Sunday, 9 January 2022

Josh Cohen's cretinous Aeon essay

Following on from my last post, I give here a detailed Socioproctological analysis of Josh Cohen's essay on Anger in Aeon. 

In Sigmund Freud’s case histories, theoretical papers and cultural commentaries alike, anger appears as one of the great motive forces of the self and the world.

Freud's Vienna was certainly much consumed by anger. The Imperial Parliament was a bear garden. Jews, in particular, aroused anger and persecution while having very good reason to be angry about many many things.  Karl Krause's 'The Torch' distills the incandescent rage of a febrile era without however achieving anything as aesthetically worthwhile as Swift's scalpel of savage indignation. Everything that came out of Vienna was second rate but, precisely for that reason, meretriciously attractive- if only because the 'cultural exchange rate', so to speak, had depreciated and so Vienna's products were as cheap as chips. Thus Austrian Economics was intellectually underpowered as was Wittlesstein and the Vienna Circle both of whom didn't understand what vistas Brouwer had opened up. But, bereft of everything else, interwar Austria was reducing the 'roundaboutness' of its intellectual capital so as to turn a quick profit or simply to emigrate- like Bruno Betthelheim- on the basis of bogus credentials in essentially ultracrepidarian enterprises like Psychoanalysis or- like Karl Popper- 'Scientific Method'. 

The problem with Austrian anger- like the problem with everything else about it- was that the thing was ersatz. It was hollow and unmeaning and essentially adolescent. No doubt, it threw up Fuhrers- but those shitheads literally ate shit and had shit for brains and shat copiously on the pages of history. 

The Oedipus complex, for example, cornerstone of his theory of psychic development, is premised on the formative power of murderous rage.

It is premised on stupidity. It was formative of nothing but fraud. Some Roman Emperor or other may indeed have killed Daddy and fucked Mummy but then again them guys had Gods who went in for that sort thing. But those Gods died long ago. Jehovah has prevailed. The hearts of the fathers must incline to their sons and vice versa lest Elijah return and smite the land with a curse. Mums, however, get on fine with their sons. Wives are the problem coz they can't cook properly. Still, the kids seem to gobble up anything she gives them and, to be fair, they are shooting up and towering over you in a manner which warms the cockles of your heart. 

Although Freud nowhere offers a discrete and integral conceptual treatment of anger,

because that which is multiply realizable is not 'discrete' nor can it be integral to an essentially mechanistic or 'hydraulic' model. Freud did turn away from his 'Scientific Project' but what replaced it was a fraudulent Business Model. A branch of Medicine which can provide good livelihoods can flourish till Insurers cite Statistical Evidence of its uselessness to deny coverage.  

he hints at the structural place of anger in psychic life, notably within a very brief clinical vignette from a founding text of psychoanalysis, the ‘Preliminary Communication’ (1893), written with his older colleague, the general physician Josef Breuer, which outlined the pair’s therapeutic innovations in the treatment of hysteria.

There was no innovation. Everybody gets that a guy acting crazy coz he is really really angry is not hysterical unless it is common knowledge that he's got a really tiny dick and zero muscles in which case you can treat him like a slut wot has bin fucked over and is now screaming her tits off. Bitch slapping is the usual remedy. But there are those who can pay for something more elaborate. 

A man consults a young physician at his newly established practice for the treatment of nervous disorders.

Coz the 'young physician' can't charge very much as yet. Also, bitch slapping isn't yet in his repertoire.  

He has been suffering from spontaneous hysterical attacks, during which he falls into frenzies of wordless rage. Under hypnosis, he reveals that he’s been ‘living through the scene in which his employer had abused him in the street and hit him with a stick’. Returning a few days later, the patient tells of a second attack, which hypnosis reveals as a staging of the event that had triggered his illness: ‘the scene in the law-court when he failed to obtain satisfaction for his maltreatment’.

This guy should have gone to see the local Don. Either the employer can be extorted- thus making his victim whole- or, maybe, the dude needs to think about emigrating. If Labor doesn't have countervailing power, heading off to America or Argentina or whatever is a sensible idea. Don't go see a shrink if this is your major malfunction. Just emigrate already to a place where wages are high because Labor is scarce and employers have to be polite.  

Freud and Breuer tell us almost nothing about the man. He might be a factory worker or a waiter, but I always imagine him in the mould of an emerging stock type: the pinched, anxious clerk, soon to be immortalised in Franz Kafka’s Josef K or E M Forster’s Leonard Bast, men whose apologetic facade conceals a quietly roiling anger and resentment.

This is foolish. Josef K is a chief cashier at a Bank and thus much higher on the totem pole than Bast who is the low man on the totem pole of a fringe Insurance company not yet in the cartel. What makes Kafka's protagonist different from a dim, Doestoeveskian 'underground man' is that Central Europe was 'ordoliberal' not autocratic like Tzarist Russia. 

I can imagine a guy named Khan or Kapoor, who has never lived in Europe, writing in the ignorant manner that Cohen has done. I don't understand how anyone who has grown up in this country could be so deracinated and ignorant of urban Sociology. The fact is, a waiter or a factory worker who gets beaten by the boss will get an ample revenge through the agency of his own kind unless the boss is a 'made man' in which case he would scarcely be such a fool as to go to law. As for white-collar employees, beating them is bad business. All they have to do is to claim that they spotted some fraud or other irregularity for your reputation to be ruined. Why else would you resort to physical force- that too in the streets- if you weren't a swindler using coercive methods to keep your staff in line? 

In England, gentlemen have an apologetic facade. Bump into a Duke and that Old Etonian will apologize in a manner which puts you firmly in your place-  unless, obviously, you are a Duchess in which case he gets you preggers. What? I've read Barbara Cartland and know all about the mores of the English Aristocracy. By contrast, when I bump into peeps I tend to growl 'yerawrite?'- the implication being that they are very frail creatures and anyway I'm like SAS and well hard. Sadly, this doesn't prevent my getting thumped by ladies in burqas.

Cohen may be from a wealthy family. He may never had to rub shoulders with us Cockneys. He passes us gingerly in the streets afraid that our roiling resentment might overspill upon him in the shape of a swift headbutt or kick in the slats. It is comforting to think of him retreating to the gleaming spires of Goldsmith's to dream up a cure for our loutishness and lack of class.  Now if only he had a Medical degree, we could call him as a witness next time we get into a punch up with a police man. Well, actually, in my case, it was a police woman. Well, not a police woman as such but that lady was certainly hefty enough to have served on the force and, for all I know, may have been wearing a police uniform under her burqa. Anyway, that elderly hooligan got off scot free despite dislocating my jaw because bystanders said I was drunk and aggressive and had bumped into the old hag and called her a fucking cow before she clocked me. Still, it must be said, roiling resentment tends to subside when you have to take your meals through a straw. 

Such iconic fictional figures fit the classic neurasthenic profile that Freud was beginning to treat and write about.

In other words, fiction created the factitious malady which Freud fraudulently treated. 

A phenomenon of the rapidly urbanising, industrialising society of the late 19th century, neurasthenia

was an American invention. It has been dropped from the diagnostic handbook.  

was the consequence of a sudden and excessive load of sensory and emotional stimulus bearing down on mind and body, inducing symptoms of irritability, fatigue and depression as well as headaches and spikes in blood pressure.

So, the thing could be cured by going on holiday. Good to know. 

The employee’s silent pantomimic fury suggests a nervous system traumatised and overwhelmed, unable to bear the burden of humiliation induced by the public beating and the subsequent public repudiation of his legal case for compensation.

