Angst means fear or anxiety (anguish is its Latinate equivalent, and anxious, anxiety are of similar origin). The word angst was introduced into English from the Danish, Norwegian and Dutch word angst and the German word Angst. It is attested since the 19th century in English translations of the works of Kierkegaard and Freud.[1][2][3] It is used in English to describe an intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety, or inner turmoil.

In German, the technical terminology of psychology and philosophy distinguishes between Angst and Furcht in that Furcht is a negative anticipation regarding a concrete threat, while Angst is a non-directional and unmotivated emotion. In common language, however, Angst is the normal word for “fear”, while Furcht is an elevated synonym.[4]

In other languages having the meaning of the Latin word pavor for “fear”, the derived words differ in meaning, e.g. as in the French anxiété and peur. The word Angst has existed since the 8th century, from the Proto-Indo-European root*anghu-, “restraint” from which Old High German angust developed.[5] It is pre-cognate with the Latin angustia, “tensity, tightness” and angor, “choking, clogging”; compare to the Ancient Greek ἄγχω (ankho) “strangle”.

I am one who counts myself a part of Generation X.  As such, perhaps I have had a generational predisposition toward “Angst”.  In so many of the cultural endeavours & thoughts of my generation – not to mention the Philosophies I studied at University – this idea of “Angst” has predominated.  From the Grunge music I listened to, to the philosophical ideas of the Existentialists – this idea coursed through my final years of formal education.

So am I filled with Angst?

In Existential terms, “Angst” is a negative feeling experienced by Indviduals due to their innate Freedom.  To quote the Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy:

The archetypal example is the experience one has when standing on a cliff where one not only fears falling off it, but also dreads the possibility of throwing oneself off. In this experience that “nothing is holding me back”, one senses the lack of anything that predetermines one to either throw oneself off or to stand still, and one experiences one’s own freedom.

In this sense, I am often filled with Angst.  I look at the world in a very Existential & Nihilistic way.  My Individual “Constraint of Freedom” (to use the Sartrian term – i.e. our only constraint is our own freedom) is often paramount in my thoughts.  I have to make Choices every single moment of my life & the consequences of those Choices are many-fold.  Some consequences are positive, other negative – while some are neutral.  My Choices will either allow me to Progress along my Life’s Path, to Regress away from my True Self & my goals or to Stagnate in a seemingly unchanging self-imposed Existential Hell.

Yes, I am often filled with Angst.

My lips are shaking, my nails are bit off
Been a month since I heard myself talk
All the advantage this life’s got on me
Picture a cup in the middle of the sea

And I fight back in my mind
Never lets me be right
I got memories, I got shit
So much it don’t show

I walked the line
When you held me in that night
I walked the line
When you held my hand that night

An empty shell seems so easy to crack
Got all these questions don’t know who I could even ask
So I’ll just lie alone and wait for the dream
Where I’m not ugly and you’re looking at me

And I’ll stay in a bed
Oh, blues eyes, I’ve seen him
If just once I could feel loved
Oh, stare back at me

But I walked the line
When you held me in that night
I walked the line
When you held my hand that night
I walked the line
When you held me close that night
I paid the price
Never held you in real life

My lips are shaking….
I Got I.D.
Pearl Jam

And yet, in the darkness, as I sometimes lie awake at night – contemplating the universe & my place in it – I will hear songs repeating in my head.  Songs I digested in my youth.  Songs that became part of the fabric of who I am.  Grunge songs filled with Angst and disillusionment with the world, society & the systems that direct our lives.  Songs that still speak to my soul of the darkness I see in the world.  A darkness that at times makes me feel impotent.  And this powerlessness fills me with Angst.

I am but one man.  One man amongst billions who can rarely agree.  A species that is constantly fighting each other beacuse of greed, desire & ego.  We seem to no longer seek the greater things in life: Truth, Beauty & Love.  We just want more money, more power & more people following our social network feeds.  How am I to change the world for this better path I Know will benefit all?  I am but one man.

Ceci c’est mon nausé… (This is my nausea)

Again, the Angst fills me.  It depresses & drowns me in a dark shadow held in place by the weight of the world & all the blind pop-culture consuming people who inhabit this planet.

I do walk the line – the line between this Angst-filled dark depression & the beautiful hope that guides my life.  Yet I have found a way to prosper – to Progress & be happy with my life & the world around me.  In a strange way, I use my Angst to empower my Choices & take real steps down the Path toward my destiny.  Yes, I am but one man – but I am a man on a mission.  I am a Free Man.  I am Constrained to this Freedom – innately.  The Angst I feel because of this Freedom allows me to channel my energies – to make sure I am doing my very best to achieve the things that need to be achieved & to experience those things that need to be experienced.  Perhaps I can not change the world – perhaps I was not meant to.  But maybe I’m here on this planet at this time to do something greater.  And this Angst will help me make the right Choices to get there.

The Silver Lining.  Look for the Silver Lining in everything.  Even in your depression, even in your Angst.  Let it empower you to become better – to overcome yourself & make the Choices you need to make in order to fulfill your destiny.


One thought on “Angst

  1. Just realized my last two posts have explored the same topic (albeit from different points of view). I am guessing this means that these perceptions are paramount in my subconscious mind at the moment & that perhaps I need to look deeper into them. I am certain Freud would have a hey-day with me at the moment…


I would be so grateful if you shared your thoughts with me.

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