleased, as founder, director and main instructor, to share with you that we have five registered students taking the first course at TFI ("Expanding the Fear Imaginary")--and, some of these students are intending to take the full first-year program to train as a "fearologist." 

Since end of July 2018, the program at TFI is designed and slowly unfolding and evolving as I and the students learn about what it is going to become. There are no prior programs anywhere in the world on this new domain (field) of study and scholarship, that produce a professional certificate. I have designed "four core courses" and there are three streams of specialization students can pick after the first mandatory course (i.e., "Expanding the Fear Imaginary"). 

See my video "Introduction: The Fearology Institute" and/or you may find more info. on the program if you do a search (top right corner) on this FM ning site. 

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Michael Moore Meets Fearologist

In 2004 (one year after my dissertation on "Fearless Leadership") I was interviewed on Canadian national (CBC) Radio by one of the top program hosts (Shelagh Rogers). The live 18 min. interview (her in Toronto and me in Vancouver) is historical and a great moment in my life of possibility for "fearology" and the naming of the importance of fear's impacts. The program began as follows:

(S): Good morning!

(M) (Michael): Good morning Shelagh.

S: To begin, what’s a fearologist?

M: Well, a fearologist is somebody who studies the relationship of fear with, basically, Life. And that fear is not just what I’d call psychological fear but actually cultural, sociological, political fear.

S: And how did you become a fearologist?

M: Well, basically, I’m not trained in fearology. It’s hard to find anywhere that will give you a degree in that.

S: [chuckles] 

****

It is 14 years later and such an interview with the public media has not happened since with anything more than the very brief media interview (clip) of less than a minute on air. It is quite possible that public media or even independent media radio or tv will not ever interview me again. I've learned lessons about this kind of thing over the decades. The 'snowball effect' that we all wish for when we are promoting a cause may or may not come in our life-times. It's a humbling reality.

****

The point of sharing the Roger's interview is to point to my ongoing interrelationship with the art/activism (film making) of Michael Moore (B. and I went and saw his latest movie 11/9 last night... more on that later in this blog). Roger's and I also got into a discussion about Moore's award-winning Oscar film (2002):

M: I wish every parent, teacher and community leader would read the latest book on the culture of fear by Dr. Giroux, on how fear is being constructed through a cultural politics by elites in government, the military, and corporations—he says we are abandoning the young people of Gen X and Y. Democracy is being undermined by a culture of fear in a post-9/11 world. Giroux’s point, and mine, is that it doesn’t mean we don’t take action against terrorists, it means we don’t undermine democracy and all quality of life in doing it.

S: Michael, what is responsible for that?

M: Well I think you know media has unfortunately....

S: I’m leaving the studio.... [chuckles]

M: [chuckles] I know. I was just ready, you are going to shut the mic off here. I think it’s pretty clear that, Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore, was a clear indicator of the impact that media has on constructing fear. So, I’ve been using this term, culturally constructed, or culturally-modified fear.

S: And Bowling for Columbine would be the culture of fear, leading to gun culture?

M: Gun culture and where we get in situations where one-third, for example, statistics, of housing starts in America are actually walled-communities. So, just think that one-third of housing starts are actually in gated or walled-communities.

S: Is the media it, Michael? Or are there other sources for the blooming of the culture of fear? 

**** [For the full interview script: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/forum/dancing-with-shelagh-rogers-on-cbc-radio-18-minutes-for-fearology ]

Michael Moore also showed up in a photo entry https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/photos/3allies where I talk about why Moore is important:

"Michael Moore Meets Fearologist-II" (my 2nd video) go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJLdM85Rwts&t=4s

I have been playing with images of allies and enemies for a long time on my soul journey. I'll share some images of allies that I constructed in my 'avatar' imaginary "Second World" landscape and mindscape, as more or less, "useful" to where I was (and am) heading... [my 'shamanic' work]

For those of you not familiar, here are their names and you can look up their very interesting work over the decades:

on far left upper: Andrew Cohen; left upper Don Beck; left lower Ken Wilber

on far right upper: Marilyn Manson, on right uppermost Michael Moore, on lower David Icke

**** [For a recent critique on Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9 film go to https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/mixing-art-activism-education-michael-moore-s-new-film

