Purpose of post: describe and (hopefully) popularize a concept I've found highly useful.
Last year, my partner Logan Strohl wrote a sequence to introduce the "naturalism" concept they've been developing and teaching for the past decade or so.
That sequence was structured around a single, short sentence. The first essay introduced the sentence, and the remaining essays were primarily about explaining what each of the important concepts in that short sentence actually meant.
So, for the sentence "knowing the territory takes direct and patient observation," there was a full essay on what was intended (and, more crucially, what was not intended) by the word "knowing," and another on "the territory," and another on "observation," and so on.
This format was largely inspired by a conversation in which I asked Logan to describe naturalism briefly, and they said "I totally can, but you'll get the wrong idea."
Together, we realized that there is a curious one-way sort of property to many sentences, in which they work as pointers or summaries after the fact, but fail to generate the-thing-they're-summarizing if used as standalone seeds.
(One could argue that every sentence has some of this property, but some sentences have a lot of it.)
I'd like to be able to point directly at this property, and as a result of historical accident that I'll explain in a footnote, the handle I've ended up with in my own head is sazen.
This is a true sentence. People who know me very, very well, upon hearing this sentence, will nod. It's a good fit, retrospectively, for the data.
However, if you are attempting to give someone a sense of me up-front, saying "Duncan Sabien is a teacher and a writer" is an unusually bad start. The thing that most people will think of when they hear "teacher" or "writer" is specifically unlike me—I'm a very weird sort of teacher and a very weird sort of writer, and so anchoring people on the representative stereotypes is almost actively misleading.
The sentence "Duncan Sabien is a teacher and a writer" is a sazen.
There's a classic challenge in which a teacher asks a bunch of students to write down unambiguous and complete instructions for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The gimmick is that, to grade each paper, the teacher will follow only the actions written on the page, which usually results in something very unlike a normal sandwich.
This activity is ... somewhat arbitrary and infuriating, because the teacher usually has to make a bunch of fluid judgment calls about where they draw the line, and there's usually not a clear and consistent standard for what level of detail is required, so the lesson often ends up being less about the complexity of background information and more about the fickle dickishness of teachers.
But purely as a sort of plug-and-play teachable moment, it's an interesting way to take a close and practical look at all of the little bits of context we take for granted, via the teacher pretending not to know them.
A sentence like "get a couple of slices of bread, and put peanut butter on one and jelly on the other and then stick 'em together" is a sazen. After the fact, you can look back and say "sure, those bones match the shape of what just happened."
But up front, they're woefully insufficient. They also match (for example) putting the entire jar of peanut butter atop one slice, and the entire jar of jelly atop the other, and then sliding the two smushed rectangles of bread into each other, flat on the counter. Or failing to use bread, peanut butter, or jelly at all, because the instructions didn't say to get those items and have them on hand, or didn't specify how to get them. Or (a traditional move in this activity) smushing the wrong sides of the two slices of bread together, with the peanut butter and jelly on the outside.
You've just spent half a semester in your advanced biochemistry lab, and it's time for a quiz where you're allowed to bring with you one single sheet of handwritten notes.
Almost all of the blurbs you'll jot down on your paper will be sazen. They're pointers to the deeper, richer knowledge in your head, sufficient to call up that knowledge and help you click back into various connections.
But if, at the start of the semester, the professor had simply given you that page, you likely would not have ever come to understand any of those deeper concepts. The blurbs on their own are an excellent match for the information, but they're insufficient to generate it.
A "handle" is a sazen for a felt sense.
LessWrong user interfaces—
(oh ha I just got the pun, nice)
LessWrong user interfaces writes:
Amongst drug users, it's my experience that there is a great deal of specialized language that is difficult, if not impossible, to truly understand without yourself having had the experiences that the language originates from. However, it's easy for prospective users to believe they understand the language being spoken, and to believe they have an understanding of the risks involved with certain drugs.
Sentences like "you feel connected to the entire universe" or "you're watching your mind watching your mind watching your mind think" or "it feels like your skin is on fire with golden sunlight" or "the walls will start breathing" are all sazen. In particular, they all parse just fine to a naive listener—they do indeed seem to convey something complete and comprehensible. They're a double illusion of transparency waiting to happen.
(Unlike many people, I believe that experiences like those of a drug user can be accurately conveyed to a non-drug user; I'm not big on the concept of ineffability. But I think it takes work. Logan wrote 14,000 words just to take their eight-word description of naturalism from absolutely guaranteed to be misleading to probably still misleading but at least not actively, negligently so.)
