Anxiety and Lucidity : Reflections on Culture in Times of Unrest book cover
1st Edition

Anxiety and Lucidity
Reflections on Culture in Times of Unrest

ISBN 9780367510770
Published April 29, 2022 by Routledge
198 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book explores the nature of modern culture as a culture of anxiety, analyzing the modes in which such anxiety presents itself. Drawing on sociological and philosophical concepts of modernity, the author builds on the work of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud to offer an understanding of modern anxiety culture as the reverse side of risk culture, which stabilizes itself by concealing or making familiar the social phenomena of risk society. Through explorations of memory, politics, art, clairvoyance, notions of national community, and identity, this volume sheds light on the fissures in our culture where anxiety appears, thus revealing its underlying volatility. A study of the ruptures in our modern culture, Anxiety and Lucidity will appeal to scholars of sociology, social theory, anthropology, and philosophy with interests in late modern culture.

Table of Contents


1. Angor Animi: Or, on the Culture of Anxiety

2. Identity as a Nuisance: Two Genealogies of Modern Hamartia

3. A Gladioli Postcard: Memory and Communication

4. The Memories of Childhood in a Spectral World

5. Post-communism and Culture Wars

6. The Anxiety of Intimacy: Or, on Telling the Truth in the Age of the Internet

7. The Anxiety of Politics

8. The Magical Power of Art: The Subject, the Public Sphere, and Emancipation

9. Anxieties of Community

10. "Please, Don’t Be Angry, Happiness, that I Take You as My Due": Happiness in the Age of Democratization

11. "Mortal Generations": On Two Phenomenologies of Ageing – Cicero and Améry

12. The Anxiety of Clairvoyance: Terminal Lucidity and the End of Culture

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Leszek Koczanowicz is Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at the Faculty of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland. He is the author of Politics of Dialogue: Non-Consensual Democracy and Critical Community and Politics of Time: Dynamics of Identity in Post-Communist Poland and the co-editor of Democracy, Dialogue, Memory: Expression and Affect Beyond Consensus and Democracy in Dialogue, Dialogue in Democracy: The Politics of Dialogue in Theory and Practice.


"Anxiety may well be a hard-wired feature of the human condition, but there are certain periods that can be justly called, with a nod to W.H. Auden, a heightened ‘age of anxiety’. In this remarkable book, the distinguished Polish cultural and social theorist Leszek Koczanowicz draws on both his personal experiences and wide-ranging erudition to examine our own highly fraught era with a lucidity that, let us hope, won’t turn out to be terminal." - Martin Jay, U. of California, Berkeley.

"A deeply inspiring collection of culturally-rooted essays which, besides offering the pleasure of reading, produce an impression of patiently pushing the limits of darkness and mustering courage to face up to the unobvious." - Olga Tokarczuk, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018, and Winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2018.

"That our modern society is one of risk and endemic anxiety has become evident in recent years, as we strain our minds to fathom a social order which appears to be both fixed and fragile, governed by immutable power structures yet liable to be instantly undone by virus disease, migration, climate change, terrorism, or unknown hostile forces. With Leszek Koczanowicz’s brilliant book we finally have a diagnosis to match and understand these constitutive cultural contradictions. In a suite of compelling chapters that boldly traverse history, psychology, sociology, and philosophy, Koczanowicz charts a labyrinth of modernity, which the quixotic Western subject has tried to intensively penetrate and desperately escape." - Stefan Jonsson, author of A Brief History of the Masses, Crowds and Democracy and Eurafrica.