Thursday, April 14, 2005

My (not so) Favorite Glyph

I am an addict. (There I said it.)

As far as I can tell, addiction is a compulsion to repeatedly do something that is either physically unhealthy, emotionally pathological, or really annoying to others. My addictions are many, but there is one addiction that I must confess to for I can no longer hide the pain, guilt and shame within…

I am addicted to parenthetical remarks (you know those comments that reveal the inner feelings of the speaker by establishing an entirely new, yet candid thought mid-sentence). I cannot remember the last time I wrote a journal or blog entry that did not contain at least one parenthetical remark (not that I am all neurotic and would actually attempt to write a parenthetical-less entry just to demonstrate the ability to myself). I even converse in parenthetical remarks (dropping my voice an octave to dramatize the parentheticality). Maybe I am just in love with the actually punctuation mark. The soft curve of the parenthesis is so inviting (not rigid and formal like the brackets, yet not overly ornate like the braces). They almost appear to be giving the text they surround a big group hug.

But everyone makes a parenthetical statement from time to time, you say. Its okay to indulge in a little digression from time to time, right? Maybe so, but I came up with this little test to identify my fellow addicts. If you see that someone has opened a set of parenthesis, but forgotten to close them, are you saddened (or angry and disturbed that anyone could be so cruel as to leave a parenthesis mark out by itself in the middle of the page, without its cosmic twin to provide closure and balance to the universe? Do you forget you are in mid-parenthetical and nest parenthetical statements within parenthetical statements? (As an aside, I know it is okay in mathematics, but is it grammatically acceptable to put a parenthetical statement inside a parenthetical statement (like this) or is that poor form?) Do you rationalize to yourself that your use of parenthesis has never led to anything stronger, like say…abusing ellipses…all on some stream of consciousness shit…with no regard whatsoever to if anyone can actually follow your crazy ass train of thought? Do you secretly feel superior to people who rely heavily on commas, viewing their inability to truly break free of traditional sentence structure as some character flaw or sign of cowardice. If you answered yes to any of these questions, you my friend, might have a problem.

But there is one sure fire way to know: If you cannot stop sitting on the fence with every statement you make by parenthetically playing devil’s advocate to your own statements, you are certainly addicted to parenthetical statements.

(Or not).



Thanks for indulging my silly mood today (like you actually read this far.)

6 comments:

Nick Danger said...

Wonderful post! Writing of that caliber on a blog is like pearls before swine. (I guess that makes me the swine) In any case, I also share your addiction. In addition, I am addicted to opening sentences with prepositional phrases or temporal transitions. In my experience, this can be over done. Sometimes, People don't notice. Inevitably, the writing becomes too "wordy". Nonetheless, I continue to do it (with reckless abandon I might add. Often I forget to separate these phrases with a comma. I suppose the comma is optional. Still, I think if I could moderate the practice, I could excel as a writer. (which brings me back to my original point). Thank you for that post. Its writings like that, that allow for a richer and fuller life.

Orange said...

*squirms*

That unclosed parenthesis really does bother me, even though I don't use the things much myself. It's a tag left open, a thought unfinished, a tangent unabandoned. Does that make me an addict or a pedant? (And if the latter, is my girlfriend a pedantophile?)

chad said...

It's ironic to me that you are addicted to parenthetical remarks. I too struggle with a grammatical punctuation addiction that is even more perverse in what it reflects on those who dare to use it and later abuse it. My addiction is worse, because it's more underground, more deviant, more insidious than parenthetical remarks. You won't find high brow poets and novelist using my punctuation drug of choice, at least not in public. You are more likely to see my dope on an email, an IM, or a blog. And no, I'm not talking about no damn emoticon. (Parenthetically, emoticons are used to express something that the writer would normally say with his face, and is unable to communicate with words.) If parenthetical remarks are comparable to marijuana, then my punctuation fixation is akin to sniffing glue. I’m a junky on that junk, and I hate to leave you in suspense as to what it is that's got me so strung out, but that's the beauty of the high that comes with my punctuation potion. It let's you hold onto a thought a little longer than you normally could so you can stay high just a little longer, before going on to the next thing. So what punctuation pill am I popping? It does not have a formal name like parenthetical remarks, but you know it when you see it, and you know exactly what it means. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about, because I have seen you on some of those back ally blogs in a nod so deep, Narcan couldn't resuscitate your overdosed ass. So since we are all friends, why hold back? I know what you came here for...Yeah, that's what you like...Go ahead and take it in...Take it slow, it's not going anywhere...Yeah, that's it...But this stoned state is a two edged sword...The trip ends with the part of this punctuation that is both pure pleasure and pain...when right before I close...I just...

Dad said...

If you've ever seen any of my writings (.... or old computer program source code for that matter (since they were usually reeking with nested parenthetical do loops (some for no rhyme or reason)), me being your old man (the one who knocked up your mom (who by the way says hello and she loves you)) I guess you could say that this addiction might possibly be hereditary.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving it! I'm so guilty, though I sometimes use hyphens to slip in my remarks (is that grammatically incorrect? hmmm) instead of parentheses. And as Chad has so eloquently posted, my thoughts are also sometimes left lingering in oblivion...

I wonder what Paula Jay would say about the parenthetical statement within a parenthetical statement? I must go research this one...

jasai said...

i like you becuase you're smart. you have to be smart to write a thing like this. i like smart boys. (men, sorry)