Posted by toni-s on:
Nietzche said "Humor is just Schadenfreude with a clear conscience."
I found this quote doing random research on German words that have become part of our culture and language. We all use the word "angst". The definition I found called angst a "general anxiety and/or dread brought on by a confrontation with our freedom". Given the questionable (at best) state of our economy, and what we have done with or allowed to be done with our freedom, angst seems a reasonable but uncomfortable response.
I suppose it might be easier to identify zeitgeist (the spirit of an age) once that age has passed and we have the time to consider what it all meant. If I had to make something up today, I would say that the spirit of our age, in this country, is that "it" doesn't happen here. But we are now seeing on a regular basis some of what the rest of the world struggles with every day. You can name all of the things, hunger, homelessness, corruption, financial collapse and ......!
I am wondering if 'zeitgeist" can be delusional. It seems that people in the financial markets and the rest of us have been operating under the illusion that our financial well-being would go on and on. We have collectively borrowed, charged and spent our way into a financial tangle that seems to be resisting efforts to straighten it out.
And finally there is Schaenfreude, which is happiness at the misfortune of others. Rush Limbaugh has said and repeated, that he hopes Obama will fail. Given our interconnectedness, I think Limbaugh will be snorting and feeling a sense of schaenfreude, as his ship goes down with everyone else's.
As for me, I am hoping Obama, "the man with the plan", is going to do something to make it better again. And we of course are called upon to see things more honestly, to behave as if we are responsible for each other, rather than just for ourselves, and to keep a sense of humor about it. Trying to laugh and see the humor, will relieve some of our angst, may revive a more hopeful and honest zeitgeist, and enable us to laugh with Friedrich (Nietzsche).