Elsewhere, I wrote:
When someone tries to offer you a piece of wisdom, it’s usually not going to “click” right away.It’s usually not going to click right away, and also this is fine, it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong, it doesn’t mean you didn’t get it and it doesn’t mean the wisdom itself is silly. It’s just sort of how wisdom works.See, people go through life, and they have experiences, and they come to some pretty deep realizations, and then they package those realizations up into a nice neat little catch phrase like “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” or “don’t cut off your nose to spite your face” or “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”And those little catch phrases usually make sense, on their own. It doesn’t feel like there’s anything missing, when you hear them. Like, yeah, okay, sure, I get it, “a bird in the bush” is like some potential opportunity that might or might not pan out, and so even if that thing is really good it’s often not as good as a sure thing that’s actually locked in. Why are you getting all weirdly intense about it?But in fact, there really is a kind of deeper, fuller, contextualized understanding, a kind of getting-it-in-your-bones, that often doesn’t show up until later. Because when you first hear the wisdom, it doesn’t really matter to you. You’re usually not in the sort of situation where the wisdom applies, so it’s just this random fact floating around in your brain.Often, it’ll be years later, and you’ll be in the middle of a big, stressful situation yourself, and that little snippet of wisdom will float back up into your thoughts, and you’ll go “ohhhhhhhh, so that’s what that means!”You already knew what it meant in a sort of perfunctory, surface-level, explicit sense, but you didn't really get it, on a deep level, until there was some raw experiential data for it to hook up to.
When someone tries to offer you a piece of wisdom, it’s usually not going to “click” right away.
It’s usually not going to click right away, and also this is fine, it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong, it doesn’t mean you didn’t get it and it doesn’t mean the wisdom itself is silly. It’s just sort of how wisdom works.
See, people go through life, and they have experiences, and they come to some pretty deep realizations, and then they package those realizations up into a nice neat little catch phrase like “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” or “don’t cut off your nose to spite your face” or “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
And those little catch phrases usually make sense, on their own. It doesn’t feel like there’s anything missing, when you hear them. Like, yeah, okay, sure, I get it, “a bird in the bush” is like some potential opportunity that might or might not pan out, and so even if that thing is really good it’s often not as good as a sure thing that’s actually locked in. Why are you getting all weirdly intense about it?
But in fact, there really is a kind of deeper, fuller, contextualized understanding, a kind of getting-it-in-your-bones, that often doesn’t show up until later. Because when you first hear the wisdom, it doesn’t really matter to you. You’re usually not in the sort of situation where the wisdom applies, so it’s just this random fact floating around in your brain.
Often, it’ll be years later, and you’ll be in the middle of a big, stressful situation yourself, and that little snippet of wisdom will float back up into your thoughts, and you’ll go “ohhhhhhhh, so that’s what that means!”
You already knew what it meant in a sort of perfunctory, surface-level, explicit sense, but you didn't really get it, on a deep level, until there was some raw experiential data for it to hook up to.
It was, in short, a sazen. After having cut off your own nose to spite your face, you can look back and see how the phrase is a very pithy summary of the mistake you were making, but it's rare for the mere catch phrase to be sufficient to head off the mistake in the first place.
As it turns out, wisdom is almost universally packaged in sazen.
In fact, the sentence "wisdom is almost universally packaged in sazen" is itself a sazen, although it's a kind of silly and small and unimpressive example. But I genuinely expect it to only sink in over time what it means that wisdom comes in sazen, for most readers, even though there's a plainclothes meaning to the sentence that yes, you did indeed already understand.
(Much of what aggregated wisdom like that seems to do, in practice, is arrange the preconditions for the lesson to be learned the first time, after a single mistake, rather than leaving you to piece it together yourself through multiple painful repetitions. The catchy little phrase is a hint that This Is Actually A Pattern, Not A One-Off; So Much So That We Came Up With A Saying For It. It's laying the groundwork for future epiphany, a vaccine that doesn't (usually) prevent you from getting sick that first time, but prepares you to recognize and fight off the virus every time after that.)
A sazen is a word or phrase which accurately summarizes a given concept, while also being insufficient to generate that concept in its full richness and detail, or to unambiguously distinguish it from nearby concepts.
