The 5 best punctuation marks in literature

Schulz: The 5 best punctuation marks in literature
The muse gets all the press, but here’s a fact: Good writing involves obsessing over punctuation marks. It’s 1 a.m., you’ve got a 5,000-word piece due the next day, and for the last twenty minutes you’ve been deliberating about the use of a semicolon versus a period in a single sentence. (But should it be two sentences? Twenty-five minutes, thirty minutes … ) As a rule, the effect of all that obsession is subtle, a kind of pixel-by-pixel accretion of style. Once in a while, though, a bit of punctuation pops its head up over the prose, and over the prosaic, and becomes a part of a tiny but interesting canon: famous punctuation marks in literature.

This is a fabulous list, though far too short. (It’s got me worrying over my own punctuation now? Could that comma have been a dash? Do I overuse them?)

1. The parentheses in Nabokov’s Lolita

“My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three…”

The sentence goes on — for 84 more words, eleven commas, one colon, one semicolon, and another set of parentheses. But the reader, like Humbert Humbert’s unlucky mother, stops dead. Nabokov is a daredevil writer, and often a florid one, but what he shows off here is unbestable economy. Like the lightning inside it, this parenthetical aside is swift, staggering, and brilliant. It is also Lolita (and Humbert) in miniature: terrific panache containing terrible darkness.

Exit visas

At that point Gilels drew out of his purse a piece of yellow newspaper cutting in which a few words were underlined in red. It was a cutting of the New York Times from 1962 describing the press reception given to Stravinsky on his returne back to the US from his visit to Russia, his first visit in 48 years. To the question by the press was there anything he liked about the USSR Strvinsky replied there were indeed two things he did like about it, namely “the vodka and the exit visa”

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2010/12/the_secret_torments_
of_emil_gi.html

Via Robert Brook, a timely thing about exits, given my impending exit the day after tomorrow.

Important: how to write a to-do list

"You have a limited number of decision-making ‘points’. Starting your day with an unprioritized to-do list can also undermine your ability to make productive decisions as the day goes on. Ego depletion refers to the amount of decision-making ‘points’ we have. As we use up our points our ability to make “smart” decisions becomes impaired"

https://medium.com/better-humans/77800bb2c788

Buddhify

Buddhify – mobile mindfulness meditation app for iPhone and iPad
Despite being a very modern approach to mindfulness in terms of presentation and delivery, buddhify is not superficial or frivolous. It is based on years of meditation experience, and a deep understanding of how mindfulness can be best expressed in the 21st century.”

Something to try, as I really need to crack on with my practice, but I’m a little sceptical of shortcut lines like it “teaches you mindfulness while you are doing the everyday activities of your normal day.” But then again I guess that’s the idea, to be mindful all the time, not just when you’re sitting. Interesting.

Asleep at the wheel (kind of)

Who, what, why: What is a micro-sleep?
This sudden head jerk is how people commonly know they’ve had a micro-sleep as the brain doesn’t remember such short naps. “Sleep has to last beyond a minute or two for your brain to remember it,” says Prof Horne, who studied driver tiredness for 10 years. “With micro-sleep, you are just left with a feeling of not knowing if you are coming or going.”

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate

Wikipedia states that "according to founder and former editor Denis Dutton, Arts & Letters Daily was inspired by the Drudge Report but was meant to reach the kinds of people who subscribe to the New York Review of Books, who read Salon and Slate and The New Republic — people interested in ideas."

http://www.aldaily.com/

It’s been bugging me all day but I’m still not sure if my response to this should be “How could I have not known about this website?” or “God I remember this from a g e s ago.” I can’t remember if this is something I’ve forgotten.

An antidote to the age of anxiety: Alan Watts on happiness and how to live with presence

"He takes especial issue with the very notion of self-improvement — something particularly prominent in the season of New Year’s resolutions — and admonishes against the implication at its root: I can only think seriously of trying to live up to an ideal, to improve myself, if I am split in two pieces. There must be a good "I" who is going to improve the bad "me." "I," who has the best intentions, will go to work on wayward "me," and the tussle between the two will very much stress the difference between them. Consequently "I" will feel more separate than ever, and so merely increase the lonely and cut-off feelings which make "me" behave so badly."

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/01/06/alan-watts-wisdom-of-insecurity-1/

Interview with Umberto Eco: 'We like lists because we don't want to die'

http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/spiegel-interview-with-umberto-eco-we-like-lists-because-we-don-t-want-to-die-a-659577.html

"Italian novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco, who is curating a new exhibition at the Louvre in Paris, talks to SPIEGEL about the place lists hold in the history of culture, the ways we try to avoid thinking about death and why Google is dangerous for young people."

Link: 20 scientific reasons to start meditating today

http://www.emmaseppala.com/20-scientific-reasons-to-start-meditating-today/#.UsL0U38gGSM

"When I started meditating, I did not realize it would also make me healthier, happier, and more successful. Having witnessed the benefits, I devoted my PhD research at Stanford to studying the impact of meditation. I saw people from diverse backgrounds from college students to combat veterans benefit. In the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been released. Here are 20 scientifically-validated reasons you might want to get on the bandwagon today:"

Fight, flight or … snooze?

Why some people respond to stress by falling asleep
“You can be driven to sleep simply by having a lot of emotional memories to process,” says Spencer. It takes sleep to provide the space needed to sift through the days’ experiences, and make permanent those that matter.

Feeling sleepy? Check your Chronotype, you might be suffering from Social Jetlag

chronotypes
From Maria Popova at Brainpickings.org, a wonderful (as ever) review of Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired by Till Roenneberg

This myth that early risers are good people and that late risers are lazy has its reasons and merits in rural societies but becomes questionable in a modern 24/7 society. The old moral is so prevalent, however, that it still dominates our beliefs, even in modern times.

Lots to delve in to, including this concept of social jetlag.

Franz Kafka, professional procrastinator

lunchbreak

In 1908, Kafka landed a position at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute in Prague, where he was fortunate to be on the coveted “single shift” system, which meant office hours from 8 or 9 in the morning until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. This was a distinct improvement over his previous job, which required long hours and frequent overtime. So how did Kafka use these newfound hours of freedom? First, lunch; then a four-hour-long nap; then 10 minutes of exercise; then a walk; then dinner with his family; and then, finally, at 10:30 or 11:30 at night, a few hours of writing—although much of this time was spent writing letters or diary entries.

An excerpt from one of Mason Currey’s articles about the daily rituals of famous writers and artists. (Via)