But that nervous system would have been fully restored by the sight of the employer getting his head kicked in or being made to pay a vast sum in damages by a Court of Law. Fuck has this to do with medical quacks? It is they who are the Widow Twankey in this pantomime.  

Freud’s clinical interest in the nervous afflictions of the moment was accompanied by more fundamental enquiries into psychic life, equally relevant to the case of the beaten employee.

For whom Freud got compensation- right? Wrong. The fucker was useless. Should have given the chap some cocaine after which the guy was bound to avenge himself or at least get into a more profitable line of work.  

In an unpublished text of 1895, known as the Project for a Scientific Psychology, Freud speculates on the baby’s earliest experience of satisfaction, describing a being beset by excess internal tension brought about by hunger or some other vital need. Unable to provide this for herself, the baby cries, communicating her distress and so drawing the attention of her caregiver. The full circuit of tension, external intervention and relief constitutes ‘an experience of satisfaction’.

Freud was crying out for professional success and public esteem. No doubt he was plenty self-satisfied when he gained relief. But then he got cancer and it turned out his branch of Medicine was utterly useless in helping him medically. Then he died.  

The efficacy of the baby’s hungry scream leads Freud to the startling inference that ‘the initial helplessness of human beings is the primal source of all moral motives.’

But all baby mammals and birds and so forth are initially helpless. Do mice have moral motives? Sure. Why not? Ethology has the same game theoretic foundations as Ethics. But Freud was too stupid to understand stuff like that. 

Morality, that is, begins in the distress of the creature who calls on her carers to provide satisfactions she cannot supply for herself. For as long as they fail to do so, she screams her angry proto-moral protest.

This is bizarre. Mummies look after babies even if they aren't screaming their heads off. Daddies start putting money aside for School Fees or College tuition from the day they hear  the happy news. Why does Cohen think that morality and ethics and affectionate relations only come into existence when you scream your little lungs out? Is it really the case that the shrill cries of the utterly abject has been the main driver for the creation of the Welfare State? If we all go outside and scream our heads off will our 'carers' get rid of COVID and global warming and inflation and so forth? What an infantile point of view!


The hypnosis of the beaten employee had revealed a similarly helpless scream, this time unvoiced, when he ‘failed to obtain satisfaction for his maltreatment’. The verbal echo is more than coincidence. The humiliating incapacity to gain satisfaction puts the employee in contact with his original infantile helplessness. His reaction, like the baby’s, is a wordless scream of rage, now driven into the silence of unconscious memory.

The poor sod didn't belong to a powerful Union. He didn't have pals who could slice and dice that employer unless he coughed up a pretty penny. He should have emigrated not gone to see a shrink. 

Incidentally, screams of rage are memorable. My friends often remind me of my own screams of rage on my wedding night when I discovered that my bride was not Italian as I had thought but rather a large Alsatian who bit off my dangly bits. I have no memory of any such thing but my friends are always willing to provide me with free psychotherapy- i.e. beer- till I finally have recovered memories of this primal trauma. Perhaps this is what Cohen is getting at.

Hysteria, neurasthenia, infantile need: underlying these very different psychic phenomena is the same experience of helplessness.

The problem with working in a fraudulent field is that you have to imagine your victims as helpless. Otherwise, the realization slowly dawns on you that you are being paid a little money to be shat upon by the emotionally incontinent. Apparently there are prostitutes who offer a similar service. But they charge more. Also they don't got no student debt. Boy have you been screwed! Still, you are helpless. The only way to get out from under your horrible choice of profession is to diversify- i.e. write shite books and try to make good as part of a Virtue Signaling Ponzi scheme.  

The baby’s scream announces a gap between a need and its satisfaction,

Nonsense! Screaming can be enjoyable. I live near a Primary School. The kids seem to enjoy nothing so much as running around screaming their fucking heads off.  

which becomes harder to bear the longer it is sustained.

Unless you have noise cancelling earphones.  

Ordinarily, our physical and emotional development distances us from this state of helplessness; as we grow in mental and bodily autonomy, we are able increasingly to help ourselves, to seek and find the food or love we crave.

Without setting up as quacks. 

But as the employee’s case reminds us, an experience of traumatic shock or humiliation can revive in us the desperate vulnerability of the infant.

No it can't. We don't need to buy adult diapers or to suck upon lactating nipples after any such event- unless, that is what gets our rocks off. Still, Cohen probably was greatly comforted when his training analyst let him suckle upon a hairy nipple while Cohen's adult diapers slowly filled up.  

And as my psychoanalytic practice reminds me each day, even much more ordinary experiences – real or perceived insults, slights, rejections, disappointments, frustrations – can bring us into contact with this primary layer of helplessness.

Cohen's patients shit on his couch while bawling for his titty. Good to know.  

More often than not, we manage these feelings of helplessness by means of that state of agitated enervation we call anger.

I think Cohen means masturbation.  Still, he is entitled to call it what he likes. 

As soon as we’re born, we are consigned into the care of adults on whom we depend for our survival and our physical, cognitive and emotional growth, and who thereby inevitably draw onto themselves our fluctuating and intermingled love and hatred.

Or just warm affection and cool indifference. Having a 'threat point' does not necessarily entail the Kavka's toxin of hatred. Cohen takes an infantile view of the matter. 

From a psychoanalytic perspective, anger cannot be disentangled from these earliest affective experiences.

Unless it pays better to do so.  

These experiences bring us up against one of the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis, namely the drive.

A sheep-drive to fleece the wooly minded.  

But what is a drive?

This type of thinking developed out of earlier notions of 'conatus'- a balance of forces required to maintain a particular identity or haecceity.  

Freud’s most complete statement on the subject can be found in his paper ‘Drives and Their Vicissitudes’ (1915). His first point is that the drive is a source of stimulus from within the organism, rather than outside it.

But what is outside the organism critically determines what stimuli can be endogenous at any given time.  

The difference is crucial in that the impact of an external stimulus – say, a bright light or loud noise – is always temporary.

Nonsense! If there is no oxygen in the air to stimulate respiration there is a permanent effect. The same is true of a bullet racing towards your brain. 

The stimulus exerted by a drive, on the other hand, is ‘always a constant one’.

Which is why Cohen is constantly masturbating and thus agitating and enervating himself.  

And, because it issues from within, there is no escaping it.

Cohen just jizzed in his own eye. But there is a way of escaping the recurrence of this repugnant outcome. Or so I've been told. 


We are forever subject to this internal force of the drive.

And to the surveillance of the Nicaraguan horcrux of the neighbor's cat.  

The impulses to love what satisfies us and to hate what frustrates us are always exerting themselves, sometimes pressing closer to the surface of consciousness, sometimes bubbling away unnoticed.

We have no such impulses. A whore may satisfy us. But we love the girl who frustrates us by not putting out till we 'put a ring on it'.  

Since the organism can never eliminate the stimuli that issue from the drives, its primary task, one that places a considerable and perpetual burden on the nervous system, is to master them.

I think Cohen means masturbate them.  

One of Freud’s most enigmatic claims about the drive, and the source of much commentary and disputation, is that it lies ‘on the frontier between the mental and the somatic’.

A frontier which passes through every point in a set- as must be the case for the mental and the somatic in an embodied consciousness- is not a frontier.  It may be a Peano curve or an anyon braid or something yet more arcane- but only for some specific purpose. 

It is the psychical representative of a bodily stimulus – what an itch might look like if it were a mental rather than dermal entity.

