Monday, August 22, 2005

Stille Nacht und Schadenfreude

A couple of days ago. Our barkada's egroup was closed down for five days. The owner and moderator of an e-group or any other forum has every right to impose what he or she thinks is correct. People may question, challenge, or mock the decision, but ultimately it is the right of the moderator-owner. It is his legal right. And ultimately you have to respect his decision. On hind sight it would have probably better if at the start the egroup was established with everyone as moderators. Then again what is hind-sight? The good thing is at present everything was resolved. And the maxim, "whatever does not kill you will make you stronger", at least in this case. I would like to relate and write about what I have observed. What happens when this happens? Silence What happens to the community that uses this group for communication and dialogue? Varied responses, I would guess. It is interesting though to see the reactions to the different members of the community. Some were offended because their discourses were cut in mid-stream. Some were offended in the manner the way the silence was imposed. And some were offended as a matter of principle. For the same reason a number of people were irritated. Majority, especially those not that active were surprised. A number would feel a loss; they have been coming to the e-group to catch the latest discussion, gossip, debate, or news. Some were amused with the situation. Fortunately (or unfortunately), such events often have as its bastard sons and daughters - comical and absurd side stories-within-stories. Humor in a sense can be good in such a situation. It helps sooth the trauma, ease tension, or it can help deliver the message or criticism in a round-about way. Then there was another friend who was quite ecstatic about the turn of events. The Germans have the perfect word for it and they called it Schadenfreude. Definition of Schadenfreude from wikepedia- Schadenfreude is a German expression, Schaden: damage or harm and Freude: joy, meaning pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune or shameful joy. In German society and culture the term is always used in the negative sense. In fact there are two types of Schadenfreude. There is what is called the secret secret schadenfreude ( a feeling one keeps to oneself) and an open schadenfreude, which is outright public derision. In the English language Schadenfreude is commonly identified as "sick pleasure". A clear example schadenfreude can be seen in the joy Homer Simpson feels whenever something bad or unfortunate happens to his neighboor Ned Flanders. In one episode of the Simpsons, "When Flanders Failed", Schadenfreude is also referenced in the Simpsons episode "When Flanders Failed". Lisa accuses her father of feeling schadenfreude when he gloats about Ned's problem , he was on the verge of bankruptcy. Homer replies to Lisa accusations, " Oh, come on, Lisa. I'm just glad to see him fall flat on his butt!". I think gloat over the misfortunes of others would be the appropriate term to descibe schadenfreude. Except it lacks one element. Schadenfreude needs an element of a past slight applied to the the person enjoying Schadenfreude. Maybe in the past or recent the Schadenfreuder received a rebuked, or was condemned or criticized and for some unknown reason was not in a position to counter, perhaps because the criticism was just and only now the fate has dealt this card can afford to gloat. All of us experience this and savour moments when this happens. What I found a bit amusing and at the same time disturbing was the schadenfreude possession of my friend. This particular schadenfreude was so savoury that it seemed that his capacity for enjoying was akin to a bovine digesting its meal. Well... My friend of course is still in a state of ecstacy over this. I think all of us use and experience Schadenfreude. The least we could do is to admit to ourself that it is that and not convince ourselves that it is not. At least be intellectually honest to oneself.
Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude (denn sie kommt von Herzen). Schadenfreude is the most beautiful kind of joy (since it comes directly from the heart). - A proverb Neid zu fühlen ist menschlich, Schadenfreude zu genießen teuflisch. To feel envy is human, to enjoy Schadenfreude is devilish. - Arthur Schopenhauer

5 Comments:

Blogger blackshama said...

The figure of speech in English that best translates schadenfreude is "Dancing on the grave" that is the grave of your enemy!

In Filipino the phrase that best translates would be "buti nga! belat!"

But of course translating the German original to any other language doesn't do justice to the real meaning of the word schadenfreude. After all it is a form of revenge that isn't willed but is a game played by the Fates. Nonetheless, it is much better than service "on a cold platter" since the wronged party didn't have to plot or scheme at all.

8/22/2005 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger blackshama said...

Wikipedia translates it as "malicious glee" or "gloating". It is not a perfect translation since to be malicious means you have plotted or schemed beforehand.

Well true schadenfreund is expressed in that situation when upon learning of the situation you play and sing Beethoven's 9th symphony the last movement "An die Freude" or "Ode to Joy" by Schiller

Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Free translation in English

Whoever has had a great fortune
To be the friend of a friend
Or who has won a good woman
Let him rejoice in Jubilation
Yes! even though he has one soul
Though his own all over
Let the man who doesn't know this
Leave our group and weep all over!

8/22/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger juned said...

I still think the definition by just examining the root word - "Schadenfreude is a German expression, Schaden: damage or harm and Freude: joy, meaning pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune or shameful joy."
What is amusing in the case of my friend is at a philosophical level he cannot admit that it is Schadenfreude. And the more he responds to it the more evident the Schadenfreude is.

8/22/2005 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Urbano dela Cruz said...

From the album "Original Broadway Cast Recording: Avenue Q"

GARY COLEMAN:
Right now you are down and out and feeling really crappy.

NICKY:
I'll say.

GARY COLEMAN:
And when I see how sad you are
It sort of makes me...
Happy!

NICKY:
Happy?!

GARY COLEMAN:
Sorry, Nicky, human nature-
Nothing I can do!
It's...
Schadenfreude!
Making me feel glad that I'm not you.

NICKY:
Well that's not very nice, Gary!

GARY COLEMAN:
I didn't say it was nice! But everybody does it!

D'ja ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?

NICKY:
Yeah...

GARY COLEMAN:
And ain't it fun to watch figure skaters falling on their asses?

NICKY:
Sure!

GARY COLEMAN:
And don'tcha feel all warm and cozy,
Watching people out in the rain!

NICKY:
You bet!

GARY COLEMAN:
That's...

GARY AND NICKY:
Schadenfreude!

GARY COLEMAN:
People taking pleasure in your pain!

NICKY:
Oh, Schadenfreude, huh?
What's that, some kinda Nazi word?

GARY COLEMAN:
Yup! It's German for "happiness at the misfortune of others!"

NICKY:
"Happiness at the misfortune of others." That is German!

Watching a vegetarian being told she just ate chicken

GARY COLEMAN:
Or watching a frat boy realize just what he put his dick in!

NICKY:
Being on the elevator when somebody shouts "Hold the door!"

GARY AND NICKY:
"No!!!"
Schadenfreude!

GARY COLEMAN:
"Fuck you lady, that's what stairs are for!"

NICKY:
Ooh, how about...
Straight-A students getting Bs?

GARY COLEMAN:
Exes getting STDs!

NICKY:
Waking doormen from their naps!

GARY COLEMAN:
Watching tourists reading maps!

NICKY:
Football players getting tackled!

GARY COLEMAN:
CEOs getting shackled!

NICKY:
Watching actors never reach

GARY AND NICKY:
The ending of their oscar speech!
Schadenfreude!
Schadenfreude!
Schadenfreude!
Schadenfreude!

GARY COLEMAN:
The world needs people like you and me who've been knocked around by fate.
'Cause when people see us, they don't want to be us, and that makes them feel great.

NICKY:
Sure!
We provide a vital service to society!

GARY AND NICKY:
You and me!
Schadenfreude!
Making the world a better place...
Making the world a better place...
Making the world a better place...
To be!

GARY COLEMAN:
S-C-H-A-D-E-N-F-R-E-U-D-E!

8/23/2005 03:54:00 AM  
Blogger juned said...

Urbano, LOL. I hope they will eventually stage that play here. :)

8/23/2005 07:33:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home