The Beauty of the Obscure

I recently discovered the quaintly beautiful Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows and loved its purpose: to find words for many of the emotions and states that are part of the human experience.  Although made up, the words concretise our daily struggles and reassure us that we are not alone in them.  I'm looking forward to the book in 2017.

Here are some of my favourites:

Ambedo - n. a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—briefly soaking in the experience of being alive, an act that is done purely for its own sake.

Anemoia - n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known

Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins—and live in a completely different world.

Backmasking - n. the instinctive tendency to see someone as you knew them in their youth, a burned-in image of grass-stained knees, graffitied backpacks or handfuls of birthday cake superimposed on an adult with a degree, an illusion formed when someone opens the door to your emotional darkroom while the memory is still developing.

The Bends - n. frustration that you’re not enjoying an experience as much as you should, even something you’ve worked for years to attain, which prompts you to plug in various thought combinations to try for anything more than static emotional blankness, as if your heart had been accidentally demagnetized by a surge of expectations.

The kinda Blues - n. the sad awareness that the unfolding plot of your life feels new and profound but is not unique, just one of a few dozen possible riffs on the same chord progression, while the tunes reverberating from the jukebox in your chest are all covers of old standards from the Great Emotional Songbook, which is 98% identical to that of the chimpanzee.

Chrysalism - n. the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm, listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.

Gnossienne - n. a moment of awareness that someone you’ve known for years still has a private and mysterious inner life, and somewhere in the hallways of their personality is a door locked from the inside, a stairway leading to a wing of the house that you’ve never fully explored—an unfinished attic that will remain maddeningly unknowable to you, because ultimately neither of you has a map, or a master key, or any way of knowing exactly where you stand.

Jouska - n. a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head—a crisp analysis, a cathartic dialogue, a devastating comeback—which serves as a kind of psychological batting cage where you can connect more deeply with people than in the small ball of everyday life, which is a frustratingly cautious game of change-up pitches, sacrifice bunts, and intentional walks.

Kudoclasm - When lifelong dreams are brought down to earth.  Sometimes it feels like your life is flashing before your eyes, but it’s actually the opposite: you’re thinking forward, to all the things you haven’t done, the places you intend to visit, the goals you’ll get around to…

Silience - n. the kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of anonymous users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect.