Wednesday, December 25, 2013

particularly gratifying to see a puffed-up peasant-driver fall from grace...,

NYTimes | The world’s highest-paid athlete began his spectacular downfall by crashing a Cadillac S.U.V. into a fire hydrant and a tree. Initial accounts of Tiger Woods’s 2009 accident reported that his wife had broken the vehicle’s window with a golf club to free him, but when word spread that the couple had been fighting over allegations of his infidelity, the smashed window became a metaphor for his shattered reputation. 

As the scandal unfolded, the sports celebrity who had built an empire on his image as an upstanding family man was revealed as a glutton for extramarital sex and an author of tawdry texts to mistresses and paid escorts. Almost overnight, Mr. Woods became a target of ridicule, not to mention a website and a Twitter account with the sole purpose of propagating jokes about him. 

The wicked delight over that turn of events has a German name so apt we’ve adopted it in English. Schadenfreude, or “harm-joy,” is the pleasure derived from another’s misfortune, and Richard H. Smith, a University of Kentucky psychology professor, has built a career around studying it and other social emotions. He previously edited an anthology about envy, a close sibling to schadenfreude. 

As perverse as the emotion may seem, it serves an adaptive function, Dr. Smith argues in this enjoyable book. It stems from social comparisons, which allow us to assess our talents and determine our status in the social order. The urge to make these comparisons appears hard-wired — studies show that even monkeys and dogs measure themselves against their peers. 

Schadenfreude provides a glimpse into what the psychologists Roy F. Baumeister and Brad J. Bushman have called “the most basic conflict in the human psyche” — the friction between our selfish impulses and self-control. “We are all savages inside,” the author Cheryl Strayed wrote in her Dear Sugar column at the website The Rumpus. “We all want to be the chosen, the beloved, the esteemed.” 

But life doesn’t always turn out that way, and when we encounter someone who is more chosen, beloved or esteemed than we are, our natural instinct is to tear them down to our level. If this illicit desire is fulfilled by happenstance, schadenfreude ensues. Clive James captured the feeling in a poem that takes its title from its first line: “The book of my enemy has been remaindered/ And I am pleased.” 

When envy invokes pain, schadenfreude provides a potent antidote. Mr. Woods’s success on the golf course and seemingly perfect life — beautiful wife, family and flawless reputation — “provided an acute contrast for most people, even if they were not interested in golf,” Dr. Smith writes. Though some people were surely inspired by him, perhaps more felt diminished. His downfall brought him closer to their level, and thus allowed his enviers to feel better about themselves. 

The 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes proposed that humor often arose from a sudden sense of superiority, and Dr. Smith writes that our culture thrives on downward comparisons that provide this “sudden glory.” 

“Do we watch reality television for precious insights into the human condition?” he asks. “Please. We watch for those awkward scenes that make us feel a smidgen better about our own little unfilmed lives.”


BigDonOne said...

Notice that it's IQ-160's that identified and documented this more advanced psychology practiced by civilized folks. Over in Africa, Fuzzlamistan, and certain IQ-75 USA Urban areas, when someone has anything a bit superior to yourself, the preferred move is to immediately kill them, and take it, for instant feel-good gratification...........[Season's Greetings from BD]

BigDonOne said...

"the story has been one told in numbers and graphs and voiced by economists, journalists and politicians."

The inequality story has also been more-accurately told by psychologists (Murray and Herrnstein) in undeniable vivid no-nonsense numbers and graphs citing ~1000 peer-reviewed publications (virtually all PR lit ever published on the subject), which all add up to one undeniable irrefutable conclusion ----> Inequality is driven by Unequal Genes, not "failures of leadership..." ....

arnach said...

Merry Christmas, CNu. First one as a member of the Roman Catholic faith, right?

Same to all the rest of you Subrealists, whether it's Holidays or Festivus, or I missed wishing you a Happy Hannukkah last month on Turkey Day. Merry Giftmas and Happy New Year to all!

CNu said...

lol, subrealism is school for you.

Update your Murray BD. The big man has moved on and left you by the wayside. While he's never been more than loathesome criminal vermin to me, specifically elevated and promoted as a weapon against black folks in America, your hero has brought his one-dimensional tropes full round to acceptance of the obvious.

You've been abandoned by your elites.

Left to your own devices, as a people, you don't amount to much. Even an anti-social propaganda weapon like Murray has realized the irrelevance of his past professions to the extent that he's begun (waaaaay too late) to try to repudiate some of the error of his ways. It's not going to help. Murray has never been anything other than a blunt instrument with an exceedingly short shelf-life. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is that the bill of goods deeply impressed into the cone of tinfoil on your head has left you cognitively crippled.

