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Nightly Ramble: Angry?

Let’s talk about anger. [1]

 

First, perhaps it’s useful to get a working definition, from the above link at Dictionary.com:

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) [2]Cite This Source [3]

an·ger [4] [ang-ger] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation  

-noun  

1. a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.
2. Chiefly British Dialect. pain or smart, as of a sore.
3. Obsolete. grief; trouble.

-verb (used with object)

4. to arouse anger or wrath in.
5. Chiefly British Dialect. to cause to smart; inflame.

-verb (used without object)

6. to become angry: He angers with little provocation.

 

[Origin: 1150-1200; ME < Scand; cf. ON angr sorrow, grief, akin to OHG angust (G Angst fear), L angor anguish]

an·ger·less, adjective
1. resentment, exasperation; choler, bile, spleen. Anger, fury, indignation, rage imply deep and strong feelings aroused by injury, injustice, wrong, etc. Anger is the general term for a sudden violent displeasure: a burst of anger. Indignation implies deep and justified anger: indignation at cruelty or against corruption. Rage is vehement anger: rage at being frustrated. Fury is rage so great that it resembles insanity: the fury of an outraged lover. 4. displease, vex, irritate, exasperate, infuriate, enrage, incense, madden.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

 

 

 

There seems to be an awful lot of talk about political anger these last few months, and years, but, is such anger limited to politics? I have stated in these spaces often enough that someone’s politics is, in the end, nothing more a reflection of that someone’s values. Their inner desires, if you will. So, it is this anger we’re seeing reflected in the politics of today, running deeper?

Stanley Kurtz [5], in reviewing Peter Wood’s new book, A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now [6], says that…

 

…America has entered an enduring age of anger, and Peter Wood is the able (and unruffled) chronicler of that epoch.

I doubt that even Barack Obama can save us from our anger now. That’s because the anger that lately pervades our politics is more than just an aftereffect of six years of Democratic setbacks (although the strikingly angry Democratic response to their six bad years does call for an explanation). Our political anger is only the most impressive expression of a much wider cultural transformation. In politics, in music, in sports, on the web, in our families, and in the relations between the sexes, American anger has come into its own. Wood says we’re living in an era of “New Anger,” and regardless of who becomes our next president, New Anger isn’t going away anytime soon.

He goes on to define old anger as the anti-hero. We’re talking about the strong silent individual such as a sergeant York for example, as played by John Wayne, Gary Cooper. Or, perhaps the Clint Eastwood type. We are talking here about someone who is slow to anger, and even when he gets angry to the point of being forced into action, doesn’t show it very much. Says Kurtz:

 

That was then. America’s New Anger exchanges the modest heroism of Gary Cooper’s Sargent York for something much closer to the Incredible Hulk. New Anger is everything that Old Anger was not: flamboyant, self-righteous, and proud. As a way to “empowerment” for ethnic groups, women, political parties, and children, New Anger serves as a mark of identity and a badge of authenticity. The Civil War, and America’s past political campaigns, may have witnessed plenty of anger, yet not until recently, says Wood, have Americans actually congratulated themselves for getting angry. Anger has turned into a coping mechanism, something to get in touch with, a prize to exhibit in public, and a proof of righteous sincerity.

But this is where things take a left turn:

New Anger is nowhere more at home than in the blogosphere, where so far from being held in check, look-at-me performance anger is the path to quick success. Wood’s section on the “proud maliciousness” of bloggers (titled “Insta-Anger”) will stir debate, yet it’s far from a blanket indictment. The Insta-Pundit himself is off the hook, for example. “[Glenn] Reynolds’ comments are often sardonic but seldom angry,” says Wood. On the other hand, Atrios explaining “Why We Say ‘F***’ a Lot” (expurgation most definitely not in the original) fares far less well at Wood’s hands.

In a fascinating interview with Wood, Noah Millman (of Gideon’s Blog [7]) Wood says, “Yes, I think bloggers are overly contemptuous of political opponents.” That is the question. Is the affected contempt that characterizes New Anger a good thing? It is not, thinks Wood. Yet blogger contempt is a novel and fascinating cultural phenomenon, and Wood dissects it with flair. Here’s a bit of Wood on blogs: “Perhaps the dominant form of political blogging in general (Left and Right) is a sassy, hyperarticulate belittling of one’s opponents. The blogger’s rhetorical stance is one of self-confident control over the facts and sneering disregard for the intelligence and honesty of those he criticizes.”

