Brought to you be TJ13 contributor Racer’s Ramblings
Schadenfreude and Formula One in a Post-Truth Era
1. Pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.
“a business that thrives on Schadenfreude”
German: Schadenfreude, from Schaden “harm” + Freude “joy”
So elegant a word, and specific a concept, that the synonyms listed for Schadenfreude don’t quite capture its essence. German in origin, of course, and as the inadequacy of listed synonyms suggests, it’s difficult to find a similar word in another language — let alone the English language — that may properly represent such an exquisite term. It appears languages of other nations and cultures haven’t felt the need to conceive a word specific enough to describe the malicious joy felt by some (many… nay most) as a result of another’s misfortune. Thus, we English speakers are content with having permanently borrowed Schadenfreude from ze Germanz.
If one takes a moment to contemplate the word, it becomes quite horrifying that any language would require a word expressive of the sinfully sweet pleasure with which people feel at the misfortune of others, because, well, the very existence of the word is evidence of a darker element of human nature; an element of our nature that we, perhaps, don’t like to openly admit. It’d be a bit too “uncivilised” for such a base and dark notion to have made its way into the English language and be represented by a single word, and yet so unashamed of that part of human nature are the Germans that they happily coined Schadenfreude whilst we English speakers struggle to even connect applicable synonyms! We have Gloat (and some other words), but Gloat is usually associated with the joy one gets from one’s own success — most often over and above others — so it’s not quite comparable.
Though very rare it is that a word as unique as Schadenfreude exists in another language, it’s not exclusive to the Germans. “What people could be worse than the Germans?” I hear you ask. The very people who’ve had the saying “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” placed upon them as a result of very generously gifting a beautifully-crafted wooden horse to Troy… Of course, given in order to sneak into Troy and destroy the city from within. But that’s neither here nor there, and the region is in modern Turkey, so it doesn’t count. The point is, the Greeks understood and did not veer away from said notion; thus they’ve got epikhairekakia, or epicaricacy (in Greek, ἐπιχαιρεκακία): Rejoicing at or deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others – ἐπί (epí, “upon”) + χαρά (khará, “joy”) + κακός (kakós, “evil”). Spelling varies and amusingly its only synonym is Schadenfreude! Many totes-omg-yolo lols, right? No need for round-about idioms and fluffy sayings for our mean European friends, eh?
We all feel it, occasionally at least, and as I’ve said there are many idioms to express one’s malicious joy as a result of another’s misfortune. But it appears that only the Germans and Greeks (as far as I know; happy to hear variations from other languages in the comments) have openly reveled in the specific malicious joy to such a degree that they needed to craft a precise word for their respective languages in order to be able to easily express such feelings for day-to-day use. That says something, no?
This writer is, as most will know, what’s known as “a c@^t”. Yes… the C-bomb. I don’t mean to be, in that it’s not something in which I desire or strive to be. But I don’t make an effort to avoid it either. I simply am a c@^t as the sunflower is a sunflower; as a Hamfosi is a Hamfosi; as a whinging pseudo-intellectual lefty swimming in hyperbole is a whinging pseudo-intellectual lefty swimming in hyperbole; as a crypto-racist right-wing wally is… well… you get it. Schadenfreude is a great source of my overall daily/weekly quota of joy — particularly in the less important areas of life, such as sport. I see it as somewhat healthy to get it all out in the appropriate areas lest I join ISIS, or worse, the Hashtag Lunatics of TeamLH! Well, at least that’s what I tell myself. The blood of those who’d bear gifts runs through my veins; I is what I is. I am Sam. Sam I am. Though I will never eat a green egg… but I will happily eat HAM *winky face*.
And so, the greatest opportunity to eat some Schadenfreude cake iced with irony hath arrived in the form of the Formula One finale to be held in the deserts of Arablandia. For this writer (and Schadenfreude addict), the ultimate result at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would be a Mercedes Petronas AMG BlackBerry HugoBoss Performance Brixworth HPe Wolffian 1-2 (or better yet, a 1-3); Hamilton leading Rosberg for his 10th “Biktory”, as Alonso might say.
