Flavor: Using my math powers for evil.

1. What’s going on mathematically?

Very rarely, when I’m particularly frustrated or angry at some particularly illogical inconvenience, I’ll apply my powers of analytic reasoning with the intent to cause emotional harm.

For example, once while renting a car in Las Vegas, the salesman kept pressuring me to buy a full tank refill at their 10% discounted price. He was aggressive about it. I got flustered, and fired off a terse line of irrefutable-sounding mathematics, pointing out that this only made sense if I returned the car with less than about 10% of the tank remaining, which was not pragmatic. I said it with such damning certainty that he shut up immediately.

More recently, I tried to return a piece of video equipment that was checked out in my roommate’s name. They insisted that I couldn’t just drop it off – my roommate needed to check it back in, for legal reasons. Whereas a reasonable annoyed person would question the logic of this administrivia by lobbing a loose bundle of sense, I shot a dense two-sentence projectile with a certainty and precision that I almost made the poor attendant start crying.

2. What is the emotional and logistical context?

I have to be in a very, very bad mood, or very stressed out. The context is bureaucratic and supremely annoying.

3. What thoughts are there?

There’s the thought that what I’m about to say is aggressive and backed by a mild mental volition to cause harm. I don’t remember really choosing my words to be particularly concise, but they are, and it’s this logical conciseness that characterizes the experience. The logic wells up from my analytic intuition and mathematical training for direct and irrefutable communication.

4. What quality of awareness?

In Tibetan Buddhism, anger is understood as the neurotic manifestation of vajra, the state of clarity; the wisdom behind anger is clarity. And when I’m concocting my aggressively logical and concise retort, there is sharp clarity – the logic lays out clearly and my analytic mind finds the most powerful form in which to yield it.

Throughout the exchange I maintain an awareness of my mental willingness to cause some small level of harm. I’m aware of the small-mindedness of this.

5. What emotions?

It feels good to let myself be angry sometimes; I feel empowered and proud. But only briefly. Then I feel bad. Sometimes I’m amused at the whole thing, since it’s so rare for me to snap at someone like that.

6. What does it resolve to, after how much time?

I can never remember exactly what I said in the heat of the moment, only that it was uncommonly logical and concise. It sort of echoes in my mind, repeating itself in a more spread out form. I often end up pondering my bias towards rationality over other forms of intelligence and knowing.

7. How frequent is this flavor?

I can only remember doing this a few times. Other contexts: shredding apart the logic of unsuspecting Christians, or economists.

8. What are good/bad ways to change or follow it up?

Apologies sometimes (spoken or unspoken), but not always.


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