PREORDER THE ISSUE
Humans have a genius for fear. Its range and registers are as vast and old as life itself. And fear—whether founded or irrational—is present in the myths, songs, arts, literatures, and historic legacies of every culture. Being alive is a chancy business, and with every passing year it seems our reasons for feeling existential fear only grow. Terrors of every imaginable kind surround us, as often as not the wily demons of our own creation, and grow more ghastly, untenable, and malignant with every passing generation.
Conjunctions:78, Fear Itself explores fear in its countless guises. We fear violence and injury, betrayal and abandonment, falsehoods and persecution. We fear failure, but also success. Some fear flying, others diving, yet others fear needles, cellars, spiders, public speaking. Devils, ghouls, fiends of every sort provoke fear. We sometimes fear our hellish selves yet, as Sartre has it, L’enfer, c’est les autres. The fear of thunder and germs, of clowns, chickens, and mirrors afflict us. We fear the unknown, but also fear what clearly looms before us—climate catastrophe, a global pandemic, social and political upheaval, wars never ending. Some fear living alone. Some fear dying alone. Some fear just waking up to face another day. Phobias of every stripe abound, some of them admittedly unusual. Arachibutyrophobiacs fear peanut butter while nephophobiacs fear puffy clouds and optophobiacs are afraid to open their eyes. There are diabolic fears that cause others (thus all of us) to suffer—xenophobia and homophobia come to mind. For all our fears of what does exist, nihilophobiacs fear what does not. And lest we forget, we can even fear fear itself.
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