One of my favourite German words is zeitgeist. I like it as a word but I also like what it means. The spirit of the time; the taste and outlook characteristic of a period or generation. I first heard about it as an undergraduate student when I tried to wrap my brain around Hegel's philosophy of history.
Sampling the zeitgeist from this time last year I see that it's saturated with the death of Pope John Paul II, the wedding of Charlie and Millie, and the best documented Maltese online prank at Google.com.mt.
This morning I woke up thinking about the zeitgeist of now: early April 2006. I know, I should have better things to do (and I do) but I guess these things happen often when you live in an inspirational and/or stimulating environment. The zeitgeist of now seems forgettable, very forgettable. Bird-flu hits the UK. Protests in France for a seemingly unjust new employment law. The Da Vinci Code copyright case. The gospel of Judas revealed in time for holy week and Easter. The appearance of Windows on Apple machines is perhaps the exception.
I believe that this is like a lull before a storm. I don't necessarily mean that I think some major bad thing is about to happen, even though I don't exclude that. Sadly, these things do happen every few years.
To distract myself I focus on my own personal zeitgeist. Bringing my second academic year in Scarborough to a logical end. Starting major work on the manuscript of my Franklin Furnace book. Planning the next round of MMON improvements. Things that mean a lot to me but don't necessarily mean much to anyone else until they actually amount to something.
Other people have their own private zeitgeists. I sometimes wonder what they are, especially when the collective and dominant zeitgeist is dormant.
If you don't get the zeitgeist you can entertain yourself with this.