And Now This

As we make our way from Phoenix to Myrtle Beach, I see things. In what are sometimes fleeting moments, the phone camera doesn’t do justice to all of them. It can’t be the hands *on* that phone camera … At about the same time, I carry on a time-asynchronous email conversation with another editor … about the use … and abuse … of the … ellipsis in a book we had both read. Well, more precisely (per 2, below), the use … and abuse … of ellipsis *marks*…

e•lip•sis (noun)

1a: the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete
1b: a sudden leap from one topic to another
2: marks or a mark (such as … ) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause

In one of those oddball synchronicities that power the universe, during the same period I read a Substack column that referred to three-dot journalism, citing Herb Caen who (apparently) coined the phrase and who (certainly) mastered the technique, explained here in another article …
You may or may not remember Herb Caen, the great and prolific newspaper columnist, the beloved and respected Pulitzer-Prize winner, who wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner for nearly 60 years. Caen, who died 15 years ago this week, often strung together his columns in a style widely described as “three-dot journalism”: a series of short items separated by ellipses.
The Atlantic, 2012 Feb 03

Cutely, San Francisco named a street for Herb Caen and used ellipsis marks on the street sign …

It all reminds me of Neil Postman, who raged against the “and now this” verbal ellipsis/pivot of TV news anchors who moved smoothly and more-or-less meaninglessly from one topic to another (completely unrelated one) … And so it is on the road: judging by the photographic record, our days are full of short unrelated items separated by the ellipses of Interstate tedium …

I see the longest windshield brush ever, captured in a series of selfies that tried not just to show its length but also to give some sense of how that felt …

In assembling the collage, I also see that I have the makings of one of those out-of-order puzzles …

I see that Louisiana made an executive decision to spend their entire Interstate-rest-stop allocation in one magnificent place …

I see more hinge faces …

At an award-winning rest stop west of Las Cruces (Are there awards for *everything*?), I see the biggest roadrunner ever …

And I see fine sunset and après-sunset views in St. Augustine …

Come to think of it, maybe three-dot journalism and the and-now-this crowd are onto something … Just as memory offers me roses in December and forgets the associated snow, maybe an ellipsical approach to each day can offer me flashes of wonder and fun without fussing about all the intervening miles, pesky/dreary as they can be from time to time …

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12 Responses to And Now This

  1. Among this miscellany of elliptical images, my favourites are the wishbone of nighttime reflections and the reflection of sunset in your sunglasses. Both evoke the times of day you have brought into intense focus this weekend. Both speak of worlds within worlds and of points of view, made more poignant by the full views of the glory of the setting sun over the harbour in the other photos.

    I am greatly puzzled by the need for a mighty windshield brush in a snow-free part of the US. Is this gear for travel?

    No doubt you have heard we are emerging from a 15-inch fall of the heavy, white, frozen gifts from on high and send these heart-warming images to keep hope alive. Well done!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – As always, I appreciate your appreciation. 🙂 Hang in there: Spring is coming. As for the mighty brush, I suspect it’s for cleaning the windshields on mighty RVs. Mighty trucks use other gas pumps.

  2. Alison says:

    I like the idea of an ellipsical approach to the day. Especially during the past three years of living during the Pandemic, my days often seem tedious, and yet, if I actually take time to reflect at the end of the day, or as I review photos taken over the year, there are always highlights. I need to focus and appreciate the highlights more. You’ve reminded me of that this morning.

    • barbara carlson says:

      It was (and still is for some) an Emily Dickinson life. Our days are still what we make them, and decide to attend to in peace and quiet.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – 🙂 And someone else can remind me when I need the prompt. One child of mine used to stop on the way out of the classroom on Friday and say to the teacher something like, “My favourite part of the week was . . . “. Also a great approach.

  3. Marion Neiman says:

    I’ve seen that road runner up close and personal, as well! It’s huge and one of those pieces of art where it’s really interesting to see what it’s made of up close, but a much better view from a bit farther away.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Marion – 🙂 Yes, it’s an odd agglomeration of stuff, but it makes a better road runner from a bit farther away.

  4. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – personally, I prefer, “Hand up, topic change!”
    Or should that be, “Hand up … topic change?”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Hahaha. Great suggestion and a good question. I guess these days we’d abbreviate that to HuTC or somesuch, eh? We need t-shirts!

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