Don’t Mind Us, We’re Just Jealous

Download Audio

With guest host John Donvan

We look at jealousy, that most human emotion.  Its history, its meaning and even its social value.

Johannes Vermeer's "The Concert" (which was stolen from Boston's own Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) can sometimes be seen as a meditation on jealousy. (Wikimedia)
Johannes Vermeer's "The Concert" (which was stolen from Boston's own Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) can sometimes be seen as a meditation on jealousy. (Wikimedia)

Jealousy.  However you define it, it’s not a pleasant thing to feel. And it’s an embarrassing emotion to admit to.  It’s as unavoidable as breathing.  Unless you’re a saint.  Because by most reckoning  jealousy would have to be listed as a sin. But what if there’s another side to feeling jealous? A good side? A side where the emotion is a source of strength and inspiration. Think how many of us sinners could feel like saints then! This hour, On Point: when jealousy is a good thing. And when it’s still not.
-- John Donvan


Peter Toohey, professor of classics at the University of Calgary. Author of the new book" Jealousy." Also author of "Boredom" and "Melancholy, Love and Time."

Dalton Conley, professor of sociology at New York University. Author of "Parentology" and "The Pecking Order." (@daltonconley)

Dodai Stewart, director of culture coverage for Fusion. (@dodaistewart)

From The Reading List

The Independent: The green-eyed monster: Why do we get jealous? — "Envy and jealousy have a long history of trading places. Between the late 14-century Wycliffe Bible and the 1611 King James version, lines from the Song of Solomon 8:6 transformed from the breathtaking 'loue is strong / As deth, enuy is hard / As helle”, into “love is strong / As death, jealousy is cruel / As the grave'. Both versions agree on the force of their chosen word, whether it’s 'envy' or 'jealousy', and there is no difficulty for the reader of either version in understanding the meaning. The Latin in the Vulgate’s version of this passage is aemulatio, cognate with 'emulous' in English, and it can mean 'jealous' or 'envious'. The Latin invidia also translates as either term."

Deseret News: What Taylor Swift's latest music video teaches us about jealousy — "T-Swift is just jealous. And people can learn a lot about the correct way to express emotions by analyzing her outrageous actions in the video. In the song, Swift sings about how her current relationship is falling apart. One of the flaws she faces is her own jealousy, seen when she devilishly stares at her male partner as he texts someone else. 'Who is she?' Swift sings. 'I get drunk on jealousy.'”

The New York Times: No Matter What I Do, There Is Always a 27-Year-Old Doing It Better --"I’m wired to be competitive and achievement-oriented. Life is a game I need to win. I don’t remember choosing to be this way, and I don’t think it’s optional. In some ways, I’m grateful for this inclination because it drives me to work hard. Unfortunately, it also makes me miserable."

Read An Excerpt From "Jealousy" By Peter Toohey

This program aired on December 8, 2014.


More from On Point

Listen Live