Zeitgeist, the “New” Old Word
It is no coincidence that I read the word zeitgeist in the last twenty-four hours on three different blogs (three blogs that I cannot confirm read or know about the other) because there seems to be a collective linguistic usage of certain (dare I say obscure) words at any given time. This trend has always fascinated me. I remember in the mid-eighties when the word rhapsody was inserted in every other news column. Then the there was the word czar. I really should study Linguistics in a Cultural Anthropology sort of way. Of course, there is probably no money or value in such a pursuit.
Nevertheless, I am trying to wrap my mind around the use of zeitgeist. Supposedly, it is a Hegelian concept. The dictionary defines zeitgeist as a noun, –the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era. How long is era? Whose cultural climate? Whom are we considering the intellectual authority? The moral authority?
Not knowing the answers leads me to the question, should I just use a word flippantly (not accusing anyone) without employing or worrying about its quodlibetic form?
Fear of the possible misuse of a word debilitates my participation in vanguard prose.