The Importance of Letting Go of So-Called Dirty Pain

WIRED | 7/26/2018 | Virginia Heffernan
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I was walking through a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn with another parent I’d just met at a child’s birthday party. “I like it here,” he observed. “But the people smell bad.”

Hgst. Someone has commented on the odor of an entire people. A bad moon rose. Then another.

Men - Tzitzit - Fedoras - Map - Phone

All around us were men in tzitzit, fedoras. I stabbed at the map on my phone. “I don’t smell anything,” I lied; the air was thick with the hot scent of political anguish. “Really?” he said. “Cigarette smoke bugs the **** out of me.” He pressed the heels of his hands onto his eyelids. I was in the company of an anti-Semite. I made my getaway.

The guy’s annoyance has annoyed me for a year. So I set out to win an argument with him—in absentia, of course. I read a Talmudic scholar on the subject of smoking and dug through data about cigarette use in the ultra-orthodox community. (Very low, at least in Israel.) But why was I even taking that dude, whom I never spoke to again, seriously? He was not annoyed by particulate matter. His issue was ideological toxins. Wasn’t it?

Annoyance - Topic - Claim - Conversation - Office

Annoyance is a maddeningly complex topic. We all lay claim to being annoyed so often that conversation seems to exist entirely to let us register how bugged we are. The office is too cold. Too humid. My coworker’s flip-flops slap against her soles. It’s gross.

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People - Annoyance - Science - Bugs - Us

But for all that people disagree—and bond—over what bugs them, it’s surprisingly difficult to define annoyance categorically. In Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us, Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman propose that an experience of annoyance implicates the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

Indeed, for hard scientists to argue that annoyingness inheres in the world and not in the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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