21 April 2011



Few emotions are as pure as rage. We love; we grieve; we fear; we worry; we rejoice. Seldom do we act decisively on these emotions, preferring to behave tentatively, quietly, or subtly. But when we rage, we often feel totally self-righteous. Never is the temptation to let our emotions loose on another human being so strong as when we are steamingly, overwhelmingly enraged.

Rage has many different inflections, too: outrage; simmering, slow-boil level righteous anger; the desire, simply, to squash that which you hate.

Rage is a popular posture among those who are interested in social justice. "Rage Against the Machine," anyone? They make great music, but is rage the most effective emotion to cultivate if you're interested in busting the cultural elite?

No emotion eats you up faster. In traditional Chinese medicine, anger is thought to deplete the energy of the liver. Chronic ragers are prime candidates for liver disease, and by extension, nervous system disorders like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, since the liver governs the nervous system. Anger is one of the traditional Chinese Seven Deadly Emotions, as it is one of the traditional Western Seven Deadly Sins, where it appears under the guise of Wrath.

"Wrath," from the Seven Deadly Sins Series by Katie Szadziewska
One of the most excellent portrayals of Wrath occurs in Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. If you're not familiar with the Faust story, Dr. Faustus sells his soul to the devil in exchange for power here on earth. For his entertainment, he asks his demonic servant Mephistopheles to arrange for a parade of the Seven Deadly Sins. Faustus interviews each of them in turn. Wrath tells him,
I am Wrath. I had neither father nor mother: I leapt out of a lion's mouth when I was scarce an hour old; and ever since have run up and down the world with this case of rapiers, wounding myself when I could get none to fight withal. I was born in hell; and look to it, for some of you shall be my father.
Anger / Wrath, by Jacques Callot, c. 1620


mooderino said...

I can't recall the last time I felt genuine rage. Long time ago. Exasperation, on the other hand...

Luanne G. Smith said...

I often let my characters work themselves into a rage.I love it. I like pushing them to the point where they have no choice but to rage. Maybe that's why I'm so mellow these days. I get all my angsty stuff out on the page. :)

Anonymous said...

Whew, intense.

Ann said...

Rage is the most dangerous of emotions. Great for writing though.

Trisha said...

I tend to only ever have flashes of rage, like very brief-lived. Then it just turns to something else - frustration, sadness, plain old anger. Rage is like a very brief flash for me though, and comes on in an instant.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, thanks for sharing your Rage! ;)

You may have heard of this already, but I'm starting up a 'Critiquing Crusaders' program, where participants in the Second Crusade can find other writers to exchange critiques with or form critiquing circles. If you're interested, come by The Kelworth Files to check it out!