Lucas Weismann

RE: Henry Rollins and Anger

One of my favorite current thinkers is former frontman for the band Black Flagg. He’s humble, he’s enlightened and he’s angry. He has a fury that drives him to get up on stage and be big and bombastic in front of crowds night after night.

He finds ways of saying things that make me question what I think I know, connects with the inner bullied-kid in me and hits my anti-authoritarian streak hard. In many ways, he’s like a less-bitter more down-to-earth George Carlin.

And I get it. I am able to channel anger through him that I can’t seem to access on my own.

That’s what I’m having a hard time with. My own lack of anger.

My own lack of anger has been with me for as long as I can remember. Being bullied in school, I needed to be given special permission to stand up for myself. In Wrestling, I often needed to lose a match or get hit with a cheap shot before I was able to get the anger to direct my power fully.

In Powerlifting I often lifted less than what I could do, because I simply couldn’t get get it together enough to push the iron harder through the anger.

About as close to anger as I get...
About as close to anger as I get…

I’m hold back from letting it out and I’m not sure why.

At times, it’s been useful:  When attacked by people intent on hurting me, I have been able to decent myself and then been able to avoid using unnecessary force.

Calmly reporting to the police what happened while my attacker frothed at the mouth after being restrained (using wrestling of course!) to prevent him hurting himself or others.

On the other hand, I think that anger is one of the great drivers of human action.  I can’t seem to do it.


Reading about Jean-Michel Basquiat, listening to the words of Miles Davis or hearing George Carlin, you can see that they’re angry.  It drives them to great heights.  Part of me wonders if I’m too busy practicing my scales to take a solo.

I worry about whether what I have to say in my photography is worthwhile because I’m worrying about the technique; essentially how I’m wording it.

Sometimes I feel like a person who is a great technician at heart or more accurately at “mind”.  Holding back my heart from doing what I want out of something… something…

Growing up, my father said that the only two things that really stop us from achieving what we want to in life are fear or laziness.  That is what holds people back from even trying.

In most cases, he’s right.  Anger is a catalyst that can be useful in lowering the reaction threshold and getting that momentum going.  If you’ve ever wondered what makes Terry Pratchett such a prolific author?  I’ll tell you:  Anger.  Check out this article by Neil Gaiman (whose work I also love) about his co-author on the book Good Omens.

I’m reading this as I dance my way across the world, enjoying the hospitality of truly lovely people and working with people to make themselves better at something we love to do.  Maybe it’s no wonder I can’t seem to find the fire.

But if that’s the case, that’s the case… now.  Not back here:

Note the lack of fire shooting from eyes, growth of scaly skin, protruding horns, and other clear indicators of anger.

Arguably I had every reason to be angry.  I had few friends, I was bullied daily for being who I was, I was threatened when I wasn’t being physically attacked.

Hell, it was bad enough that I rode an hour to school each way on my bike rather than take the bus because I was so miserable.

How did I react?  “Well, I really like getting the fresh air”

Even seeing this, I can only get mild indignation for the empty feeling of the lack of anger felt at the injustices of the world.

A few times in my life I’ve tapped into this primal force.  Felt the rage suffuse me with strength.  Felt the heat come into my face.  Accomplished what needed doing. Been left empty and with the taste of ashes in my mouth.

Somehow it didn’t work.  Maybe I need a different fuel.  Some other drive to inspire me.  What inspiration should I seek?

If you are a person for whom anger is not a motivator, what then should you use to fuel the motor of your genius?

What drives you to accomplish great feats of will?

What is the why?

Where is it?

2 thoughts on “RE: Henry Rollins and Anger

  1. This definitely resonates with me. I know what you mean in that I rarely ever get angry. I’m undecided whether this only part of the issue for me at least.

    I see anger as something that for other people if it happens it happens in a big way. The issue might be though that it’s hard to be as extreme with other emotions. You can be seething with anger, but what would be the equivalent for happiness? We’re given an easy template for anger driving us, but not so much for other mental states.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve always very fairly reserved with things happening mostly inside my head, although it’s something I’ve tried to break out of in the last few years. These days I try to at least fully embrace any emotional state I’m in, be it happiness/frustration/melancholy, although it’s very much a work in progress. I think in the past I’ve always just pushed them down and drifted through in a path of mildly-pleasant. Thankfully this is helped from now finding social groups in which I’m not the massive misfit like I was as a child.

    So whilst I agree that the channelling of a strong emotion is vital for strong expression, I’m not sure I’d go with the idea that it has to be anger. I used to call my approach to lindy hop ‘failing with conviction’ and it’s this kind of emotional conviction that I aim for. If I’m gonna feel something, I wanna feel it big and express is big, be it joy, despair or if needs be anger.

    Perhaps that makes sense to you, perhaps not, but I partly wanted to write it down for my own sake =)

  2. Thank you for your reply. That makes a lot of sense and I appreciate you writing it for your own sake. That’s a great reason to write 😀

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