****

Point of this imagery around Moore and my ongoing interrelationship to his work (and my critiques) shows he is deep in my psyche, you might say, and deeply connected to my soul, you might say. I believe he represents something I admire and am not happy about. I see a missed educative opportunity, a missed healing and transformative possibility... he get's people close to the point of great transition and then falls short and drops into a 'cheap' victimizational emotionalism and politics of the oppressed, without the sacred. He's a secular activist and it really hurts his work and potency for 'big' transformation in the world, in consciousness, and a healthy and growing criticality. He falls back into his American upbringing and media-based ways of "propaganda" (at some level)--because he is competitive to "win" (and good are over here and evil are over there).... he plays off the archetypal 'David and Goliath" story narrative always, to "win" fans and to try to "win" elections of better people or parties. Albeit, he shows in 11/9 that he is less and less convinced that any of the big political parties (Democrats or Republicans) are very good and yet he still believes new faces of new politicians can make the changes needed.

I agree and disagree continually with Moore's ways of "teaching" to make this improvement in society (especially, America). I won't go into this further and further but I have already said, that he doesn't handle the topic of fear very well because he has no theory of a praxis of fearlessness... he cannot get beyond victimization politics and emotionalism (see how he uses emotional close-up shots of faces of people in this film--it is really his main way of getting emotional reactions out of people--and manipulating affect for political and ideological gain--he's seemingly fine with that approach).

I cannot explain what it is but there is something very important in Moore's art in this world today. I have said often (see my latest video on responding to Moore and his 11/9 film just released) that I wish I could find a way to collaborate and advise Moore in his films. They are all, more or less, about Culture Wars (in a meta-context of a culture of fear)--and, now, in this latest film 11/9 Moore says very clearly that "evil" is here and we have to get rid of it. But unfortunately, he doesn't just scare people with this and images of the Third Reich (Germany, 1930s), he doesn't offer any deeper analysis and understanding (like from Hannah Arendt and her study of the "banality of evil" and how everyone contributes to the success of evil, if you want to call it that). No, Moore keeps things too clean and simple, and he searches for the iconic images of "glory" in his battle with the dark forces on the planet. And no more will you find his iconic (emotionalism) being played out but in the last 15 seconds or so when he takes one of the victims of the Florida mass shooting event in 2018 Spring, and zooms in on one of the high school students faces, eyes, at a podium, standing in silence, looking at the crowd, the viewer... this is what Moore likes to do--to try to show the "glory" of the traumatized fighting back, with this young woman's message and look of defiance to the authorities and those not responsible for ending gun accessibility to too many unsuitable people in America. Moore wants her face all over the screen--and, what I see is a young person highly traumatized fighting with bravado... some courage... and, a long ways away from fearlessness. This tells me the "gap" in Moore's secular activist work, and how he really has no model for liberation but continually talks about justice, peace, and such... but so does not seem to understand the nature and role of fear (and fearlessness)... he misses the "path" over and over, but comes so close to guiding people in a sacred way to "truth"--he rather, likes emotionalism-truth of victims (sad as that may be)--but that isn't enough Mr. Moore... you've not seen the bigger picture of what liberation is about. You ought to know better! Your award winning 2002 movie, long ago, had all the directions to take to deal with better understanding Culture Wars (especially in America)--and the culture of fear it produces. It seems you (Mr. Moore) have gone for the quick-fix cheap emotional hit to try to "win" an election with better candidates (not that this is a bad thing)... sorry, history shows that there is no ultimate victory or even small victory over evil, if we as a species do not do the deeper sacred healing and transformation of 'evil' (if you want to call it that)... I offer, as a fearologist, a much more nuanced analysis to the Fear Problem (Evil Problem)... and, I do that by not just putting icons of "glory" of victimization and trauma up as the "one's to follow" or "one's to inspire"--that's an old strategy that doesn't purvey the true spirit of fearlessness in a mature form, it is an immature form (better than nothing, sure)...

Just some thoughts for Mr. Moore and his followers... and, for fearologists of the future who will be needed to help out this situation that won't go away--call it "evil" if you want.

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Dr. Don Trent Jacobs (Four Arrows)- Speaking to Dep. of Curriculum & Pedagogy at University of British Columbia Sept. 28/18

I encourage you to have a listen to an Indigenous activist/educator (and hypnotherapist) talk about the "indigenizing" of Education and the conclusion he has come to: that we (humanity) are not going to turn things around in the world--things will get very much worse--and, he talks of "courageous hopelessness" as the only sane and realistic optimism we ought to be accessing... rather than false hopes, illusions, of repair... At the end of the talk he goes into mass hypnosis and how to dehypnotize oneself from the culture of the Dominant worldview... he gives an example of how courage is different than fearlessness (his view). 

