I watched the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night. Well, part of it anyway. I was flipping back and forth between that and “So You Think You Can Dance?”. You know, to clean the palette.
I’m a card-carrying member of Generation X (although I don’t actually have a card. Cards are dumb). I have been since birth. I didn’t have to do anything particularly strenuous to become an X-er. However, birthing can be pretty traumatic. Just ask the Scientologists.
Anyway, being a generation X type of guy carries with it some responsibilities. You must lack a certain—joie de vivre—shall we say (but always pursue it). Not that I’m forced to be sullen. That comes naturally. But there is certain amount of pessimism that’s expected of people born between the late 60s and 70s (I don’t count 1980 babies. Screw them! They were born in the 80s!). It’s not that we’re dreary or anything. And it doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. After all, we were the generation born towards the end of the Cold War. We’ve seen great things (Vietnam isn’t one of them).
But it doesn’t seem to be enough.
Why? Hell, I don’t know. I don’t really care. I’m not here to discuss Generation X (a term that I don’t particularly enjoy by the way, at least I didn’t until I’ve gotten older. I don’t know why I’ve accepted the classification now. Maybe it’s because I can remember when people talked about Generation X as the young punks who were going to ruin the world with their gothic apathy—and it makes me feel young again?).
I’m here to say that I can’t believe that I’ve lived all these years without knowing the word “weltschmerz.”
It was the word that eliminated that little Canadian girl last night. It means: mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state. Or: a mood of sentimental sadness. It was coined by German writer Jean Paul.
And it fits me to a tee. Sometimes.
So why, as an apathetic Generation X member had I never ran across this word in all of my academic pursuits? Shouldn’t I have seen it at least once?
I should have! In a perfect world I would have!
Whatever. I don’t want to think about it anymore. Who cares anyway? Not me.
Fun Fact: Not counting typos (of which there were many), I only legitimately misspelled 3 words in this entire post (and to be fair to me, one of them was "gesundheit"). Spell checker has since corrected me. Now, the only word it wants me to respell is…
Also, Weltschmerz is a political comic strip by Canadian cartoonist Gareth Lind.
See! It’s a condition that I suffer from and a comic strip! Damn! How could I have not seen this word before?!
O! Cruel Fate!