every laugh an imposition & the hiss of machines an assault

December 15, 2011 § 5 Comments

noun \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\
Origin: 1515–25;  < Latin anxietās,  equivalent to anxi ( us ) anxious + –etās,  variant of –itās  before a vowel

  1. a : painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill b : fearful concern or interest
  2. feeling as though one is standing in a strong ocean current — being pulled in a direction one, either for reasons of perceived personal safety or the vagaries of personal taste, does not wish to go; whereupon, at times like this, every sensation is heightened — or, more accurately, one’s awareness of every sensation is heightened, to the point one will sit in a cafe and hear everything — every laugh an imposition & hiss of machines an assault; or one might lie in bed and become hyper-aware of even the touch of bedlinen — at times like this, focusing on the breathing of the dog is strangely soothing; all this ofttimes less a matter of feeling guilty for not have done something (at all or enough), but more simply feeling of out of place — perhaps even one of not having (& subsequently failing to live up to the demands of) a “something to do” regarded as proper to one’s aspired-to social standing; in any event, guilty or not, a psychic phenomenon that will bend and squeeze itself into all existing cracks of consciousness, widening them into vulgar existential chasms — a mockery of consciousness, of that previously noble intent to “know thyself”; though not so much because she, gendered feminine here for convenience, doesn’t like what she finds, but because what she finds has been spending its time looking for her; unseemly solipsistic like that, this tottering into the current, wavering like a drunk, suspecting that if one could just “go with the flow,” wherever it went, it might take one to the immediacy of others; thus posing one with at once a choice & a consolation — at least it’s not night terrors
  3. an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

§ 5 Responses to every laugh an imposition & the hiss of machines an assault

  • tom clark says:

    As Johnson (that other Johnson) once said, There is nothing concentrates the mind like knowing you are to be hung in the morning.

    Just multiply that “in the morning” by “every” …and you land on the anxiety homepage.

  • Brad Johnson says:

    There was a silly internet meme a week or so ago where you were supposed to list the various things you’d do the day before your final day. Far more interesting, I thought, was what one would do the day after your final day — i.e., the calculations had been slightly off, though basically still correct. Here, you’ve done all the penultimate day sort of stuff, the declarations of love, hours of sex, binge drinking, etc. The day after the last day, now that, for me, is far more interesting, and signifies perhaps a different angle on anxiety.

  • tom clark says:

    I fear that my own “options” have dwindled to the point (automatonoid) at which I’d probably do exactly the same thing(s) on the day before, the day of, and the day after. Not so much out of any sort of stubborn, obstinate persistence in preferring my present way of doing things (not so very many things, mind you), but out of a paucity of means or will to do otherwise; not to mention a lack of the necessary motor memory which, at my advanced stage of deterioration, is absolutely required for doing anything at all.

    So, in short, I get that Johnsonian concentration/anxiety every night, all night long.

    • Brad Johnson says:

      Yes, quite. That was basically my conclusion as well. The only deviation being that I might allow my dog finally her longtime desire to roam around town off-leash. A big time for us both.

  • tom clark says:


    To roam about town, as either human or dog, might be a pleasant enough final venture on your relatively milder island, cut off as it is from the Main Line.

    Over here, I fear “town”, at that terminal juncture, might resemble the present/recent/incipient Holidaze madness multiplied by the dismal superAngst of the benumbed protagonists in that Epic for our miserable Epoch, Lars Von Tiresome’s Melancholia.

    There is a time for all things, turn turn turn. A time to fear, a time to be afraid, a time to cower and yip at the encroaching astronomical Shadow.

    The only good thing I can say about the possibility of Earth being hit by a dismal hurtling cinematic planetoid is that it might destroy its yawnoramic Hollywood doppelgänger, The Tree of Life. But is this déja vu or presque vu? Have we seen it all before, or is it about to descend upon us only now, this exciting weekend, as a Doomsday Glumness Double Feature?

    By the by, have you heard that Kirsten Dunst, through Wagnerian Reprogramming, has rediscovered her Teutonic Roots, and now insists her name be pronounced “Keersten” (as in Dunce)?

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