But such mental itches exist for 'phantom limbs'. A type of mirror box may be helpful here- but it has nothing to do with Lacan's nonsense. 

Freud ascribes four components to the drive: pressure, the quantity of force a drive exerts in asserting its demand on us; aim, which Freud identifies, in a clear echo of the hungry baby of the Project, as being ‘in every instance satisfaction’; object, the thing required to achieve satisfaction (a breast, a touch, a voice); and source, the somatic location in which the drive originates.

That may have sounded scientific a hundred years ago. Come to think of it, Cohen could have become a Scientologist and hung out with Tom Cruise and Johan Travolta and thus given naches to the possessor of the hairy nipple he screams loudly for while quietly filling up his adult diaper. 


The concepts of aim and object make clear why a drive is distinct from an instinct. An instinct is a piece of programmed biological knowledge that ensures the attainment of vital needs, for example, a bee’s gravitation towards nectar and pollen.

Or a quack's instinct for suckers he can fleece. 

Where an instinct is concerned, the path between aim and object is a short, straight line. In a drive, that path is typically more tortuous and uncertain.

 Like Cohen's drive to say something coherent and substantive. 

Its aim is still satisfaction, but just what satisfaction consists in is more ambiguous. This is what the controversial French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is getting at when he says that ‘the use of the function of the drive has for me no other purpose than to put in question what is meant by satisfaction.’ I may feel hungry, for example, but will a slice or two of dry bread provide the satisfaction I seek? It will answer to my vital need, but not to the sensual desire that calls urgently for a fried egg, butter and Tabasco between the slices.

This is why we make a distinction between hunger and appetite. We are not speaking of ambiguity here- merely a clumsy or cretinous use of language. 

Nor is this ambiguity a late development in the human being. When the baby cries hungrily, is it merely milk she wants? Or is she seeking the more elusive pleasure that might arise from the smell and feel of her mother’s skin, the flood of warmth that breaks over her lips when the milk flows?

In which case baby is not crying hungrily at all. She is crying for Mummy's titty the way Cohen bawled for his training analyst's hairy nipple while quietly filling up his adult diaper.  

The aim and object of a drive, in short, are both subject to infinite variation. Drives, Freud says, can be ‘inhibited or deflected’ in their aim, diverted from the path they started down. Is it a fried egg I want, or smoked salmon, or an obscenely thick smear of peanut butter? Is it her I love, or her, or him, or them?

If you have a shit personality, you have to pay some guy like Cohen to listen to this sort of shite. Believe me, I know whereof I speak.  

The relationship between aim and object in the bee is reliably constant. Only one object serves its aim. No bee has ever felt the urge to try ginger ale or vodka today, just for a change.

Quite false. Bees do discovery the same as ants or venture capitalists.  

For the human, such changeability defines the drive.

Which doesn't exist save as a Tarskian primitive which can't be defined. 

In his earlier sustained treatment of the drive, the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), Freud notes that enduring romantic myths – for example, that two people are, as we might put it, ‘made for each other’ – persuade us that the relationship of the sexual drive to the object is ‘more intimate than it in fact is’.

Or less divine than it in fact is. Not for me. But, hey!, I have eyes and can see that there are many for whom this is in fact the case- which is why I have no difficulty admitting that marriage is a sacrament- though I myself proved unworthy of it.  

In reality, ‘the sexual drive and the sexual object are merely soldered together.’

Merely? There is a divine mystery involved in what makes of the ways of men with their maidens which binds all things together. This is a Wedding March will outlive the extinction of all matter. 

Drives are fundamentally mobile, subject to fluctuations, displacements, reversals and detours.

As is the prose of pedants who profess Continental shite. 

When they threaten the stability of the organism, they can be inhibited or turned back on us; feeling hate for an object I’m meant to love, for example, may induce such fear and guilt in me that I choose to hate myself instead.

Or just have a crafty wank which will leave you enervated. Oh. I suppose that is what Cohen is getting at. Silly me. Should have seen it sooner.  


For Lacan, anger is the consequence of a failure of a desire to be realised in reality.

Thankfully, he desired to be a guy who failed to help his patient in reality. Thus, he wasn't angry with himself at all.  

Alluding to the French writer Charles Péguy, he remarks: ‘It’s when the little pegs refuse to go into the little holes.’

Strangely, that's not why my marriage failed. Anger can be against a big fat slob who doesn't earn nearly enough coz he is stupid and lazy and has a shitty personality.  

Drives, in short, destine us to at least some degree of dissatisfaction, soldering our desire to objects we only belatedly realise cannot fulfil it.

A very phallocentric perspective. Is there a Mrs. Cohen? I wonder what she would say.  

And the primary language of that dissatisfaction is anger.

It ought to be apology though in truth the hole may be way too big. Kegels, my dear, not scoffing down yet more bagels is how we can save this marriage. But you didn't hear it from me. 

Perhaps it is anger’s unpredictability, its unnerving capacity to be ignited by disparate, often fiercely opposing causes, that most disturbs and confuses us (and certainly me) about anger.

Emotions are Darwinian algorithms of the mind which are used strategically to affect Social choice by expressing preference intensity. They can confuse the stupid- sure. But they are 'mixed strategy' game theoretic- i.e. have a stochastic description and thus are predictable though non-deterministic. 

This confusion often leads thinkers on the subject to seek clarity by separating out preservative (or ‘good’) from destructive (or ‘bad’) forms of anger. We see a move of this kind, for example, in many recent feminist and antiracist writers and activists who celebrate the power of anger to motivate social change and address structural forms of injustice and division.

Then there is a backlash and it turns out these virtue signaling cretins have awoken the anger of the masses against their own precious shibboleths.  

This idea of anger as an essentially affirmative and life-preserving affect finds some support in the scant psychoanalytic literature on the subject.

But 'Anger Management' is a growing industry. No doubt, its 'literature' is encoded in coloring books. 

In a 1949 paper on normal and traumatic experiences of birth, the British paediatrician psychoanalyst Donald W Winnicott suggests that the cry of a baby following a normal birth is a rudimentary form of self-assertion: ‘in the form of the cry anger can be ego-syntonic [that is, supportive of our internal equilibrium] from very early, an expulsive function with clear aim, to live one’s own way and not reactively.’

Unless Winnicott accidentally sat on the wee bairn.  

But when the newborn’s vital needs of warmth, nourishment and love are frustrated by delay or by environmental difficulties, the effect is far more dystonic. When a cry achieves its aim, it helps a baby learn what her anger is for. Whereas if a cry has little or no effect, its purpose gradually becomes less ‘definite’ for the baby, leaving her in a state of despairing uncertainty, with significant consequences for the person she will become: ‘the individual is always left with some confusion about anger and its expression.’ A key implication of Winnicott’s distinction here is that anger promotes growth and helps define selfhood when it attains the satisfaction it demands – that is, when the needs it expresses are fulfilled. But when those needs go unanswered, it has the opposite effect, implanting confusion and despair in the heart of the self.

What a wonderful discovery! If we look after baby properly, baby will be happy. She will die if we shove her into a cupboard and go off to Brighton for the weekend. However baby's anger or sadness is irrelevant. Either she has shit parents or she doesn't. 


This latter form of anger puts me in mind of Gordon, a man in his 40s whom I saw in intensive psychoanalysis for six years. Gordon was prone to crippling headaches and extended periods of insomnia that made him feel as though he were coming apart at the seams. These symptoms were always most prevalent at times when a romantic relationship was becoming more serious. The prospect of fulfilling his longing for love and a family was a source of overwhelming panic, which expressed itself in the form of sudden verbal outbursts against his partner for failing to understand what he was going through. Sleeplessness and pain would exacerbate his brittleness and fragility, perpetuating a grim cycle of rage and apology until the relationship collapsed under the strain.

