The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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Team Snuck

I’ve long agonized over snuck vs. sneaked. But the sly force and grinning vitality of this defense of the former—from the Paris Review!—puts me over the top. I’m sold. Snuck it is.


And how about that closing: “smells a bit of the lamp.” I didn’t know what that meant, but you can be sure I’ll find occasion to use it soon and often.


“Smells of the lamp” has been added to my arsenal of ancient Greek-derived smack talk. Origins:

Oh man, yes. That is GOOD.

Okay, favorite Greek insult: “ekneneurismenoi.” It’s from Demosthenes, occurs nowhere else in Greek literature, and it means something like “robbed of nerve.” But since “neuros” also meant any kind of tendon, ligament, nerve, and was used as slang for bowstrings (which were made of sinews) and the penis, it basically means “y’all ain’t got no balls.” Now THAT’S an orator who smells of the lamp.

Tim’s delight in double entendre segues into my favorite line from the piece: “Style is about getting the maximum effect out of words, eliminating unwanted ambiguities, and writing in such a way that readers see things better—in short, it’s about meaning.”

I found the word “unwanted” surprising and inspiring: don’t eliminate ambiguity, eliminate all but the exact ambiguity you want.

Also, I had one of those aha moments in church this morning when I realized that “inspiration” must derive from something like “to give breath” or “to breath in.” What a metaphor! I’ll never think of the word in the same way again. To be inspired is to be given new breath.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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