Personal Zeitgeist

The situation

She is sitting at the table and drinking Coke in solitude. It is difficult not to notice her: she has glowing red hair and piercing in her nose, continuously glittering in the sunrays coming into the room. In front of here, there is a pile of magazines about fashion, an iPod and a pair of earphones – if you come closer, you will hear rock music playing in her earset. Meanwhile, she slides her fingers over the display of her smartphone, texting to someone or surfing the Internet until she notices someone in the doorway. Then she rises and joins the group of girls. She is wearing a romantic dress and a pair of sneakers. Can you imagine such a crazy combination of sports shoes and a beautiful dress? She looks 20-22. She is laughing and speaking loudly with her friends, taking no notice of the people around. Nobody cares: people are accustomed to the behavior of the modern youths.

In the same café, a 50-55-year-old man wearing an old suit is reading a book, relishing his espresso. If you look closely, you will notice that he is sitting right on his gray overcoat. He seems not to notice anyone and anything around, immersed in his book. The waiter changes the music, and this distracts the man from reading for a moment. It seems it is Mozart or Beethoven. One thing is clear: music is the only thing that can attract his attention.

These two people are of different genders, different ages, have different behavior and are totally different. How can this be possible for such different people to live at the same time? The man, who was born in the middle of the last century and grew in the same century, is accustomed to modesty and simplicity. The young girl was born in the same century but grew at a different time of ambition and hunt for recognition. This is the mark of time, which is also named ‘Zeitgeist’. Perhaps, our girl will change in twenty years’ time, and recollections about her youth will only make her smile. She might change now, if someone with a different Zeitgeist came to influence her.


Did you notice that this Zeitgeist has a temporary nature? One can experience several of them in a lifetime. Take Pierre Bezukhov from War and Peace, for example: the socially awkward young misfit and admirer of Napoleon, he becomes a mature person at the end of the narrative, who cares for his family and feels responsible for his people. This is how time changes us and our outlook.

Yet, our Zeitgeist will always be with us. No matter what time we live in, our spirit of time may be even two hundred years old. Everything depends on us and on the changes that happen to us. What we like now may vex us in a couple of years. For example, now we hear pop music everywhere, but it is quite likely that we may wish to listen to the music of the 1970s or 1990s instead.

Why so?

The generation of the 60-year-olds has witnessed not so many radical changes. Unlike them, the modern young people are in the process of permanent changes. The world has witnessed the emergence of countless youth subcultures. Let us take Japan, for instance. Known for its immaculate taste and asceticism in the traditional culture, from kimonos to tea ceremonies, modern Japan, just on the contrary, is an inexhaustible source of the queerest things. Consider the Japanese subcultures, for example. Making their parents weep, the Japanese young people name themselves ‘emo’, ‘visual kei’, ‘ganguro’, ‘gyaru’, and ‘loli’, and all those subcultures equally amaze the older generation. They can be encountered in other Asian or Moslem countries. For example, in Uzbekistan, it is possible to encounter a hipster or a Goth nowadays.

Why do these subcultures influence mostly young people, whereas the older generation prefers the routine ways? The answer is rather simple: the influence of time is to blame. Life has speeded up a lot: the younger you are, the more you hurry somewhere, the more you look for something new. There are so many opportunities around to change our lives literally within minutes.

The influence of time

Have you ever thought that both our parents and the parents of our parents have accepted life as it is. For us, it is unthinkable to have worked at the same place for thirty years, and it is common for their generations. We upgrade our wardrobes and our gadgets every year, and they are happy to have what they have. The Zeitgeist is the spirit of novelties and innovations. At the time when technical innovations appear nearly every day, we no longer think whether we need a new telephone or not: we just buy it. We try to achieve an ideal of living, not realizing that we have our own individual pathway to go.

Now it is not difficult to meet those young people among the younger generation who have been able to try on already several images of youth subcultures. That means, it is becoming more and more difficult to find our identity. Identity! About ten years ago, we saw lots of emos in the streets: where are they now? Now life is like a pie: you have to taste a piece, in order to understand whether the pie is tasty or not. We have to try ourselves in different areas, in order to understand who we are and what we are. The generation of our parents has already found their harmony. We can say with confidence that in about 10-15 years’ time, we will always find it. And then our children will ask themselves the question why they are so different from us.


The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once stated that nothing is at a standstill and that everything changes with the time. The spirit of time is no exception. We cannot know what will happen tomorrow with us. The only thing it is worth doing here and now is to try to be happy.

Sevinch Umarova

My name is Sevinch. It comes from Turkish and Azerbaijani and means ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’. In fact, this is true about me. In my life, I have managed to live in London for four years and in Berlin for three, to learn to play the piano, to play tennis and to dance. Now I have returned to Tashkent, and I am actively studying foreign languages.





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