Yet Untitled Lite 007 - A (short) Anatomy of Anger
And another premiere!
Dearest Yet Untitler,
How are you?
Wanted to take a moment to ask. It’s important. I would never want to take you for granted. This enterprise exists because I found you. You are out there - with your ear turned in my direction. Thank you for your attention and triple thank you if you’ve ever written back or commented. It’s nice to know that I’m not talking into a vast void (though I think I would have still written YU if that were the case).
Water and air flow from high pressure systems to low pressure ones. The urge to write YU is a high pressure system. Your desire to read it is a Dyson sucking YU instalments in your direction!
Thank you again!
When I started writing ‘Yet Untitled’, I followed a simple rule - lead with a photo, hop across two or three related thoughts / references; entertain/engage, then end the frikkin’ newsletter.
I’ve been breaking these rules somewhat lately, doing more improv jazz than reading off a note sheet.
Are the rules are changing? What are the new rules? I’m a big fan of what Craig Mod calls ‘rigour of process’ - it’s been my biggest antidote to writer’s block of any kind. So I ask myself again - what are the rules I’m working with?
The truth is - I don’t know yet. But we’ll get there. I remember one of my sociology professors mentioning Discursive Vs Tacit understanding in a lecture i.e. knowing something well enough to be able to define it vs. knowing it intuitively.
Here’s me riffing with my tacit understanding of what I’m doing with YU these days:
Lead with a reflection; append with some lateral thinking; follow with some more reflection; entertain and end early.
Also, these days:
Share one short film each week. See if the film elucidates any aspect of the main subject.
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With that - I’m diving in. At the time of writing this sentence: it’s Thursday and, even though I’ve been tapping away at this YU for a few days, I still don’t really know what this damn instalment is about!
Enough. Here goes nothin’!
Reflection - Anger and its anatomy
I got really angry this week!
Someone’s behaviour made me blow a gasket and how! I was seething, in a way I rarely seethe. Everything acquired the hue of my anger to the extent that finding two pages stuck together in a book made me even angrier. The slow buffering of a YouTube video almost made me explode! Don’t even get me started on how I responded to the people around me.
To me - someone not known to lose their shit so often - the experience was pretty unique. It made me think a bit meta. Thoughts like these -
“So this is how so much of the modern world feels pretty much all the time!”
“Wow, I actually don’t have control. Someone has slipped into my cockpit and is steering me all funny.”
Maybe this post is about process. My process of getting out of the state of rage (a great band name?) is to not act on it. This for me means avoiding conversations - actually, all human interaction - until the storm passes.
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible most of the time, because someone or the other will invariably come and ask for a goddamn OTP or something before the flames have abated, inviting an explosion.
My observation about anger is that it only persists when it is fed - and it’s one helluva hungry beast. Because it’s so demanding and gluttonous, I find that it can usually fold in on itself quite quickly - starve and die. But keep feeding it and it keeps raging forward like a coal eating locomotive. But feeding it can also be exhausting. I’m thinking of the industrial era train driver who had to shovel coal into the engine’s belly to keep it moving. ‘Consuming’, thus, sounds like an apt adjective for anger.
Anger is considered powerful, but I’ve always been suspicious of anger. More often than not, as I hint at above, it ends up controlling me rather than the other way around. Remember the Emperor’s taunt to Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars’?
Fat lot of good this same taunt did Darth Vader - the Emperor’s apprentice before he started targeting Skywalker. It pulled Vader over to the ‘dark side’ into a lifetime of hatred and evil-doing. Thankfully, in the story, Luke resisted and went on to become a great Jedi Master: an elite warrior who had harnessed his anger.
So, anger is dangerous. The Marvel franchise explores the many facets of anger via the Hulk - a diminutive scientist who transforms into a raging beast via his anger that’s fed from by an unlimited source giving him unlimited strength, invulnerability and so on. Marvel makes it clear in the Hulk stories that anger can be deployed as a force against evil. Remember the “Hulk, Smash!” scene? 😁
BUT, as in The Avengers movie, it takes a whole squadron of superheroes to keep the Hulk in check, lest he runs loose and destroys everything. An apt metaphor for Anger!
It seems that there’s an argument in favour of anger and the forward momentum it brings. In Buddhism there is a concept called “the mutual possession of the ten worlds” - which suggests that every life-state contains all other life states within it. In the Buddhist spectrum of life-states, Hell (suffering) is at the bottom (where we’re least happy) and Buddhahood (enlightenment) at the top (where we are the happiest). Going by the principal of Mutual Possession, even the life-state of Anger (the 3rd least desirable in the spectrum) contains Buddhahood, albeit in a latent form.
This concept is useful. It allowed me some headway into understanding the difference between anger and rage. A metaphor to illustrate my understanding:
Anger could be likened to a charging locomotive. What do you call a charging locomotive that’s not running on tracks? Perhaps that’s what Rage is - anger without tracks (“blind rage” - makes sense).
Add the tracks, and you’ve given anger direction. The (charging locomotive) + (tracks) carry passengers across vast distances, reunite families and bring vital supplies to far-off places. Without the tracks, all this good wouldn’t be possible. Without the locomotive, it wouldn't be possible either.
In my analysis, rage is to be avoided and anger to be understood better.
Regarding anger, I feel it needs to be harnessed / put on tracks / transformed in order to be useful / deployed effectively. Like venom from a snake, one needs to rid it of its poisonous attributes and learn to use what remains.
Once the rage passes, I find that I can isolate anger and use various tools thereafter to transform it. My favourites - waiting and chanting. I wait for the rage to pass and then chant for the latent Buddhahood to become my anger-locomotive’s tracks.
Too esoteric? If so, apologies. I trust you to allow me one of these posts now and then!
That’s why I love you, dear Yet Untitler!
Still want to throw something at me for lobbing esoterica at you? Do it via a comment!
Lateral Thought - Not being there
As touched upon above, anger can make us check out from ourselves for a spell. No longer present within ourselves - discretion not operating, or operating with a different set of rules - could have some undesirable outcomes.
I made a film with my daughter Aahana about not being present in another context - drowsiness. It leads to more entertaining outcomes than disastrous!
Hope you enjoy it!
While thinking about ‘not being there’, you may also be interested in one of my previous posts, titled “Being There”.
I’ll end here. See you next week.
Before you go - are there interesting ways in which you’ve used your anger?
Tell me. I want to know!