Author Topic: You may not have felt them yet, but these emotional states exist  (Read 9999 times)

Joe Carillo

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You may not have felt them yet, but these emotional states exist
« on: September 14, 2015, 09:48:01 PM »
Based on your own life-experience, how many emotions have you personally felt and identified? “Joy,” “anger,” “sadness,” “fear,” “love,” “dislike,” and “fondness” perhaps, which are the seven core passions that an ancient book on Confucian precepts had suggested all men and women are born with? Or maybe “disgust,” “happiness,” “fear,” “sadness,” “anger,” and “surprise,” which evolutionary psychologists in our own time theorize are universal, hardwired responses to protect us from the vagaries and perils of our daily lives?

In The Book of Human Emotions: An Encyclopaedia of Feeling from Anger to Wanderlust (Profile Books and Wellcome Collection, 208 pages), Tiffany Watt-Smith tells us that from her travels and research, she has discovered and identified many, many more other than these well-known 6–7 emotional states.

Here are just a few of them: “amae,” which in Japan describes the feeling you get from surrendering to another in perfect safety; “acedia,” a short-lived listless despair brought to the fourth-century desert monks by noonday demons; “awumbuk,” the oppressive emptiness that Papua New Guinea mountainfolk feel for three days after visitors depart; “pronoia,” a strange, creeping feeling that everyone is out to help you; “basorexia,” an overwhelming urge to neck or kiss someone; “schadenfreude,” the unexpected thrill and deliciously clandestine human pleasure that we feel at another’s misfortune; and “vergüenza ajena,” the exquisite torture and derisive feeling we feel when we see a stranger—a self-important TV contestant or thick-skinned or politician perhaps—embarrass himself or herself in public.

Says Watt-Smith: “The diversity of the world’s emotional languages testifies to the fact that if we want to understand our feelings, we must look beyond brain states and neurochemistry. The way we feel is also profoundly influenced by the meanings we attribute to our emotions, meanings that drift across times and places.”

Read Tiffany Watt-Smith’s “From Schadenfreude to ringxiety: an encyclopedia of emotions” in now!

Tiffany Watt Smith is research fellow at the QMUL Centre for the History of the Emotions, and was also a 2014 BBC “New Generation Thinker.” Before beginning her career in theatre, she worked as a theatre director for seven years, including stints as Associate Director at the Arcola Theatre and International Associate Director at the Royal Court.

In “On the Pleasures of Not Reading,” an essay that he wrote for the August 31, 2015 issue of The Paris Review, its web editor Dan Piepenbring writes that life really is too short to waste on ordinary potboilers. “I am not saying this as a complacent book snob who claims to have read everything,” he says. “On the contrary, I am crushed by how many books I have not read… (But) there are writers we instinctively, permanently dislike: not only will we never read them, we will quietly relish the not-reading, finding in it a pleasure that can occasionally rival reading itself.”

Read Dan Piepenbring’s “On the Pleasures of Not Reading” in The Paris Review now!