He would never forget the first day he saw them. Not saw them but really saw them - they were light as ghosts, thin as skeletons and as hard and powerful as greek gods. They had earned their arrogance and their nonpareil, bony bodies under the suns of faraway places, on rocky mountain paths and railroad tracks and suffering down suburban roads, gliding over the hot asphalt like birds. The looked down on the world from their rarefied atmospheres. They were hard muscle wound tightly around bones. And they were beautiful.
She didn’t know that you cut vertically to kill yourself. I mean what do they teach in school these days. We never ask why anymore. We don’t really want to know and maybe that’s not our weak stomachs but our instincts maybe we’re afraid that the boys and girls who empty their veins saw something we don’t and maybe if we do then we’ll join them on that bloody, painful, 71-out-of-100 train ride to oblivion. Maybe I’ll drown in a lake. A big green lake which could swallow whole cities without even spitting anyone back up, all their skin like porcelain, white and smooth and hard-looking, pale blue veins like Polish china and hair that grows back up to the surface like kelp.
it’s too early to call, of course, but this is shaping up to be a grey summer.
blue-grey and gold-grey and beautiful pink-and-green-greys and blood-red-brown-grey.
Near this spot Are deposited the Remains Of one Who possessed Beauty Without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, And all the Virtues of Man Without his Vices. The Price, which would be unmeaning flattery If inscribed over Human Ashes, Is but a just tribute to the Memory of “Boatswain,” a Dog Who was born at Newfoundland, May, 1803, And died in Newstead Abbey, Nov. 18, 1808. When some proud son of man returns to earth, Unknown by glory, but upheld by birth, The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe, And stories urns record that rests below. When all is done, upon the tomb is seen, Not what he was, but what he should have been. But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend, The first to welcome, foremost to defend, Whose honest heart is still his master’s own, Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone, Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth, Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth – While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven, And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven. Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour, Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power – Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust, Degraded mass of animated dust! Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat, Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit! By nature vile, ennoble but by name, Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame. Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn, Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn. To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise; I never knew but one – and here he lies.
Amy Stein - Domesticated (2008)
“Within these scenes I explore our paradoxical relationship with the wild and how our conflicting impulses continue to evolve and alter the behavior of both humans and animals. We at once seek connection with the mystery and freedom of the natural world, yet we continually strive to tame the wild around us and compulsively control the wild within our own nature. Within my work I examine the primal issues of comfort and fear, dependence and determination, submission and dominance that play out in the physical and psychological encounters between man and the natural world. Increasingly, these encounters take place within the artificial ecotones we have constructed that act as both passage and barrier between domestic space and the wild.”
I could live on a cliff by the sea and grow mushrooms in the dark black-brown earth until I run out of books. People from towns over the ridge would bring me all the knots they couldn’t untie and I could spread them out on my old table and pull out the tools of my trade - a set of delicate silver tools - instruments with teeth and sharp points and tiny hooks and dull thin curved ones. I could spend days on impossible shoelaces and headphones, fixing stuck zippers and watching storms roll in through the big westward-facing window set deep in the wall where a row of bonsai trees - a veritable forest - soaks up the meager sunlight.
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the answers to how things turn out in the real world—who your baby sister would become, what your friends would end up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you’d lose the people you took for granted—which is priceless intel that you instinctively want to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, still eagerly awaiting news from the front.
John Koenig is a freelance graphic designer who creates beautiful new words to describe those vague, effervescent and ethereal feelings that each of us have yet were unable to put a name to before he created “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows”. Each word means something etymologically since they are built from several languages or jargon that has been repurposed and through naming these strange, intangible feelings Koenig allows us to have a better understanding of our personal feelings as well as letting us know that we are not alone in our feelings.
After all, this is what doctors and psychologists do in order to help us understand the processes within our bodies and minds. While the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows focuses on the subconscious mind. As Koenig has explained, “…the act of naming something implies, very simply, that you’re not alone. We give names to things so we can talk about them. Once there’s a word for an experience, it feels contained somehow—and the container has a handle, which makes it much easier to pick up and pass around.”