May 17, 2012
Weltschmerz: Literal German translation welt (world) schmerz (weariness or pain). A sadness or type of depression arising from seeing the world as it is, or from comparing world circumstances to an idealized (read: imaginary) set of circumstances.
To varying degrees, any person who is conscious and cognizant of the world around them, and is capable of feeling any kind of empathy has experienced weltschmerz to a degree. However, the fact that the English language needs to borrow a word from the Germans to express something that should be universally felt is very interesting, and indicative of some kind of mental deficiency that is necessary to avoid crippling cognitive dissonance while participating in capitalist societies.
That’s a blanketing and bold statement, but I’m curious as to how this could not be true.
What differentiates the feelings of depression and helplessness arising through weltschmerz from regular, everyday (often medicated) depression is that those feeling weltschmerz aren’t sad that they can’t afford a car, or that they’re in the middle of a divorce, or that they can’t have something they want; they are depressed for reasons that, while not entirely removed from them, cannot be changed for the better by simple individual effort. The depression arises from pervasive environmental factors that they grapple with mentally throughout their lives, but can do nothing to change.
If you’ve been reading any of my other posts, you know damn well where this discussion is heading. If not, I present to you the ultimate source of weltschmerz in modern life, the institution of capitalism. Broken down, my reasoning:
- Capitalism is part of everyone’s life, every day, to some degree. If you live in a house, if you purchase food, give a gift, work a job, you’re in it’s full throws.
- Capitalism, while being present through the massive amounts of technological advancements and amounts of excess and luxury in the West, has provided a perverse and insidious method of incentive that has led to a world state where most humans on the planet don’t have enough food to eat, where excess and stupidity and recklessness are rewarded, and moral objectivity in business and in life are not.
- Anyone who participates in this system (read: everyone reading this, and everyone they’ve ever known) are both forced to operate within these conditions AND know to some degree that the aforementioned imbalances exist, whether or not they’re internalized. We are all, at the very least, passive contributors to the state of the world.
In that, we are all, collectively, responsible for the world state. Not politicians, not corporations, not fascists, but plain ol’ you and me. We are the ultimate enablers.
So, in realizing this, I’ve felt a little upset. To me, this is the ultimate conflict of the mind, providing enough cognitive dissonance that I’ve sought advice from well-meaning medical professionals, only to have them push a Pfizer quick-fix on me almost reflexively. To me, it is absolutely ludicrous to think that a pharmaceutical will do anything but stifle the emotional response to what is, to my conscience, what any reasonable and sane person should feel given our environment. Further evidence of society’s turning a blind eye to this is the success of the entertainment and commercial industries, pumping out placating messages and products that indicate a world of excess, plenty and that Everything is Going to Be Alright. Trillions have been spent on making sure that we are just placated enough to believe in this way of life enough to participate in it and go about it as if this is how things always have been and always will be.
Where then is the choice in the matter for someone who morally objects to the entire exercise?
May 2, 2012
These days I feel as though I am at a kind of cross-roads.
For all of my adult life, I have loathed several aspects of the life that I have been given. Most potently, it has been the notion that our lives are pre-defined, with expectations coloured into our destiny. Working for a wage has been a never-ending struggle for me, to the point of severe depression and obsession. I simply feel as though I am not spending my time doing something I want to be doing, supporting a system I don’t believe in; this would be okay if it were just once in a while, but to do so for nearly 40% of our waking life, let alone the thinking of, planning, worrying and implications of owning and earning capital.. enough to make anyone nuts.
I have dabbled in the Tao te Ching, Zen, and what ultimately comes to the art of acceptance. I am able to find a lot of peace in emptying my mind of the previous thoughts, to the inequality and desperate need for revolution in our society, and a million other concepts. My question is this: While acceptance brings peace of mind and removes me of the depression and cognitive dissonance I feel due to the world around me, is it just another form of pacifist mind-bending to make things seem like they’re okay when they’re not?
