Weltschmerz: the defining emotion of the Postnormal

Weltschmerz: the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind; the feeling of sadness when thinking about the evils of the world.

It was a weltschmerz, which we used to call ‘welsh rats’ — the world’s sadness that rises into the soul like a gas and spreads despair so that you probe for the offending event and can find none.

— John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I think this will be the defining emotion of the postnormal, which makes world weariness inescapable. The postmodern was dominated by intense nostalgia, where every image of the not so distant past seems bathed in a romantic sepia. Seems like a fictitious emotion, nowadays. I can still muster an eager curiosity, but the application of it leads to a deeper appreciation of how far we have to go, and how far we may be falling.

Always ready with the right word, that’s me!

Originally published at stoweboyd.com 2 June 2013.

Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

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