Sunday, January 4, 2015

Enttäuschung (Disappointment)

(Hat-tips to Andreas Popp and Tao Jonesing)

All languages have their treasures. One of German's most topical treasures is the word Enttäuschung (ent-toy-shoong), which roughly means disappointment. But Enttäuschung really means to be disavowed of a deception, to wake up. Ent is a prefix that suggests removal, Täuschung is deception. As I have come to understand The System, it is in part a web of deceptions, a fabric of lies. Seeing it for what it is, ‘waking up’, will be accompanied by disappointment. But this is a good thing the English word does not imply.

Through disappointment, through Enttäuschung, we travel through a disorienting period of isolation. Collectively, if we share and discuss our experiences of disorientation, we will also create the spaces and initial structures that can tend us towards new, more humane communities and communities of communities, and this as a process of continual renewal. To be most robust and fair, I suggest these communities should be founded on knowingly interdependent yet simultaneously autarkic ‘individuals’ who want, establish and sustain authentic and transparent institutions.

If we want to discuss The System openly in a free and non-privatised internet, if we want people to be engaged and interested in that discussion, this will require and be a mass Enttäuschung we travel through. Fruitful Enttäuschung will require that we are lastingly resistant to and aware of the purpose behind all bread-and-circus distractions, all divide-and-conquer tactics, and will further require that we know and wield our power wisely. Hence, we will need to learn how to discuss intelligently, patiently and honestly, with an awareness that we always become emotionally involved in the process. Which is exactly what makes Enttäuschung so disappointing and, potentially, so fruitful.


Florian Popp said...

Very true. German sometimes jsut is a cool language, despite (almost) everything else about (nowadays) Germany ...

It's good to see you back. I hope you're having a swell time in the Philippines -- are you still living in our mutual city, friend?

All the best,

Debra said...

What I like best about your post, Toby, is your reference to German in it.
It is interesting what you say about this German word in a Europe where English is quickly becoming... the new Latin... (but underneath English there is STILL the Latin...)
What I like least is hearing the hammers of "all", "all", and "always".
My sister in law gave me a journalistic pamphlet for Christmas, "La violence des riches" (need I translate the title ?...), in an attempt to convert me.
I don't.. believe in pamphlets, and I dislike pamphlet language.
There was a day when I hoped that the Internet would give us... access to how people live their lives where they are.
But the Internet has seriously... disappointed me on this chapter, Toby, and I see no hope for it changing its course at this time.
Towards the end of his life, Ivan Illitch started observing and theorizing about "system".
I want... out of the system, now, Toby.
And I am directing my considerable intelligence towards tactics to elude "system".
It's hard and challenging work, but it fully engages me.

Toby said...

Yo FP! Great to hear from you again. And yup, I am still a resident of that fair, green city on the plains. I'll be back in Feb and would love to meet up for a beer or two. It's been a long time...

Toby said...

Hi Debbie,

I tell my kids that there is nothing that is not God, without being able to define what God is other than All That Is. I could say the same thing about system. There is nothing that is not system. Every human being is system of trillions of cells. The vast majority of us live in languages that are also systems, are involved in complex relationships that are systems.

What do you mean by system, and how can you escape it?

Tao Jonesing said...


One of the things I've recognized over the last few years is that the richness of other language far exceeds that of English. Certainly, French and German provide for conveying much more nuance and subtlety than English does.

Great post, on all levels.


If you are disappointed by the internet, start looking harder. The internet is not broadcast media, it does not come looking for you. You have to find what you seek, and if you can't, you are to blame (or your expectations are not realistic).

As to eluding the system, that must be considerably harder for you now, after Muslim terrorist attacks in France that led to what should be considered a de minimis death count in the grand scheme of things (20 people v. over 3,500 on 9/11), and yet now there is a call for France adopting something like the US Patriot Act, one of the greatest acts of cowardice (pussydom) ever. Far more than 20 poor people die in every country everywhere every day, and nobody cares because there's no basis for exerting authoritarian rule on that fact alone. If the French allow this relatively low-level attack on their people to allow them to roll back basic rights, I will be greatly disappointed, but who cares what I think?

