Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Memory

Artist Stephen Wiltshire is drawing a panorama of New York City from memory in a gallery at Pratt, and it's astounding. The whole thing reminds me that I need to finish reading The Colossus of New York, Colson Whitehead's hymn to the city in his mind. A brief excerpt from the book's opening essay City Limits reveals that Mr. Whitehead prefers not to let the rules of punctuation cramp his writing style:

No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, That used to be Munsey's, or That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge. That before the internet cafe plugged itself in, you got your shoes resoled in the mom-and-pop operation that used to be there. You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now.

He doesn't even use quotation marks!

Freewheeling passages like this inspire giddy questions.

How strict do teaching artists need to be about enforcing the rules of grammar and punctuation?

Should I toss out my copy of the Elements of Style?

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