By: Devon Clements
The night sky on a clear cool evening, that’s all it takes. Finding yourself alone beneath the swirling inky blackness, but not alone as we perceive it in an empty room or a quiet street, where the immensity of the human machine still bustles on the edge of your perception. The type of alone that reveals itself rarely and only in moments of pure existential thought. That is un-nameable and nears indescribable yet that we all recognize. As your eyes peer above into an unfathomable distance greeted only by the cosmos, the weight of your existence begins to hang heavy upon you. Your individual hopes and dreams, your memories and relationships simultaneously become completely insignificant and of the upmost importance. You are at once completely alone in the universe, yet somehow not lonely. The daily struggles of life fade away as the immensity of the heavens above sedate you with its beauty.
I find my humanity in the sky. I can stand on a plot of earth and witness the celestial magnificence above and be connected to every individual who has come before me. This overwhelming combination of emotion and complex thought highlight one of the great hindrances of humanity: the boundaries of language.
Artist and editor John Koenig has spent years studying etymology in order to produce words for these universal emotions which were previously unnamed. Below is a brief list of some of his words which are already being accepted into the lexicon of today’s vocabulary. I hope you find them as interesting and insightful as I did.
- Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
- Opia: The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
- Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.
- Énouement: The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.
- Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops – filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
- Rubatosis: The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
- Kenopsia: The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
- Mauerbauertraurigkeit: The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.
- Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
- Chrysalism: 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.
- Vemödalen: The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.
- Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.
- Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.
- Kuebiko: A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.
- Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.
- Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it – whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness, which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.
- Adronitis: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
- Rückkehrunruhe: The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
- Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.
- Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, which inhabits only one place at a time.
- Liberosis: The desire to care less about things. To loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone – rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.
- Altschmerz: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.
- Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.
- Heartworm: A relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.
- Anemoia: 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.
All words and definitions created and copyrighted by John Koenig
Visit www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com to learn more
Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finished.