More informally: it's a handle that is useful as a pointer to the already-initiated, who can recognize its correctness and fill in the necessary gaps, but either useless or actively misleading to the uninitiated, who will either Simply Not Get It, or (much worse) fill in the gaps with their own preconceptions (which are likely to lead them astray).
Somebody who already knows the precise way in which the constellation Ursa Major outlines a bear might be like "of course!" But someone who's simply told "these points are supposed to form a bear" is unlikely to end up conceiving of this:
To return to the original example: "Knowing the territory takes direct and patient observation." After reading Logan's six essays on each of the critical sub-concepts, that sentence is a very good mnemonic for the discipline of naturalism.
Before reading those six essays, it's a seed that might sprout into any number of plants, most of which will bear little-to-no resemblance to the specific thing Logan has spent the past decade developing.
An earlier draft of this essay was public for a grand total of twelve minutes. One user asked "what is this concept getting us, that the concept of 'lossy compression' doesn't already cover?"
It was a devastatingly good question. Good enough that I pulled the essay, because there seemed to be a very good chance that the answer was "nothing," although my joke at the time was "I think if we round this off to 'lossy compression' we might be losing some of the important detail around the edges..."
However, on reflection, I do think there's some disoverlap (although I won't be offended if you just pack more into your use of the phrase 'lossy compression' rather than tracking another made-up word).
The core thing that seems missing, for me, if I imagine just sticking with lossy compression, is this idea of a double illusion of transparency waiting to happen.
Lossy compressions still tend to point pretty squarely at the thing they're compressing. A low-res jpg of a face still looks a lot like that face. You wouldn't tend to be surprised by the high-res version, after having looked at the low-res one.
To the extent that a sazen is a metaphorical lossy compression, in the same way that a plot summary is a lossy compression of a book ... they do not do this preserving-the-central-experience thing. They fail to do it hard enough that I genuinely think it's worth it to have a separate concept.
If I tell a freerunning student that the way to do a backflip is to jump as high as you can, throw your hands straight up into the sky, then bring your knees up to your hands as you tuck ... this is, indeed, an accurate description of what I am doing with my mind and my body. These are words that I have mentally repeated to myself, over and over, while psyching up for a backflip.
But unlike the lossy compression of a jpg, this skeleton description is a very, very, very poor unit test. There are a lot of non-backflip motions that people can go through (including a very large number of lethal ones) that nevertheless check all the boxes in "throw your hands straight up into the sky, then bring your knees up to your hands as you tuck." It's the peanut butter and jelly problem all over again.
Another way to point at the difference: lossy compressions are optimized for nevertheless still being compressions; the whole point of a compression is to get the most pointing-you-in-the-right-direction for the least cost-in-data.
Sazen tend to be optimized by someone steeped in a context, to precisely fit features of that context that may be non-obvious or even fully invisible to the uninitiated, such that they'll either have no idea what the pointer is pointing at, or (worse) will just jump to the conclusion that the pointer must be pointing at X (where X is something that the expert would never even realize someone might think was implied). They're almost exclusively made by people who have left the state of little-or-no-knowledge, and it's pretty common for people to completely forget what it was like to not-know, and do almost no effective modeling of the listener at all.
One is inadequate on the details, but sufficient to convey the gist; the other is precise on (some of) the details, but in a way that is not necessarily legible or useful to the listener unless they already possess a lot of context.
If there is some simple word or phrase that captures all of that connotation, then please tell me and I will be happy to admit that this particular essay was ultimately a waste of space. But I don't think "lossy compression" is it (and, similarly, I don't think "pointer" is a better word than the made-up "sazen").
There are sort of two pieces to this. The first (why bother reifying this concept at all?) is easy:
The second piece (why a silly made-up word, though?) is a little bit harder. As explained in the footnote, I originally came up with the term "sazen" for a specific, private context; I never intended to inflict it on the general public.
But I found myself returning to the concept so often that I actually needed a short handle for it.
(Amusing, because the whole conceit of that other context is "putting short handles on things that are hard to say in English but really should be single words that are easy to use and talk about.")
Sazen was a concept I found myself repeatedly wanting to reference multiple distinct times in multiple conversations, and preexisting words like "lossy compression" or "pointer" or the clunky-but-serviceable "one-way summary" just weren't cutting it, in part because they brought in a bunch of connotation that required even more words to rule out.
