Apr 9, 2004

Learning to love the parenthetical

Even more than the poor writers crutch of the exclamation point, I'm annoyed, reading along, by parenthesis. Distractions. Violations. Disruptions. The mid-text side step two-step of a writer who can?t decide what he's saying or how it's best said and jolts the reader into beleagueredness.

It says something about cohesiveness, about how the writer couldn't gather those fluttering thoughts into a unity. And yet. And yet isn't there something to that... to the lack of unity in a text, the unity that is already broken, the parenthesis that are already latent in the text.

I ought to approach the text looking for the parenthesis that have been edited to the call of unity, looking for the parenthetical remarks erased from between each sentence to find the off-center center, the eccentric center. I need to be attentive to the parenthesis, latent and present, to see the marginalized, the part of the text that doesn't fit, the quieted critic, the midsentence question mark.

The writing itself hides the parenthetical, defers it. The parenthetical is the stuff that is ignored in the sweep, always necessary and unsettlingly fascist, of canonization. The parenthesis contains the un-subsumed fragments still worrying the edges of our mono-liths, our oneness of a text. The parenthetical is always present, like the work left out of the anthology, always asking us to relist, to recenter, to reunify, and yet always the parenthetical remains. Deferred by brackets.

"I privately say to you, old friend (unto you, really, I'm afraid), please accept from me this bouquet of very early-blooming parentheses: (((())))."
          - J.D. Salinger