Saturday, August 01, 2009


Inside Owl recently posted an amazing description of anger. In it, she's able to distance herself from what is happening to her and observe it - in effect, separating her real Self from her thoughts and emotions. According to her, anger is an addiction. As someone who, pre-yoga, regularly put her fist through walls, windshields and whatnot, I found her post quite inspiring. Perhaps you will, too. Here's an excerpt:

"At first, it was this rush of sensation in the chest and belly. Strong. If you really want to know, there would be a not unorgasmic spike from the belly a straight up to the brain stem. It vibrated strongly, lighting up the pleasure center… like a freaky nadi massage. Lasting maybe 3 or 5 seconds—a long time in terms of brain activity.

"After that first flash of climax, the anger would settle back in the chest. In a few seconds, the chest would go back to normal as the intensity wore off. And that is when the images would start. I was not even conscious until this month of the fairly autonomous image stream that I am constantly generating in and around my head, so now when I remember to look clearly at what’s happening there, it still tends to trip me out.

"In the case of this anger, first what would arrive were images of physical violence inflicted to my chest. My mind would see that punches or knife stabs were landing down on my body, in my heart. It would see this in order to try to keep the anger alive, because it felt so good in the body. But after another few seconds, the climax would really be passing away, and that is when another kind of image would start. Not just random, video game violence, but meaningful violence.

"My guess is that my organism was realizing that just straight violence imagery wasn’t sufficient to sustain the high, so it went in to the psyche to mine for past trauma. Or maybe it was innocent, the nervous system saying “Wait, we know this song! Here’s an old version that used to be popular back in 1983!”* And then, roll tape, I’m back in the schoolyard in first grade, and Renae the tomboy with two big brothers is wailing on me while several little farm boys in overalls look on."

You can read it in its original form here.


*The Public Image song posted above is actually from 1986, and wasn't all that popular - although it does have that annoyingly catchy chorus. I far prefer Mr. Lydon's earlier work. Now there's a vehicle for anger....


  1. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Brilliant links (I always liked "Rise," personally) and yes, Owl's bit on anger needed a tribute. I have my own in the works.

  2. The question is, how do you distinguish between perspectivising and disarming one's anger, on the one hand, and minimizing, stuffing, and denying it in the service of some unnameable and unacknowledged death-wish, on the other? I felt pretty afraid reading the linked-to article, as the remark about how the mind "would see this in order to try to keep the anger alive, because it felt so good in the body" struck me as patently wrong-minded and false. But perhaps I don't know what the author really means - he or she is using extraordinarily broad and slippery metaphors throughout this piece.

  3. Whatevs, Ricky. Walls and windows, eh? That's some intensity.

  4. Nice contempt, 0v0. Is that today's lesson in anger management?

  5. Hi stranger. If you are open enough, you might ask what associations you have with being ignored that lead you to feel contempt here. Indeed, I did not mean to freight my word with that and apologize to have sparked those feelings at all. I'm really sorry. You don't need that, whoever you are; and especially not on a Sunday.

    We are strangers, so I would not presume to engage you around your opinions of my own emotional process. We are probably speaking different languages, as you noted; and it's likely we have very different backgrounds in terms of contemplative practice. The internet is really not the place to begin bridging all that distance. Talk about misspent energy.

    Most important, this is the home space of a thoughtful, heart-centered writer who is a professional and has clear, healthy personal boundaries. Did you know that? I only know it because I've been reading her for many years, and as a long time reader do not wish to create any disturbance.

    If you actually do want to engage me substantively, please take it outside. My email address is available on my blog. Take care.

  6. i love john lydon. and (0v0)

  7. Hmmm. This just reminded me of one of the things I always taught in poetry workshops: if you want to publish your work, make sure you READ the magazines/journals before you submit your work.

    The democratic nature of the web makes it tempting to jump into the midst of conversations, but we really do suffer sometimes from a lack of context -- I think that may be at the root of most web rage ;-) incidents.