Into Hyperspace

It’s funny how words have the power to shape our experience of reality. Like, have you noticed that adding the prefix ‘hyper’ onto random words instantly makes things seem more fun, as though you’re in the midst of a high-stakes mecha plot? For example: I made some hyper porridge for breakfast this morning. It was hyper fuel to start my day on the right foot. I’m hyper keen to get started on this income tax spreadsheet. In fact, it’s a hyper spreadsheet.

See? Everything becomes at least 25% more interesting with the addition of hyper-, by my estimate. I do realise that this may be corrupting its usage, but what terms aren’t corrupted these days? When ‘legitimate’ and ‘literally’ no longer mean what they mean, one can hardly complain about illegitimate and non-literal language use. Sure, there are situations where the technical meaning needs to be preserved – for example, in terms like ‘hyperbaric chambers’. Melbourne technology nerds, care to chime in on the finer points of this?

There are other words that seem to magically augment reality into something more enchanting than it would otherwise be. The word ‘chamber’, for instance, is great for making any given space or setting feel like a fantastical, secret wonderland. Whether it’s a wardrobe, a bathroom stall, a regular apartment or a makeshift shelter composed of one’s jacket propped on a broom handle, it can become a site of exhilarating wonder simply by referring to it as a chamber.

Here, again, we must return to the problem of undermining the technical usages of words. Again, I’ll use the example of hyperbaric treatments, in which oxygen chambers are the key apparatus used for delivering this form of medical therapy. Chamber, in this case, simply means a contained space in which the patient is exposed to higher concentrations of oxygen than is standard. They could also have used the word ‘pod’, although arguably that word, too, is open to corruption via sci-fi associations.