Note, Four Arrows is the person I have studied for over 10 years and recently 3 yrs ago began writing his intellectual biography, which is now published "Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer" (Peter Lang, 2018). Also, note, I obviously agree with much of what he says about fear, courage and fearlessness, but we also have our significant differences as well. 

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Dr. Sheldon Solomon, social experimental psychologist (re: Terror Management Theory = TMT)... is one of several very important researchers on "mortal terror" (i.e., fear of death) as the universal ("proven") core of all malignant human behaviors individually and collectively--at least, that's what has been suggested by TMT research and the existential philosophy behind it for the last 40 years or so (thanks to writing of the late Ernest Becker). I have followed this work off and on and found it very insightful and yet to be truly tapped in 'Fear' Studies ... 

I recommend going to this video talk on the dim future of humanity ahead (unless we solve the Fear Problem): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuJhD5TkX-0

Note: I agree with much (not all) of TMT... much of the basis of TMT is supported, I'd argue in the philosophy of fearlessness (Fisher) and philosophy of fearism (Subba) and philosophy of fear (Eneyo) and others... I agree with TMT in its depiction and theory (supported by a good deal of cross-cultural evidence) that "culture" is a fear management strategy overall. In my Fear Management Systems Theory (Fisher, 2010), I give this more differentiation based on v-memes (worldviews) theories in Spiral Dynamics integral (theory).  

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Well, after a lot of years of making documentaries, in the 'wild' style of art, activism, and education... Micheal Moore has just had his newest film released last night (mostly on the Trump election and following disasters to democracy in the USA) and on "fear" (and "terror") of all kinds of fascist waves going on all over the world.. I look forward to seeing his latest film, and it is not because I love everthing Moore does and how he represents people and problems--the big and "wicked problems" that we have to face as humanity... but I like to see how he uses his art, smarts, and technologies to "create curriculum" for the 21st century.

I followed his work closely in the post-Columbine highschool mass shooting and how he approached the American "Gun Problem" (aka "Fear Problem") in his movie that won an Academy Award, Bowling for Columbine" (2002). 

I won't say much more at this point until I see the film, and listen to interviews of Moore... with the question in the back of my mind: "Is Moore a good artist, activist, educator?" and so far, I think he is a better artist-activist than he is an educator, and particularly I am referring to how he handles "fear" as a major topic... which runs all through all his best documentary works... in Bowling for Columbine he really was making a film about the growing "culture of fear" ... and its consequences...which, arguably, I would speculate have been brewing for a good 30 years in particular, and the symptoms are arising (e.g., gun violence) etc... and if you watch his 2002 award winning film, it is the "best" dealing with fear as a topic... and of course terror is not far away... in Fahrenheit 11/9 we'll no doubt once again see him dealing with "fear of Trump" and everything Trump represents ... watch carefully how he "teaches" us about what is going on and how best to understand fear/terror and how best to manage it... transform it... if he even gets to anything so complex... my critique of all his works (as he is a typical activist) is his stereotypes and polarizations (simplifications)--to create his stories. 

RECENT VIDEO RESPONSE of mine to Moore's interview on "Democracy Now" tv program (with Amy Goodman): 

https://youtu.be/ga5BZfV5UnA

 Most recent video (2nd one) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJLdM85Rwts&t=4s

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This image is from the book cover of Santiago Zabala's (2017). Why only art can save us: Aesthetics and the absence of emergency. NY: Columbia University Press. The art piece on this cover is The Ninth Hour, sculpture by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.

I added the yellow text... because I thought this was the kind of subtitle I would give if I had written such a book like this. I appreciate the title (as extreme as it is and which publishers these days like and often chose without the author having the final say). The point in my teaching of the importance of the "arational" (not irrational) modality of fearwork (like this image and book) is we need more than rational fear management/education to tackle the Fear Problem. 

The concept of "emergency" is critical to the study of fear-risk and who gets to construct and use (sociopolitically) "emergencies" of all kinds, real or imagined... as this is all part of the Fear Problem today... a dynamic called the "culture of fear" and/or "risk society" or "fearscapes" depending on various authors and critics... artists (and arational modalities) have a lot to contribute to both the problem itself and its solution. Which way will artists go? 

I look forward to reading this book and having discussions on aesthetics and other arational domains (e.g., dreaming, trance, meditation, bodywork) in fearwork ahead... there's so much to do! 

