Weltschmerz [from German; Welt (world) + Schmerz (pain)] delineates the type of sadness experienced when the world revealed does not reflect the image of the world that one believes, or has been led to believe, should exist.
The corporate/consumer state (as well as, its scion, the present day presidential election cycle) has brought us, as a people, into a wilderness of weltschmerz.
Confronting the stark contrast between life imagined and life revealed can prove to be a daunting task. It is an endeavor that has proven particularly difficult for political partisans, both professional and rank and file, who seem unwilling or unable to grasp the sense of futility experienced by significant numbers of their fellow citizens regarding political participation, on any level, including the act of voting under the corrupted to the core structure of the current system.
Such reactions are understandable. Exercises in futility prove enervating. Disenchanted, sizable and increasing numbers of voters have tuned out and walked away from the process, due to the abject refusal of the political class to be responsive to the needs of the populace beyond the elitist-ridden New York/DC nexus of privilege and power.
Yet, rank and file political partisans, all too often, resist gaining awareness of the extent of their powerlessness. This is understandable as well. Feelings of powerlessness can engender despair. To avoid despair, one feels as though one must remain active in order to avoid sinking into the muck and mire borne of chronic hopelessness.
True enough. But activity towards what end? Does the activity, such as voting along partisan lines, reinforce states of powerlessness by serving the forces of one’s oppression?
Despite all the cultural cues that we have internalized, one cannot consume, medicate, buy on credit, receive a promotion, vacation, vote, hope, affect a pose of hipster irony, tithe to the church of your choice, receive a hundred FaceBook friendship requests, hit the winning lottery number, support the troops, nor be the recipient of a VIP swag bag in order to stumble your way back to possessing a sense of control and power.
All too often, we incarcerate ourselves in a prison of expectation—expectation forged and constructed by the material of past events, both traumatic and triumphant. We mistake this prison for the whole of ourselves and for the sweep and detail of the world.
We go through life convinced our agendas are our own, rarely pondering what circumstances and experiences formed our perceptions. Are my goals and convictions my own, or have those notions been foisted on me by forces of dehumanizing power?
Daily, power kicks us in the gut, and demands our gratitude for having done so, even terms us deviant when we cry out in pain or we rage from within the confines of our powerlessness.
There exist billions of us who feel this way. Multitudes feeling alone among lonely multitudes.
What keeps us from grasping our common plight?
Often, the obsession for gaining and possessing happiness itself, as marketed to us by the propagandist of the consumer state, leads us away from the realm of common communion.
Paradoxically, most unhappy people are simply striving to be happy. Their days are comprised of wrongheaded, self-perpetuating actions in the desperate pursuit of chimerical goals towards that end. They lie, self-medicate, exploit, steamroll over others. They merely hold notions of what life should be—as opposed to having a life.
Rarely do our agendas reflect our true nature. Yet, such pursuits devour our days. The same phenomenon comes into play between the monstrous acts of an empire and its people in the homeland. After a time, tragically, the two forces merge. One cannot honestly claim one’s life as being one’s own. Where does my complicity with the actions of the state end and where do I begin? How do I sort things out? Making a start of it is imperative, for devoid of the inclination, I have lost my soul.
No one can maintain a lie over an extended length of time—not even empires are that powerful. Empires are maintained by illusions; the noxious fiction that the greater good is served by codes of dominance and plunder. Towards empire’s end the populace suffers escalating levels of unease, as the fabric of the collaboratively woven lie begins to unravel.
Embrace, hold close, and dance to the exquisite music of grief that arrives at the end of things. This is an honest, piercing sound. The pain that grief brings to the heart can serve as a compass, set to aid in navigating a wasteland of weltschmerz.
Because we mourn the loss of those things we love, we should never stop grieving over the follies of humankind and the sorrows of the earth. To cease grieving is too give up on love.
Part Two follows next week.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City.
Yet a bio amounts to dharma for dimwits: It defines a human being in the same manner and degree of veracity as a restaurant menu describes the various slabs of meat offered … commodified things that were once living beings.