Monday, March 26, 2007

'I Snarl, Therefore, I Am'

George Will opines about the omnipresent show of anger these days in 'Anger is All the Rage'. In this WaPo column, Will draws heavily from Peter Wood, an anthropologist and author of "A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now".

[...]"So in this age that is proud of having achieved "the repeal of reticence," anger exhibitionism is pandemic."

[...]"...the new anger "often has the look-at-me character of performance art." His book is a convincing, hence depressing, explanation of "anger chic" -- of why anger has become an all-purpose emotional stance. It has achieved prestige and become "a credential for group membership.""

[...]..."attribute of an increasingly common personality type: the person who "unless he is angry, feels he is nothing at all.""

[...]"Once upon a time, Americans admired models of self-control, people such as George Washington and Jackie Robinson, who mastered their anger rather than relishing being mastered by it. America's fictional heroes could be angry, but theirs was a reluctant anger -- Alan Ladd as the gunfighter in "Shane," Gary Cooper as the marshal in "High Noon." Today, however, proclaimed anger -- the more vituperative the better -- is regarded as a sign of good character and emotional vitality."

"Perhaps this should not be surprising, now that Americans are inclined to elect presidents who advertise their emotions -- "I feel your pain." As the late Mary McGrory wrote, Bill Clinton "is a child of his age; he believes more in the thrust-out lower lip than the stiff upper one.""

[...]"Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity: I snarl, therefore I am."

It appears that 'being offended' could be substituted for 'anger' without altering any meaning.

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