this building typifies the zeigeist of the hippy era in Vancouver for me...Gas Town was a mad scene in those days
The term zeitgeist is from German Zeit- 'time' (cognate with English tide and "time") and Geist- 'spirit' (cognate with English ghost, without being really translatable into English - this is why the German term is used).
Note that last bit - we use the German word because we haven't an English one that means even close to this. to capture the spirit - the geist - of a time is something all writers must be able to do. It is hard enough to capture that of another era it is even trickier to capture the spirit of our OWN time. This seems counter-intuitive but it is true if you ponder it. So how do we capture with words the timespirit? We pay attention, we wake-up, we listen, we engage with whatever time period we want to represent in our prose or poetry. The reason that it is harder to represent the time period of our time or close to our time is that there are folks living it who will tell you that you do not have the right verisimilitude - you've missed something - you've put a heroine in the right clothes but you have the wrong slang coming out of her mouth. The thing, the very tricky thing, is that it doesn't have to be exact, in fact exactness would be a problem. Just like with dialogue - exactness would bore or irritate beyond any worthiness it might hold. We need the gesture, the slight phrase that represents the era, the time, the politics, mores and spirit of the time.
We don't need to write down every tune on the jukebox in the diner in 1959 or every item of clothing that was worn by the teens that hung around there after school. Maybe just that Fats Dominoe was wailing out about finding a thrill on blueberry hill, while a hint of pink crinoline pooked out below Brenda's poodle skirt as she twirled her straw in her cherry coke. Too much detail and we see the man behind the curtain, too little or the wrong kind and we put the book down in disgust.
And I'm not talking about writing about what you know. That old idea needs the boot. If we'd had that enforced there are so many fantastic books that never would've seen the light of day. But getting the zeitgeist right - that's an art.
And so endeth the fun ride that many of us have been on for the past month. I've had a ball - how about you? And I can think of a million other words I want to explore ...may have to just keep going.
The abcedaria of a writerAttitude, Bums in Seats, Compassion, Discipline, Elegance, Friends, Generosity, Heck, Imagination, Jealousy, Knitting, Lamé , Meditation, Nothing, Outlaw, Poetry, Quiddity, Rhythm, Solitude, Turquoise, Understand, Verity, Walking, X-Chromosome, Yes and finally, Zeitgeist!