Accounting for Nothingness


The comma was intended to distinguish the parts of a text where the reader should breathe. This also works in silent reading as well. There always needs to be a pause. The comma we see today evolved from a diagonally slashed plane (/). Come in to see how this ancient symbol worked.

Okay, read the following:

I love the music of Foreign Exchange /
Radiohead /
Jill Scott /
Cream and Bjork.

See what happens, we’re sliding off of the other word. Remember breathing is an ebb-and-flow process just like everything else. Watch how you breathe when you read the sentence and acknowledge the slopes. You can actually read it while you take in air, the slope allows you to let the sound out forcefully or reverberate loudly. The undulations are short. You shout out the first passage and then the next. It beams. Just like the iambic pentameter. Shakespeare’s speech radiates brilliantly because it is aurally triangular. Now if you read the sentence all in one breath you would have to inhale a lot of air and then read it fast as you exhale. It will radiate brightly with I LOVE and will dissipate as you get to BJORK. But if you acknowledge the pauses your speech will seem to pulsate or twinkle or radiate or—you get the picture. Even if you read the sentence to yourself without the pauses it still causes strain. Also, the comma is supposed to represent nothing as it represents silence, but what happens when you remove them from a sentence. Look below:

I love basketball Woody Allen movies popcorn candy soda chips pancakes and pasta.

I love basketball, Woody Allen movies, popcorn, candy, soda, chips, pancakes and pasta.

The second sentence full of nothingness seems longer than the first, but why? Don’t they contain the same number of words? Well yes, but you have to ACCOUNT for nothingness because nothing is something.

Timmy goes to school for 200 days straight, but misses the 201st day. On this day Timmy is absent. Everyone wonders where Timmy is. No one knows. They just know that he is absent and no one occupies his desk. The next day he returns and is no longer absent, but yesterday he was and no one knew where he went. It’s tricky. Think about it.


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