Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Mailbag #11

Dear Tribal Hack:

In certain circles of lit crit, as well as in informal dialogues, I've lately noticed a disparagement of the comma, its overgenerous deployment, "roadblock to natural flow", and stylish pretension. Call me behind the times, but what brought this on? Seems petty. And ill-informed.

-- Dan DePause

Dear Dan:

I've also noted this. It's simply another avenue into snapped-shut claptrap, and away from the natural idiosyncrasies of unfolding thought. Thought itself is on trial. Or perhaps it's an insincere gambit, an academic make-work project, if you will. Intricate -- even serviceable -- construction is condemned as a holdover from patriarchal assumption, the sudden shifts in tone, subject, and dynamics a deflecting ploy, a smoke-and-mirrors display in order to dust alert corneal jiggles with chalkstick residue, the hypotactic vertigo an honour roll of borrowed authority, ideas as clauses, congestion as complexity, rhetorical overreach as vatic hammerlock, as tropes are ransacked for any quarklike hint of concrete plausibility, plain statement scuppered in a brew of appendages and spirochetes tapering into dendrites blowing free off a cliff recalling Wile E. Coyote that frozen moment mid-air when the eyes bulge and you realize the hens have all come home to roost, or to mangle comparables (else what's a meta-survey for?), the horses have all left the barn, those plain statements gaining unearned cachet through the overuse, misuse, abuse of that obtuse backwards-C curvature no writer with spine would ever cripple his or her prose with, and whose cheap separation by that one (now) not-so-humble abasing waver entire streams of illogic are compressed like a narrow dike battlement wedge, parapet sandbag on a driving river, or serpentine rat maze in a weir where the purl is all and the pearl non-existent, non-existent, yes, but the suggestion being sacrosanct, a stamp and promise, a block and hackle, a this and that of imperious crossbalk blackening the pages like crows on a white bedsheet in a Smithrite whose eggshell blue paint peels under a sun fixed and boring into the bin's contents like a magnifying glass burning the promiscuously jumbled detritus from the three-story firetrap, the residents hidden in a curlicue of stuttering neglect.