 

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16 YEARS LATER... Finding ways to locate 'fear' at the center... and a new critical theory/pedagogy...

In 2002 I had done a series of 71 of these "platinum plates" for my arts-based arational component of my dissertation: "Fearless Leadership In and Out of the 'Fear' Matrix" (UBC). This particular plate/collage image I created from the standard campus map, and re-converted it to my own 'narrative' of the kind of liberational university I fantasized would be some day, with a "place" for Fear as central to the education and the buildings and support for fearanalysis etc. 

So, my red circled building is the actual Education (Scarfe Bldg.) on The University of British Columbia campus... I attended most of my classes there in my masters and doctoral degrees in Education (1998-2003). The interesting thing I reflect on right now is that I actually was creating the first mapping (as an institutional imaginary) for an Institute of Fearanalysis... which, eventually since then has gone through several morphs and failures, and re-visions... blueprints... as I keep finding alternatives to the mainstream higher education that is going on and is so out of synch with the demands of the times, the 21st century, post-9/11 era, and so out of touch with the Anthropocene context. 

The very earliest actuality of my vision for a Fear University of the liberational kind... based on fearlessness... etc. was my venture in 1990-91 in beginning, with Barbara Bickel, the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute and center in Calgary, AB. Then the past 2 years I have had different images and blueprints floating in my imagination filled with desire to find a "form" that could sustain itself and work. The latest iteration is The Fearology Institute, now with four students, from around the world, and more in the wings interested to join. So, I wanted to share this 'map' above to show you sometimes how long it takes to bring a vision together, even in the most humble outcome, and most minimal impact on the world... patience is no. 1, I believe, on the path of fearlessness... and to be a true visionary. 

p.s. oh, if you are wondering what the DCFV letters represent, they are my "big four" concepts that stand for: DOMINATION, CONFLICT, FEAR, VIOLENCE... upon which I began to formulate in 1998 in the early stages of my masters degree in adult education (also at UBC). 

 

 

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Locating Fear At the Center... Again

 In literary works, at least in the West, there is a long tradition of showing how "FEAR" is the great corruption (along with "power" of course)-- of all things good. In this 2014 sci-fi apocalyptic novel, Grant spins out another version of this ever-literary-metaphoric "truth" about fear and human civility (and its Shadow): The advertisement on amazon.com books tells it all in the future "FEARSCAPE" of humanity/desiny: 

PLOT: "It's been one year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

Despite the hunger, despite the lies, even despite the plague, the kids of Perdido Beach are determined to survive. Creeping into the tenuous new world they've built, though, is the worst incarnation yet of the enemy known as the Darkness: fear." 

****

 Unfortunately, the gift of the aesthetic, arational and arts modalities in depicting "fear" (FEAR) in so many ways it does, leaves us still as a populus with "okay, so what now?" kind of feelings... and, I keep thinking what would happen if artists of all kinds were better informed by the philosophy of fearism, could they produce works on fear that are more than horror, terrorology-- and, actually do some good fearwork for the planet? I think they could...

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Locating Fear At The Center

 Dr. Simone Tulumello, a Portuguese geographer and urban planning/theorist, has since 2009 especially, been devoting much (but not all) of his research attention on the nature and role of fear (especially, "urban fear") in urban planning and life quality in cities. He is not the only one to turn attention on fear in this field, as one can find all sorts of terms like "architecture of fear," "landscapes of fear" and "geographies of fear" (to name a few) that have taken up locations in scholarly discourses over the last 40 years, and especially the last five years of which Tulumello (and some others before him) have suggested that we even adopt the term "fearscapes" to give due justice to the ever-increasing and complex nature of fear and its impacts.

So, he has suggested landscapes are becoming more and more better understood, at least in the modern and postmodern cities as fearscapes, because fear has taken on such a central role. Tulumello in his latest book [1], not unlike some of the fearism literature of late [2], has been sliding notions of "multiplexing fear" [3] along with other spheres of life for critical analysis of various phenomena--in Tulumello's case, spatiality, cultural politics of cities and generally urban planning and policy. I find Tulumello's work unique amongst other scholars in geography, architecture and urban planning and theorizing in that he has (paradigmatically?) shifted emphasis on the common study of spatialization of fear (i.e., fear and spaces = spaces of fear discourses) to come to see that such a discursive formation and linguistics is not adequate, if not it is distortive, of a more nuanced phenomena of fearscape(s). 

