Negativity is a bad thing, right? "Negativity can only feed on negativity," if we believe Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. I'm not so sure any more. I recently noticed that I've been cultivating the thing. I'm even quite fond of it, to tell you the truth. Looking at the year-end list of movies I was like, Another one about grumpy old men? Great: to be avoided. Another one about male losers? Perfect: skip. Another cynical American male ego slug fest? Sure: without me. TV nostalgia for pussy-footing women of the sixties? Don't think so. Entertainment with women stuck in prison? Thank you, been there, done that. Next.
It's amazing how many temptations fall away right and left, like weeds cut down. A refreshing path of negativity opens up the horizon. Have you ever had a positive thought about negativity? Think again. Is there a better weapon against the weapons of mass distraction? My heart lights up when I think of the numerous bestsellers I defeated this year thanks to my new ally, my negative angel with a sword. Bestseller authors -- those "energetic scribblers" (baptized by Diane Johnson in the New York Review of Books) who want to suck the life out of me with Life after Life, Goldfinches, Flight Patterns and you name it. Or bestsellers of the weepy, infantile kind that promise cultural enlightenment to Americans, like Rooftops of Tehran.
But do I complain? No, I go to Amazon, if I must, and "Look inside." Usually it doesn't take more than a few pages to know what I must know and use my weapon: scroll on. Return the Kindle book (you've got 6 days). in the electronic age, negativity makes easy rebels with a cause. One click, good-bye. "Just say no" has always been a life saver, but there is more to it now. Negativity is the Power of No. It's opposition. Resistance. Negging out is my new virtue of 2014. It may be the new word of the year once it enters the American English Oxford Dictionary. Someone may end up negging out of the Selfie by then.
What is the definition of negativity?
Mathematics: "Relating to a quantity less than zero." Make that "a quality less than zero" and you add philosophy to the math. Or take it from logic: "a proposition that denies agreement." Could it get much better? Perhaps you prefer the proposition of physics: "a body having an excess of electrons." This might be a new definition of the blockbuster. Or how about biology? "Moving away from a stimulus - a negative tropism." Let's say that again. A negative tropism. We are close to poetry here, to the elegance of the hedgehog. Almost exotic. Given the gift of negativity, I won't have to go to Machu Picchu next year, or Buthan, or climb the Kilimanjaro. Come to think of it: having successfully negged out of the biggest contenders this holiday season, I may not need to sit through the Academy Awards.
Follow Renate Stendhal, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RenateStendhal