Reading Notebook #11: The Source of (My) Anxiety

Transcribed from Examined Life (Zeitgeist Films), the words of Avital Ronnell.

If we’re not anxious, if we’re okay with things, we’re not trying to explore or figure anything out. So anxiety is the mood of ethicity.

Now I’m not proscribing anxiety disorder for anyone. …

This is something Derrida has taught. If you feel that you’ve acquitted yourself honorably, then you’re not so ethical. If you have a good conscience, then you’re kind of worthless. If you think, “Oh, I gave this homeless person five bucks, I’m great,” then you’re irresponsible.

The responsible being is one who thinks they’ve never been responsible enough. They’ve never taken care enough of The Other.

The Other is so in excess of anything you can understand or grasp or reduce. This in itself creates an ethical relatedness, a relation without relation. You can’t presume to know or grasp The Other. The minute you think you know The Other, you’re ready to kill them.

Posted in Life Philosophy, Reading.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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I wonder…is this the case, or is this an outpouring of energy to prevent the pressure of caring for one's self and one's own actions? I've found in life that I very often take the road of caring for others beyond reason…and feel horrible when I fail, even if I'm the only one who knows…but it's possible I do that to escape really working on myself at times…

What I mean is, my “self” cannot be a patchwork quilt of what I give to others…

Again, you have made me think.


[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by chris. chris said: Reading Notebook #11: The Source of (My) Anxiety | Jane Friedman […]


One way that it relates is that – if you are afflicted with anxiety over not doing as much for others as you feel you must – particularly if the extent to which you wish you could give is extreme – then there is no time to work on yourself. Also, it's possible you'd start believing you didn't deserve your own time or care if you felt you were falling short of your duty to others. But this is all extremes. The point of what you shared is well taken…when you believe you have arrived, or have reached completion, or… Read more »


madam I work for a large company in london. We demand that you remove a member from readers digest ‘nyhan’.This person has added 25 blogs,which he has copied from the original copies of court papers( word for word).He is not a writer, and has used this site to tell lies about us. One week and then we shall have to take action to remove this site from the web.