 

Certainly, the situation described is prevalent on leftist sites, but not so much on the sites populated by those on the right. Granted, that that situation is changing, but it’s going to be some time before the right catches up to the anger that the left has been showing in the ‘sphere.

Mind you, this anger doesn’t necessarily have to make sense ; in fact… it generally doesn’t. Which, it can be said to be the sole point at which the right delves into derision of the writings of their leftist counterparts. But they still have and raise themselves to the level of anger; and they seem rather to be amused and bemused.

Well, perhaps that’s why the readership of this blog never quite got to the level of some of the more rabid far left sites. For the largest part of the authorship of this site has never gotten that deeply into such ‘angry’ behavior. Then again, neither has the authorship of such sites as Glenn Reynolds’ place, or places like OTB, Q&O and so on. And those seem to be doing all right… so, perhaps that’s not the key, here. But enough about Blogs; I’m looking across the whole of society here, and finding a lot more anger than I care to.

Back to the reflection part; one cannot listen to most urban radio stations, any more, without hearing an awful lot of anger growing in the music played on them. This is not the practiced cynicism of, say, Jethro Tull, nor is it the slightly internalized aggression offered by Steppenwolf. This is naked aggression, aimed at ANY authority. A classic example:

 

I got my black shirt on.
I got my black gloves on.
I got my ski mask on.
This shit’s been too long.
I got my twelve gauge sawed off.
I got my headlights turned off.
I’m ’bout to bust some shots off.
I’m ’bout to dust some cops off.
Cop killer, better you than me.
Cop killer, f**k police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your family’s grievin’
(f**k ’em)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even.
I got my brain on hype.
Tonight’ll be your night.
I got this long-assed knife,
and your neck looks just right.
My adrenaline’s pumpin’.
I got my stereo bumpin’.
I’m ’bout to kill me somethin’
A pig stopped me for nuthin’!
Cop killer, better you than me.
Cop killer, f**k police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your mama’s grievin’
(f**k her)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even.
Die, die, die pig, die!
F**k the police!
F**k the police!
F**k the police!
F**k the police!
F**k the police!
F**k the police!
F**k the police yeah!

 

Now the album this was pulled from, by most accounts, wasn’t all that good, even by rap music standards. The attempt, supposedly, was to create some kind of all black heavy metal band, the trouble was they have the foggiest idea what they were doing with it, the musicianship, in short, wasn’t… the lyrics while bold and incendiary were certainly not up to the standards of anyone else that was working in the field at that time. The songs were unquestionably talked about, and sold a lot of copies, but in the end they were not very good.

Yet, the album sells millions. Why? Because of the attitude reflected. I’m not picking on rap music, particularly, here. There’s certainly quite a bit in the rock world that goes alongside it, these days , the grandfather of which was punk rock. Consider the lyrics from a popular movie’s soundtrack:

Just where is our future, the things we’ve done and said!Let’s just push the button, we’d be better off dead!

‘Cause I hate you!

And I berate you!

And I can’t wait to get to you!

The sins of all our fathers, being dumped on us — the sons.

The only choice we’re given is how many megatons?

And I eschew you!

And I say, screw you!

And I hope you’re blue, too.

We’re all bloody worthless, just greedy human scum.

The numbers all add up to a negative sum.

And I hate you!

And I hate you!

And I hate you…too!

OK, OK, I know that this song was supposed to lighten the mood in the movie.(Can you guess which movie?)

Yes, I know… It’s a caricature, for God’s sake….. But hold the phone a minute. Caricatures, are based on the reality.There is no comedy at least in the spoken word that, if it works, that doesn’t paint a picture of reality. Caricatures are reality, amplified in every direction. The reason that that’s scene worked, was because the caricature was so accurate, in many uncomfortable details.

But the music isn’t the source of the anger either. Here’s a hint: For all that it is, music cannot create. It can only amplify the existing moods and feelings. It is, in fact, like politics, a reflection of the values of the artists and listeners. There is some deep seated need within the people producing and buying this garbage, to have those feelings legitimized. It gives each an identity. makes them a member of what they see as a club if you will. Membership in that club, is paramount. Like the tribes of old, its members protect their own. This would be the only logical reason behind the comment from LaShawn Barber, that David linked to earlier today [8].

