hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

12 March 2014

Haragei & Obfuscation

As famously explored by Ishmael in Melville's Moby Dick, we are isolatoes. All creatures are islands, seemingly together and cohesive, but alone in their own skins. We may form chains, like archipelagos, but our individual selves are forever detached from the selves of those around us. We are each are own souls, spiritually separated, and beings that can never truly understand the fullness of another, if even ourselves. The closest connection we have is communication.

The origin, the "commons", is shared by the subsequent community that is formed. Communication is a set of rules through which we are connected. It is an everyday art that can bond our otherwise untouchable souls. Escaping the human superiority complex, all creatures are capable of some flavor of communication, be it oral, visual, olfactory, or else. The finer aspects of communication lie in fluency, for when users begin to subconsciously understand the intricacies of the art, greater interpersonal relationships can form, bringing isolated bodies together.

The embodiment of this mantra is haragei, referred to in Japanese as a rhetoric form that relies on subtle implications. Affected by culture, these communications spread and adapt to circumstance. Rarely enabling a concrete understanding, haragei is a representative form of communication that relies on attitudes and communal feeling. It is unspoken but moving, for it plays on more feelings than specific words. The subtlety is the source of its power, as is often the case for any art form. Haregei may be the most useful art of communication to break the barrier between our souls. Only, of course, if it mutually learned.

The most important aspect of communication lies in the origin of the word--commonality. If the form of communication cannot be used by the community members among which the system was developed, it is useless. From the guttural sounds of animals to languages in which we program computers, the gamut of communicative means relies on structure and group consensus.

While haragei is an innately simple art of conveying thoughts and feelings, obfuscation, 08|=(_)$<4+!0|\| in leetspeak, is the complication of communication. Shifts in common structure. Jargon. Repetitious or repetitive words. VV3!|^o| mechanics. Uncommon expressions. Deviations from commonplace idioms. Obfuscation is the collection of uncommon practices in a language that is designed to mislead unwarranted receivers. When in a group of several islands, obfuscation in communication can be useful for connecting a minority of parties in the group--drawing a bridge of jargon that cannot be understood by the majority.

The disparate results of obfuscation are two-fold. For security purposes in digital environments, obfuscation can aide in encrypted messaging. For highly technical fields, such as medicine, the complicated speak can disguise unappealing information to the rest of the community. However, obfuscation, such as 133+ (leet), can often lead to communicative discrimination without a grander purpose. And when obfuscation is unintentional, poor communication results.

When communication fails, the only connection between our souls is lost. We are isolatoes.


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