To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

~My Photo Blog~

  ...Worth a Thousand Words

Sunday, January 14, 2007
 
Just read this book Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It is a book about punctuation (!), but unlike how you’re systematically taught to hate punctuation in school, this book might convince you to love it! :)

An excerpt from the chapter That’ll Do, Comma ­--

“When the humorist James Thurber was writing for New Yorker editor Harold Ross in the 1930s and 1940s, the two men often had very strong words about commas. It is pleasant to picture the scene: two hard-drinking alpha males in serious trilbies smacking a big desk and barking at each other over the niceties of punctuation. According to Thurber's account of the matter (in The Years with Ross [1959]), Ross's "clarification complex" tended to run somewhat to the extreme: he seemed to believe there was no limit to the amount of clarification you could achieve if you just kept adding commas. Thurber, by self-appointed virtuous contrast, saw commas as so many upturned office chairs unhelpfully hurled down the wide-open corridor of readability. And so they endlessly disagreed. If Ross were to write "red, white, and blue" with the maximum number of commas, Thurber would defiantly state a preference for "red white and blue" with none at all, on the provocative grounds that "all those commas make the flag seem rained on. They give it a furled look." […]
Thurber was once asked by a correspondent: "Why did you have a comma in the sentence, 'After dinner, the men went into the living-room?" And his answer was probably one of the loveliest things ever said about punctuation. "This particular comma," Thurber explained, "was Ross's way of giving the men time to push back their chairs and stand up."

My personal favourite punctuation mark is the ellipsis or what the layman would call three dots (…). A funny anecdote from the book on the three dots –-

“Perhaps the final word on the ellipsis should go to Peter Cook in this Pete and Dud sketch from BBC2's Not Only But Also in 1966. (My memory was that the title of this show contained an ellipsis itself, being Not Only ... But Also, but in modern references the ellipsis has been removed, which only goes to show you can't rely on anything any more.)
Pete is explaining to Dud how a bronzed pilot approaches a woman on a dusty runway in Neville Shute's A Town Like Alice – a woman whose perfectly defined "busty substances" have been outlined underneath her frail poplin dress by a shower of rain and then the "tremendous rushing wind" from his propellers:
DUD: What happened after that, Pete?
PETE: Well, the bronzed pilot goes up to her and they walk away, and the chapter ends in three dots.
DUD: What do those three dots mean, Pete?
PETE: Well, in Shute's hands, three dots can mean anything.
DUD: How's your father, perhaps?
PETE: When Shute uses three dots it means, "Use your own imagination. Conjure the scene up for yourself."