Best I can do today is rewrite an old essay. It is 110 degrees in this valley and I am suffering side-effects of a medicine that has doubled the circumference of my jugular veins. They told me it would control anxiety and ease withdrawal from nicotine. By evening I shall develop gills and piranha teeth, but anxious? No. I suffer, decidedly I suffer and fear nothing! Pffft! What, after all, is anxiety?
FDR said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." He was talking about anxiety and worry, nuisances produced by natural selection. Those Darwinian candidates who rehearsed emergencies effectively survived them. Those who didn't didn't. But many good things can be overdone. All roof repairs, no matter how small, become a way of life. Same with worry, with fear.
It even gets fashionable. Madame affects a nerve storm and swoons decorously upon the chaise lounge (English for the French "chaise longue", rhymes with tongue which real French ones have) , with proper form, backhand to brow, observed by all upper --or "swooning"--classes. Brandy is fetched by a domestic --or butling--class-member from the butlery. Butling is appellation derived from the naturalist's word for tuxedoed children who grow up to be butlers. This should not be confused with pathogenic coinage such as "liveried servant", which, since found to be inoculable, has passed from common usage just as hospital wards treating livery have been summarily refitted. Society is thus stratified by worry. Pffft!
A doctor --"professional" class-- is sent for and solemnly orders a rest-cure at a very expensive sanatorium run by, well I don't know but they all wear white coats and prattle on about "waters" --that class. The master of the house must pay for it by raising rents and poisoning uncles --and the roof is leaking. This leads to worry all round.
For our purposes, anxiety may be adequately defined as a fear of fear itself. As Admiral Farragut put it so cerebrally, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" This utterance marked his conquest of Campobello and liberation of the Bay of Fundy, which resulted in his becoming our 32nd U.S. president. Literature of the time adopted this sort of bravery for great sea stories, but some suspected the "Brass Class" spoke only for itself. Neglected in these accounts were "Crew Class" members who actually feared getting exploded, drowned or sharkbit over fear itself.
This latter sentiment is reflected in the third word of Melville's "Moby Dick" ("Call me etc."), which was originally "fishmeal". Censors changed it to something Biblical and nothing more could be done. There was some resistance. Heretics were burned, lunatics were spurned and slackjawedhicks were gol-durned. Science was compelled to combat this worrisome religious mindset and its threat of ultimacy. Field studies were begun in the nascent discipline of Psychology.
[Dwight Frye as Renfield]
Southwestern Indians were examined. It was found that preindustrial societies worried less. Hopes ran high that simple living could reduce stress, but science also brings disappointments. The Indians had long traded with the Freudians to the north, and with them pooled anxieties to use in psychological warfare against the Harridans, who had them both surrounded. The rest is grouchy Biblical history.
Again and again, anxiety proved universal. In order to keep their new jobs, about which they'd begun to really worry, psychologists published the conclusion that anxiety should be limited to things that always go wrong but we seldom think about. This created a whole new industry, and is the reason roofs are now made of stuff that goes to pieces. Does this cause me anxiety? Pffft! No, it causes me grouchy --there is no pill for grouchy.
And "Pffft!" is so much more effective with smoke in it. I keep a pipe and tobacco in the pumphouse for sentimental reasons. Sentiments I must brave the heat to exercise. Excuse me.