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The Limits of a Language, and Other News

August 21, 2014 | by


From Fred Benenson’s Emoji Dick.

  • Could writers learn from carpenters? … Writers need to know more about the business of their art … During the days of postal submissions, writers often had to read ‘an issue or two of the publications to which they submitted, mainly due to the fact that that was largely how anyone knew about what journals were out there.’ Now writers unfamiliar with the submission process can sometimes produce ‘absurd results.’ ”
  • Stop. Look around you. Think. Are you in a Balzac novel? Some telltale signs: “There’s a woman you’d like to sleep with, so you decide to tell her an off-putting story about murder, castration, or bestiality … You play a lot of whist … You once tried to have sex with a panther.”
  • As a kind of language, emoji “are the social lubricant smoothing the rough edges of our digital lives: they underscore tone, introduce humor, and give us a quick way to bring personality into otherwise monochrome spaces.” But are they too conservative? “What habits of daily life do emoji promote, from the painted nails to the martini glasses? What behavior do they normalize? … In a broad sense, what emoji are trying to sell us, if not happiness, is a kind of quiescence … Emoji can represent cocktails, paparazzo attacks, and other trappings of Western consumer and celebrity culture with ease. More complicated matters? There’s no emoji for that.”
  • Oops. Now was not a good moment to release a feature film called Let’s Be Cops: “this is our only movie starring law enforcement run amok, at a moment when much of the nation is outraged that actual law enforcement is doing the same.”
  • When a programmer inserted the classic “Lorem Ipsum” placeholder text into Google Translate, he got some strange results. Cue the conspiracy theorists.



  1. Barney Blarney | December 20, 2015 at 6:58 am

    This is a load of bollocks! And I don’t mean ordinary, common or garden bollocks, no, I mean “arty farty” bollocks. The sort of bollocks that gets right up the nose–sideways. It’s the sort of bollocks you find floating innocuously in your porridge some sunny morning, and you’re just not expecting it to be there. It’s the sort of bollocks that is beyond the pale, which won’t go away and is right in your face–stuck there like a huge boil on your one and only proboscis. It’s the sort of pure, unmitigated bollocks that gets the goat, not the ordinary kind. This is the sort of bollocks that is–well, as they say for short: it’s complete bollocks and that’s just the way it is. This is the sort of bollocks that is just “there”, all up in the air and hoity-toity with it. It’s just something that grates: it’s something that has no rhyme or reason to it: It is bollocks, pure and simple. And, mark my words, this is bollocks—this is real bollocks–this is truly bollocks–this is unmitigated, unadulterated bollocks! In fact, it’s all a load of old bollocks! :÷(

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  1. […] In an Honoré de Balzac Novel.” (I was also very excited to see this same piece linked in the Paris Review blog! I may never make it into The Paris Review again, so I have to enjoy this while it […]

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