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"The science of rage"

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Photograph: Courtesy of HBO

Comedian Lewis Black has made a career out of impersonating a volcano—and not one of those friendly, sleeping volcanoes, either. No, he’s more like a liberal, sputtering Mount St. Helens. On Monday 9, his rantings will be analyzed by Dr. Robert Allan, author of Getting Control of Your Anger, at the Rubin Museum of Art, as part of the ongoing Brainwave Festival. We asked both gentlemen to discuss their relationship with that most explosive of emotions—in a pressure-cooking 60 seconds or less.


Photograph: Courtesy of HBO

Dr. Robert Allan: “First of all, anger is our emotion for injustice. And there’s nothing wrong with anger. In fact, if it weren’t for our forefathers’ anger at what we perceived to be an unjust tax on tea, you and I would both be speaking with British accents. (I tend to like British accents myself.) In adulthood, I think disrespect in our society is the number one cause of interpersonal anger. On the stage, and expressing anger in the way [Black] does, in a sublimated fashion, it’s great. But if you try to do that with your girlfriend or best friend, watch out. Directly expressed anger is a way of making a bad situation almost always much worse. I debunked that whole idea of pent-up rage in my book; I don’t think it exists. Use Thomas Jefferson’s advice: If angry, count to ten; if very angry count to 100. What makes me angry? Injustice makes me angry.”

Lewis Black: “If you’re getting angry during a blow job, you need anger management. Or somebody needs to learn how to give a blow job. I probably should’ve gone [to anger management] when I was younger, before I realized it was getting me into trouble. But I don’t think they had anger management back then; I had to learn it all on my own, which is why it took so long for my career to get off the ground. I’m hoping [Allan] can just show me where I can squeeze on my head really hard to stop getting pissed off, then I’ll be satisfied. But if he ends up focusing my anger into folk dancing, I might have to kill myself. Bush has made me angrier [than Nixon] because he’s my age and has learned nothing from living through the ’60s. No lesson learned whatsoever. To live through the first Vietnam and then create a second one is beyond fucking belief.”

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD! “The Science of Rage”: Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W 17th St at Seventh Ave (212-620-5000). Mon 9 at 7pm, $20.

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