Law in Contemporary Society

The Angry Guy

-- By CasidheMcClone - 29 Mar 2016

Remember the DA from “Robinson’s Metamorphosis?” The one who beat up the kid? I’m afraid of turning into him instead of Robinson.

When I was playing water polo, I used to be able to hate the other team. I didn’t have to hate them, but I could if I wanted to. There was a switch, at the base of the back of my neck. If I touched it, a warm, red strength would flow from my neck. It felt like the blood in my face was flowing down into my arms, narrowing my eyes and fueling my body. I never played better angry. But I usually played harder.

After reading “Something Split,” I think I have a theory of what was going on. My mind gets pulled a little tighter when I jump in the pool, and everyone inside me starts thinking about the same objective. There’s some limited level of internal teamwork: the analyst and the opportunist get especially close, the true primate gets in the pilot’s chair, everybody starts telling the coward to please, for fuck’s sake dude, just shut up. And the angry guy, the fighter, the asshole, just stands in the back with his arms crossed, silently reminding us he’s there if we need him.

He wasn’t used every game, or even often, but I can honestly say number of plays would have gone much worse without him. And, interestingly, he’d usually step back after doing his job. I’m starting to realize I took that for granted. Because, out of the pool, the people inside me rarely get close to each other. And out of the pool, when the angry guy takes over, he doesn’t back away. He needs opponents to hate, and if he can’t find any, he’ll create them. Like the DA from Robinson’s Metamorphosis, he looks for challenges. He seeks slights to overreact to. He wants that kid to try and climb in through his bedroom window, because he’ll have an excuse to hit something.

As I’ve been writing motions for a DA’s office over the summer, I’ve started to imagine how that angry DA got to where he is. Maybe he lost a case he could have won, or someone got off with a light sentence. He feels guilty at first, and then angry at the criminal who took his peace from him, took peace from the state. He starts to think he was the victim. It’s now us against them, the state against criminals. His job is to make changes with words, but his mind approaches it violently. So when his home turf is invaded in a literal sense, the violence becomes literal as well...

In “Robinson’s Metamorphosis,” Robinson muses that the DA might have had some “pent-up anger.” If I’m not careful, I think I could become that DA— the kind of metamorphosis I don’t want. I won’t claim to be particularly self-aware, but I know I’m capable of some pretty extreme anger.

I want to make sure that I don’t end up with a dangerous man lurking in the shadows of my mind. That’s the kind of guy who will deliberately drive a sports car into a telephone pole; indeed, that’s the guy who would want me to buy a sports car in the first place. But stopping him doesn’t have an easy solution, at least not one that’s super visible to me. I feel like Levin near the end of Anna Karenina: aware of a fundamental problem concerning who I am, but lost as to how to solve it.

Eben mentioned in office hours that meditation can be particularly important for people who don’t have a lot of patience. Maybe I can use a similar concept. Playing music and swimming both have rhythmic and methodical qualities that help to keep my mind organized. The angry guy doesn’t do so well in an organized mind. He likes it dimly lit, with sharp memories scattered haphazardly across the floor for him to bump into fume at. If I keep my mind clear, there’s nothing for him to be mad at, and he’ll just sit in the corner, daydreaming about some crisis where I’ll need him again. The problem is that keeping him shoved down doesn’t get rid of him, and may make him less predictable.

Another solution could be to pacify him. “Work out my anger,” so to speak. The only thing he loves more than throwing punches is getting punched, and if he gets hit enough he’ll settle into a satisfied sleep. He enjoys pain, and he knows that nobody else inside of me can handle it like he can. So if he takes enough of it, he feels useful, and doesn’t fight for control. Of course, it’s not exactly easy to find a safe way to get roughed up— and if it’s self-inflicted pain, he’s not going to feel useful at all. He’ll just get angrier.

Either way, I guess I’ve got some issues. Personal change isn’t something that seems obvious to me, or easy to control. I guess the good news is that I can look to other sources before I attempt it— I picked up a used hardcopy of an idea called Kafka the other day, and I’m going to see if it helps.

In the meantime, I’ll try and walk a middle path between pacifying and shunning the angry guy. Surfing is rhythmic enough to relax me, and rough enough to beat me up a little. I’ll keep my mind in order, so he can’t find things to get mad at. And when I get thrown off my board and against the reef, he’ll be the one to take the pain. He’ll be the one who gets us back above water. Maybe that can bring him a little closer to the rest of the team.


Webs Webs

r3 - 13 Jun 2016 - 06:57:51 - CasidheMcClone
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM