Productivity of Negativity

Frustration is very effective. In general, negative emotions should not be purged. Pain, Anger, Annoyance, are mechanisms for change. They prompt us into action. Pain, in fact, accompanies every single action we do. The sense of craving, the sense of striving, are all forms of pain.

The stoics thought that all negative emotions should be avoided, for they are irrational. This is true. But the problem is that we are not rational animals, and we require these negative emotions to tell us what we cannot coherently articulate. Anger? Something is wrong with your relationship with what you are being angry about. Boredom? What you are doing is not worthwhile. Frustration? Something has to be changed.

The most terrible ideology is not Capitalism or Communism. But the injunction to be happy. The suggestion of detachment (“Western Buddhism” or “Neo-Corporate-Stoicism”) in order for one to cope with whatever one is doing. The remedy of the pill (which only leads to greater dependence further on the line) in place of a real solution.

The great refusal, the act of love towards the world, is to confront, not escape, frustration. This is what we too often don’t do. And the onus is on us, each individual, to do so—for the opiate is of, not for, the people.

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