Friday, October 29, 2010

Anxious Existence or Existential Angst?

What better post to start with than the one reflecting the title of this blog? If a postal address were to be attached to a section of this post for unknown reasons, it would read like an address in New York City (e.g., 10 Lois Lane, New York, New York). The address of a sub-section in this post would get the Singapore treatment - 20 Dhobi Gaut, Singapore, Singapore, Singapore (City, State, Country).

There appears to be a class system in the world of emotions and mental activities. There are ones experienced/exercised by the common man or are just simple in their very nature (e.g., anger, anxiety, realization), and then there are ones which are complex (e.g., contempt, angst, epiphany) and/or are supposedly reserved for the thinkers, philosophers, intellectuals, and people who are part of think tanks. The common man (well, some of them) drives a tank while an intellectual drives a think tank. This brings up an interesting sidebar akin to a Tarantino movie where sidebars actually are the movie:

Sidebar - Think Tank
Intellectuals are definitely eligible to be a part of think tanks, but the corollary is not always true - think tanks do not necessarily always have intellectuals. What is a think tank anyway? Is it a bunch of cantankerous people sitting together in an enclosure shooting far-off ideas many of which bomb, some tank, and some amuse innocent civilians to death? Did the think tank come up with the design of a tank and did it simulate their modus operandi - a bunch of people sitting together in a metal enclosure with one gun which shoots at far-off targets? What are the other people doing while one is shooting the big gun? Looks like they shoot little guns from the side windows. A tank carries its own tracks called caterpillar tracks which basically means that its wheels ride on the tracks carried by the tank - it's a self-sustained apparatus, much like the snail or the hermit crab who are never homeless. Talking about a home for liquids, we have a tanker which is typically bigger than a tank, and 'Tanker-A' specializes in carrying alchohol.

The tank has taken on multiple meanings and has also inspired many phrases. If things were actually built like a tank, they would look like a rigid-trunk elephant on wheels. There is a tank top (leaving the tank in a convertible state) and there's the tankini which is basically a tank top complemented by a bikini bottom (inhabited by SpongeBob Squarepants). Have tank sales tanked recently?

Complex emotions/mental activities are the Brown, Jones, and Robinson equivalent of the simple Tom, Dick and Harry emotions. They operate beyond instinct, and must originate from some advanced part of the mammalian brain. They don't appear essential to survival (while anxiety or fear lead to alertness and enhanced responsiveness, derision wouldn't typically help your self-preservation instinct), but they do seem essential to progress and innovation. They are not abrupt nor do they have extreme spikes - they typically come in play when the basic needs of life are fulfilled and a person has time to contemplate, ponder, ruminate, or chew cud. To use an analogy, anxiety is like the weather (or whether, considering the fact that it's all about whether things will turn out right, whether the weather forecaster's prediction of 40% chances to 3-6 inches of rain will come true, whether rampant day-trading will lead to early bankruptcy etc.), while angst is like the climate - angst is always there in an even-tempered state despite the short-term weather fluctations, and it's not going to go away till the Large Hadron Collider finds the god particle which will help define the grand unification theory. Talking about other complex emotions/activities/perceptions, epiphany and deja-vu hold unique places and will be covered in separate posts.

There is a certain condescension that can creep into people who like to think that they are operating at a slightly elevated consciousness level because they can contemplate instead of think, reminisce instead of remember, be conflicted instead of being confused, and enjoy solitude instead of suffering loneliness, but they need to keep in mind (self included - I have existential angst) that they might just have prepared for GRE and don't know what to do with these words.

I like the following definition - 'Existential angst is the anxiety regarding possible meaninglessness of existence'. Here's what it establishes - complex emotions or activities are not standalone - at the root are simple emotions. Angst is still anxiety, just in fancy garb.

Can people with angst be called angsters, wielding puns, responsible for organized rhyme, and amusing themselves to death?

1 comment:

ZeeGod said...

think is a thin ink. though it is not thinner than water it also makes a splatter but the difference is the ink even if it splatters makes an expression. likewise and not otherwise and when the ink is thin it makes expressions like letters, numbers, shapes that can control the world of one and that of the world. Similarly the tank which a tan that is an expression on the skin and the tank in its entirety can control the world too. good or bad doesn't exist but without the tank quiet a few will not exist like potable water and partable(*)enemies. So basically the think tanks can and make the difference thru expressions in one way or other.