This past Wednesday, the 18th of September, was the thirteenth anniversary of the murder of my elder sister, Rebecca Cay Caldwell. She was strangled to death in her own bed by the guy she was seeing at the time (now serving a life sentence). She was only 25 and I miss her very much. Her fiery spirit remains irreplaceable, and time is merely salt in the wounds, even when I remind myself that she was too great for this world anyhow.
But the date in question was also the thirteenth anniversary of when I decided to actively become a writer, seeing as how Rebecca was deprived of her own future. I remember dates, remember the past constantly in my mind’s eye, replaying memories as though the past is all there is, or all there was. But in unearthing the past we can find explanations for how we got here, and for how to survive where we are going. There is a spiritual belief in the Far East that suggests the future is behind us, creeping up over our shoulder, while the past lays out before us, wide open to see. I always liked that turnabout imagery, even if I have no time for any after-life.
Anomie is exactly what is wrong with the world- not the economy (Industry), not politics (State) or religion (Church). But how and why all of these ideologies exist today are in fact side-effects of Anomie.
Money is not generated. Wealth is not created. For some to have, then others are deprived. To say that corporations are people is to belittle the value of real human life. The lack of empathy that leads from the point A to the point B is Anomie. In the same vein, the will to govern is essentially an arrogant lust for power. It dehumanizes the self, reinterpreting the self as being laughably higher up on whatever imaginary scale than everyone else. That gray line that is crossed is Anomie. Theological and religious conviction boils down to a lack of responsibility. If the self is not co-dependent, then they will not blame a devil for what they do wrong or thank a god for what they do right, they will instead take responsibility for their own actions. The inability to do so is Anomie.
Individuality, as a virtue, by my definition is not the assertion of the individual upon others, it is the separation of the individual from others. And what separates individualism from Anomie is that the true individual is not dependent upon others, nor will they allow others to be dependent upon the individual. When we deny ourselves of the right to actively pursue our individual potential without affecting or being affected, then we poison ourselves into either misusing others, or allowing ourselves to be misused by others. A healthy society (or any collective) is the sum of its parts, which can only be healthy individuals who are self-controlling, neither controlled by others or controlling others; whereas unhealthy individuals provide weak links to the chain, by nature removing whatever strengths the whole might possess. To avoid Anomie then either end of the spectrum, antipathy towards others or sympathy towards others, can only be viewed as suicide and genocide all rolled into one, because ultimately they are. The fact that this is the state of being is testament to how flawed we all really are in the greater scheme of things. This is precisely why economy, politics and religion are all perverted into unrecognizable and self-contradictory forms. Because they were never meant to be anything other than precisely what they are now. By demanding that we choose between two extremes, the society we exist in is killing us, and it is no different the world over.
Filed under Beauty, Power, and Truth (via wikipedia):
Weltschmerz (from the German, meaning world-pain or world-weariness) is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul and denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind. This kind of world view was widespread among several romantic authors such as Lord Byron, Giacomo Leopardi, François-René de Chateaubriand, Alfred de Musset, Nikolaus Lenau, Hermann Hesse, and Heinrich Heine. It is also used to denote the feeling of sadness when thinking about the evils of the world—compare empathy, theodicy.
The modern meaning of Weltschmerz in the German language is the psychological pain caused by sadness that can occur when realizing that someone’s own weaknesses are caused by the inappropriateness and cruelty of the world and (physical and social) circumstances. Weltschmerz in this meaning can cause depression, resignation and escapism, and can become a mental problem (compare to Hikikomori). The modern meaning should also be compared with the concept of anomie, or a kind of alienation, that Émile Durkheim wrote about in his sociological treatise Suicide.
Hikikomori (literally “pulling inward, being confined”, i.e., “acute social withdrawal”) is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or young adults who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. The term hikikomori refers to both the sociological phenomenon in general as well as to people belonging to this societal group.
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare defines hikikomori as people who refuse to leave their house and, thus, isolate themselves from society in their homes for a period exceeding six months. The psychiatrist Tamaki Saito defines hikikomori as “A state that has become a problem by the late twenties, that involves cooping oneself up in one’s own home and not participating in society for six months or longer, but that does not seem to have another psychological problem as its principal source.” More recently, researchers have suggested six specific criteria required to “diagnose” hikikomori: 1) spending most of the day and nearly every day confined to home, 2) marked and persistent avoidance of social situations, 3) symptoms interfering significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, 4) perceiving the withdrawal as ego-syntonic, 5) duration at least six months, and 6) no other mental disorder that accounts for the social withdrawal and avoidance. While the degree of the phenomenon varies on an individual basis, in the most extreme cases, some people remain in isolation for years or even decades.
Acedia (also accidie or accedie, from Latin acedia, and this from Greek ἀκηδία, negligence) describes a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one’s position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one’s duties in life. Its spiritual overtones make it related to but distinct from depression. Acedia was originally noted as a problem among monks and other ascetics who maintained a solitary life.
The Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church defines acedia (or accidie) as “a state of restlessness and inability either to work or to pray”. Some see it as the precursor to sloth—one of the seven deadly sins. In his sustained analysis of the vice in Q. 35 of the Second Part (Secunda Secundae) of his book Summa Theologica, theologian Thomas Aquinas identifies acedia with “the sorrow of the world” (compare Weltschmerz) that “worketh death” and contrasts it with that sorrow “according to God” described by St. Paul in 2 Cor. 7:10. For Aquinas, acedia is “sorrow about spiritual good in as much as it is a Divine good.” It becomes a mortal sin when reason consents to man’s “flight” (fugam) from the Divine good, “on account of the flesh utterly prevailing over the spirit.” (ST, II-II, 35, 3). Acedia is essentially a flight from the world that leads to not caring even that one does not care. The ultimate expression of this is a despair that ends in suicide.
In closing, it is neither the bang or the whimper which will get us in the end, it is our own inability as individuals to choose a third alternative. I miss my beautiful and silly sister Rebecca, but her demise was partly due to her own fallacy in picking an adequate mate. And I would not have figured any of this out had she lived on. The malaise of what passes for the real world would have claimed me as well.