Saturday, January 03, 2009


... of comma proliferation.

Yeah, sure, you don't hear much about it. But people like me live with it every day. It starts small; maybe with a pause in thought, a consideration of another idea--then the period arrives and it's all forgotten. Until the next sentence, and the next, and you find yourself with commas caught in your teeth trying to read through to the end.

A dash, an ellipsis, a semi-colon--these all help in the subtleties of punctuation; but those commas still have a way of splitting like amoebas--two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, one-hundred-twenty-eight--in the blink of an eye. Trying to remove the bad commas is like trying to remove only the orange thread from my plaid socks. Have you ever tried to do that? I always end up ruining the entire sock. Every single time.

Or I could just leave them all in--and maybe just occasionally stomp on a weaker, embryonic comma, letting it die and fall away; then, if it survives, watch it cling intractably to my essay as it sticks out its little comma tongue and sneers, "Wadda ya gonna do now, chump?"

In the wake of a nuclear blast, commas will live merrily on, while the rest of us have been blown to smithereens.

Commas--the pot-holes of the english language.

Of course, I could omit them entirely--along with all other punctuation, capitalization, rules of sentence structure; and I could write some really modern-looking stuff--or something that looked modern forty years ago and, fortunately, never caught on.

But I don't think that way. My thinking--at least when I attempt to convey it to others--has capitalization, some comprehensible rules of structure, and punctuation. This includes commas. The garden of my mind is full of commas. I've tried aggressive raking and weed-killer, but this only succeeded in suppressing the flowers and vegetables. You'll just have to tolerate the occasional useless comma if you want anything good out of me at all.