Why did certain blacks in Durham, North Carolina, rally around a black stripper claiming to have been gang raped by three white men but virtually ignore the more destructive trend of black-on-black crime in their midst? (Duke blogger KC Johnson elaborates on blacks’ deafening silence [9] about the latest developments in the so-called rape case.)

The reason is a simple one, if an uncomfortable one; tribal membership. You don’t go ballistic on members of your own tribe. Even if, as LaShawn points out, they’re dead wrong. Even if not doing so is by every logic known to man, self destructive. That LaShawn doesn’t understand it speaks well of her, but in asking such questions, she’s painted a circle on her back for the ‘angry’ crowd… in much the same way as Doctor Thomas Sowell has been labeled “uncle Tom” by the angries.

That anger, is being seen in the politics of today, as it is being seen in every other part of society. Just like the music, it doesn’t necessarily have to make sense, all it has to be his loud, and angry and, aggressive. I have summarized elsewhere:

Think about this seriously for a moment. Have you ever seen a hip hop CD or for that matter, any kind of rap literature, where the pictures on them have smiling people in them? I’ll tell you point blank, I haven’t. The reasons are simple enough. The kind of music we’re dealing with is all about anger, and power and the grabbing of it. . Anger against everyone and everything that stands in the way of instant and total gratification, be it sex money, whatever. It all represents POWER.

My point here is not a racial one; Black music certainly isn’t the only to have fallen under this spell of anger. I would point to what passes for today’s heavy metal, speed metal, etc. acts, for examples of the problem on the white side of the aisle. Just a few years ago now bands like Boston, Deep Purple, Yes, Zepp, or before them Uriah Heep, and that crowd, etc., were considered out on the edge of the metal scene. A comparison of musical content and lyrical content between that generation of bands and this, is downright startlingâ… even for those who have followed or been part of the music scene for the last 30 some odd years. When’s the last time you heard a metal band playing an uplifting tune of the stature of Triumph doing “Hold On”, for example?

Mind you, in either case, I don’t see the music as an instigator so much as a carrier of this anger. Rather like germs, it has the ability to infect the listener, to the point where the listener and eventually believes the nonsense he’s being fed in the music.

However, the music wouldn’t exist without the anger. And the music is not the root problem. The music is but a symptom of the anger. The anger is, as I have said previously, cultural in nature, and that anger culture advances as it is able to break down our existing American culture.

And that part is crucial, I think. I don’t think that there are many who partake of this anger who are about changing culture for the better, rather, they’re simply changing it because they can; It is merely an exercise in raw power. The damage being done to everyone involved including themselves matters little, if at all.
So, with all this anger out there, why should we be surprised that it shows up in politics and the music, and in our interactions with each other?
So, now we have a working definition of what we’re talking about. This is a phenomenon that has been a couple decades in coming, but now it is here and needs to be dealt with…

…If we can. 

Therein, lies the problem. How does one deal with such a problem? How does one turn that situation around? Frankly, I wonder if it can be turned around. And the reason for my doubt is the apparent lack of reasoning.

There is an old saying, of which there are several variations I’ve heard, but the gist of it is that of all the emotions, only love is unreasonable. By that, it is meant that only love is illogical and its applications. There is no logical reason for John to fall in love with Mary, for example. Yet happily, it happens many times a day.

Now, also consider; It is also said of old, that hate is love turned in on itself. Is the anger that we are seeing in the society of today, hate? It most certainly has all the earmarks of it. Some of it includes self hatred along with the hatred being directed of everybody else.

 What we have in front of us, under discussion, is a reason- less also. The arguments presented in support of the kind of anger we see do not make sense. Never have. Which to my mind, raises the likelihood that the “reasons” that are offered are merely excuses ; they are operating on sheer emotionalism, without reason, without logic.

So, we are faced with the same question asked by King Theodin in Lord of the Rings, in a different context; “How do we deal with such mindless hate?”

That, I think is going to be the question of our time. One possible answer to that question, is that the un-angry majority, finally gets angry themselves and quietly, like the anti-heros of old, stands up and says “that’s enough” and displays a little anger of their own. I suspect the resulting display is going to be terrible to behold. It will also undoubtedly take on a cultural context the likes of which has not been seen since the American civil war. This is going to be a happening, that not many of even the anti heroes are going to walk away from, into the sunset.
But, there’s a backlash building against all this nonsense, already. there will be a great number ostensibly open minded people, finally realizing the nature of the attack that they’re under. When that happens, and they respond, it will be ugly.

I will quietly tell you that I hope I’m not alive to see it.