Monday, February 13, 2012

In praise of angst & other German words (Banish the F-bomb)

Over time I've discovered a love for many German words (and Yiddish words too - see next blog).

Unfortunately, today's youth is partial to the so-called "F-bomb" - the all purpose option of the lazy, a word that precludes the effort of expressing oneself meaningfully. 

Al Pacino apparently dropped 182 F-bombs in Scarface. The university students that live in the apartment across from me drop at least 5 in every sentence they utter. Except when Mom is there doing their laundry and cooking....
What a shame that today's youngsters ignore the rich language available to us all.

My German favorites include the following. 

Woody Allen's films often satirize existential angst, as shown in Annie Hall (love the opening!) and many of his films (Also see Annie Hall's ending).

We may all have a doppelgänger. Has someone ever mistaken you for someone else? Or have you ever mistaken a person for someone else? In airports my husband routinely points out dopplegängers of my late mother and father. Eerie....

Periodically, a news item features rather lame celebrity doppelgängers

I first came across gestalt in an education course that discussed theorists like Kurt Lewin.

Being a big picture person, gestalt resonates since it validates that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Realpolitik is often used by governments such as that of U.S. president Dubya (George W. Bush) to justify hypocritical, unethical behavior as the only smart option.

Or see Don Rumsfeld courting Saddam Hussein (1980-4) because Saddam (he of the axis of evil) was against Iran, America's enemy. Then it mattered not that Saddam used chemical warfare on his own people.

Schadenfreude - One of the best because it encompasses so much in a single word. 
We've all experienced schadenfreude, e.g., when someone slips on a banana peel or an egotistical ball player hits a slump or the hypocritical politician gets hoisted on his own petard. 
I certainly felt schadenfreude when John Edwards, who cheated on his wife Elizabeth when she was dying of cancer, was indicted for campaign fraud.
If you have ever felt a bit gloomy at the state of the world, such as human trafficking being common, or your country's apathetic voters, or the sense of entitlement of today's youth, you may have experienced weltschmerz .

My generation, defined by the 60s, definitely had a zeitgeist. What was it? See 'Zeitgeist of 1960s' (scroll to transcript)

Do today's youth have one? Maybe....

Learning Point
If you too are partial to the F-bomb because it's the lazy person's word for almost everything, consider using language that better expresses your meaning. In other words, F-defuse (F-off), and, yes, that precisely expresses my meaning.