my folks and sister will be heading to the east coast tomorrow for various Christmas gatherings while i'll be working. at any rate, we exchanged gifts early and my sister, despite not being a nerdfighter in name, is totally made of awesome and got me a copy of Looking for Alaska. i'd borrowed it a few months ago, and hadn't caught the questions John was asked in the study section until tonight. he made a comment about hope in spite of sorrow, or maybe within sorrow, which got me thinking, 'do we need negative emotion?'
now, i know the sometimes religeous argument, that we do need them to contrast the good emotions and the contrasting...'hanklerfish' argument that basically says ignorance is bliss. i'm not talking about this. i'm asking: is there something possitive and/ or necessary in the states themselves?
Self preservation. When one gets angry, it's because they believe they've been insulted, a loved one is attacked - I use attack in the most general way -, a belief they hold is attacked and so on and so forth. Wherein some might act in a simple brutish manner, others divert this 'negative' emotion away, and focus whatever buzz it's giving off, you think of a way to truly respond. So yeah, self defence and self preservation.
There's an idea that depression is evolutionarily beneficial because being depression increases someone's intelligence.
But there's no need for the contrast between good and bad emotions. Positive emotions wouldn't be positive if they weren't, it's basic logic.
I think that sometimes it can be. Reading Looking for Alaska was an interesting experience for me, because although I was is so much pain, it made me realize how special Pudge, the Colonel, Takumi, and Lara STILL were as their own group. In other words, being sad because you've lost something can make you appreciate what you still have, in which case it is necessary. As for the thing about hope, one of the things I took from Looking for Alaska was that no, nothing is forever, but you have to love what you have despite all that--because even when you've forgotten all about it, it was still special because it made you feel good at the time. In a sense, blissful ignorance is necessary, at least for hope. Furthermore, although all good things have to come to an end, people who are in high school have their whole lives ahead of them, and so many good things are left to come. The main point is, though, that (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS PUTTING THIS TAG HERE IN HONOR OF JOHN'S NEW VIDEO) when I was going through the raw pain of missing Alaska myself, it made me realize how much I cared about her...you don't know what you've got till it's gone, you know? (END SPOILERS END SPOILERS)
However, I have to contrast anger with sadness when we're talking about negative emotions. I think that sadness is more productive than anger; my history teacher once said last year that people would rather be angry than sad, and even I had to admit that that was true. I think being angry is necessary because if you don't allow yourself to be angry, then you start feeling like you have to take everything. Sadness is a sign of vulnerability, which is why people don't like it. But then again, as Paper Towns points out, sometimes being hurt and feeling vulnerable is the only way to connect with other people--and that's a big answer to your question right there.
Finally, going back to what you said about hope, I think that sad things (or at least sad books) can only be beneficial if there is something to make up for it. Pudge's moments of deep healing towards the end gave me some perspective and proved that things could get better, which in a way also makes it okay to indulge one's sadness for a little longer. On the other hand (not to make too drastic a jump here), when I read the book The Things They Carried, I didn't appreciate the sadness because it seemed that there was no hope. I had to read it for school, but all I felt was that the book's only purpose was to rub in our faces that there is no purpose to war whatsoever...plus, you know, The Things They Carried was also less fictional than Looking for Alaska. But anyway, the latter left me heartbroken while the former left me depressed. That's the difference.
To sum it up, since these replies always get really lengthy for me:
1.) When you lose something, it can be good because it doesn't just make you realize how special the thing you had was, but hopefully it makes you realize what you still do have.
2.) 'Blissful ignorance' is a necessity in the sense that if you always focus on the fact that nothing is forever, then it makes all relationships seem pointless, and it's not good to live a life with no relationships.
3.) Building off of that, being sad makes you vulnerable, which is the only way to get close to people sometimes.
4.) Anger is also necessary because if you stop yourself from being angry, it makes it seem like you have to be a good sport about everything and nothing can ever bother you.
5.) Hope can only take place when a sad thing has at least one good out come, however small--small benefits can be expanded on, but if you have nothing then it's just pure sadness, in which case you eventually need to distract yourself.
Why wouldn't you want negative emotions? If someone killed your sister and felt really happy about that, what would you like to feel in place of what you otherwise would be feeling?
Sorry that you didn't have your family's company for Christmas and had to work.
My short answer is 'Yes, we do'.
I think it's necessary to have experienced the state of sorrow (on some level) to make the opposite seem real and to appreciate it. In addition to that, there is a benefit in that darker moods can be very motivational and can be a really good time to think. I've felt some of my clearest thinking and most creativity has been when I've been very sad indeed.
However this is all from the point of view from a person who definitely gets a real buzz from the highs and lows of life; I tend to feel quite numb if I'm somewhere in the middle. Maybe someone who didn't 'enjoy' the rollercoaster as much would disagree.