I love Aristotle. And Heidegger. Each discussed simple ideas about the happenings of Life without compromising complexity or ambiguity. Aristotle wrote, “Anybody can become angry ~ that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way ~ that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” Beautiful. Heidegger asserted, “Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.” Absolutely.
Humanizing the emotional energy of anger is a challenging undertaking, to say the least. There are many entry points into the conversation, all valid and relevant. So why not start with the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit? This particular story gazes into the eyes of desire. But, then again, so does the trinity Freud manifested with the id, ego, and superego. Or Maslow’s ideas around an hierarchy of needs. Or Heidegger’s despair. Or Jung’s collective unconscious. Not to mention six of the seven deadly sins~ wrath, greed, lust, envy, pride, gluttony~ converge on human beings’ excessive desires to satiate themselves through external means.
(For Matrix Trilogy fans, the Merovingian makes a pleasurable dessert for the woman in the light pink dress. As he discussed pleasure, he arrogantly and insensitively stated, “There is no escape from it; we are forever slaves to it.”
Yes, the story of anger is everywhere. There’s a human reason for this. So let’s start there. From a humanistic perspective, wants and desires guide our short-term movements through the world, directing and structuring our experiences from a moment to moment basis. Survival is based in it; we die quickly and painfully without water or food. Once we locate and enhance sustainable water and food resources, we tinker with other wants. Oh no, this sounds like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
But it’s not… necessarily. Most human beings don’t live in the type of world where we need to live off the land for survival. Yet, it’s in our collective unconscious to hunt, find, and collect essential external resources because human beings are not Self-contained organisms. Which sounds like Carl Jung and Carl Rogers. Oh boy. It’s a challenge to discuss the emotional energy of anger. Let’s start over.
Whereas fear may symbolize a ball of energy fueling focus, the emotional energy of anger directs the movement of that particular ball of energy. Hypothetically, our desires direct and structure our short-term decision-making regarding how, when, and what to satiate and engage. For the sake of this discussion, let’s also assume the emotional energy of anger takes or uses something external to fulfill and satisfy an internal desire. Thus, satiating Self by engaging the Environment may be a simplified way to explain and understand our short-term desires. In other words, it’s a way to humanize the emotional energy of anger as a necessary part of being human.
There are various practical and conventional ways to humanize anger as well. For example, let’s use the well-known and insightful question of whether a tree makes a sound in the forest if no one is around to hear it fall. Certainly, it’s debatable. Uncertainly, it seems as though the falling tree makes a sound when it resonates and creates vibrational shifts within the forest it inhabits. Our desires and wants are similar to the tree falling. They matter internally; they exist internally. Our desires resonate on the cellular level and create vibrational shifts within our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, attitudes, etc.
When the sensations resonate or create vibrational shifts, the “sound” holds information to be engaged internally. (So the tree makes a sound inside its surroundings.) For human beings, satiating and engaging begin at the cellular level and desire to be known at the Being realm. When the noise is loud enough, human beings turn their eyes toward their Environment for fulfillment. Desires are naturally human and motivational in that beautiful, inspiring, and energizing way.
Yet, our desires are a buffet of dimensionality that encroach upon each other. Human beings wreak havoc on each other because we just can’t help ourselves from forcing our way (paradise) of being onto others and the Environment. In other words, there’s natural and necessary suffering AND there’s unnatural and unnecessary suffering foisted upon human beings. Similar to human beings encroaching upon each other, the Environment also encroaches upon human beings. For example, quenching our thirst can lead to a painful, parasitic death. Also, we may fall prey to the falling tree or the jaguar stalking us from that very same tree.
In this blog entry, the rhythm of the discussion mimicked the necessary and shallow aspects of Anger. The patterned movement of the discussion was buoyant. The ideas bobbed and shifted, only to bounce and pop right back up to the surface.
The emotional energy of anger is limited in depth even though it’s necessary. Yet, the emotional energy of anger continues to find new surfaces (e.g., different words to say the same thing) from which to propagandize and proselytize “Truth.” As such, the breadth of anger seems unlimited, uninspiring, and polarizing.
Let’s end the blog entry where we started by integrating Aristotle, Heidegger, Adam, and Eve into the discussion. Certainly, the story of Adam and Eve is open to interpretation. THE interpretation bestowed upon us perpetuates the either/or psychological state plaguing the world within which human beings breed and polarize. It’s either paradise or suffering. Either righteous or unjust. Either agree or disagree. Growing within, through, and around the either/or paradigm requires an immersion into the depths of uncertainty and ambiguity.
Certainly, Adam and Eve tells a story about the tension existing within human beings’ desires, decision-making, right/wrong, and the plethora of possibilities our Environment offers for satiating Self and engaging Life. Uncertainly, Adam and Eve is a story about the ambiguous Nature of human development. Could the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ represent the natural process of learning as our hearts, minds, and souls grow through normal mind and body developmental processes? Could the “evil” and “treacherous” serpent symbolize the bliss, cruelty, and ambiguity of puberty since the adolescent years are marked by significant changes, symbolizing the idea of “shedding old skin” for new Being-ness?
Let’s not lose sight of the bliss and cruelty of learning, growing, and making mistakes. Human beings will make mistakes unwittingly and lose innocence when there are consequences (e.g., being expelled from the paradise that is the Garden of Eden) for those mistakes. Certainly, each human being loses innocence with Self and others because all human beings make mistakes. Certainly, Adam and Eve existed metaphorically (I know this because science knows they weren’t White and not necessarily heterosexual or cisgendered). Certainly, Adam and Eve tell a great story about the complexity and ambiguity of being human, especially the suffering involved in becoming more and more human.
Instead of being expelled from paradise, the story could have been offering the idea that human beings are released from paradise naturally and necessarily. Instead of viewing suffering as the cage that limits us, pining for paradise could be the cage. Then, we could entertain the idea that paradise exists only after we stop questing for it and when we stop trying to get back to the Garden of Eden. Uncertainly, Adam and Eve do not tell a story about perfection, fairness, and justice; it could tell a story about growing through imperfections, unfairness, and injustices while being at peace with the truth that human beings and our Environment have limited resources and natural constraints. As such, we need to plan wisely and experience uncomfortably.
Better yet, maybe we can keep ‘Anger’ in perspective; it’s necessary yet shallow. To understand Aristotle’s quote, you’ll need to understand the necessary AND shallow parts of Anger. Unfortunately, Heidegger helps us understand the way in which language, as the master of human beings, perpetuates the shallow part of anger as we explore the breadth of experiences while preaching about depth (and profiting from it) when, in fact, we’re just regurgitating the same old story.
This blog was inspired by ‘Earth Week’ and influenced by the courage (and suffering) of my clients. Then again, each entry is inspired by Mother Earth and expressed for my clients…