Monday, January 30, 2006

A Word Some Reviewer Will Call Foul

Deep in a work of fiction, I have found myself writing a piece of verse, one that seems (in the story) to be either by Percy Bysshe Shelley or a by contemporary who is able to manage a good imitation. I am expending a lot of effort in avoiding anachronisms, getting a feel for Shelley's rhythms, punctuation, the kinds of rhymes he relied upon or avoided, and much else.

My poem employs the word "unbeholden," meaning not obliged to anyone. Shelley used the word himself at least once, but in its more common sense, unperceived. The other meaning, though attested back to the seventeenth century, is much less common, but he would have known of it -- "not beholden" was common enough in his time -- and not hesitated to use it if he needed to.

I'm sure I'm going to get called on this, though. Well, tough.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Scrap of Code

From today's New York Times:

"Cute cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness and need, scientists say, and attending to them closely makes good Darwinian sense. As a species whose youngest members are so pathetically helpless they can't lift their heads to suckle without adult supervision, human beings must be wired to respond quickly and gamely to any and all signs of infantile desire.

"The human cuteness detector is set at such a low bar, researchers said, that it sweeps in and deems cute practically anything remotely resembling a human baby or a part thereof, and so ends up including the young of virtually every mammalian species, fuzzy-headed birds like Japanese cranes, woolly bear caterpillars, a bobbing balloon, a big round rock stacked on a smaller rock, a colon, a hyphen and a close parenthesis typed in succession."

Boy, that really makes you feel like an outdated scrap of code, doesn't it?