john koenig

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intro’d to John via his feb 2016 tedxberkley

the meaning of we define them and how they..almost as revenge..define us

i love the english language..but it has a lot of holes.greek..lachesism: hunger for disaster; mandarin..yù yī: longing to feel intensely.. way you did when you were a kid; polish..jouska: kind of hypothetical convo you compulsively play out in head; german..zielschmerz: dread of getting what you want

whole mission of find holes in language of emotion and try to fill them so that we have way of talking about all those quirks of human condition  that we all feel but may not talk about because don’t have the words 

the power of make us feel less alone

what makes words real..who am i to say what words are real and what aren’t…

once you realize.. world was built by people no smarter than you..realize that you have the power to change it

what people are really asking when they’re asking if a word is many brains will this give me access to?..that’s a lot of how we look at language

a word is essentially a key that gets us into certain people’s heads.. so a real word is one that gets you access to as many brains as you can..that’s what makes it worth knowing

? i don’t know.. as many as possible?.. or the ones that matter to you.. soul mate and tribe.. and ..

meaning is not in the words themselves..we’re the ones that pour ourselves into it

searching for meaning in our lives..of life..words have something to do with that

dictionary..brings a sense of order to a very chaotic universe. .patterns and shorthands ..we need words to contain/define ourselves

? do we

a lot of us feel boxed in by how we use these words..

we forget that words are made up

we’re all sort of trapped in our own *lexicons that don’t necessarily correlate with people who aren’t already like us

*idio jargon ness

i feel us drifting apart a little more every year..the more seriously we take words

words are not real..they don’t have meaning..we do

Bill Watterson (calvin and hobbes): creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare invent your own life’s meaning is not easy..but it is still allowed..and i think you’ll be happier for the trouble

ah.. yes.. ish

hosting-life-bits via self-talk as data.. as the day..

find/follow John:

the dictionary of obscure sorrows:
link twitter

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words for emotions written by John Koenig. Suggest emotions here:


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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a website and YouTube channel created by John Koenig that defines neologisms for emotions that do not have a descriptive term. The dictionary includes verbal entries on the website with paragraph-length descriptions and videos on YouTube for individual entries. The neologisms, while completely created by Koenig, are based on his research on etymologies and meanings of used prefixes, suffixes, and word roots. The terms are often based on “feelings of existentialism” and are meant to “fill a hole in the language”, often from reader contributions of specific emotions. Some videos involve a large number of photographs, such as the video for Vemödalen, which uses an “almost exhausting—yet seamless—fusion of 465 similar photos from different photographers”. Other videos are more personal, such as Avenoir,which involves a “collage of his own home movies to piece together an exploration of life’s linearity”.

An official book for the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is expected to be published in 2017

The dictionary was first considered in 2006 when Koenig was a “student at Macalester College in Minnesota” and was attempting to write poetry. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows was the idea he came up with that would contain all the words he needed for his poetry, including emotions that had never been linguistically described. The popularity of the website and web series began to grow in June 2015 after a list of twenty-three words from the dictionary began to be shared on multiple social media sites.

Several of the neologisms presented in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, especially those that have an accompanying video, have received attention and interest. The term Vemödalen focuses on the lack of creativity within photography due to the existence of similar photographs having been taken in the past. However, the video also focuses on how it is “inevitable that the “same” image will be captured by different individuals” while it is also correct that “just because some things seem similar, their uniqueness is not annulled”. Using a quote from Walt Whitman, the video points out that something being unique will always be based on adding to what came before and that every photo ever made is being added to the story of photographs that all people are collaborating on.

The term Sonder has been noted as well for its relation to other people, its definition meaning “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”.  Sonder has also been appropriated by various companies for use as the name of a bike brand and the title of a video game. The third album from indie pop artist Kaoru Ishibashi was named Sonderlust after this term from the dictionary and references the separation from his wife and his attempts to understand her life.

Multiple words from the dictionary, such as ellipism, énouement, and onism, were used as titles for various cocktails served at the Chicago restaurant Knife. Similarly, an art gallery exhibit for the works of Michael Sagato in Los Angeles uses words from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows to title each of his art pieces and to reference the meaning behind each piece.

The Times of India referred to the dictionary as a “delightful website for etymologists and wordsmiths”. Sharanya Manivannan, writing for the The New Indian Express, described the dictionary as ..

a “beautiful experiment on the fine line between babble and Babel.”


idio jargon ness – all the words and no words.. converging on ps in the open.. and us.. undefined/alive..

rather than babel izing some elitist bespeak, spending our time trying to fit/get in, we create us/eudaimoniative surplus.