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Watch: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows


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As humans, we encounter an infinite number of emotions and experiences - some are fleeting, and others capture us, drawing us into the unmapped labyrinth that is our subconscious.

Although the feelings we have are countless, words are not. Our language is limited, and we often find ourselves speechless, without a way to articulately express what it is that we are going through.

Now, there is someone that seeks to put a name these complex emotions - or, as freelance graphic designer and filmmaker John Koenig likes to call them, Obscure Sorrows.

Koenig coins original terms that aim to fill the gaps in language, and provides readers with in-depth definitions, as well as explaining the etymological decisions behind the word.

Koenig, from Minnesota, is also the author of ‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.’ In his words, he created the dictionary in order to “harpoon, bag and tag wild sorrows, then release them gently back into the subconscious.”

On his YouTube channel, he writes, edits, and narrates short films to enhance his dictionary entries, the result of which is powerful, and often very moving.

Take, for example, Yù YÄ«, a noun defined as “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.”

To illustrate this concept, the video begins with John’s introduction, a description he has written in attempts to define the term, and encapsulate a desire. Accompanying this narration is a compilation of beautiful footage and poignant symphonies. Then, gradually, spoken word peters out, the music intensifies and the pace of each clip accelerates.

As you watch the images flicker before you it is hard not to feel captivated by their intensity, almost as if your Yù YÄ« has been, if momentarily, fulfilled and subdued by Koenig’s creativity.

It is interesting that his quest is to create the words that language is missing, but it is the films that really bring these words to life.

Yù YÄ«: The Desire to Feel Intensity Again 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows has been acclaimed by various publications like the New York Magazine and the Washington Post Express, yet here in the UK it doesn’t seem to be enjoying the recognition it deserves.

So make sure you watch the videos below; you might learn something about your own emotions, you will probably be inspired, and you will definitely learn a new word or two.

Astrophe: The Feeling of Being Stuck on Earth 

Ambedo: A Moment You Experience For Its Own Sake

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