April 24, 2012
If you can read this, you are part of a species that:
- Made machines and used them to travel to outer space
- Have bent the course of natural selection to keep alive those who would have never had a chance without modern medicine
- Calculated the movement of celestial bodies to astounding accuracy
- Has dismantled the very atoms that constitute us, and discovered the fundamental particles of matter
- Have fought both environmental and human means of adversity historically, and won
- Is, like all other living and non-living things, made from stellar explosions billions of years ago
April 19, 2012
Today, you will learn nothing about yourself. Your soul and what you believe to be right and truly important will be pushed aside in favour of business as usual. Your time will be spent performing menial, outsourced tasks that could likely be easily automated, but are not in the name of “job creation”. You will be in isolation, if not physically, mentally within the imprisonment of your work and socially through the idea that’s been sold to you and you co-inmates that you “like your job”. You don’t. You don’t even like the paper you get in exchange for being there. To varying degrees of depth, there still lives a voice within you that cries and thrashes and throws Itself against your hijacked lifestyle. It wants not luxury, fame, decadence or acceptance by people who accept insanity. What has been sold to you as being important is for the ultimate benefit of few; namely, not you.
September 6, 2011
The world that we know, the one that we immerse and delude ourselves into every day, falls away to nothingness when compared to the beauty and complexity of reality; a reality that beckons our exploration and understanding. To become mired in the pursuit of money, material objects and medically-induced cathartic states is completely trivial to even the most base concepts of our planet, ones that a layperson could easily grasp but is, I feel, unable to appreciate because of the neurological sickness placed on us by our crass, ruled and completely backward society.
It is my belief that the concept of money and our trading our labour for it is absurd. We are not trading our time. If we were, we as living, thinking beings would be able to pursue matters and concepts of personal interest, while our time went about the repetitive and mostly unrewarding pursuits of acquiring funds. We have been collectively coerced into working for fake dollars, to attain fake goals, to keep the machine turning. No matter how much one decides not to believe in this system, they are indirectly forced to participate and hence promote it. The benefactors of continuing this way of life are not even close to the majority of our human population. This can be proven by the fact that a stock broker, one who literally contributes nothing to society (if you can argue this point, I would love to hear it) is able to make hundreds of times more money than someone who is directly benefitting people, which is what we were told the end goal is.
It isn’t. Obviously if such a system were what we think it were, in that it benefits and maintains a society through incentive-driven labour, there would not be the massive majority of human beings on this planet that are literally dying because of a simple lack of food, something that could be solved easily if the current system of incentive were done away with. There is simply no business interest in feeding the hungry, less financial benefit to curing cancer rather than treating it longitudinally, or ending a war that has fallen into the background of our minds due to it’s abstract goals and persistence.
A human utopia simply does not involve selfishness. The monetary system directly promotes selfishness.
June 9, 2008
Oftentimes throughout my day, which are as unvaried and more often than not boring as anyone else’s, I stop to breathe. On a practical and superficial level, this “1-minute-meditation” is cognitively worthless, although having benefits for stress-management and the like. To me however, this simple act is of incredible importance. Many of the great thinkers within our history more or less have eventually come to reconcile with the idea of “oneness”; the concept that rather than being individual, categorized and self-identifying beings, driven by the concepts of money, the perpetual pursuit of Success, and the building and maintenance of skill or knowledge; we are all part of something far greater and more important than any of those manufactured and peddled ideas are.. that we are all one. This idea has essentially been decimated by Western media, who repeatedly tells us implicitly that we are all essentially powerless, of little worth, expendable, ugly and above all else, to be feared.
This is important because it ultimately leads to a loss of one of the most important human characteristics. This universal emotion is nowhere to be found in the perpetrators during times of war, slavery, epidemic or apathy. It is an emotional ability greatly lost in our society of Success. This emotion is empathy, the ability to essentially view the world through the eyes of another and understand the mechanisms behind their opinions or actions. This type of insight is of immeasurable power to the bearer, allowing one to grasp an issue in the purest sense, and apply a solution with the most compassion and effectiveness possible. But more importantly, it allows to bearer to understand the commonality between all beings that exist, and therefore see the Oneness in it’s purest form. Free from money, deities of any kind, greed and urgency, we are able to experience reality in it’s truest form, rather than reality as perpetrated by a select group of people motivated by these same hindrances.