For a while, I tried just saying "the thing" or "proposition A" in each individual conversation, but eventually, I was just, like, screw it, I'm finding it useful to say "sazen" in my own head, I should at least give everyone else the chance to find it useful themselves.
Your mileage may vary. Good luck either way.
I'm in the middle of writing a nonfiction book whose central conceit is something like "an abridged dictionary of Kadhamic." Not literally the actual canonical Alexandrian Kadhamic, but the idea is to present some hundred-or-so concepts that are long and complicated and difficult to convey in English, but which are not fundamentally more complicated than things we sum up with a single word like "basketball" or "gaslighting" or "cringe." The concept of sazen (more properly "sazn") is introduced early on, in chapter three, because knowing that most of the rest of the chapters are sazen is a pretty important piece of context for correctly digesting the book. I didn't intend to force my made-up words on people outside of that context, but alas, here we are.
Occasionally there will be a concept that you kind of already know intuitively and from experience, but then when someone actually gives it a term and a crisp definition it just clicks and you're like "how did we not have an explicit concept for this before". Reading this post was one of those times for me, thank you.
Sentences like "you feel connected to the entire universe" or "you're watching your mind watching your mind watching your mind think" or "it feels like your skin is on fire with golden sunlight" or "the walls will start breathing" are all sazen. In particular, they all parse just fine to a naive listener—they do indeed seem to convey something complete and comprehensible. They're a double illusion of transparency waiting to happen.(Unlike many people, I believe that experiences like those of a drug user can be accurately conveyed to a non-drug user; I'm not big on the concept of ineffability. But I think it takes work. Logan wrote 14,000 words just to take their eight-word description of naturalism from absolutely guaranteed to be misleading to probably still misleading but at least not actively, negligently so.)
Some of those phrases sound like the kinds of experiences that one might get from meditation as well. And at least my own experience with them makes me a little skeptical about whether it's actually possible to convey them. It's not only the case that I read descriptions of them and totally didn't get them (even though I thought I did) until I ran across... (read more)
So, this is just a silly comment, but...
"sazen" sounds a lot like "zazen", which just means "sitting meditation" from "za" sitting + "zen" meditation.
"sa" on its own could be many different words in Japanese, but the first one Google Translate gives me is "差" or "difference". So we could say you accidentally constructed a word meaning "difference meditation".
Not as tight a fit as I might like, but maybe that's because I haven't meditated enough on the difference between what the word "sazen" literally means and what it means after you understand it. :-)
I have found in my note-keeping for my own use, that attaching made-up sounds to specific ideas that don't have words yet is actually very useful; whereas overloading words that already have other meanings is something that actively harms clarity.
Um. Do bears have tails?From googling, it looks like some of them do, but they don't have tails like that.
Have bears changed since ancient times? Or are these just the charismatic bears, which all happen to have short tails? [Another google image search suggests its not that one.] Is "bear" a mistranslation of something like "raccoon"?I notice that I'm confused. Were the ancients just dumb? Why would they allocate three whole stars to the bear tail, if bears only have small nub tails.
On one hand wikipedia suggests Jewish astronomers saw the three tail stars as cubs. But at the same time, it suggests several ancient civilizations independently saw Ursa Major as a bear. Also confused.
I've got a little sample of a similar idea in my mind, which I think may be similar enough it's worth mentioning. I'll describe it using "is" language instead of "sounds like it is" language below for brevity.
A sazen is a description of a completed process which is not a description of how to start the process; an island of self-supporting concepts which you cannot jump directly to from pre-existing concepts.
Picture a resource-management game (like Dwarf Fortress, Factorio, etc). You might need Resource A to get Resource B and Resource B, like needing electricity to refine uranium and uranium to run a power plant. Saying "You need 2 power plants to every 5 uranium mines" is not useful to a beginner, because they can build all 7 buildings and nothing will happen.
Instead, they will build iron mines and copper mines and coal mines and steam engines and ... all until they build those buildings, at which point they will see that 2:5 is the correct ratio.
Someone has already noted that the concept of sazen is related to that of shibboleths, but my above definition suggests that sazen is related to any kind of verify-only knowledge, like a cryptographic hash or any zero-knowledge proof.
Sazen are for verification, not teaching, and I hope explicit labeling of them as such is enough to get the benefits without the costs.
Re: lossy compression.
Any compressed format is unreadable unless you know how to read it. So with a JPEG image, we're used to looking at the decompressed image (which is a field of color, same format as any image, compressed or otherwise). That's "the JPEG" to us. But if you think about it, the JPEG is "actually" the binary file which our computer knows how to display as an image.
