Punctuate (like) this!

punctuate

There is only one way to punctuate this!

Punctuate (like) this!

Neither commas! nor em dashes! can rein in my enthusiasm! The caterpillar has become a moth!

The psychic journey undertaken saw it completely pupated. In this torpid, passive state, the muscles went to jelly: they shimmered, they glowed. Searching within itself for a more authentic identity, the seamed body split at the core. It folded once, twice, then flapped about, rehearsing a new role. At long last, shedding the final traces of its old larval self, the flesh went iconic. More symbolic changes returned it back to muscle, flesh and core. Finally, the moth emerged from the magic closet, a flying cliché.

The Reupholstered Product

Editorial metamorphosis performs a similar kind of magic. Just as the wormy caterpillar symbolically ceases to exist even as it seems to give birth to its own wingéd self, so too a first draft can morph into descent copy. The cosmic oneness that occurs between writer and editor in the swaddled depths of cyberspace bring good writing into being. In the World Wide Web, the dualities of first draft/final copy, larvae/imago, writer/editor simply disappear. Then, as the perfectly formed adult insect bursts from its fibres, in a similar way, new concepts about copyediting and proofreading punctuate the online world.

Like a Moth to A Flame

punctuate
Fly, fly, towards love’s truest light!

Avoiding false porch lights, delusional street lamps, acting as both body and soul together, the moth soars through the stratosphere, seeking out a mate.

Surely we all know that insects have no need of speech; however, I wish I could lay their pheromone pillow talk on this page in little punctuated snippets.

 

(Would they whisper sweet everythings, grant certain permissions, make enquiries regarding certain acts or most favoured positions?)

 

punctuate
One tetchy moth.

The Last Chapter

Of course, the adult imago (plural: imagines) live life large, having a total lifespan of one human day and one human night. There are many comparisons to draw here, but quickly, quickly, I will make two links. Firstly, there is James Joyce’s Ulyssess. Secondly, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Both modernist novels imagine what their caterpillars characters get up to over a 24-hour timeframe. For added enjoyment, Joyce even describes two moths flies mating.

punctuate
Oh la la!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mating over, the female — laden with eggs — will oviposit her frothy load in a preferential tree. After that, she’ll fly away, and die.

The End.

 

Metamorphosis: Caterpillars & Editing

metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis

Who knew the metamorphosis was so near? Today was the last day for the larvae to chomp on ash leaves and bask in the early morning sun. In my backyard, where half-a-dozen tents are slung, the whole colony entwining each cousin-nest in the Lasiocampidae family tree, the brothers and the sisters are dropping from the branches.

For starters, they are social creatures. Since they’re born together (in one egg mass),

metamorphosis
larvae wriggling in the centre of the tent

they leave camp together (in one larvae mass).

 

 

Where the herd turned right, this one went left, eventually finding itself a tree length beyond reach.

metamorphosis
propelling itself at an engaging clip across the deck

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allow me to describe what that lone ‘pillar looked like! You can see from the picture that it sports long tufts of hair along its humped back. Closer now — are those really bilious brown streaks down the spine? Yesssum. Additionally, our dashing little bagworm has a blackish-yellowish check pattern edging the torso.

The Paradox

How UNLIKE the fabulous blue caterpillar in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). In that surrealist story, after a girl named Alice falls through a rabbit hole into a scary world populated by peculiar anthropomorphic creatures, she meets up with this paradoxical creature. How self-contradictory! How illogical! Why its human face appears to be formed from the head and legs of a real caterpillar!

metamorphosis
Illustrated by John Tenniel.

 

Additionally, Alice’s caterpillar puffs from the hooka, screams at her, blows smoke in her face, ignores her. Later, after he turns into a butterfly, he flutters away, not caring if Alice makes it out of Wonderland dead or alive.

“Whoooo…are….you?”

 

Writing and the Rabbit Hole

The process of writing is like venturing into the rabbit hole with Alice, going from small to large, learning logic along the way. For Alice there’s the initial state of confusion — following this, a sort of inner paradoxical dialogue.

“What does it all mean?” you might also ask yourself.

When the self gets challenged it stays that way until the mysterious metamorphosis. Then — voila! The caterpillar transitions from a slow-moving ugly creature to a colourfully winged butterfly. And, the first draft is transformed into final copy. Also, Alice becomes open for persuasion.

The Helpful Editor

UNLIKE the blue caterpillar in Wonderland, I am a helpful editor. Rest assured, I’ll guide you out. How? By paying attention to the multiple meanings of words, in particular, the paradoxes. As a consequence, you will avoid the pitfalls in writing that frustrate expectations, that resist interpretation, that leave you in a rabbit hole.

Grammar Brainworms: A Taxonomy of Bugs and Nouns

As my proofworking.com website winds its way through the interweb, I’ve had grammar brainworms all week that I blame on those tent caterpillars.

When I look at a

proofworking: they eat, they edit
nest of caterpillars

I see an arboreal hair-net. I know that inside that concentrated dark centre the bagworms squirm. Interesting that the nest completely covers the end of a tree branch. At this point in time, it is stretched beyond reckoning and I’m horrified to report that the black spot in the belly of the tent — the mass of larvae (up to 300 eggs) — grows bigger by the minute. These little critters were born to eat! They get their nutrients by consuming the green foliage in the tree. Since I am bad at identifying leaves too, I really have no idea what type of leafage we’re talking about here. Ash? Aspen? Who knows. So, I rummaged around beneath the branches and found a pair sporting a sweet little hinge-system at the top.

grammar
dropped leaves from “caterpillared” tree

After I took the leaves inside and left them on my desk my little housebound cat found them and went buggy. Excited by the smell of nature coming inside, he raced around, sniffed, wrestled the leaves to the carpet, stomped on them, rolled over them, and left them for dead. This is what remains:

grammar
chewed and crumpled leaf

The Grammar of Nouns

Notice above how the words “ash” and “aspen” are not italicized. They are specific proper nouns but I haven’t researched them yet to find their Latin names. When I include the Latin for tent caterpillar (Malacosoma) it is always typed up in slanted font, aka italics. This special typeface makes the word slither across the page. But generic words like “bugs,” “trees,” “unmentionables” often disappear into the sentence, unhighlighted, unnoticed. These are of course still proper words but they’re classified as common nouns because they name a class of objects.

The Grammar of Bugs

The Latin grammar for tent caterpillar further divides and subdivides.  Malacosoma just represents the genus of the beast; in addition, there is the family — Lasiocampidae. The terms genus and family, part of the biological classification set up by Carl Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae, also includes species (and sometimes subspecies).

A Taxonomy of Bugs and Nouns

Fascinatingly, common nouns further subdivide into concrete nouns like caterpillar and larvae and abstract nouns like love, happiness, bliss. Because the latter nouns — states of being — are often in flux, their taxonomical break-downs depend upon the individual, and its species.