K. Style Sheet

/ About K. /

As children we were taught to write from left to right. I wrote, and read, from left to right. I didn’t resist, I didn’t plan a revolution of right to left, or top to bottom, or lower-right, diagonally to upper-left … No. My preference has long been to let those defaults function invisibly, without distracting us from other things. Take defaults for granted so we can concentrate on other things. (But do be aware that there are defaults, and that they influence us, deeply.)

I was an anarchist when it came to lots of things, including spelling, including slang; but I still wrote left to right. (Leonardo scratched notes right to left, the letters “backwards” too: mirror writing.)
I was an anarchist politically. I didn’t mind a state asking for donations; but I did mind a state helping itself to whatever was in our pockets, to whatever was in our homes (though I always realized that without that state we might not have any homes, or pockets, let alone have money to tax).

There: just now: a second ago: I wrote ” (… tax)”. Do you see why I put the ) inside the period? Do you see why I put the period inside the “? I went to grad school so I could teach. Only fraternity initiates were allowed to receive the kleptocracy’s wealth. You want to preach revolution, you want to profess Christ? If you don’t do it spelling the same as the bureaucracy, none of the budget will reach you. So: in grad school I submitted to MLA Style. I bought the style sheet. I paid particular attention to one rule: a rule I now wish I’d remained anarchic about: the MLA prescription that quotation marks always be put after a comma or a period: no matter what the sense was.

Was I rewarded for this subservience too anti-sense convention? No, I was blackballed over politics; it didn’t matter where I put my quotation marks: the US and the F5 didn’t want me making a living. I didn’t genuflect to the bombs, I had no right to live. (And when I went on behaving the same way, no matter how broke, they put me in jail!)

Now I still use MLA style. 1962 to 2013. Stop already. Go back to local sense.

I’ll try, but it will be hard.

Function Invisibly

I’ve said this before: at K. and elsewhere, but I repeat: I was very fond of one in particular of my teachings as an English teacher. I told my freshman that it was important to their liberal education that they know what a split infinitive was. I didn’t care whether or not they split their infinities, I cared that they knew whether or not they were splitting their infinities. What I didn’t want them to do was to split their infinitives by accident, without knowing whether or not they had split their infinities. I quoted Oscar Wilde: “A gentleman is one who never offends another unintentionally.”
Thus, if you hated your high school English teacher, and if your high school English teacher had a thing about split infinities, then write a thank you letter to your high school English teacher, say you’re at college now: and split all of your infinities! Really piss her off!
And wonder: will she know you’re doing it deliberately?


Short for F500, short for Fortune 500: used as a metaphor: the mercantile state called the “US”.
Here 2013 11 23 I didn’t know what I’d meant in writing the above a month ago myself. That’s a bad symbol when the author himself doesn’t know what he meant: or, it will take time to become right, no guarantee.
Hitler never decided anything without being confident that his munitions industry would agree. Caesar didn’t work for himself; he worked for his friends, his fraternity brothers. There’s always a power behind the throne. It’s the power behind the US that I mean by F5.

I just found and corrected a couple of instances of “MacCarthy” @ K. where convension preferred McCarthy. If there really a right or wrong way to write “Mc”? Why do we ever write “Mac”? If we write “Petersen”, should we ever write “Peterson”? Isn’t the meaning the same?
I love my memory of asking my brilliant friend Anton, “How do you spell Tchaikovsky? Anton replied, “Any way you want to! (unless you’re writing in Cyrillic).”

If someone refers to me as “Paul Nats”, I don’t mind.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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