Saturday, 17 May 2008

Emotions, Sensations & Phenomena That Should Have A Name But Don't

Herewith, I begin an ongoing series.

(As opposed, of course, to a non-ongoing series - arguably the best kind of series for one such as myself to begin.)

As a (very clever) former tutor of mine once pointed out to me, our language is impoverished when it comes to scalpel-precise vocabulary with which to describe complex emotional states or sensations. Considering the breadth of human emotions - not to mention the fact that the entirety of our conscious experience is filtered through the gauzy web that is our state of mind - we have astonishingly few words with which to communicate emotion and sensation.

In a bold - dare I say audacious? - protest at this sorry fact, I propose to draw attention to the countless gaps in our collective abstract vocabulary. To whit ...

Tragically Nameless Sensation #1

Imagine yourself - dear WorldWideWebster - in a shiny, squeaky new shopping mall. On a Saturday afternoon. So quietude and personal space are, shall we say, at a premium. Elevators are like the conveyor belts of a well-stocked sushi-bar; crossing a public confluence requires the navigatory panache of a Marco Polo. And you're here because you're searching for - let's pretend - legwear: a nice new pair of trews. Stylish and restrained - to wear to work, perhaps.

You're not having much luck.

With a reduced capacity for higher-level mental activity (as typically induced by the heaving shopping mall environment), you find - all of a sudden - that you have wandered unwittingly into a secluded retail oasis. You have strayed, o mall-wanderer, into a "boutique" shop. Silence slams down around you. The Bell Jar phenomenon. Light glimmers disconcertingly on chrome/glass fittings. You are outnumbered by shop assistants. The only other shopper is wearing a suit.

With a false, nausea-tinged nonchalance, you leaf your way through a tastefully minimal rack of clothing.

You glimpse a price tag.

"May I help you, sir?"

This, dear reader, is the point at which you experience Tragically Nameless Sensation #1. A mixture of embarrassment ("sir"?), animalistic terror (fight or flight impulse), shock (the price tag) and pride (no, you may not help me. But I certainly do not wish you to know that.)


Is there a neat term with which to describe this sensation? Or - if not - are there any suggestions as to an elegant neologism? Use the comments, if you please, and give me your enlightened suggestions ...

1 comment:

Jekteir said...


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