We must learn not to care

What makes us anxious? Everything it seems: job, relationship, traffic, people in general – ha! The quote below by Tom Hodgkinson says anxiety compromises our creative natures; that’s the most important message. To get creative again, which is our natural state, we must overcome anxiety. And to overcome anxiety, we must identify the things that make us anxious and counter them. Identify and counter. Here are some notes from my reading of this text.

Generally speaking, the pursuit of security is the root cause of anxiety. This pursuit includes all the biggies of modern life: career, mortgages etc; they make us anxious because they cancel our creativity.

The pursuit of security gives anxiety which cancels creativity. That’s the present formula. The new formula could be the rejection of security reduces anxiety and reinstates creative nature.

One antidote to security is fatalism. The mystical, ecumenical, smells and bells, communal, mindful, slightly superstitious faiths, with icons and saints and processions make us less anxious. Why? Because they emphasize fatedness over security and control; they help us to see our place in the world as haphazard, willed by some force outside of ourselves. They free us back into our natural creative natures.

From How to be Free:

Anxiety is the sacrifice of creativity in the service of security. It is the giving up of personal freedoms in return for the promise, never fulfilled, of comfort, cotton wool, air conditioned shopping centres. Security is a myth; it simply doesn’t exist. This does not stop us, however, from constantly chasing it.


Another simple solution to anxiety is to embrace a fatalistic theology. Catholics, say, are probably less anxious than Protestants. Buddhists are certainly less anxious than Jews. If you believe that there’s nothing much that you can do that makes any sense other than to enjoy yourself, then your anxiety will fade. If you have that Puritan cast of mind and feel that you are terribly important in the world and it really matters what you do, then your anxiety will increase. Self-importance breeds anxiety. We must learn not to care – not in the sense of being selfish but in the sense of being carefree.

Tom Hodgkinson, How To Be Free, p 11


enlightened catastrophism
January 21, 2010, 1:49 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , ,

Different cultures react differently to security and risk.  Take for example the French and the Americans:  one reluctant and secretive and the other anxious and xenophobic.

From Urban Age’s Civilizing Security in New York:

What distinguishes New York and Paris?

1. Different national rhetoric

French Approach: “enlightened catastrophism” (Jean-Pierre Dupuy)

• Reluctance to overreact and to create “moral panics”.

• Culture of secrecy among high-ranking French bureaucrats.

• French state: pivotal role in the production of social trust and solidarity.

American Approach: anxiety without an object (Habermas)

• A discourse of “war”.

• A state of constant citizen alert and anxiety.

• The construction of referents of otherness, the alien, dirty and subversive.

Civilizing Security in New York:  A View from Europe, Sophie Body-Gendrot