— ellipsism: sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out, that you’ll dutifully pass on the joke of being alive without ever learning the punchline — the name of the beneficiary of all human struggle, the sum of the final payout of every investment ever made in the future — which may not suit your sense of humor anyway and will probably involve how many people it takes to change a lightbulb.

— morii: the desire to capture a fleeting experience.

    • from 'memento mori' a small reminder of your mortality + ‘torii’ the traditional japanese gates that mark the threshold between the profane and the sacred.

— zenosyne: the sense that time keeps going faster.

    • Zeno is derived from Zeno's Paradox, which asks how a person can walk from one point to another if they must first carry out a series of ever-shrinking steps, + Mnemosyne, the personification of memory in ancient greek mythology. How can we live our lives while each passing year feels shorter than the year before?

— yù yī (玉衣): the desire to see with fresh eyes, and feel things just as intensely as you did when you were younger — before expectations, before memory, before words.

    • from mandarin chinese yù yī, literally "jade suit." Some han dynasty royals were made to wear ceremonial burial suits made of jade, stitched together in hundreds of pieces threaded together, like a suit of armor made of jade. Literally, it is to be 'jaded' in an attempt to protect yourself.

— dès vu: the awareness that this will become a memory.

    • from french dès vu, "seen as soon as" or "seen from this point forward." Like déjà vu, but in the reverse order — already remembering something as you're living it.

— olēka: the awareness of how few days are memorable.

    • from greek apololeka, "losing."

— opia: the ambiguous intensity of eye contact; the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable — their pupils glittering, bottomless and opaque — as if you were peering through a hole in the door of a house, able to tell that there’s someone standing there, but unable to tell if you’re looking in or looking out.

    • from ancient greek opia, plural of "opium" + opia "of the eyes." Thus, eye contact is the opiates of the eyes.

— onism: the awareness of how little of the world you'll experience; the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people's passwords, each representing one more thing you'll never get to see before you die - and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

— kenopsia: the eeriness of places left behind; the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet — a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds — an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.

    • from greek, kenosis "emptiness" + opsia "seeing".

— koinophobia: the fear that you've lived an ordinary life;

    • from greek koinos, "common, ordinary, stripped of specialness" + phobia, "fear".

— moment of tangency: a glimpse of what might have been. "If two lines are truly parallel, it means they'll never actually meet.”

    • a tangent is where a line 'just touches' a curve, sharing the same angle for a bit before carrying off to infinity.

— sonder: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

— vemödalen: the fear that everything has already been done; the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist — the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye — which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass - produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.

    • from swedish vemod, "tender sadness, pensive melancholy" + vemdalen, the name of a swedish town. The original metaphor for this idea was that these clichéd photos are a kind of prefabricated furniture that you happen to have built yourself.

— 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.

— ambedo: a moment you experience for its own sake; 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.

    • from latin, it's a play on the word "albedo," which is a measure of light reflectivity. "Ambedo" is the opposite, a measure of how much you absorb the world.

— altschmerz: weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.

— lutalica: the part of your identity that doesn't fit into categories.

    • from serbo-croatian lútalica, "wanderer."

— kudoclasm: when lifelong dreams are brought down to earth.

    • from greek kudos, "glory, praise" + clasm, "breaking down."

— occhiolism: the awareness of the smallness of your perspective, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture, because although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room.

may 23 2017 ∞
jan 30 2018 +