Couple's counselling can help more particularly if it is offered by an authority figure from a religion or ideology common to both. Individual counselling is useless if the aim is to get this guy paired off before all his teeth fall out. This is because everything depends on the dynamics.  

Gordon had been raised from shortly after birth by maternity nurses and nannies who instituted a strict regime of sleep training and timed feeds. At seven, he was sent to boarding school, a further blow to any aspiration, as Winnicott has it, ‘to live one’s own way and not reactively’. Gordon’s initial protests against boarding school were met by his parents with assurances that he would grow to like it – they, after all, had been sent away at his age, and had grown to appreciate the experience. Gordon’s problem with forming lasting relationships was that he could never trust that he would enjoy what Freud calls an ‘experience of satisfaction’, where cries of need are heard and attended to in good time. The more he put himself in the hands of someone else, the more fearful he became of being ignored or abandoned. Because he’d never found words or a receptive listener for his anxieties, they came to be expressed instead in bodily symptoms, the pain from which would eventually find an outlet in uncontrolled rage.

Yet many kids raised in horrible orphanages managed to pair off and went on to raise good families. Banging on about not having got enough titty as a baby only licenses you to become yet more infantile in your demands on such 'significant others' as you aren't paying by the hour to deal with your shite. 

Anyway, Gordon does seem to have formed a 6 year relationship profitable to Cohen. My memory is that Masud Khan too had a patient of that sort. Hopefully Cohen won't turn into an alcoholic and an anti-Semite though, no doubt, he is fashionably anti-Zionist. 


Gordon was aware of being angry, but this anger felt like a possession by some demon over which he had no control;

That's the problem with getting counselling from somebody other than your Rabbi or Priest. You end up possessed by demons over whom nobody has any control.  

he had no idea what he was angry about at these moments, nor what he wanted. Unheard, unanswered anger is apt to become diffuse and uncontrolled, to become master rather than servant of the person.

Doing stupid shit tends to lead to doing more and more stupid shit. What is true of American foreign policy is also true of toffs who pay shysters to get to moan about Nanny and Prep School and having to work in a fucking Merchant Bank for mega-bucks when all you really want is to paint beautiful pictures using your own feces.  

Perhaps Gordon’s predicament speaks to the public anger that has made itself so palpable in recent years.

Coz the revolting masses all had Nannies and went to Prep Schools and earn mega-bucks for doing the moral equivalent of shitting upon the proles from a great height.  

The protests of the Movement for Black Lives and MeToo and Extinction Rebellion, and those of the movements for Trump and Brexit, so vastly different in content, have in common the complaint that their cries for recognition and response have for far too long been ignored.

Except by those who make money by stirring them up. But the same could be said of Psychoanalysts or swindling Cults who stir up their pampered prey into turning upon the Bank of Mum and Dad and demanding reparations for their own Belsen boyhood and Auschwitz adolescence. 

Come to think of it, I'd have liked to get in on that action but Dad got paid in Rupees. That is a seriously lame currency. 

We want to believe that our anger can be clearly directed and localised – that we can, as Judith Butler puts it, ‘craft and cultivate’ it.

And get tenure in what has become a Grievance Studies ghetto. But then you realize with a sinking feeling that you will have to pretend to read the increasingly illiterate dissertations of your precious little snowflakes.  

But as the beaten employee reminds us, when a claim for justice is dismissed, anger is liable to take on a life of its own.

And run away to sea and have lots of adventures- right? Wrong. Anger will turn you into the Incredible Hulk. Crack a comic-book sometime.  

We are living in a world of proliferating and often conflicting angry demands for recognition. In terrorism, populist authoritarianism and online hate, we see some of the consequences of their denial.

if that is what we want to see or that is what we believe we will get paid to have claimed to witness- sure. Otherwise, not so much. Mere 'mechanism design' can take care of the problem- if it really is a problem rather than a 'safety valve' for the powers that be.

Insofar as unsatisfied needs and unattended demands are endemic to life,

Religion exists but so does Charlatanry 

so is anger. This insight,

is equal to the insight that it's nice to be nice and being sad sucks 

central to Freud and Breuer’s approach in the ‘Preliminary Communication’, is also the basis for their therapeutic remedy, which they call ‘abreaction’, or catharsis.

When you are stuffed full of shit go shit on your therapist. That's what he is paid for.  

It is a way of cleansing ourselves of the suppressed anger that accretes in us in the course of a life.

Obviously, if the guy can give you pills which make you better, you shouldn't shit on your psychiatrist. Stick to cleansing yourself by emptying the bowels of your wrath upon the head of Cohen.  

Certain memories, they suggest, behave like ingested foreign bodies; instead of passing through the mental digestive system, they lodge in us and are preserved intact.

If you swallowed some gold or diamonds, there might be gold or diamonds in your shit. At any rate, it is a convenient belief for your analyst to have. After all, he is getting shat upon for about as much as an emergency plumber's hourly rate.  

Memories torment us with all the force and freshness of the present moment because they ‘correspond to traumas that have not been sufficiently abreacted’.

Memories don't torment me. Also they don't have much force or freshness at all. Cohen may be different. However this may be causing him to masturbate incessantly because he can access memories that are as real as reality. If those memories pop up spontaneously then they could indeed be said to torment Cohen. Poor chap, his tiny little dick is taking quite a bashing.  

Under hypnosis, the beaten employee acted out the silent rage he had been forced to suppress, both in the street and in the court.

The same thing would have happened if you offered him a couple of drinks. The problem with hypnosis is that peeps act out all sorts of shite which they weren't forced to suppress because the thing was completely imaginary. Stick to getting marks to cluck like a chicken. 

This is the basis of the abreactive technique – as the repressed memory rises to the surface of consciousness, so does ‘its accompanying affect’, enabling the patient to describe the distressing experience and the feelings it aroused as fully as possible.

Cool. Then some nutter gets hold of your grown up kid and the guy starts babbling about how you Satanically abused him in company with Donald Trump and the Pope.  

This is the psychotherapy of ‘energetic reaction’, of a release of a quantum of emotion proportionate to the injury suffered.

Even if there was no injury. I guess Hitler got the Germans to abreact against all the imaginary injuries inflicted upon Aryans by Jews. The result was not catharsis, it was a fucking catastrophe.  

It is a technique whose rationale is implied in such idiomatic phrases as ‘crying oneself out’ or ‘blowing off steam’ [the German is sich austoben, literally ‘to rage oneself out’], as well as in folk anger-management techniques such as pillow bashing.

Not bashing your bishop, Cohen. 

Without such hydraulic release, the distress and anger felt by the victim is only an ongoing burden on the nervous system.

If you have the mind of a child- sure. But grown ups need to find better ways to deal with distress and anger by changing the state of the world. Psychoanalysis is puerile and infantilizing. Still, if you feel you have to shit on someone, the kindest thing is to pay Cohen to be on the receiving end.  


The idea of a treatment directed at unmetabolised pain lodged in the deepest strata of mind and body has since been revived in various therapies, most famously in Arthur Janov’s ‘primal therapy’, popularly known as primal scream therapy, which enjoyed a brief vogue in the early 1970s.

As did LSD and pedophilia.  

