Adventures in Los Angeles 2.4 – Zwischenraum

December 9, 2007

There’s something intoxicating about what I’m doing.  I get to be around fiercely creative and weird people for just the right amount of time… about ten days… the perfect stretch of days where I can crack these people open and drink all of their fascinating bits up, without having to worry about cleaning up after myself.  Tonight I got drunk with two poets, and we talked about our favorite German words.  I told them that mine was schadenfreude…  and that wasn’t really dishonest of me – I really love that word.  It means "to experience joy at someone else’s misfortune or sorrow," but to be honest… I think the most impressive German word I’ve ever come across is zwischenraum.  It means "the space between things."

Isn’t it lovely to think that there’s a word for that? 

I love what it suggests about the German people… that they actually have words like schadenfreude and
zwischenraum… words which encapsulate concepts we can only approximate through full sentences.  English is, by far, the most expressive language… but it falls short on things like this.  We’re a nation of synonyms.  Not happy with fast?  Howabout quick?  Rapid.  Expiditous.  Swift.  Velocious.  Blazing.  All of these words have their own shade… their own connotation.  We have options upon options upon options for how to express ourselves.  This seems to say something about our culture… so many words, so expressive… so intent upon making the most exact, perfect description of what we’re trying to communicate.  We have so many options. 

But the even with the wealth of our synonyms… we lack words like schadenfreude.  There isn’t a place for it in our vernacular… which is strange when you stop to consider the prevalence and success of celebrity trash magazines and television shows.  It’s an integral part of our cultural unconscious, schadenfreude… yet we don’t have our own word for it.

I love digging like this… finding the zwischenraum of this or that… it’s the whole purpose behind doing what it is that I do: to find the world, between.  To find the crumbs of truth that lodge themselves among the facts.  Zwischenraum is what I need to really become a great writer… it’s the pinnacle of what makes an essay great – the world underground… the things that no one sees.

The more time I spend here, the more I think I’m going to find it.


I’m very happy where I am right now.

Very happy.

Very drunk.

Very behind in my work.

I’m being workshopped tomorrow… schadenfreude indeed.

auf Wierdesien for now.



One Response to “Adventures in Los Angeles 2.4 – Zwischenraum”

  1. Meowlin Says:

    (Scratch that previous comment if it went through – trying to use alternate ASCII characters and it may have posted prematurely instead)
    Good word, zwischenraum. My favorite German word is the same as yours, schadenfreude, but zwischenraum is certainly a contender. My previous favorites were all from German nilitary (ooh, that typo’s too good to edit out – nihilistic military?) Military jargon: nebelwerfer; panzerschreck’ fallschirmjager gewehr.
    – M. \”/

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