We all have an inner Frankenstein, a monster that we shouldn’t feed. When we keep him hungry, our lives tend to run more smoothly. Our attitudes tend to be more positive. When we let him dine, we stoke an inner ferocity.
The Frankenstein everyone shares is the one with the green eyes. It’s the Frankenstein of envy. When we let him go, his rampages can demolish figurative villages. They can also be inconsistent. The movie Frankensteins always let it rip on an equal opportunity basis. If you’re in their way, you get it. Our personal Frankensteins are different. They demolish some huts while leaving others standing. They rip some things to pieces and ignore other things.
This is because we are inherently illogical. We never really envy a whole person; instead we covet a person’s job or house or car. Or we might covet all three, but we don’t want his or her carpal tunnel syndrome or that slight limp. So we end up acting as though we’re jealous of a person when in fact we’re not. We’re irrationally jealous of only a part of the person as though it’s possible to cherry pick certain aspects and leave others. This is a condition we can call Selective Sight Syndrome (we never view the whole picture).
This syndrome is best depicted in the poem “Richard Cory” by Edward Arlington Robinson. The narrator of this piece feeds his Frankenstein on envious thoughts of the title character who he says is “richer than a king.” Cory is said to make pulses flutter, and he glitters when he walks. “We thought that he was everything,” the narrator pines, “to make us wish that we were in his place.” What the narrator never contemplates is what he doesn’t see: Cory’s inner despair. So the narrator’s monster tromps through the corridors of his mind for nothing. Cory ultimately goes on to commit suicide. Still want to be “in his place” Mister Narrator?
Oops. Our selective sight gets us every time. If we could isolate the parts we think we want, would we be happy? In other words, grab the cash and the summer home but leave the marital problems and the heart condition. Nope, the truth is that if we really could take only what we think we want, we wouldn’t end up wanting it. We would join the ranks of those who – being disappointed with those things – want something else. So the next time your inner Frankenstein demands a meal, remember what happened the last time he ate. Going green is a catchy phrase, but it isn’t always a positive thing.