After some months of therapy with Janov – an encounter brilliantly imagined in Kevin Barry’s novel Beatlebone (2015) – John Lennon declared: ‘I am myself and I know why.’

Then he got shot. Oddly the shooter wasn't a Nixonista. Still, Lennon should have taken the hint and gotten the fuck out of America coz gun toting Americans be kray kray.  

Like Freud and Breuer, Janov saw psychic pain as located in suppressed traumas of early childhood.

Janov preferred being screamed at to being shat upon.  

The proposed cure was to discharge the trapped reactive anger in uninhibited and spontaneous screaming and ranting.

Cohen is wondering whether listening to screams might not be preferable to listening to shit. 

The very fact of living together forces on us a renunciation of our erotic and aggressive drives

But some married peeps have sex and knock each other about. 

The theory of abreaction assumes that feelings are stored in finite quantities, such that they can be cried or raged out until they have been fully discharged.

At so many dollars per hour- sure.  

But as he developed his thinking and gained clinical experience, Freud came to see his belief in abreaction as a mistake, albeit a productive one.

Unlike his earlier belief that cocaine was a panacea. 

What it misses is the dogged persistence of feelings, their stubborn refusal to disappear on demand. The screams of the baby or the traumatised adult register a state of dissatisfaction, a gap between a need or desire – hunger, love, justice – and its fulfilment. But dissatisfaction is not simply a temporary state awaiting relief through appropriate action; it is an ineliminable condition of human life.

Also peeps could just go into the countryside and scream their heads off rather than pay a therapist. So there is no alternative to having to listen to their shit at so many dollars an hour.  

In Civilization and Its Discontents (1930), Freud posits that the very fact of living together forces on all of us a renunciation of our erotic and aggressive drives. In order to make room for everyone else, I have to curb my own extravagant appetites for love, power and pleasure.

Also I mustn't shit upon them incessantly. I need to pay a therapist upon whom I can unload at so many dollars an hour.  

While the theory of abreaction locates our discontent in the external world – the painful experience is a ‘foreign body’, like the employer’s stick, breaching our physical and psychic skin – the appetites Freud describes in Civilization and Its Discontents are felt as insistent internal tensions, permanent itches demanding the relief of a scratch.

Which is why most relationships are based on mutual back scratching and mutual back slapping rather than shitting on an analyst for so many dollars an hour.  

They issue not from outside but from within, in what he calls the drives. Anger, in other words, is the primary way a drive expresses itself when it is pressing for satisfaction.

No. Getting a job and earning a money and then buying the things you need is the way our primary drive expresses itself. In marginal cases, this may involve being shat upon for so many dollars an hour.  

‘Rage’, writes the American psychoanalyst Michael Eigen, in a pithy summation of Winnicottian thinking, ‘seems built into an infant’s scream’.

This is foolish. Clearly, the infant's scream is the product of evolution. It is not the result of a particular emotional constitution formed in response to interactions.  

In her book The Violence of Interpretation (1975), the French psychoanalyst Piera Aulagnier offers the most sustained and radical elaboration of this link between rage and helplessness. She distinguishes between two basic ways the infantile psyche represents its relation to another being (what psychoanalysis calls an ‘object’), which exist alongside one another. In one, which Aulagnier calls love, the baby unites with its object in perfect unity. In the other, which she calls hate, the baby experiences the object (say, the mother’s nourishing breast) as what it lacks and depends upon for survival. In being brought up against its dependency, the baby’s psyche, writes Aulagnier, is forced into awareness of its own liability to ‘find itself in a state of lack’, in which mind and body are in a state of helpless desire for what they do not have and cannot acquire for themselves.

Very true. Babies do indeed start finding themselves in a state similar to stupid French philosophers who didn't understand Husserl and were trying to compete with Heidegger in terms of writing gibberish.  On the other hand, Melanie Klein was the good sort of bonkers. Kids like crazy people. But they grow out of it. 

Take my patient Gordon: his drive to love and be loved propels him towards a partner.

We don't know that. All we know is that his drive has kept him coming to Cohen for six years.  

But love has laid down certain pathways in his deep memory; it means betrayal, abandonment, disappointment.

If he finds his soul-mate, both would benefit from couple's counselling- perhaps from their parish priest or rabbi or whatever.  

The conflict between the pressure of the drive and the psyche’s need to contain that pressure becomes unsupportable, as the headaches and sleeplessness attested.

So the guy hasn't really gotten better despite 6 years of therapy.  

Homer began the Iliad with a celebrated apostrophe to the Muse: ‘Sing, goddess, of the anger of Achilleus, son of Peleus, the accursed anger which brought uncounted anguish on the Achaians …’

Except it didn't really.  

The place of such elemental anger in the subsequent course of cultural history can hardly be overstated.

Yes it can. Anger doesn't matter. Technology and logistics and diplomacy determine the outcomes of wars. That's why the Ministry of Defense does not have a Department of Fury.  

Greek, Norse and Hindu mythologies and theogonies abound with avatars of pure rage, echoes of which can be heard in writers and artists down the ages.

The Mahabharata is about 'Manyu' (dark anger) but shows that the thing is economic and game theoretic.  By contrast, Achilles's 'Menis' in the Iliad is a type of cosmic outrage arising out of a violation of what Hindus call 'Rta'. The Indians would have made Achilles a partial incarnation of Vishnu and assigned him a role in righting a cosmic wrong. Don't forget, like Arjuna, he spent a spell dressed as a woman. Thus he could have had his own Gita though of course, for those with piety who love that text, the Iliad is a Gita. Every tale, well told, affirms God's grace and the Cosmic outrage caused by sins against the Holy Spirit. The son of Hercules must commit parricide and must marry the cause of his house's destruction- at his father's bidding. The paths of piety- eusebia that is dharma- can, indeed, be infuriating because , as Krishna says, dharma is difficult to know. But duty when done is redemptive. As Hyluss says at the end of the blood-boltered shambles that is the Trachiniae,  'There is nothing here that is not Zeus'.

Anger beyond measure – the annihilating vengeance of Medea and Hecuba, the jealous delirium of Othello, the blind fury of Captain Ahab, the unbound ranting of Ice Cube and Eminem – has exerted a fascination over writers and readers down the centuries.

So have fairy tales and stories about boys with magic wands.  

It seems difficult to encounter these figures today without being reminded of the public anger that seems to define our political present,

except it doesn't really. The big questions are global warming, the rise of China, and the threat of stagflation. Dealing with these issues involves implementing policies with a differential impact on citizens. Thus, there is polarization.  

of the fierce agitations for justice across the world, provoked by the injurious and ongoing histories of racialised and misogynistic violence and discrimination, as well as of environmental despoliation, not to mention the reactive rage of nationalists and racists, of militant men’s rights activists, climate change deniers and COVID-19 conspiracists. Rage of this kind encapsulates the logic of the drive. It seems to emanate from a source deep in the soul, the force or ‘pressure’ it exerts bursting the bounds of any possible container. Such rage aims for satisfaction, yet there seems to be no object that can satisfy it.

Which is why talking this type of bollocks is utterly counter-productive. The fact is there is a way to tackle salient issues such that polarization is avoided by 'sterilizing' the 'income effect' of necessary changes in relative prices. In this way those who stand to lose by a particular policy instrument are compensated in terms of real income and thus their anger is defused.  


The Iliad could be described as a failed quest to bring Achilles’ accursed anger under the rule of reason and proportion.

No. It could be described as an account of an important battle.  

