Sunday, December 18, 2011
To imagine what inward angst would sound like, I offer the Wilhelm scream, a sound effect that has been replicated in over 225 movies, television shows and video games since it's creation in 1951:
Angst (literally German, Dutch, Danish and Norwegian for "fear") has been around since before Christ was a cowboy but Danish philosopher Søren Kirkegaard (1813-1855) put a name to it and French writers, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus brought it to the mainstream consciousness in the early Twentieth Century. Then, James Dean demonstrated teen angst brilliantly in the fifties. Since then, with the emergence of individualism and the "me generation" it's been a right of passage for people to look inside themselves for something of worth in relation to the world around them. When they don't find it, it's their right to claim they suffer from angst.
Philosophically speaking, angst is an existential (ie: "why am I here?") condition which can be defined as "the crisis of human existence." It's the individual trying to reconcile their place in relation to society.
If you're an artist it has become quite expected that you suffer from this affliction, lest you and your work be seen as shallow. The idea that being an artist automatically means suffering for your art is so ingrained in our society's norms that if you are a happy, joyous artist it means you must be overcompensating for a deep gash in your psyche... or you're just faking being an artist.
So we do angst. Or most of us do. Some, who are true masters in the angst craft, don't just suffer proper philosophical angst in silence. They take it to the second level, to something called "wangst", which is either "whiny angst" or "wanky angst" (depending on what side of the pond you're from). In order to perform this advanced degree of angst properly it must be as evident as false teeth on a chicken.
Suffering from philosophical angst, need not only be self centered, but it must be a pain in society's collective butt. It must be something that those from my father's generation (who were pretty cut and dried about emotional stuff) would not think twice about a good swift kick in the nether regions and demands to get out and find a real job.
So, in 2012, angst is gone from my repertoire of suffering techniques. It shouldn't be that hard to do because a number of years ago while going through a "Keep It Simple" thing I put the angst thing aside. This year, after being through some sh*t that makes Bambi Meets Godzilla look tame in comparison and not taking angst down from the shelf once, I decided I simply don't need it around anymore. So this coming year it's toast. It just complicates things when I figure I should be concentrating on the things that cause angst in the first place.
To me angst is like fixating over the big hole in the ground after the bomb has gone off.
And I figure on being the bomb.
Posted by Rand MacIvor at 5:37 PM