[extropy-chat] ENVY (was: humor: evil eye)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Oct 31 04:49:07 UTC 2006

Spike writes

> Yesterday the local bookstore had Richard Dawkins as a guest for a lecture
> and book signing.  An excellent talk it was, a most wonderful time was this.
> The usual transhumanist suspects met for dinner afterwards.  Since the talk
> was about superstition, it seemed appropriate that Amara showed us a good-
> luck talisman known as the Evil Eye.  It was a curious object that actually
> looked a bit like an eye.  I was unclear on what it meant to give someone
> the Evil Eye until she pointed out that the object actually functions to
> scare away evil spirits,

Historically, the "Evil Eye" is the evil eye of envy. Our book group is reading
Helmut Schoek's book "ENVY".   Alas because so many of us here are so---
dare I invoke the wrath of the gods by boasting?---pretty much above envy,
it is enormously difficult to consider what a powerful force it truly appears to
be in the world.

Depending in a yet unknown-way (to me) on spatial and temporal distribution!

Evidently Americans tend to be more free from envy than others (witness the
line in the Oklahoma song "Everything's going my way..."), and modern people
far more free than our ancestors. But what is the distrubution???
Are young Germans today freer of malicious envy that their forefathers?
Is England truly in a much worse situation envy-wise because of the heavy
influence of the class structure?   Are Californians more free from envy than
other Americans?  Are Arizonans even freer than Californians?  (I have
very meagre evidence that these things are true.)  And is it practically an
*unconscious conspiracy* among modern sociologists and anthropologists,
as the author contends, to ignore the powerful phenomenon of (malicious)

(I have to use "malicious envy" rather than just envy because Amercans (and
other English speakers?) are prone to say things like "I sure am envious of
your new car" when all they're really expressing is admiration.)


> bringing good luck to the bearer of the device.
> Clearly it worked for I noticed that no evil spirits were present.
> Presumably it has no adverse effect on non-evil spirits, so it would not
> create any panic at Google.  It may result in great discomfort at Microsoft
> however, or at least the PowerPoint division.
> Spirits might be a bit like people in which the moral status is far less
> clear, perhaps a 50-50 mixture of good and evil.  Surely as a companion
> talisman to the Evil Eye we need another device for dealing with these
> ambiguously moral spirits.  In keeping with the alliteration of evil eye, I
> propose the Neutral Nose.
> Chemistry minded people are accustomed to thinking in terms of protons,
> neutrons and electrons.  To fill out our talisman trilogy, surely we need
> some device for driving out those spirits that are positively not evil.  It
> isn't clear why exactly, other than to maintain symmetry.  The opposite of
> evil is righteous, so what could we have?  A retina is part of the eye,
> which is already taken, and a radius without the ulna seems incomplete, but
> I just don't think we should go with the Righteous Rectum.  It is unclear
> what such a talisman would look like, although it might actually be rather
> effective in repelling spirits.  
> OK well, the letter R is difficult when searching for names of body parts.
> Perhaps we should come up with an alternate opposite of evil, such as good.
> Good versus evil, double plus good, OK.  Let's see then, Good Groi... aaah
> no.  Good Gona...  hmmm not that either.  OK R then.  Righteous...
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