What is a zeitgeist? Need examples

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by rockyroad55, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. rockyroad55 macrumors 601

    rockyroad55

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    #1
    I've been introduced to this term in a conversation but am having trouble grasping the meaning of it. Can anyone explain it and give an example that related to today's trends?
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    Here's what wiki says about it.

     
  3. Shrink macrumors G3

    Shrink

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    #3
    The term is used to refer to the spirit or feeling of a period of time. For example, the zeitgeist of the Roaring Twenties was characterized by wild abandon and dissolute behavior...in reaction to the earlier, more rigidly moralist era.

    One might say the zeitgeist of the 1950's was one of boring conformity on the surface, but tension and fear just below the surface.

    It's an interesting philosophical and sociological abstraction.

    I hope this helps a bit...:D
     
  4. rockyroad55 thread starter macrumors 601

    rockyroad55

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    #4
    I'm still confused as to how to recognize a zeitgeist. The only example I can see is hybrid cars. That's the zeitgeist for many of the hybrids we see today.
     
  5. Shrink macrumors G3

    Shrink

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    #5
    There isn't A zeitgeist. The word is an abstract term used to describe the spirit of a time period.

    Zeitgeist is not a thing...it's an abstract concept.

    Not to be critical, but it seems you have not read the posts above.
     
  6. Happybunny macrumors 68000

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  7. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #7
    You don't recognize a zeitgeist, it becomes apparent over time.
     
  8. localoid, Sep 3, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013

    localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #8
    The use and abuse of zeitgeist...

    To quote briefly from the DailyWritingTips.com's rather revealing article on using "zeitgeist coherently":

     
  9. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Hybrid cars cannot be a Zeitgeist. They are only a single object. However, hybrid cars could be considered part of an overall eco-friendly, renewable-energy Zeitgeist. Just as a hula-hoop isn't, by itself, a Zeitgeist, when considered along with hot-rods, bobby-sox, Elvis songs, juke boxes, drive-in movies and poodle-skirts could all be components of the late 1950s American teenage Zeitgeist.

    A Zeitgeist doesn't have to be universal. Obviously, teenagers living in China or Borneo probably weren't listening to Elvis songs or driving hot-rods in 1958. Neither were the WWII veterans drinking Schlitz down at the local American Legion hall. So a Zeitgeist is usually limited to a single subset of society. Not everyone in the late 1970s was going to discos and taking cocaine. But enough people were doing so, that a movie such as 54 could be said to have captured the Zeitgeist of the New York dance club scene of the period.
     
  10. twietee, Sep 5, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013

    twietee macrumors 603

    twietee

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    #10
    Just in case some don't know:

    Zeit = time
    Geist = ghost/spirit
     
  11. drsoong macrumors member

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    #11
    That is a bit misleading. "ghost" is more of a supernatural spirit, while the "Geist" in "Zeitgeist" is the spirit of the people or rather the spirit of the collective people's mind.*

    So, the best english expression I could come up with is to call it "spirit of the time" (where time refers to some longer period, maybe a decade) and as rdowns and vrDrew pointed rightly out is therefore only recognised in retrospect.

    * Often German seems to be less differentiating in multiple meanings where English has a dedicated word for it.
     
  12. twietee macrumors 603

    twietee

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    #12
    Yes, you're right of course. Thanks for clarification! Quite thoughtless on my behalf.
     
  13. phil87 macrumors newbie

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  14. AngryGerbil macrumors 6502a

    AngryGerbil

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    #14
    It's a little more abstract than that. It's something that defines the essence or ethos of an era or period of time. For example,"Annie Hall" captured the zeitgeist of the late 70's. It's not an easily defined term.
     
  15. Peace, Sep 8, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013

    Peace macrumors Core

    Peace

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    #15
    I don't post a lot of links to commercial websites but I thought this one appropriate .

    http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com

    It has a couple of interesting concept videos about Zeitgeist and the pseudo-religion/philosophy that often accompanies the theory.

    Note : This is only one guys personal Zeitgeist "movement". It is in no way to be misconstrued as the definitive concept of Zeitgeist .

    I just think the ideas are interesting.
     

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