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.

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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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