I once wrote an essay – actually it was a chapter in a book I wrote — where I described my childhood reality shock as “anxiety in its purest form, an awareness of the gap between the self and the world it has come to know and depend on.” I’ve reproduced that (rather long) chapter in the next post, called Anxiety, mysticism, and reality.
The book was on anxiety and was published in 1981. Something that old seems like a museum piece now, but it does at least remind me that my interest in the self and reality goes back a long ways.
The book was reviewed at Kirkus Reviews, which had this to say:
The gist, then: life is only made feasible by a fund of “recipe knowledge” through which we get through the daily routine: the more recipe knowledge we call upon, the less anxious we feel, but the less “alive” and creative we are in our approach to life, too. Rapid change accounts in part for our almost daily need to redefine our future, our sense of “identity,” etc. (If you’re suddenly unemployed, you’ll feel differently about being a Ph.D.) Thus: anxiety and its conscious component, worry. (Or, amusingly: “Worry is often nothing more than an exercise in passing time while waiting for the ax to fall.”) Henderson tends–overly perhaps–to see reality as socially determined: even people who believe their thought processes are under their own control may be prey to an illusion, we’re told. Abstract and convoluted–but in a roundabout way, heartening.
I left out the part that refers to my “teeth-gnashing prose.” The example given: “Making life routine is a necessary adaptation to the complexity and variety of possible experiences, but in this process we sacrifice some of our inherent plasticity . . . .” That makes perfect sense to me, even out of context, but the reviewer was undoubtedly right. I try not to write that way anymore. Especially in a blog.
The chapter in the next post is definitely much too long-winded. It’s rather like a ramble. I do like the sentiment of the last sentence, though: Only after we have come to grips with the world’s most urgent problems – the ones that should make us seriously anxious — will we have made the world safe for the mystically inclined, an option we deserve.
Image source: Fine Art America
”Don’t Worry”: Understanding Anxiety, Kirkus Reviews