The only way "terror" can win is if you allow your fear of it to dictate your actions. Americans have been pussies for over a decade now, but there's no reason for the rest of the world to embrace the same cowardice. It would be hugely ironic if the "surrender monkey" French were the first to adopt America's scaredy-cat ways.

Good luck.

Debra said...

On system...
I think that the place to start, at any rate, is to look at the etymology of "system" in relation to "network", for example, which is Illitch's word, I think.
I think that in order to think, we need to look carefully at etymology, and meditate on it, then pick and choose our words, while differentiating them.
On the richness of words, as someone who has practiced French fluently for the past thirty years, I can confidently say that the French language has pursued its impoverishment since... the Enlightenment at least.
Since.. our IDEAS are organic, it is important to remember that our Christian heritage gave supremacy to... THE VERB.
Not... the substantive, if I may say.
Abstract conceptual thought shifts emphasis away from verbs, as... COPULAS, to the subject/object part of the phrase.
Shifting emphasis away from verbs devitalizes our world, in my book.
The rise of Enlightenment thought, as challenge to our Christian heritage, has contributed to restructuring our language around substantives, and thus gives you the impression that English is a poor language, Tao.
If you read Shakespeare's plays, for example, you will hear a dynamic, vital, varied, and diverse language.
If you read a modern management manual in English, you will hear... a dulled down, desensitized, uniform series of substantives designed to be understood by everybody, no exclusion tolerated. The least common denominator of language.
Modern French is very similar to modern English, and I won't say anything about German.
French has been subjected to draconian efforts to uniformize it since the Académie Française was created under... Louis XIII, founded by Richelieu in 1640 (according to my French husband).
On the Internet : I feel that it is very important for me to live as much of my life as possible as a flesh and blood person with personal contacts, in the place where I live.
This is a... radical, extremist position to which I am not entirely faithful, because I am a poor radicalist...But I don't want to multiply the time I spend on Internet to the extent that it takes away my time from other pursuits.
On what has been happening in France...
France is definitely not the U.S.A. The French Republic is not the equivalent of the American one.
But unfortunately, a republic is only as republican (or democratic ? important difference there for out time..) as its citizenry, and I see little evidence that the citizenry of either countries understands the symbolic foundations of the republic.
Enough said there.

Debra said...

On system and network.
I pulled out the Robert Historical dictionary of the French language, and I will send y'all to your etymological dictionaries to meditate on system, concentrating on network instead.
The best French translation of "network" (which ties in with the... Web) is "réseau".
"Réseau" is derived from the Latin "retis", which means a snare to catch small birds and animals. Its figurative sense, starting in the 12th century, is "an ensemble of abstract things gradually emprisoning the individual". Starting in the 18th century, the word was used in concrete specialisations, to talk about the distribution of nerves, and blood vessels. Towards the end of the 19th century, the word was used, by abstraction (analogy ? me) to refer to a group of people (ensemble, in French, which means "together") with contacts between each other, notably in a clandestine relationship.
I will stop here, for the etymological dictionary, and give you my associations.
The idea of the... net is one which can be seen in Aeschylus, in the Orestaie, where Agamemnon is described as being ensnared when he returns home from the Trojan war.
I am not documented enough to expound further on the importance of the net, but I can comfortably say that it is associated with clandestinity, treachery, and predation, from way back when.
After the net, I associate with what was perhaps the first documented... machine for our civilization : the Trojan horse...
Idem for the associations with machine and Trojan horse, which.. connect rather well with the net, right ?

Toby said...

Hi Debbie,

My reading of your etymological explorations is that the angle you unearthed, namely that networks are traps, is highly suggestive of how Logos seeks escape from mundane reality into the super-clean world of the abstract. As you well know, language does not perfectly describe reality (nothing can), but it does reveal humanity's relationship with reality.