When the warrior Aias reproaches him, during the failed mission to persuade him to join the battle against the Trojans, for the ‘savagery in his breast’ and lack of ‘thought for the love of his companions’, Achilles doesn’t deny the charge: ‘all that you have said seems much after my own feeling’. ‘But,’ he goes on, ‘my heart swells with anger whenever I think of that time, how the son of Atreus treated me with contempt in front of the Argives.’

The Iliad is interesting because it shows the importance of coalition stability as well as keeping up the appearance of eusebia. Agamemnon fucked up in both respects and came to a grisly end. Aeneas, however, was pious and didn't screw with his allies. 

As Homer and Achilles remind us, it isn’t easy to keep anger on the side of reason and proportion

Ajax reminds us of that. He went mad and ended up slaughtering sheep in his delirium. Achilles's response was proportionate. Essentially, he had been been denied his share of the booty- i.e. coalition stability had been violated. The tragic element is that this leads him to blame himself for his beloved Patroclus's death.  But it is precisely for this reason that Achilles is a demigod. 

‘In front of the Argives’: I can’t help feeling that Achilles’ humiliation puts him in the wildly anomalous company of the beaten employee. Achilles is forced to watch tearfully as his concubine Briseïs, a ‘prize’ of war, is taken from him by Agamemnon’s forces, just as the employee must submit to the power and violence of his boss and the word of the court. Both are made to feel helpless before larger powers, and their shame before a crowd of witnesses. Nor can either man command or contain his anger. Achilles acknowledges Aias’ characterisation of his anger as ‘implacable and perverse’, only to imply that this implacability is the very heart of the problem; rage has taken possession of him, to the point that he cannot gainsay it. It isn’t in his gift to forgive or let go the offence against him, even to save his benighted companions from the marauding Trojans.

Agamemnon had been forced to hand back Chryses, his own concubine, by Apollo. It was his impiety in this and other respects which led to his downfall. Achilles too is affected. However, he could have done worse. But, in that case, he would not have had the sort of tragic death worthy of a Hero and demigod.  


The failure of Homer’s heroes to contain their emotions is at the heart of Socrates’ argument to banish the poets from the Republic. Singing the anger of Achilles seduces the listener with perverse indulgence in vice and bad character. Poetry ‘fosters and waters’ feelings that corrupt the soul; it ‘sets them up as rulers in us when they ought to be ruled’.

Socrates, on his deathbed, decided he had wasted his time on philosophy. Mousike was the way to go- i.e. he himself became a poet.  


Plato evidently doesn’t wish to abolish anger. The broader meaning of the Greek word thymos that the Homer translator Martin Hammond renders ‘anger’ is spiritedness or passion. In Plato’s Republic, thymos is the intermediate level in his tripartite division of the soul. As the faculty of self-assertion and the desire for recognition, its highest function is to direct anger against our own tendency towards moral laxity and licence. It is, we might say, an ancient version of what psychoanalysis might call an internal parent or superego function. As thymos, anger can be pressed into the service of moral self-discipline, helping to ensure that we remain rulers over, and not ruled by, our feelings. But, as Homer and Achilles remind us, it isn’t easy to keep anger on the side of reason and proportion.

Unless what you are doing is actually reasonable and proportionate- as opposed to talking bollocks or getting shat upon for so many dollars an hour.  


Kept under the rule of reason, anger has its educative uses.

No. Reason is educative. Keeping masturbation or anger under the rule of reason is silly.  

But as the historian Barbara Rosenwein has shown in her recent study of the history of anger, other philosophical and religious traditions are rather less sanguine about the prospect of keeping anger under reason’s command. Intuiting anger as inherently excessive, various religious and philosophical traditions, both Eastern and Western, seek nothing less than the banishment of anger from the repertory of psychic states.

Sadly Rosenwein's book- like that of most historians- is shit. The fact is no 'religious or philosophical tradition' makes a big deal about anger or irritation or annoyance. The thing is puerile. 


The Buddha enjoins us to ‘abandon anger’ as a primary cause of needless suffering. It inflates the ego’s deluded self-importance, tormenting the mind of the angry person as much as it persecutes the objects of his anger.

What was he supposed to do? Say 'Get mad, then get even?' That's not what Indian Sadhus get paid to say.  

Unsurprisingly, Western iterations of Buddhism have been a major influence on the development of modern anger-management techniques. The same can be said for Stoicism, perhaps the Western philosophical tradition that most closely parallels Buddhism.

That would be Skepticism. Pyrrho visited the Punjab.  

Seneca’s treatise De Ira, published around 45 CE, portrays anger as a force that deranges the soul, distorting our faculties of right perception and judgment, and propelling us to self-destruction with its untameable momentum. Like the body of a man falling over a cliff, anger’s onrush cannot be checked – ‘its own weight and the downward-tending nature of vices must – must – carry it along and drive it down to the depths.’

But it was a Jewish Rabbi who converted Europe to a creed which elevated him to Divine Status. The Eschaton which Christians believe in is nothing by God's day of wrath.  


The Stoic repudiation of anger has inspired much recent philosophy and psychology, notably the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum.

Who converted to Judaism but still writes bollocks.  

Nussbaum doesn’t deny that our world provokes daily and abundant moral outrage, but she insists that this outrage must be fully directed towards practical resolution, while its emotional remainders – the wish to inflict retaliatory suffering on the offender, the persistence of bitterness and rancour – must be eliminated. The cognitive registration of grounds for anger, in other words, should never spill over into actual angry feelings.

Nussbaum was once gung ho for Cosmopolitanism- a position from which she has since resiled. No doubt, given time, she will change her mind about this too. But she will still be as stupid as shit.  


These more radical positions on anger – that it has no useful function and demands renunciation – have in a certain sense a closer affinity to the psychoanalytic perspective than the Platonic or Aristotelian view that anger has its uses when kept in bounds. Seneca’s vivid portrayal of anger as a force with its own fatal momentum gets much nearer to its drive character than Aristotle’s notion of a judicious or proportionate anger. The wholesale repudiation of anger follows from the insight that anger is inherently excessive. Angry feelings may seek satisfaction, but there is always some doubt as to what, if anything, will satisfy them. In insisting that it be channelled wholesale into righting the wrongs that provoke it, Nussbaum misconceives the essential logic of anger.

Anger does not have an essential logic. The thing is multiply realizable and highly plastic in its manifestations and outcomes. A few Professors of shite subjects might be able to make a little money writing this sort of bollocks but, I am betting, my own 'Dieter's guide to weight loss through farting',  will make me a billionaire.  


The American philosopher Agnes Callard seems to edge much closer to that logic in her essay ‘On Anger’ (2020), which sees the stubborn indelibility of anger as its defining characteristic.

Which is bonkers. She must herself have witnessed anger completely disappear when a person who believes herself injured discovers her error.  

Anger, she argues, is as permanent as the offences that provoke it; steal from me, and you will have stolen from me irrevocably. Whatever restitutive efforts you might make to assuage my anger, the original theft cannot be undone; thus, ‘once you have a reason to be angry, you have a reason to be angry forever.’

This would only be the case if we were immortal Platonic entities. Mortal Reason must pay for itself in terms of survival value. You have no reason to persist in a state which is harmful to you.  

We might wish to object to Callard that the afterlife of an injury unfolds in the fluid and changeable medium of memory and in live relationships. While reparative efforts cannot change what was done to me, they can change the meaning and significance they hold.

That is equally foolish. All that matters is whether accepting restitution or granting forgiveness benefits you. It is silly to 'manage the news' by changing the 'meaning and significance' of events. On the other hand, it is certainly true that when people refer to me a fat, bald, slob their real meaning is that I'm as cute as a button. 

