June 15, 2017

"Sometimes, I just love something so much that it makes me mad...."

"In fact, you may know firsthand what I’m talking about: an intense positive feeling that pushes you to anger or aggression, sort of like being moved to tears by something beautiful. It could be paired with jealousy, but it’s not the same thing — this anger isn’t about coveting someone else’s success or talent. It’s more like bafflement that something so good could exist at all, or a furious exuberance that it does. 'It’s almost like tasting an amazing dessert and having a look of pain on your face. It’s like, "Ugh, that was good,"' said Oriana Aragón, an assistant professor of marketing at Clemson University...."

Actually, I don't know what she's talking about. "The Psychology of ‘So Good It Makes Me Angry,'" by Rae Nudson. I understand being moved to tears by beauty and feeling upset that someone else produced something great when I didn't and — not mentioned in the article — the irrational feeling that I could have done it too and have been unjustly deprived of what is rightfully mine. But I don't relate to feeling angry (or, in the case of that dessert, disgusted) that something is good. I'm not sure that article explains it very well, but it was helpful to think of the image of athletes punching the air when they win.

ADDED: I do sometimes want things to be bad, but I don't think the author is talking about anger because you're disappointed that something you wanted to be bad ended up good. This made me think of that famous Gore Vidal quote: "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." You could be mad because those others failed to fail and you lust for their failure, you awful shit.

AND: I'm really enjoying — but not getting mad at — this page of Gore Vidal quotes.
I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise....

At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice....

A narcissist is someone better looking than you are....

39 comments:

Virtually Unknown said...

I agree with Althouse. I always thought that the title of that book should have been "A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius" because that's how I feel when I read a really great novel, for example.

Ann Althouse said...

What are you agreeing with me about?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Sometimes, I just love something so much that it makes me mad....

Wife-beaters everywhere have a new justification...

Fernandinande said...

It’s like, "Ugh, that was bad. Is someone advertising their new book?"

Amexpat said...

Perhaps the anger is knowing that the fantastic moment is fleeting and you will soon lose it. That you can't always have it.

Wilbur said...

Wife: "Don't you touch that child!!"

W.C. Fields: "She's not gonna' tell me I don't love her."

tcrosse said...

There's the forehead-slapping moment of "Why didn't I think of that ?" when confronted with someone else's brilliance.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Sometimes I think I must be visiting another planet or alien culture. After reading that article, I'm sure of it.

rehajm said...

I'm with DBQ. Don't have it in me.

Maybe some people only know pricks?

Sebastian said...

"I'm really enjoying this page of Gore Vidal quotes." Oh. no. Now that makes me mad.

Virtually Unknown said...

What are you agreeing with me about?

That the first thing, getting angry at something you love is for being so perfect falls somewhere around "compersion" on the list of human emotions, but jealousy over somebody else's brilliance is a real thing. (See what I did with that title?)

I think what probably makes her really mad is that the men she is extremely attracted to don't like her, or dump her after "pumping" her, but she can't say that. That, I believe, is a real human emotion. I have felt a bit of pique over some beautiful woman's unearned power over my attention. Of course I haven't read the article, just the post, trusting you to get the meat of it.

Quaestor said...

In some far-removed realm, the shade of Gore Vidal sits at the right hand of the shade of Oscar Wilde as Majai sat by the right hand of Dr. Moreau.

Michael K said...

"Think of an athlete breaking down in tears after winning a championship game"

That's not anger. That's gratitude for having done what you wanted to badly to do.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Amexpat said...
Perhaps the anger is knowing that the fantastic moment is fleeting and you will soon lose it."

I've felt fear at the prospect of losing people I dearly loved and a bit of sadness in the midst of a moment of great happiness because I knew it was fleeting, but not anger.

And not over a friggin' dessert, no matter how great it was. I savor a good meal, enjoy every second and make a mental note to go that restaurant again unless I'm on vacation and unlikely to revisit the area.

I sometimes wonder if these writers are trying to prove how special and unique they are by having - or pretending to have - reactions that are the opposite of what other, more boring and mundane people have. "Most people get mad when the dessert sucks- well, I get mad when it's great, because I'm above the common herd!"

Kevin said...

It’s more like bafflement that something so good could exist at all, or a furious exuberance that it does.

Given the people in my neighborhood, I just assumed she meant Bernie.

Virtually Unknown said...

"Annette Benning can go straight to hell for being so fucking attractive and completely out of my reach!" would be one formulation. I can't stop looking at her when she's on the screen, even if she is not a really great actress who can make me forget she is Annette Benning. I was just watching a production of Richard II with her in it, and it was like, here is WS's great play, and it's got Annette Benning too!

CStanley said...

