During my college years, I heard a lot about existential rage, that is, the idea that there resides within each of us a great reservoir of anger or seething resentment just beneath the surface of the polite trappings of society. Law and order, the civilizing influences of religion, economic consumption, human pair-bonding…these things act as a buffer between an inner turmoil of aggression or angst that each of us must handle in our own specific way. For some, it involves analysis, medication, ultimate fighting, or just jail time. For others, they boil away like the atmosphere of a imminently-exploding star, seeking any opportunity to burn life for every shitty thing that has ever happened.
Myself, well, there is nothing existential about my rage. Why? With so many deeply ignorant fools walking around, holding down jobs, using credit cards, and consuming a holocaust-worthy amount of cheeseburger meat, I have a difficult time keeping my personal resentments from reaching their most natural conclusion: psychotic fucking hatreds. For you see, it’s easy to like things in life. Why, I’d argue it’s even easy to love things if, for no other reason, then familiarity, compatibility, and desire have easy roots in our genetics because of the high value life places on preservation and propagation. Finding a reason to like things and develop deep emotional bonds with them can be seen easily as a selected-for trait because it increases our likelihood of finding a compatible mate. It hardly takes an evolutionary biologist to realize that as humankind has evolved, our brain size and intellectual/emotional complexity have only grown. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that the hardwired nature of our need to like and love has grown as well.
Hatred, on the other hand, usually takes some serious thought. Just think about it: so much of what we hate, what truly makes us seemingly capable of murdering a neighbor with a cooking spoon, comes from a consideration of the subjunctive. That is to say, the ability to think in terms of should, could, would. Consider some of your most irrational hatreds. Are they simply a reaction to a person being something (a woman, black, gay, ugly, dull-witted, etc.) or are they a reaction to what you interpret that kind of person to be (she could actually merge into traffic like a normal human with eyes and awareness if she’d just take that dick out of her mouth when she’s driving in front of me, he wouldn’t dress like a fucking bum waiting for the bus if he’d just straighten up that ball cap and hit the McDonald’s). Regardless of the emotional and moral hazards involved in those kinds of judgments, we do process them every day of our life.
Don’t believe me? Okay, well, here’s a little experiment to test whether you live those judgments out, and indeed, how little control you have over them. Go to Walmart on a Saturday afternoon. Make it a holiday weekend, say, the 4th of July. Fill up a basket with all the obligatory shit you need from Walmart (a couple cases of Natty Light, a carton of Kools, and the first three seasons of Charles in Charge), find yourself the longest checkout line (it won’t take you long), and wait. If you haven’t run the gambit of human loathing and despair in the first 5 minutes of staring at the fat woman in the Rascal shouting at her “grand-baby” (the one with her ass hanging out and chocolate all over her face) to put “the damn candy bars back”…well, you aren’t really human. You are some kind of robot, Friend-o.
And you probably wouldn’t appreciate the high art that is Scott Baio anyway.