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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Pixar seemed to get its groove back with Inside Out, a look into the mind of an eleven year old girl. Her anthropomorphic emotional states that formed the committee running her brain are: yellow Joy, blue Sadness, red Anger, green Disgust, and purple Fear. Obviously for a family movie, you need to simplify the complex emotions everybody has. But people are made up of many more than the simple primary emotions.

[ad#horiz-ad]Imagine your emotions as all the hues and shades in a paint store. Seemingly endless variations on colors and with them an equally endless amount of names for them. Atomic tangerine, Byzantium, Folly are just a few signifiers fo particular bits of the color spectrum. However, we really don’t have the same setup for the variation of emotions we feel. Our language (at least in English, anyway) seems inadequate to put a word to the changing moods and feelings we have. But one man, John Koenig, is working to fix that. He is writing The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. His YouTube channel is here.

I could describe what the Dictionary is…but I’ll let the man speak for himself.

Perusing the words, you will find many emotions and feeling that fit your life. For instance, this one will be familiar to anyone who engages in social media…

apomakrysmenophobia n. fear that your connections with people are ultimately shallow, that although your relationships feel congenial at the time, an audit of your life would produce an emotional safety deposit box of low-interest holdings and uninvested windfall profits, which will indicate you were never really at risk of joy, sacrifice or loss.

This definition should be familiar to anyone of our readers who has been through high school. If not, well…I really really hate you.

monachopsis n. the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on a beach—lumbering, clumsy, easily distracted, huddled in the company of other misfits, unable to recognize the ambient roar of your intended habitat, in which you’d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly at home.

And this one could have a secondary definition as “Weekend Justice.”

anecdoche n. a conversation in which everyone is talking but nobody is listening, simply overlaying disconnected words like a game of Scrabble, with each player borrowing bits of other anecdotes as a way to increase their own score, until we all run out of things to say.

As you saw up top, John Koenig has created a visual component to add depth and nuance to some of his words. For example, I should think this one will resonate to all the Steampunkers out there.

And this one for all of us who ponder the vastness of the world, the universe, and the Internet…

It’s easy to try to hide our more negative feelings. We can modulate and numb our pains and horrors with drugs, alcohol, and media. For some, this is necessary when the bad dominate and overwhelm you. Of course, pain is a part of life. But more than that, pain can be beautiful. Sophocles and Shakespeare both understood this. I think John Koenig understands this as well. It can be difficult, but we need to examine our sorrows, understand them and catalog them so we can appreciate their beauty.