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Today I told [livejournal.com profile] lostpositive that I was feeling weird. Content and cozy in a warm house with cold wind blowing outside, with a hot cup of coffee and the knowledge that no one had to go anywhere today, but also lonely despite not being alone, and melancholy without being sad.

"Weltschmerz," she replied immediately.

While I realize the translation didn't need to be exact, world-pain sounded like it might be what I was feeling.

Soon she sent me, without further commentary being necessary, this link. It had me from "hello."
Nostalgia (Sehnsucht) refers to the moral pain of the expatriate when he is overcome with the obsession of return.
I told her that I associated Sehnsucht with yearning, because that's how I first heard it described, as a perhaps unrequited love.

I read with fascination nostaglia's early history as a medical affliction, a "feared diagnosis" at that. I suppose it can be difficult to treat, though the stories of the student and the servant who miraculously recovered from their Heimweh when returned to their family homes made me smile.

It was perplexing, leading to such notions as the Swiss being the only people prone to this disease thanks to some quirk of living in the Alps, something about growing up in isolation or high altitudes. It seems Kant believed it was a problem born not of exile but of poverty, cured not by homecoming but by social success and wealth...sounds plausible to me.

But soldiers, migrants and other displaced people from other areas were also found to suffer similarly; it was a universal malady. Inevitably, though, the importance of germs and physical problems with internal organs was appreciated, and as none of these were found in nostalgics the concept left medicine, soon to enter literature as the romantic emotion we know it as today.

Or almost as I know it. I am kind of surprised to keep seeing nostalgia defined and explained as melancholy for a place rather than a time. It is a disease of expats. I always thought it was just some fault in my character that kept me going on about my "petites madeleines", but it seems I'm normal!

There's even tons of stuff here about food: I'm not just tediously obsessed with pancakes and burritos, I'm participating in "the idiom of exile." A smile slowly spreads across my face as I read this.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-12-03 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k425.livejournal.com
I was madly trying to remember who the poem was about.

"They told me, Dahdeedahdi. Hmm. They told me, Balalaika. No. Ah. They told me, Heraclitus!"

(no subject)

Date: 2007-12-04 10:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-leroy-brown.livejournal.com
German is such a rad language, I wish I knew more :)

I often miss the *idea* of Wisconsin, but not necessarily the place. And of course, I miss my family but at the same time, I am also glad I have a ocean-wide buffer zone between me and my dad!


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