With this in mind, the analogy to lossy compression becomes apt once again. The cryptic sentence "Duncan is a teacher and a writer" is like the compressed file, in that it does not resemble the original thing being described, but it does generate a good image if you know how to unpack it.
However, I don't think just saying "lossy compression" will convey this to someone else automatically, so I don't think it's a great argument for cutting "sazen" and just saying "lossy compression".
In fact, I think there are other important disanalogies.
If I say "Duncan is X feet Y inches tall" (fill in your actual measurements), this is a "very lossy compression" in that it chooses to preserve a very narrow range of information about Duncan, but it's not Sazen.
A lossy compression in the computer sense is... (read more)
Sazen sounds like a dual of Inferential Distance. It seems to be the thing you get if you do not take inferential distance into account.
The other kind of sentence, an utterance that rings definitely false to someone who knows what's going on, but which serves to point a beginner in the right direction, is one I don't have a word for
The other kind of sentence, an utterance that rings definitely false to someone who knows what's going on, but which serves to point a beginner in the right direction, is one I don't have a word for
I've heard "lies to children" for that. An initial simple and technically incorrect explanation that prepares the mind towards understanding the later more detailed explanation, by which you come to understand that the first explanation wasn't actually true.
I didn't know about Terry Pratchett's involvement in popularising the phrase until I looked it up just now.
There is an idiom in english about when you use words for communication where the literal meaning is different from the communicated meaning "you know what I mean".
"you don't know what I mean" is a phrase that probably hits sazen pretty squarely and is sort of understandable on the basis of the other idiom.
I guess it also goes a bit beyond in that in that phrase you understand that they misunderstand.
Closely related is "I am not making any sense, am I?" when you understand that they do not understand.
The double empathy problem also probably produces a lot of double illusions of transparency. It is not a trivial application of the theory of mind at all. Using a "world model" of how "things just are" comes a bit short when it comes to translating from one context to another context. You have to actually think about how people think about the stuff.
Related: Wisdom cannot be unzippedReading Worth the Candle with a friend gave us a few weird words that are sazen in and of themselves. Being able to put a word to something lets you get a handle on it so much better. Thanks for writing this up.
(The other kind of sentence, an utterance that rings definitely false to someone who knows what's going on, but which serves to point a beginner in the right direction, is one I don't have a word for.)
People often refer to this as an "oversimplification" - I think that term is a good one. Unfortunately, all google gives as examples of an "oversimplification" are of an "oversimplified cause fallacy" but I think it's reasonable to say things like "All objects accelerate towards the ground at 9.8 m/s^2" is an oversimplification because an expert would h... (read more)
Much of what you have said here about capturing ideas is why I (and perhaps others) tend to prefer deep narrative as a means of conveying a lot. I mean, read Puzo's original Godfather -- more is in there than the movie. And ye gods, the movie has a lot in it. A summary of the movie is more or less meaningless to capture the multiple highly-coherent gestalts and meta-models available in the movies. I'm not even sure it points well at them later. I don't know if you could even make something less than 1k-4k words that even points well at pieces* of the ... (read more)
Related: aether variables, and the tradeoff of pushing the complexity into the representation or the traversal of an algorithm.
This is great and I'm looking forward to your book.
Some adjacent ideas:
I feel like I've been appreciating the nature of wisdom (as you describe it here) increasingly much over the past couple of years. One thing this has led me to is looking at tautologies, where the sentence in some sense makes no claim but directs your attention to something that's self-evident once you look. For example, "the people you spend time with will end up being the people you've spent time with".
In 2017, I wrote an article about transcending regret, and a few years later I shar... (read more)
This reminds me of the book The mind illuminated. When I started reading it I found it fascinating how well it described my own experiences from mediations. But when I got to later chapters I got to the point when I didn't have direct experience with what was described there and when trying to follow the instructions there I got completely lost in retrospect, they were totally misleading to me back then. Sazen.
The only cure I later found was to only read further when I felt I made a major progress and to read only as long as I had a direct experience with ... (read more)
My son's eleven, and I read him Hugo's "Ninety-three". I had known it was too difficult for him, perhaps boring, too. It did bore him at times. (But "hey, there will be a civil war, invaders, fire, a court martial, kids in danger and a beheading" worked just fine.)