That eventuality would be a gift that’d keep on giving, year-on-year. As enduringly devastating as ’08 was for Felipe “For Sure” Massa, and ’10 was for Fernando “I’m ‘appy at Mah-Kla-Run” Alonso (except in ’16, it’s Hamilton’s own team-mate and team as his rival); firmly placing every detail of perceived inequality and mechanical/operational failure during ’16 into the ongoing narrative. Oh, I’ve goosebumps writing about it. How many times have we heard about the fuel hose in Singapore ’08? Or Timo Glockenspiel moving over at just the right time (see what I did there? Time? Glockenspiel? Yes? No? Ok.) on the last lap at Brazil ’08? Right?
You see, unlike Rosberg having won the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship a round or two early, it’s only this precise scenario that’d allow for my Schadenfreude to be set to the maximum possible level. Had Rosberg secured the title early, the “Lewis never had a chance anyway as a result of…” trope would’ve soothed the fanbois’ pain somewhat. There’d have been disappointment amongst Hamilton’s fans, yes, but it still would’ve felt to the most fervent of them as if Hamilton truly never had a chance given all the inequality they firmly believe he’s suffered from the evil machinations of Toto and his blessing of the rains down in Africa (case studies of conspiracies, and their evolution, to be discussed in future articles).
Schadenfreude depends on the pain and misfortune of others, as you know, so any mitigation of said pain would somewhat diminish the joy to the observer, i.e. me. However, the potential pain now with Hamilton having a genuine chance at the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship, combined with an Abu Dhabi victory (taking the most wins for the season à la Massa ’08) and Rosberg placing 2nd (or 3rd) thereby snatching the title with a reptile-like calculated pts-loss-management approach— surviving by a few measly pts, implying that one less DNF, or one more round, or one less poor start and Hamilton would’ve been a four-time world champion — is emotionally ejaculatory… and all with the most enduringly dominant car in the history of the sport!
We’re officially seeing the closing of the gates at the Pantheon of Greats for Hamilton with the detour signs now being erected to point toward Piquet’s table
We’re officially seeing the closing of the gates at the Pantheon of Greats for Hamilton with the detour signs now being erected to point toward Piquet’s table. Of course, Hamilton will be able to console himself with the (probably never to be beaten) record of Most Wins in a Season Without Winning the Championship (10), whilst wet-weather specialist (not), Rosberg, a driver that no one considered to have been good before ’13, let alone great, and a driver beaten by Webber as team-mates, gets one over the “I can party to 3am Saturday night and still win on Sunday” Hamilton. Losing a title to Senna in ’88 as a team-mate, or to Prost in ’89 as a team-mate, is one thing. Losing a title to Rosberg as your team-mate, and in the longest season where misfortune is somewhat mitigated given each race represents a mathematically smaller proportion of the entire championship than ever before, is something else altogether.
Yes it’s true, this could all blow up in my face. I’ve taken some sort of a risk, if you can call it that, by even uttering these thoughts. But, as I’ve outlined, it’s all about maximum Schadenfreude and as such, the build-up, outlining this situation beforehand, and it coming into our universe’s reality like a slow-moving train wreck is the absolute peak of the frosty Schadenfreude mountain upon which I stand. My Schadenfreude would be mildly diminished if I were to safely wait until post-race in order to see if this scenario eventuates and then to take reactive pleasure. Still quite a lot of Schadenfreude to be sure, but not the maximum amount possible. Being stabbed is one thing… seeing the killer sharpening the blade with intent painted all over their face is quite another.
This situation now as it stands… to simply know that it is coming, that nothing can stop it, to feel it’s inevitability and ultimate irrevocability, and more importantly, that we will all be connected by virtue of watching the same race, at the same time, but from different parts of the world in the same way that separated lovers dopily gaze up at the moon at the same time (assuming that they’re not too far away) to feel some sort of connection, AND TeamLH having read this… well that is THE maximum Schadenfreude possible.
You’re right; I am a nasty-ass son’beech. I am, but in my defence… no, I have no defence. Schadenfreude requires none. Don’t hate the player; hate the game. This is the post-truth era, baby.
*Rolls wooden horse to the gates of TeamLH’s compound*
“My mama told me when I was young, we are all born superstars…” – Radio Gaga? We’re really not by the way. Americans like to think so, but look at whom they voted in!
“Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin-can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin[Twitter]?”