Monday, January 21, 2008

Weltschmerz, mine and yours

Well, that's nice -- I have a blog. I hope that its name doesn't tread too intrusively on the toes of a very nice-seeming graphic artist in Ontario, whose bookseller/community activist friends I've seen in the blogosphere. I just found out about this guy's existence checking to see whether there was already a "weltschmerz" blog. There is a comic strip -- his book is entitled Weltschmerz: Attack of the Same-Sex Sleeper Cells (see link above), which is about the best title for anything, ever. This one does not equal it, because nothing ever could.

Weltschmerz literally means "world-pain," which is what I start to feel building up every four years, when conditions and trends I've successfully repressed to a level at which I can live a pleasurable life come roaring back to the forefront of my consciousness with a vengeance. This blog is the outlet for my election-year crazies, and for various other forms of weltschmerz.

The term, weltschmerz, appears to have been coined by a late 18th/early 19th-century German guy I had never heard of, Jean Paul, a politically-engaged educator and novelist who didn't make it into the canon. Wikipedia, apparently borrowing heavily from Encyclopedia Britannica, says about him:

"But in working out his conceptions, Jean Paul found it appropriate to express any powerful feeling by which he might happen to be moved. [ed.-I don't know if the encyclopedia entry-writer meant "inappropriate," or what this sentence might mean...] He made it his style to use seemingly out-of-the-way facts or psychological notions which occurred to him. Hence every one of his works is irregular in structure and his style lacks directness, though never grace. His imagination was one of extraordinary fertility, and he had a surprising power of suggesting great thoughts by means of the simplest incidents and relations."

As a totally-by-chance epigram for this blog, I like that.

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