Monday, October 15, 2012

memories of angst

worldwide photo walk: the give edition

i listened to a radio program today where they were discussing an edvard munch exhibition. they had a long discussion of the difference between angst and fear. they proposed that angst is something more indefinable and uncontrollable and fear is more tangible. i think i agree with that. mostly i'm a fairly angst-free person, but will admit to being driven (and perhaps controlled) by all sorts of fears.

when i was a kid, the father of a weird girl a couple years younger than me dropped dead outside the local bar, after a evening of merriment. i think the first few people who came upon him, just stepped over him there, outside the back door, thinking ahh, there goes mr. p. again. so by the time someone realized it was more serious, he had died of his heart attack. he wasn't a healthy man to begin with. nor a very nice or popular one, so he wasn't really all that missed. except perhaps by his eccentric wife and daughter.

and i wasn't even friends with the daughter and hardly knew the man, so i'm not sure why i had moments of angst for months afterwards, fearing that my loved ones would suddenly drop dead and i wouldn't be there to help them. it was very disconcerting and those moments of angst came totally unbidden at the strangest moments. moments when i was otherwise happy and engaged in doing something i really loved (usually involving a horse).

i'm sure i never told anyone about them, because it sounded so silly. mr. p. was a real boar of a man and for his death to bring on strange episodes of angst in me felt wrong somehow. but eventually, they cleared. and i can't say that i can recall any other moments when i've been bothered by what could be called angst.

on the other hand, i can wake up in the night, reliving some conversation or situation where i should have said something clever and missed the opportunity. or where i find myself in a cold sweat over some (usually) work-related worry or other. i think i also have a bad habit of letting my fears hold me back. i think that's getting worse the older i get, which is a bit worrying. but not exactly angst-provoking.

and i suppose that's a good thing, because then i imagine something can be done about it.

somewhere, within the depths of my graduate school memory, i seem to recall that heidegger wrote something on this topic. so perhaps i'll go digging around in my book boxes and be back later with some more ponderings. or maybe i'll just go to the munch exhibition in århus, since that's what started the whole discussion on the radio in the first place. 


celkalee said...

Angst is a peculiar emotion. I don't think I experience it as a rule but I am quite sure that this is the feeling I have in my sleep while dreaming. Like, why can't I get this telephone to dial? or why won't my car stop? that kind of thing.

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Is free-floating anxiety the same thing? I identify with celkalee that I often feel that frustration ad anxiety in dreams. I have to agree with you that fear is a totally different thing.

Veronica Roth said...

I just thought about it and decided I'm in a constant state of angst. It'a always something!

Molly said...

Having just recently experienced anxiety-attacks again (almost 6 years since my last one) I can attest to their being a) different to fear and b) not very nice.
I think angst in dreams is very healthy - a way of processing anxiety while one sleeps?