A Sort of Wagnerian Falling Into
January 15, 2012 10:48 AM   Subscribe

What is the German word for the concept of giving yourself away to something?

In the book "Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself", on the subject of addiction, David Foster Wallace says the following:
"And there's this desperation to give ourselves away to something. To be—what do you call it? There's a German word for it, it means a sort of Wagnerian falling into, that I think our culture really encourages."
What is the word to which he's referring?
posted by dephlogisticated to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hingabe? To literally give yourself away.
Selbstauflösung? The dissolution of the self.
posted by Omnomnom at 10:59 AM on January 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it's not "Selbstaufgabe", it may be "vollständig in etwas aufgehen." The first has a taste of resignation, whereas the second is more upbeat and happens when you completely subscribe to a task, a goal, an activity...
posted by Namlit at 12:14 PM on January 15, 2012

It should be borne in mind that "There's a German word for it" can be just another way of saying "It's one of those subtle concepts that we like to think there's a foreign word for." (For some reason, German is the usual suspect for these things, as Mark Twain is the guy all quotes are attributed to.) If he actually knew of a specific German word, I suspect he would have provided it.
posted by languagehat at 2:28 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'd say Hingabe.
posted by The Toad at 4:21 PM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, everyone.

The book in question is a series of transcribed interviews with DFW, published after his death, so it's understandable that the word is referred to but not provided.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:23 PM on January 16, 2012

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