The remorse and restitution of the offender may well lower my estimation of the offence’s gravity. But can this prospect of pacification and forgiveness avoid what we might call the Achillean roadblock?

Yes, because no such thing exists.  


Were Nussbaum to propose to Achilles that the thief’s restitutive efforts easily nullify the grounds of his anger, he would respond with a derisive snort. Via the embassy of warriors led by Nestor, after all, Agamemnon offers Achilles recompense wildly exceeding the one concubine he took from him.

The dude should have manned up and come to make a personal apology followed by a few drinks and taking turns to bum Patroclus.  

Not only will he return Briseïs, Odysseus assures Achilles, but he’ll throw in a dazzling array of gifts: abundant gold, prize horses, skilled and beautiful women, fertile cities and one of his own daughters for a bride. For the tradition from which Nussbaum speaks, anger can be satisfied by a specific quantum of reparative action. But for Achilles, the meaning of his anger is precisely that it cannot be satisfied, that no restitutive gesture could be adequate to it. Agamemnon’s initial injury has opened a wound of humiliation for which there is no remedy.

Yes there is. I've just described it. Either Achilles is an 'officer and a gentleman' with a code of honor, or he is simply a mercenary. You can call him a fag and then get your minions to double his pay so he doesn't quit.  

To say that anger is impelled by the force of the drive is to say it has no straight path to satisfaction, that it cannot be sure what it seeks or demands. This is why it is liable, as Seneca observes, to be carried by its own momentum into gratuitously destructive action.

But doing stupid shit, even from the best of motives, has the same effect. That is why Reason is concerned with how things are done.


In his study of the politics and economy of thymos, the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk argues that rage has both shaped and derailed the course of Western history precisely through its refusal of any logic of balance and proportion.

The fucker is German. What do you expect? The truth is that Germans voted for the Army's maximal plan because they, like Keynes, believed Germany would starve sooner or later unless it grabbed land in Poland and Ukraine and so forth. Rage had nothing to do with the evil shit that went down.  

With the thymos of Achilles explicitly in mind, he points out that the West’s cherished remedies for bringing to a halt the ‘endless pendulum of hit and retaliation’, from private spiritual exercises to public justice to foreign policy, are liable to run up against their own limits:
just as a festering wound can become both a chronic and general malady, psychic and moral wounds also may not heal, which creates its own corrupt temporality, the infinity of an unanswered complaint.

This is stupid shit. Everybody dies- whether or not they have a festering wound. Whole civilizations and races of people have disappeared from the earth. There is no 'infinity of unanswered complaint'. The Universe itself has only a dozen or so billion years left before it is annihilated.  


Once we understand anger to be an expression of the drive, ‘the infinity of an unanswered complaint’ becomes a permanent possibility.

Coz we are immortal- right? The Universe won't go kaboom.  

The implications of this understanding for the conduct of social and political life are forbiddingly large.

As are the implications of understanding that shape-shifting lizards control global elites. But David Icke makes way more money than these cretins get.  

More than one feeling among others, anger becomes a structural force, a permanent body political source of urgent agitation for change (Black Lives Matter), and enervated resistance to disruption (Blue Lives Matter) in the structure of society and the texture of everyday experience.

There is nothing 'enervated' about wanting to send cop killers to the electric chair. We pay policemen. We don't pay protestors. This is because we need the service the police provide. We don't need yet more riots. 


Is there a source of anger more immediate and violent than the raw force of biological need?

Yup. Alcohol, Cocaine- stuff of that sort.  

Necessity – hunger, cold, acute pain – ensures that the pressure exerted by a drive is absolute and immediate.

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. Hunger, cold and acute pain can create resignation and quicken death- not some assertive program of action.  

It is under the compulsion of necessity that we most keenly feel our original helplessness, and that anger is consequently most liable to escape all our efforts to bring it under control and assume the force of an infinitely unanswered complaint.

Till we get slapped down or realize that we might lose our job and our house and maybe custody of the kids.  


History suggests this is as true for mass political as for individual emotional life, as Hannah Arendt has shown above all. In On Revolution (1963), Arendt seeks to account for why the French Revolution (and almost all subsequent revolutions) ultimately descended into unbounded terror.

Arendt was as stupid as shit. If a Revolution or other big political change (e.g. the partition of India) is about ownership of land changing, then there will be 'terror' and bloodshed so as to prevent the dispossessed forming a coalition to come back and regain at least a portion of their original endowment.  


For Arendt, the most basic condition of life is

some bullshit or the other.  

human solidarity – that is, a common space for the engagement of contesting voices. The primary enemy of solidarity is thus that form of human misery peculiar to unsatisfied biological needs, which press upon us with a violence Arendt calls ‘prepolitical’.

Had Arendt spent the War years in Calcutta she would have seen there was plenty of 'solidarity' amongst the well-fed while hundreds of thousands literally starved to death on the streets.  

The conduct of politics assumes its participants are fed and sheltered.

Those who survived the Bengal Famine still voted, in 1946, on the basis of their Religion. It genuinely does not matter if a portion of the population starves so long as the majority believes famine is Malthusian. What great revolution was sparked by the Irish potato famine? None at all. Indeed, Nationalist politics was retarded not advanced by that calamity.  

Where this assumption is not met, these elemental needs become the motive force of political action, and need can find public expression only in violence. Once the force of elemental necessity was let loose into political life, writes Arendt, ‘the malhereux changed into the enragés, for rage is indeed the only form in which misfortune can become active.’

But elemental necessity was still around when Napoleon established his power. Rage doesn't matter if you have Fouche as your Police Chief.  


There is a violent and unedifying history of movements Left and Right exploiting the drive character of anger

And there is an edifying history of how a smart and ruthless police chief can fuck up those nutters so they stay fucked once and for all.  


The enragés come into being when the poor and hungry can endure their suffering no longer, when, in the language of psychoanalysis, the pressure of the drive has reached its highest pitch. The enragés are the fruit of a despair of attaining satisfaction by any other means, a despair that finally licensed and impelled Robespierre’s limitless Reign of Terror in the 1790s. ‘This rage,’ Arendt writes:
carries with it the momentum of true suffering, whose devastating force is superior and, as it were, more enduring than the raging frenzy of mere frustration.

Bullshit. The Directorate starts clamping down on the nutters thanks to Fouche and then Napoleon returns from Egypt and the angry decide it is safer to smile sweetly.  

Rage is the annulment of any political process.

A meaningless statement. Getting the shit kicked out of you can annul the fuck out of your rage but having your skull smashed to pieces ensures this outcome. Being killed annuls anything which tries to annul a political process.  

It is hard to imagine an insight more resonant with our own moment.

If you have shit for brains- sure. 

Not for nothing did the 2016 Trump campaign, in an ingenious strike against Hillary Clinton’s widely perceived elitism, doctor the iconographic poster of Les Misérables, transforming Victor Hugo’s Paris Commune ragged fighters and flags into the rowdy band of the MAGA faithful – Les Deplorables. And yet the reference is ambiguous to say the least. If it invokes the Commune, it also insinuates a chasm of ironic distance from it. Our moment, the Trump poster implies, is less a revolutionary spring than a cynical parody of one, a mobilisation of rage with no determinate aim or object.

I take it Cohen is on the Left. Incidentally, the poster was the work of a right wing blogger who goes by 'Keln'. It is unlikely the dude was 'invoking the Commune'. For Americans, the art work looks like something to do with George Washington. 'Les Mis' is known only as a musical but one that was a bit shit- like Hilary.  