Take off the hat BD and stop being victimized by your own racist schadenfreude. (^;

CNu said...

And to you sir! I believe it's the second, but I may be mistaken. We had a midnight mass last year that lasted a couple of hours and involved candles and surplus hot wax. Never want to do that again. Went to mass yesterday evening and the archbishop gave the homily. He did good. There was some bishop, senior priest, parish priest head slappery going on around the alter (literally some evocational spell casting around the host) - but of course there's no "magic" involved in any of these ceremonies, it's all just remembrances....,

Making rolls for the people this morning. They're rising right now - oops - I hear footsteps upstairs, time to turn on the oven and start the coffee.

Vic78 said...

Left to their own devices they give their infants Mountain Dew.

makheru bradley said...

“No one can say when the unwinding began,” Mr. Packer writes, “when the coil that held Americans together in its secure and sometimes stifling grip first gave way.”

Perhaps no one can say, but I'd be willing to bet that a lot of folks would say that it began with the erosion of the US manufacturing base. When I went to work at IBM in 1981 they had never had a single layoff in the history of the company. Within ten years they had closed plants in Tucson, Boulder, and Lexington, and they were in the process of shedding almost all of their hardware manufacturing. I remember thinking, does the capitalist class really believe that a service economy can replace manufacturing. Bottom line is they didn't give a rats ass that many peoples salaries were being cut in half. They figured that they would still grow rich.

“Eventually six of the surviving Walton's,” the author writes, “would have as much money as the bottom 30 percent of Americans.”

Barack Obama’s presidency hovers at the margins of this book, largely as a somewhat disappointing work in progress. We do hear from a man who shakes the president’s hand and thinks: “It was the softest of any man he’d ever shaken hands with. It told him that Obama had never done a lick of physical work in his life.”

At some point the American body politic might connect the dots between Gramm-Leach-Billey and 9/15 and realize that selected politicians of the corrupt two-party system will never work in their interest. Recoveries from 9/15 forward are for the wealthy. The body politic can either wallow in self-pity of take heed to Jefferson's suggestion.

arnach said...

LOL I deleted the flip remark about pagentry and symbology; funny you pointed it out anyway.

Dat recipe. You've seen Last Holiday... LOL your largest mixing bowl would swallow a double recipe easily. No way I'm gonna go 24+ cups of flour by hand...they got machines for that.

CNu said...

Bro. Makheru - resilient political organization and operation depends on the formation of family/church/geographic social networks. These social networks comprise what can be referred to as a "deep state" apparatus, e.g., what was formerly comprised by WASP clans in the U.S., but has since been supplanted or proxied by the Cathedral.

Since the end of Jim Crow, and I am now convinced, since the extreme rupture brought on by the Soldier's Rebellion, which ended any further hope of a favorable military outcome for the U.S. in Vietnam, Black men have been the target of a prolonged and institutionalized counter-insurgency whose primary objective is destruction of even the possibility of the formation of any black "deep state" apparatus. No fraternal, religious, business, academic, or other institution exists which can serve as the matrix around which black deep state political formation can proceed.

This is the "science" of a Charles Murray - refined in practice in southeast asia and then imported back into the U.S. for application against potential rival clans. Basically what it amounts to is hit squads and other modes of personal, violent, interpersonal disruption of family/church/geographic structures which would lend themselves to "deep state" organization, coherence, and unified movement.

makheru bradley said...

Meet the Walton's.

[The six Waltons on Forbes’ list of wealthiest Americans have a net worth of $144.7 billion. This fiscal year three Waltons—Rob, Jim, and Alice (and the various entities that they control)—will receive an estimated $3.1 billion in Walmart dividends from their majority stake in the company.

The Waltons aren’t just the face of the 1%; they’re the face of the 0.000001%. The Waltons have more wealth than 42% of American families combined.

Why does all of this matter? While the Waltons are building billion-dollar museums, driving million-dollar cars, and jumping between vacation homes, Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, is paying its associates an average of $8.81 an hour. The Waltons make billions a year off of a company most of them don’t even work for, while Walmart associates struggle for respect on the job and enough pay to make ends meet.]

CNu said...

The Waltons are free. Within their family, religious, and regional environs, the Waltons have achieved the economic status required for American Deep State accomodation. Waltons, Kochs, and folks like them comprise the regional clanic elements which the long incumbent/recumbent WASPS have had to ideologically, politically, and institutionally had to accomodate over the past 60 years.

CNu said...

Is the value of a Walmart associate's labor worth more than $8.81/hr? Evidently, it's worth 3 times Sangita Richard's labor as an intimate house servant and nanny, but evidently, not worth enough to put up a violent struggle for "equity" - otherwise - this pathetic, begging-assed discussion would've concluded a looooooong time ago.

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