I omitted some passages, too, like the description of the Convent's building or whatever it was. OTOH, I deliberately read to him the description of Paris itself. Not because he could understand it, with all those strangers and situations mentioned only once. Because it was exactly incomprehensib... (read more)
Duncan_Sabien you are one of my favorite authors here, thank you! I've got to say, I really like what you say in Example VI: Wisdom. I think about what you wrote here often: how juicy tidbits of helpful tips are rattling around in there for that uncomfortable situation that leads to that aha moment. You say "Elsewhere I wrote:" and I'd love to read your article this came from. For now, I'll archive this wisdom about wisdom in my digital scrapbook, fastidiously attributed to you.
I feel like being the code master for Codenames is a good exercise for understanding this concept.
I feel like there's a better name to be found for this. Like, some name that is very obviously a metaphor for the concept of Sazen, in a way that helps you guess the concept if you've been exposed to it before but have never had a name for it.
Something like "subway map" or "treasure map", to convey that it's a compression of information meant to help you find it; except the name also needs to express that it's deceiving and may lead to illusion of transparency, where you think you understood but you didn't really.
Maybe "composite sketch" or photofit? It's a bit of a stretch though.
I think this concept is potentially quite useful, but there is no way I am going to remember which specific subtle thing the word “sazen” refers to. Is there not some more memorable term which we might use…?
Really great post! The concept I have in my head looks broadly-applicable though slippery
The section below sounded a lot to me like "you form a model from a set of words, and then later on you Directly Observe the Territory™, and this shifts the mental model associated with the words in an important way".
Running on this model, I think a lot of the sequences was like this for me-- it wasn't until 1-2 years after reading them that I noticed concrete, major changes in my behaviour. Possibly this time was spent observing the part of the territory I call ... (read more)
Knowledge is a collection of many pieces of a puzzle. The piece that is precious to you (because it was the last one you needed to complete some imporant shape) may be useless to those who already have it (btw it does not mean they have that shape already completed, they may be missing a different piece) or those who are missing the entire context so there is nowhere to connect this piece to.
A part of the problem is long inferential distances, which in theory could be overcome by a sufficiently large book (that you don't have time to write, and the recipie... (read more)
Related, h/t Malcolm Ocean: https://siderea.dreamwidth.org/1773806.html
Your concept of Sazen is really interesting. I think it's an attempt to name an effect that exists only in an incorrect epistemology. Let's see if anyone agrees or disagrees:
(This is based on Popper's epistemology as taught to me by David Deutsch through "the Beginning of Infinity".)
All knowledge is inexplicit. Meaning no language can "capture" the idea. Instead all knowledge transfer relies on giving the listener enough clues to themselves recreate the knowledge on their own. Then applying the label to it.
Example1: When you learn your first language,... (read more)
Curated. Like Kaj_Sotala said, this concept feels intuitively natural (and useful), and one that I have thought without having a name for it (or very lucid explanation!). It seems right that many sentences are a bundling of lossy compression + checksum + illusion of transparency. Alas. I don't really like the particular word chosen (and one other LessWrong mod said the same), would be a shame if it didn't catch on for that reason. (I also liked the concept of "metacog" that Duncan defined elsewhere, but there too feel dissatisfied with the name, like I don't expect to use the concept with others till I've thought of another name.) Still, the concept(s) is good, and a benefit to society that you wrote it up so well!
Would you say "jargon-laden sentences" are, in the best instances, a kind of sazen?
I enjoyed this and find it a useful idea to keep in mind.
I'm wondering if you apply the implications of this post to your teaching methodology.
I'm in the middle of writing a nonfiction book whose central conceit is something like "an abridged dictionary of Kadhamic." Not literally the actual canonical Alexandrian Kadhamic, but the idea is to present some hundred-or-so concepts that are long and complicated and difficult to convey in English, but which are not fundamentally more complicated than things we sum up with a single word like "basketball" or "gaslighting" or "cringe."
Very interested for when this comes out :O
Is sazen significantly different from obfuscating or esoteric ideas? Perhaps out of sheer mental habit, I find myself conflating the concepts.
See also, esr's hieratic documentation.
Does this mean that Sazen(s?) can be used as Shibboleths?
seems like you're inventing a new word where an old one would in principle be able to do; I see why you'd be hesitant to select an existing concept for describing the concept of something being a non-central example of its topic, but - well, non-central example seems like a fine description to me. what pays for the complexity of adding this word to my vocab?