Thanks for stopping by! If you like what you read, tell your friends! If you don't like what you read, tell your enemies! Either way, please post a comment, even if it's just to tell us how much we suck! (We're really needy!) You can even follow us @JasonBerner! Or don't! See if we care!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Quest for the Perfect Sentence

Have you ever considered the expression, "To have your ducks in a row"? It's very important to have all your ducks in a row. What threat to national security and/or personal well-being is posed by misaligned ducks?

The Solipsist occasionally tasks his students with finding a "perfect sentence." He provides no more guidance than that, the better to annoy his charges and, of course, to see what they come up with. What do people consider a perfect sentence?

Sure, they COULD come in with "I like cheese"--a perfect sentence in its own right. They don't though. They seldom (if ever) realize that "perfection" in prose has many different meanings. Still, the Solipsist is glad they strive to find sentences with a bit of flair. It makes it easier to engage them in a discussion of what makes good writing good.

It is in this spirit that YNSHC would like to share with you this gem of a sentence from this past Monday's New York Times. It's from an article on advances in neurocognition that may one day allow scientists to "block out" specific memories from a subject's mind. A cool (and more than a little scary) idea, and probably blogworthy in its own right. But for now, just consider the following:

Artists and writers have led the exploration of identity, consciousness and
memory for centuries. Yet even as scientists sent men to the moon and
spacecraft to Saturn and submarines to the ocean floor, the instrument
responsible for such feats, the human mind, remained almost entirely dark, a
vast and mostly uncharted universe as mysterious as the New World was to
explorers of the past.

--Benedict Carey

Dig the alliteration in the second sentence: "scientists sent. . . spacecraft to Saturn. . . submarines." Nice without being overly "cutesy." And then "the human mind" sits in apposition to "the instrument," and is further "appositived" (?) by "a vast and mostly uncharted universe" before the sentence concludes with a reference to New World explorers, which is an echo of the "exploration" mentioned in the sentence before it.

Now that's craftsmanship! Well played, Carey.

And, yes, the Solipsist knows he's a nerd.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite "perfect" sentence spotted in a recent online journal:

    "'Watchmen' was a good movie, but there was too much penis!"

    I couldn't agree more. Particularly, the gratuitous, radioactive blue penis. Imagine what it would look like in IMAX (as experienced by one of my minions). Eeek!


    PS: Yes, I do have the emotional range of an 8 year-old. :-)