The simple definition of fearscape refers to the embedded fear (explicit and implicit) in landscapes/spaces/places, and is often used equivalent with "landscapes of fear" (which is Tulumello's strategy as well, p. 1). In a more complicated argument than I will explain here, I like how Tulumello shifts back and forth but in fact seems to prefer fearscape [4]. I heartily agree, as would the philosophy of fearism, that putting "fear" central (or, in this case, linguistically as the prefix on any term or phenomena) marks the new term (e.g., fearscape) in a new way that expands the imaginary and analytic probe into an investigation of just how much fear is involved in the phenomena--which, hypothetically is "central" as Tulumello (2016) says in the following quote from his new book: 

[My operating] "hypothesis... [is] that some of the sociopolitical processes and spatial practices characterizing the last few decades, in the Western world and beyond, have been, and are, using fear and urban fear, instrumentally for agendas that are placing the civic and public gist of urban spaces worldwide into a state of crisis. As a result, fear, togther with the geopolitics of security stemming from it, has been producing exclusion, affecting especially marginalised groups.... If this is the case, putting fear at the centre of planners' agenda is nowadays inescapable." (p. 3)

I have often dipped my toes into architecture, urban planning/theorizing, and attempted to bring my own ideas and a philosophy of fearlessness (or of late, philosophy of fearism) to the table of analysis and perspective. Perhaps, Tulumello and many of us on this trajectory can have dialogues in the future. It is fascinating to me (and Subba) that Tulumello has adopted this "linguistic trick" he calls it in his naming of fearscape (Tulumello, 2015, p. 268).

Of course, the interrelationship of fear and fearlessness (a dialectic) is something that Tulumello seems not to enter into in what I have read of his work so far. In order to keep this short, I note that Tulumello's strategy for working with fear (of which he did not know our work) is quite similar (in part) to my own and to Subba's [5] and that is to keep the imaginary of fear (or fear imaginary) open-ended for the most part--and, I so appreciate his project is "... to build a comprehensive and critical theory [of fear]" (p. 108) and he also wants such an inquiry to be "exploratory" and thus avoiding reductionism around the conceptualization of fear, our ways of knowing fear, defining it and making meaning of it and ourselves. He notes that such an open-ended approach fits well for the very phenomena of "urban fear" today and it is preferable "rather than outline a clear definition... of fear or the way fear shapes planning" (p. 108), thus, Tulumello continues in the vein of study of fear much like a philosophy of fearism would-- "multiplexing fear" ongoing. I often talk about building a critical integral (holistic) theory of fear, and indeed, it is always exploratory, and for much of the same reasons that Tulmello gives in his recent works. Fear is complex, to say the least--it is perplexing as well, and contradictions and paradoxes linked with fear are seemingly inevitable the more one studies it in depth. 

I appreciate this insight of Tulumello to approach fear this way, which in no way prevents Tulumello from being pragmatic at times, and it in no way blinds him to seeing "we must be aware that fear is capable of throwing urban planning policy into crisis" (p. 107)--and he warns us all against overly technical-functionalist discourses on fear as inadquate--and, he warns that they typically don't engage fear enough as it deserves (p. 107). He concludes: "... there seems to be no simple/technical solutions for urban fear" and thus the project is preliminary and ongoing, and the actual benefits from such a methodological openness re: fear and the various applications of theory to practice in urban planning are yet to be shown fully--especially, as to whether they "work"... more so, we are in the beginning stages, as is philosophy of fearism, when it comes to "tested" applications and creating real improvements in the "urban fear" and/or just the "excessive fear" that is everywhere it seems. 

There is lots to read, understand, and critique in this work by Tulumello, and I trust as he reads my work (at least) he'll have critiques to offer as well. 

 

Notes: 

1. Tulumello, S. (2016). Fear, space and urban planning: A critical perspective from S. Europe. Springer. 

2. Example, Fisher, R. M., Subba, D., and Kumar, B. M. (2018). Fear, law and criminology: Critical issues in applying the philosophy of fearism. Australia: Xlibris. 

3. Tulumello (2016), p. 106. This is a great term (complexifying approach), one that I and Subba have taken in our study of fear(ism) for several decades. 

4. I recommend: Tulumello, S. (2015). From "spaces of fear" to "fearscapes": Mapping for reframing theories about the spatialization of fear in urban space. Space and Culture, 18(3), 257-72.

5. Example, see Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.

 

 

 

 

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