Athletes raising fists in the air in celebration of a victory seems like a display of dominance, not anger.

Far too much psychobabble in the article anyway. If you study the emotional circuits of the brain, it makes sense that exteme emotional experiences would overlap in their expressions,

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Sometimes, I just love something so much that it makes me mad.

And a quick look at Twitter or Instagram will reveal I’m not the only one who feels this way.


When you find yourself checking Twitter or Instagram to gauge your mental stability, the battle is already lost.

Virtually Unknown said...

It’s more like bafflement that something so good could exist at all, or a furious exuberance that it does.

There was a movie with Johnny Depp in it, before he sold out, where he played a CIA agent in Mexico. He was served a dish he loved so much he went back into the kitchen and killed the cook "to restore balance to the Universe."

Amexpat said...

I've felt fear at the prospect of losing people I dearly loved and a bit of sadness in the midst of a moment of great happiness because I knew it was fleeting, but not anger.

That's a normal, healthy reaction. But I can see possessive, control freaks getting angry that they can't retain a moment of great happiness in an otherwise unhappy life.

Virtually Unknown said...

Richard III not Richard II, D'Oh!

But the BBC did a great production of Richard II that is available on Amazon. No Annette Benning, alas.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I'm reminded of the comic statement involving being served a dish that is so good it makes you "want to slap your mother."

The implication being that your mother was serving you an inferior product all your life when you could have been having something so much better.

I have never felt that emotion.

Paco Wové said...

The existence of the linked article tends to confirm me in my belief that most writers of popular fare are shallow and mentally unbalanced, and thus worthy of continued dismissal.

He was served a dish he loved so much he went back into the kitchen and killed the cook "to restore balance to the Universe."

Stupid.

glenn said...

Some people just aren't happy unless they are mad about something.

For example I'm mad about Annette Benning.

Fernandinande said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...
After reading that article, ...


Ha ha, you read it, even after being warned.

"Cuteness Inspires Aggression"

Cuteness "inspired" bubble-wrap popping, not aggression. Headlines about bubble-wrap don't sell SciAm's advertising.

"Some things are so cute that we just can't stand it," female academic psychologist Dyer falsely stated.

Virtually Unknown said...

For example I'm mad about Annette Benning.

You too?!?

Ann Althouse said...

"There's the forehead-slapping moment of "Why didn't I think of that ?" when confronted with someone else's brilliance."

No, that feeling is explicitly segmented off as not what she's talking about.

Ann Althouse said...

""Annette Benning can go straight to hell for being so fucking attractive and completely out of my reach!" would be one formulation. "

No. That's the jealousy feeling that is excluded from the idea under discussion. I said I understood that idea. It's the other idea, actual anger at the goodness, that I don't get.

Virtually Unknown said...

Me neither.

Robert Cook said...

"At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice...."

NAILED IT!

traditionalguy said...

Hormones and jealousy must go together just right to create a super women. And then from perfection she wanes.

DanTheMan said...

> It's the other idea, actual anger at the goodness, that I don't get.

I not only don't understand it, I don't understand how *anyone* could feel such an emotion.

If something is incredibly good, doesn't the definition of 'goodness' exclude feeling hostile towards it? At least for the sane?

Would that be akin to feeling absolute joy at horrific evil? Is that not an indicator of insanity?

Ralph L said...

Vidal wins points for self-awareness.
He was served a dish he loved so much he went back into the kitchen and killed the cook "to restore balance to the Universe.
Read Saki's "The Chaplet" for the reverse of this scenario. Hell, just read Saki (H. H. Munro).

Mike said...

The author seems to be confusing "mad about" with "mad at" or unable to distinguish between them. Maybe common English isn't her native tongue.

Ralph L said...

Then those beautiful young Amish women have to grow beards.

Anniella said...

In a J.D. Salinger story, a child throws a rock at a girl (and scars her) for being "too beautiful." The other characters debate whether this is an understandable reaction or not.

I definitely don't understand it. If goodness or beauty make you angry, it seems like a problem of crossed wires somewhere in the brain. Sort of like synesthesia, maybe, but harmful.

Kevin said...

Is this the case of people becoming so emotional that they have to invent new emotions to place themselves above others in emotional status? Like, I can feel things that you cannot emotionally comprehend?

It would seem the kind of thing for which the Germans already have a word.

traditionalguy said...

The comments seem to be about a reaction to perfect beauty. After being stunned, the hearts of man suddenly want to crucify it.

And don't wear hat coat of many colors around your brothers or you will die.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Prof. Althouse to Gore Vidal quote page: I ain't mad at cha


Movie "Burnt" 2015, Bradley Cooper's character:
Adam Jones: I don't want my restaurant to be a place where people sit and eat. I want people to sit at that table and be sick with longing.