Revenge According To Atwood

Now we are entering the shadowiest location in our tour of the shadow side of debt. Yes: we are approaching the Land of Revenge, the place where money can’t buy you out of a debt of honor. At this point I’d like to go back to the primate sense of fairness with which I began this book. You’ll recall that the monkeys in the experiment I described were quite happy to trade pebbles for slices of cucumber until one monkey was given a more cherished grape instead, whereupon most of the monkeys stopped trading. There’s also an experiment in which two monkeys were able to obtain a coveted food item by pulling together on a rope–neither one being able to accomplish this task solo. But the food was then available to only one of them. If this one refused to share, the second monkey would in future retaliate by refusing to pull on the rope. He preferred to punish the selfish monkey rather than take a chance at getting some food himself…
I’ll pause here to consider the word “revenge,” which according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is derived from the Latin revindicare. And revindicare is derived from vindicare, which means to justify or rescue or liberate or emancipate, as in liberating a slave. Thus, to revenge yourself upon someone is to reliberate yourself, because before doing the revenge, you aren’t free. What holds you in thrall? Your obsession with your own hatred of the other: your own vengefulness. You feel that you can’t shake free of it except through the act of revenge. The score that needs to be settled is a psychic score, and the kind of debt that can’t be paid with money is a psychic debt. It’s a wound to the soul.
— Margaret Atwood, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s