This is the root of what it means to be a human being; and in all of our attempts to identify ourselves through the skills we have, the ideals we hold, which political puppet we agree most with, our jobs, down to what music we like and what clothes we wear, we have appallingly and deliberately missed this point.
This is what I experience during my minute of breathing; the realization that I am fluid, and live my choice of love over fear, expansion of thought over dogma, and empathy over indifference. Through these basic principles I am free to experience reality as we have since the dawn of time, prior to our illusions of money, excess, success and elitist socioeconomic, national and religious segregation. Fuck it all.
Of course I am not naive enough to believe I am not influenced by these things. However, I believe I possess the power to acknowledge the presence of these phenomena in my life, choose for myself which are justified, potentially harmful or beneficial, and the like, and take action on them based on what I feel it best for me.
If you have been reading this striving to understand my standpoint, to attain in essence this “empathy’ I have been preaching, you have missed the point entirely.
“The words are fingers pointing at the moon; if you watch the finger you can’t see the moon” – Lao Tzu
Instead, live the words. Breathe them. Take action according to them. The end result will be what you, as well as I strive to understand and conceive.
August 14, 2007
This one’s gonna be a dandy.
Of all things I could be inspired to write a post from, anything ranging from the eloquent, the emotion-ridden, even simply the animated, this post is inspired by no more than 3 grapes. 3 grapes! And from this noble beginning, I will express the final point of what I’m sharing with you today; the media has our collective consciousness by the balls. Yeah. Watch me fill this one in.
The other day I was just getting into my car to go to work, and remembered that I had not eaten anything aside from a piece of toast and some coffee. I was already slightly late, so I walked to the fridge in my garage, grabbed a few grapes off their stem without looking, and shoved them hurriedly into my mouth, now walking back to the car.
Within moments I was in a state of sheer panic.
Within my never-ending stream of thoughts that occur throughout the day, at the very second I was chewing up my modest breakfast, a memory surfaced from my unconscious mind, surging it’s way into my psyche, flooding every sense with it’s message; the “message” being a product of the following insurgent memory. This memory was of a news report I had seen in passing as a child, a concerned young news reporter interviewing a wide-eyed woman in a grocery store. ReporterGirl, with an authoritative and even slightly condescending tone was telling the interviewee about “the dangers of imported foods”. More specifically, she was talking about black widow spiders making nests within batches of grapes, being picked by unsuspecting migrant workers, who load them onto trucks to have them sold to us unsuspecting whities, who then eat them and perish indefinitely.
ReporterGirl’s message couldn’t be more plain and true. What she was telling us is that our food is not even fit to eat without a certain amount of scrutiny, and moreover fear. Through the wide-eyed woman’s eyes one could see panic, bewilderment, every emotion that would lead to her becoming more reserved, more guarded, more inclined to close her mind.. more afraid of day to day life.
And as much as I had rubbed off her stupid, incredulous expression, the reporters laser eyes piercing into her victim’s soul, the intensity of the imagery, there was only one thing on my mind as I stood there stupidly in my garage, eyes welled up with tears. I looked about for a place to spit out what was surely dozens of tiny baby spiders, breeders of death and holocaust swarming in my mouth. I began to sweat as I walked toward the garbage.
Then I stopped.
Breathing in deeply, I stopped to think of how the grapes tasted, how delicious and juicy they were; and also the absence of any evidence there were spiders in my mouth. Slowly my heart rate returned to normal, and my body hummed with order as I mastered what was seconds ago a matter of paramount importance.. 3 grapes.
This experience re-enforced within me a terrifying realization of how strongly the media impacts not only simply our thoughts and opinion, but our experiences. Even through the passage of time between watching the news report as a child and the Grape Incident the other day, through even my own initial small amount of objective thinking back then and my next-to-paranoid sense of objectivity at present, that amount of panic came through.
I was so ashamed of this event that I thought to never write about it, even though the inspiration was almost instantaneous (after I began breathing properly again that is). I’m happy I have.