Robespierre’s Terror was the culmination of a zealous rage that could only consume itself along with its targets.

Nope. It could have consumed its targets and thrown up its own Cromwell. If one dude fails, it doesn't mean no dude could succeed.  

The demagogic politics of Trump and Brexit recognises that rage, and makes of it an endlessly renewable resource.

Why stop there? Why not claim that BoJo is breaking into our houses at night and extracting precious metals from our semen while we sleep? Isn't that what we warned would happen if Brexit ever became a reality?  

It does not need to achieve its stated aims – to build a border wall or provide the best access to cheap healthcare, for example. In fact, it is far more politically advantageous for the base to be maintained in a state of mounting dissatisfaction that can be handily blamed on its vast array of enemies and discharged when expedient in the most dangerous quantities – at Charlottesville in August 2017, say, or at the US Capitol in January 2021.

Fuck is this dude discharging on us?  

There is, then, a violent and unedifying history of political movements Left and Right exploiting the drive character of anger – harnessing its pressure, directing or manipulating its aims, switching its objects (immigrants, Democrats, experts) in accordance with the needs of the political moment. In private and public life alike, the destructive potential of anger is rooted in its drive character. Anger is always at risk of being propelled to a level of pressure it cannot sustain. The uncertainty of its aims and objects makes it perpetually vulnerable to external manipulation as well as blind action.

This is a guy who has spent 6 years counselling Gordon who still hasn't managed to get hitched. Do we really want him to try to heal any passing political malaise we are experiencing. BoJo may be an utter buffoon but even he isn't as gormless as the type of Gordon who would listen to Cohen.  


And yet,

if cats are dogs, dogs can be particularly camel like 

if the drive character of anger is dangerous, it can also be peculiarly enriching. Precisely because its aims and objects are changeable and uncertain, it is capable of a questioning curiosity towards itself.

As opposed to an unquestioning curiosity towards its own arsehole. 

Because they arouse feelings I cannot master and desires I cannot satisfy, drives make me strange to myself.

Stop wearing your Mommy's dress while stroking yourself off. That will make you less strange period. 

That strangeness, as we’ve seen, makes us ripe for emotional manipulation at the individual as much as the collective level – if we always knew exactly what we wanted, we couldn’t be manipulated into wanting something else.

& Psychoanalysis wouldn't be a paying profession but the same would be true of any other bogus cult.  

But it also makes possible the kinds of self-reflection facilitated by art, philosophy and science – of which psychoanalysis is at once all and none.

Nope. It is none.  

If there is a basis for a distinction between destructive and just anger, it surely lies here.

Nonsense! The distinction is consequentialist. Anger is justified if it leads to a better outcome. Psychoanalysis is bullshit. The dynamics of relationships matter and those dynamics can always be improved. But little can be achieved by moaning about Mummy not giving you enough titty-time or Daddy telling you to stop being such a big girl's blouse.  

The rhetorical style of Trump and his avatars rests on the elimination of even the smallest hint of self-doubt, a tendency that becomes more total the more its content outrages truth and human decency. Trump’s refusal to recant or correct one of his numberless proven falsehoods, like the continued denial by Congressional Republicans of the abundantly documented violence of the January 6th insurrectionists, are prime instances of a strictly enforced embargo on self-examination.

No. Trump gets that as a political outsider, he has to project self-confidence. Otherwise, his only motive for seeking high office at an advanced age would be mercenary or egotistical. Biden, however, can do a U turn and apologize for it because he is a professional politician and can give a long rambling account about precisely how Putin has changed or Xi has changed or Orban has changed over the many many years he has interacted with them and why this means he is having to abandon one policy and take up its opposite.  


Authoritarian and demagogic anger derives its force from a refusal to question itself.

Faith may arise in this way. But Faith is not angry.  

It feeds not on propositions but on the assertion of an undivided and incontestable reality,

which is what this cunt is doing though everybody knows his field is bogus. 

which the demagogue alone has the right to describe. It is an anger that can never confront or question itself, that expresses itself as though it knows with immaculate certainty its own aims and objects. This is the spirit of Achillean anger, the blindly righteous outrage of a man robbed of a woman he himself has robbed.

Abducted, not robbed.  


As Arendt showed us, this tone of self-certainty is as endemic to the history of the revolutionary Left as of the reactionary Right. Authentic and meaningful political anger, as opposed to the confected anger of dictators and populist leaders, must include within itself a kind of vigilant self-suspicion.

But that 'authentic and meaningful political anger' shits the bed same as stupidity if it clamors for stupid remedies.  

We see an instance of this self-suspicion in the work of the Black feminist theorist and activist Audre Lorde, who writes in her essay ‘The Uses of Anger’ (1981): ‘I have tried to learn my anger’s usefulness to me, as well as its limitations.’

African American women did rise up through the succeeding decades but that was by dint of their own hard-work and enterprise.  


When anger is examined from inside a self-suspecting practice of thinking and feeling, its momentum is slowed and made available for observation, reflection and play. I am wary of making this sound like a simple matter, when few things could be more difficult. I cannot listen to the sinister amalgam of cruelty and nonsense streaming from Trump and his acolytes without becoming severely enervated with rage.

Why not be energized by rage? Is it coz Cohen is incessantly masturbating and thus getting enervated? Don't jerk off to Trump's tweets. You will go blind.  

It is hard to imagine any witness to the murder of George Floyd, or any other of the innumerable offences against racial justice of recent years and decades and centuries, taking reflective distance from the burning anger they feel.

Yet, there were bystanders there who weren't overmastered by rage. They had enough self-possession to video the incident on their camera phones.  

The annals of history are stalked by sufficient injustice, brutality and stupidity to feed our lifelong anger.

or feed a habit of incessant masturbation. 


But the peculiar advantage of art and psychoanalysis (which may well be construed, from the standpoint of philosophical reason or scientific objectivity, as a disadvantage) is that they provide ways of experiencing such extreme feelings while making them available to curiosity and open exploration.

Yes. You can talk to your shrink about how you put on Mommy's dress and stroke yourself off. Alternatively, you could pay a prostitute to listen to you- but that would cost more. 

In the course of our years of work, Gordon came to feel relief that I could receive his rages without falling prey to the twin temptations of dismissal and retaliation, as though a different mode of relating had been opened up for him, one not defined by the same compulsive panic.

Because it was defined by payment.  

Psychoanalysis slowly and falteringly mitigated his tendencies to reactive panic and its snowballing consequences. I think this change was facilitated above all by the dual stance of psychoanalytic work, which meant he could at once feel his anger and sit alongside it, remaining inside it while wondering about it from a short distance.

While paying by the hour. The truth is we all have a buddy we talk to about stuff that gets us down. That works better because your buddy genuinely has your back. He doesn't see you as a cash cow.  


Reading the Iliad or Medea is a very different experience, it has a similarly doubling effect on us, situating us both inside and apart from the passionate furies of the protagonists.

So does watching Avengers Assemble 

Perhaps this doubled position, beyond surrender to it and beyond the illusion that we could simply abandon it, is our best hope of learning to live with anger – our own and everyone else’s.

Nope. Improving relationship dynamics is the way to go. Moreover, reducing friction pays for itself in more 'work' being done and better outcomes being reached. It is foolish to pay a guy to listen to you kvetch about puerile shit. The big difference between a Rabbi and a pseudo Rabbi is that the former has a long history of improving outcomes while the latter has a short but hilarious history of writing stupid shit.  

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