I was introduced to this term by a friend recently. He described it as a state of depression with just being. I took it to mean a contemplative frame of mind constantly fixed on the topic of the futility of life. As in why would anyone ever worry about the future if we are going to die anyway? A disillusionment with being alive.
Now my friend is what some like to call an emo. But i think he just thinks a lot. And he differs from most people i know in that respect (as in based on what he thinks about). And something that probably makes people who think a lot depressed is that most other people don’t seem to do so. Other people, quietly obsessed with the nitty gritties of life and happily pre-occupied with the daily grind appear to hardly give any thought to things beyond the general vicinity of their noses.
So the masses who dont think beyond their noses get on the nerves of those that do. Or those that think they do. And this frustration is possibly increased by a feeling of being built differently and thus being an outcast from regular human life. You draw satisfaction from this knowledge celebrating your superior capacity for thought while at the same time also drawing satisfaction from a masochistic instinct that takes pleasure out of torturing your own self with the knowledge that you’re an outcast.
That’s part of the glory of being a self proclaimed outcast; the angst. It’s addictive.
But what I’ve come to realize is that this is probably a phase in every human being’s life. Thoughts and feelings such as these are extremely private and chances are that it usually takes a person with a similar mental construct to understand where you’re coming from when you experience these things. And such people are hard to find. But even they only manage to scratch the surface in getting what you’re feeling anyway. So pretty soon you seem lost in an understanding of the world that seems true, futile and unique at the same time.
But the trick in rationalizing the whole thing is to realize that everyone goes through it, i guess. Its part of the natural order of things almost. At least, that’s what I’ve come to realize. Hitler, in Mein Kampf, introduced me to this German word Weltanshauung, the closest English word that can translate it is ‘worldview’ but it means a lot more than that. Wikipedia calls it
the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy, fundamental existential and normative postulates or themes, values, emotions, and ethics
So existential angst is simply what you go through ’til you discover the purpose of your existence; your weltanshauung. Your own comprehensive world view. Your reason for living, your visions and your ambitions. I suppose most of us will be lucky if we manage to figure all of that out before we automate into economic machines.