Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 6, No. 1, 2007
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
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Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Robert Rotondo
Dan Stefik
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
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Evelyn Lau
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Robert Fisk
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Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward


from Mark Goldfarb
That natural selection endowed us with envy thereby making it a desirable, efficacious and excusable practice rests on the same logic that suggests untempered might makes right.

You say: “Stripped of everything that doesn’t properly belong to it, envy, as was biologically intended, is the recognition of an advantage that we want for ourselves. The ill will or unhappiness that invariably proceeds from the recognition is the first effect of envy, and is what moves us to remove the conditions responsible for our unhappy state. Which makes the attribute of envy directly implicated in the well-being of the species, which confers both pleasure and proof of the pleasure principle.”

But ill will and unhappiness are two very different things, as are our actions that stem from these feelings. And an advantage is not the same thing as an essential need. Hunger and weakness are biologically intended recognitions of an essential need – namely, food. My longing to look like Michelangelo’s David is not. Three crucial questions your essay raises are: when does the basic human act of recognizing and fulfilling a need cross the line into envy territory; at what cost; and why must envy be an integral part of an appetite that could be gratified just as easily without it? You satisfy the first two but not the last.

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, envy and anger are unique in that they’re the only two that are emotions. As such, it’s natural and appropriate that most, if not all humans experience them from time to time. However, if my anger or envy over a particular matter endures for many years, those feelings will generate disharmony and ultimately disease, both internally and externally. The distinction between jealousy and envy is a hazy one because these two emotions, conjoined contiguously from head to toe, operate in a continuous state of symbiosis with other emotions as well as with the other Deadlies, coalesceing, as you put it, into a very sin-uous stew.

In THE HEART OF JEALOUSY, a report on Psychology Today's jealousy and envy survey, jealousy is defined as the thoughts and feelings that arise when an actual or desired relationship is threatened; envy as the thoughts and feelings that arise when our personal qualities, possessions or achievements do not measure up to those of someone relevant to us. I’m going to go with this definition for the sake of simplicity.

Should I infer that my wish to be as skilled in acupuncture as X or as accomplished a painter as Y or as handy with a wrench as my car mechanic requires an RDA of envy? Is jealousy the source of a newly discovered vitamin required in microscopic amounts to maintain normal metabolism and growth? Or can I, with nothing but respect, admiration and a modicum of intelligence, emulate those people to the best of my ability and, without the damaging and destructive effects of envy, jealousy and the knots they tie me up in, aim to reach their lofty heights? I know I can. Positive connotations of envy exist only in the realms of psychoanalysis and reality TV shows. Ask Cain. Better yet, ask Abel.

There are good reasons why little, if anything, has been attributed positively to envy. To envy is to be human and envy can be a teacher and move us to be better and happier than what we have been. But if that path of evolution doesn’t at some point grant us the wisdom to realize that a policy of envy is a dead end choice, and a tragic end at that, no matter how you spin it, stir it, sauté or steam it, we will find ourselves at best rudderless in an inenviable Salierian swamp; at worst burnt out in the ashes of a Freudian flame.

from Robert Landes (editor of Augean Stables).
Let’s hope more rigorous thinkers tackle the topic. = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
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