Fear Redemption: Via Negativa and a Joke

Dear Subscriber,

I sent you poems and editorials and here’s a new one. A sampling from my new work-in-progress, non-fiction and non-self-help book Fear Redemption: Via Negativa:


Get rid of the idea that this book will show you “how” to do anything. It will not. According to the wisdom of J. Krishnamurti, once one begins to formulate a path, the present exploration disappears. Most of mankind’s journey has been to answer how one can do something. Kill better. Make love better. Make more money. Become more influential. Invent a better religion to sell a better heaven. Establish a better moral life by inventing a book or laws of dogmatic instruction. Knowledge and explaining how always lead to conflict, either in the form of dividing something into its “logical” order, most likely a hierarchy, or by selling or insisting that one path is better than another for reasons of self-aggrandizement and limited pleasures. Not experiencing another’s journey, we never really know them. Once we can open our own exploration into the core of our existential fear creator, we can begin to see the glimmer of redeeming Truth deep inside the psyche. But first one must come upon the Dark Night of the Soul to face Death and any other fears dominant in this life.

One can see the relationship of personal fear to the creation of conflict in order to defend oneself from the fantastical villains and demons we have invented to keep our drama enjoyable. This drama must be viewed for what it really is: a fabricated thought festival of images mixed with the mind’s memories. This book explores “via negativa,” or by seeing what is not fear, what is not death, and what is not the psyche. This adventure must be done all alone, and here this author will be leading you to yourself. Most of us are conditioned to never love ourselves. The artist, the egotist or the narcissist know this fertile ground of conflict. They plough it for a living. The Buddha had to face all the sensual temptations and overcome them in order to gain omniscience over everything. Showing what cannot be is the best logical method because it always ends with the inquirer being able to make the final choice on his or her own.

I have spent a great deal of my karmic purpose as a teacher of one kind or another. I suppose that was the real reason I was attracted to Swami Krishnamurti so much. He had learned ninety percent of his personal wisdom through direct experiences and not through books. My reality was about the opposite. Most of my wisdom came by reading others. My experiences, for the most part, were fairly bleak, so I spent my waking time day-dreaming and seeking through literature (both others and my own writing, such as this book), as a way to escape my present.

As you’ll see in your own experience, if you’re being honest, your mind is the dominatrix in charge of your perceptions. What you think becomes worshiped, in one vague memorial form or another, and the senses become the oppressive windows to fleeting and painful pleasures. Only when we can see how fear breeds conflict can we confront and face our personal demons and antagonists. And when we can do that, we can finally become totally aware of how our present can open to the gift of the Eternal Love Streams and the individuation (not divided) of our common souls.

PART I: Facing Your Own Fear Core, the Seat of All Conflict

A tiger is in the path directly in front of you. Its haunches are tense. It’s in a classic “spring attack” position. You have no time to think. Your body and mind are on high alert, and your system surges with a variety of fight-flight processes, the majority of which are controlled by the tiny adrenal gland.

This is, of course, real fear. It is not the core of fear about which I will be referencing in this part of the book. However, you can use its reality as a constant gauge, if you wish, to compare/contrast with the “ideations” of fear upon which most human conflict is based. In one of author and philosopher Albert Camus’ writings, he mentions that all philosophical thought should start with the question of not “how” you exist but why you should exist: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer.”

This is, indeed, a very serious question. The fear core, around which I believe all human conflict revolves, has to do with what Camus is referencing. Exist or do not exist, that is the question. Shakespeare said it too, in Hamlet. “To be, or not to be.” In my intellectual pursuit and perhaps your mental exploration of fear, you may have answered this question already. The tiger of real fear answers it for us, if we are not lucky. However, the ghost of false fear answers the question for us as well, if we choose to die, for one existential reason or another.

As a philosopher, Albert Camus went on to give his own elaborate explanation of why he chooses to remain alive, and he ends up with his theory of the Existential Absurd. You may read about it in his essay called “The Myth of Sisyphus,” and this theory is demonstrated in most of his artistic works, such as The Stranger, The Plague, and The Fall. I have read them all, as well his non-fiction book, The Rebel, which focuses upon the philosophical rationales for all types of rebellions and wars throughout history. Here’s a hint: Camus equates Christianity’s philosophy with Communist philosophy in that they both presuppose putting off sensory or monetary enjoyments of today for some future utopian society, either in this world or the next.

I have one contemporary example of the Existential Absurd from my present experience. My son, who collects a variety of valuable items that he then sells on eBay, just sold a single “pristine” Pokemon card he bought in the 1990s for $2,700. Another man purchased another cardboard card of a little gold dragon image for the cash price of $150,000. This can directly point to the philosophy of “nostalgia” in Camus’ novel The Plague, wherein the absurd hero, Tarrou, during an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague (we are presently in the midst of a pandemic flu plague, COVID-19), finds the only solace he can in his memories of his life before the plague began. In other words, the “value” of this piece of cardboard is perhaps rooted in the same fear Camus’ hero has. His job in the novel is to tally the numbers of people who die from this plague and visit their corpses. Perhaps the collectors who place this kind of value on Pokemon cards, however fleeting this value may endure, have the same nostalgic yearning to keep them from being fearful of the existential death that surrounds them at all times?  Nostalgia and value are not fear. They may be reactions to fear, but they are not the core of fear which causes conflict, unless their value judgements cause somebody else to act against them, such as a thief, or perhaps a communist, or other doctrinaire individual who takes umbrage at collecting such absurd articles while others around the world are dying and starving.

In point of fact, an entire economy of a nation/state could, theoretically, be based upon the value of these Pokemon cards. This is, of course, taking logic to an extreme, but it begins to point toward my topic for this part of the book. Is there an existential fear core in a human mind that causes conflict of these kinds? Camus might say that humans, in fact, do begin conflict and wars based on the even more abstract values of “liberty,” “capitalistic freedom,” or “communistic socialism,” exemplified, in an absurd way, by these gentlemen and their “hobbies.” After all, how does one logically and exactly quantify what one is willing to die for? Death is “merely” the cessation of being, is it not? What’s the big deal? And yet, death is our main fear, is it not?

Some Levity in Dark Times

Despite being real assholes, the Orthodox Jews in Israel have a pretty cool ritual. The person who told me about it was a French-Jew girlfriend I had who had a daughter. She had divorced her husband (the Orthodox dude) because she wanted to be a “free woman in America.” LOL!
She told me that the Orthodox had a prayer for just about every human activity, including … are you ready for it … when they take a shit! Yes, she could hear him praying inside the john as he grunted out a turd for Yahweh!
Now Yahweh will probably drop a giant turd on me for saying all this. I’m ready, Lord! Lay it on me! If you’d like to read a suspense book about Israel from a female’s perspective, then read my novel (and coloring book) Serene.
Keep on trucking to your existential “promised land,” and stay cool.
James Musgrave
San Diego, CA
Liked it? Take a second to support jamesmusgrave on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Popular Post