Anchorage 4/21/16 – “Animus” is a word I use to describe motivations and observable movement that goes on even after it is forgotten, often for years or even decades. It can explain a lot and that is why I find it useful. An animus is a sort of ghost that lies hidden within an enterprise. The word denotes that which continues the motion with which the enterprise began. It can be a desire or an aspiration or an actual physical movement.
An animus can seen as magic, as when you desire something and then end up getting it after you stop desiring it. Usually people fail to see a connection between what they get and what they once wanted and call it “luck” or “irony” or some such. But a desire sets things in motion that are not easily stopped. This is the meaning of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice tale, or the saying “Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.”
A push of the will sets forces in motion in the aspects of reality we are aware of, but also in aspects of reality that we are not aware of. Even when that motion appears to have ended or is no longer noticed, it often continues.
This may sound metaphysical but all I am trying to do is describe a real force. Almost every community radio station I know of has an animus. KYUK in Bethel, for instance, was founded to bring the western culture to the indigenous people of the area. Even though everyone who ever wanted to do that may be gone, much of KYUK continues to move in an assimilationist direction. The news, for instance, is written first in English, and then translated into Yupik. It would take a significant act of will or maybe a generational transformation to divert that direction. Another example is KSKA in Anchorage, which was started by a diverse group of people, all or mostly gone by now, who were accustomed to hearing the programming produced by National Public Radio and wanted that to be on the radio in their city. Through all the mergers and so forth that have changed KSKA, that animus remains – to be a carrier of NPR programming. I could list dozens more, in Alaska and elsewhere.
There is animus in many things, in cultures such as the fishing profession or the branches of law and science.