Thursday, May 12, 2005

"The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said - could it not? - of the humble comma. Add it to the present clause, and, of a sudden, the mind is, quite literally, given pause to think; take it out if you wish or forget it and the mind is deprived of a resting place. Yet still the comma gets no respect. It seems just a slip of a thing, a pedant's tick, a blip on the edge of our consciousness, a kid of printer's smudge almost. Small, we claim, is beautiful (especially in the age of the microchip). Yet what is so often used, and so rarely recalled, as the comma - unless it be breath itself?" -- Pico Iyer, 'In Praise of the Humble Comma,' In Short edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones. Norton, 1996.