Off-Topic Post #224: Why I Love The AsteriskFew characters in the written word are so versatile. Few characters have the ability to say so much in such a small glyph. Three lines of equal length, crossed at their centers, placed equidistantly around a Z-axis.
My asterisks, because of the font, take a different form, similar to a star. That fact might derail this entire post, but we'll just sweep that little inconsistency under the carpet. And... I have a feeling you won't remember it anyway...
This is the marvel that is the asterisk. Placed at the bottom of a page, an asterisk allows an author to interject and further elaborate on material presented within the body of a piece while still maintaining the continuity of the work.*
Now I’m sure many have noticed that I am quite the utilizer of the asterisk. I like them. They make me feel safe, like a security blanket. Like a security blanket made of asterisks. And also silk. Possibly chocolate. Silky, chocolate asterisks.
There are reasons I use the asterisk more than, say, the tilde (~) or the umlaut/diaeresis (ë). Those particular characters lack the flavorful, literary zest of the asterisk. But mostly, they’re just dumb and stupid, and no one loves them, and no one will be sending them Christmas cards this year. The asterisk will be inundated with Christmas cards this year, and I’ll bet it’ll receive a few holiday fruitcakes as well. People love the asterisk so much they’re going to be sending baked goods to the asterisk on Christmas. The tilde says it’s Jewish and that it doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but I think it’s a front created out of humiliation. It gets no cards. It gets no cards at all.
But let’s get to the specifics. What exactly makes the asterisk so great, besides the fact that it totally kicks ass?
There's no need to be certain of anything. Worried that your material needs "facts" or "a point of view"? An asterisk allows for the most noncommittal of writing. Is this true, or is it the opposite? Why not both?**
It acts as a pit stop for readers. The asterisk allows the reader to take a short break from reading to do some reading. People who read are not having enough words thrown at them at one time. Sure, a page full of words is okay, but I often stop reading in frustration simply because there aren't enough words entering my eyes. Even if for no logical reason at all, the asterisk crams more words onto the page.***
The asterisk will weed out readers who are under the influence of drugs. It sounds far-fetched, I know. But the asterisk has powers -- supernatural powers, really -- beyond its conventional uses. It has the power to identify and subsequently freak out readers who are currently reading your work while on drugs. I'll demonstrate, but not because I want to alienate anyone reading this who may in fact be on drugs. If anything, I want to keep you happy, because your standards are so low. With you, I don't have to work as hard. Because you're on drugs. And everything is funny to you. I could really do anything. Anything at all. Like this...
If I know the drugged audience as well as I think I do, right now they're either laughing uncontrollably, hysterical with fear, or chasing a bouncy ball that just passed into their field of vision. Go! Go get it!
If you're clean, the asterisk below will remain the same the entire time. If you're not clean... well, no one really knows how the asterisk operates. It's rumored to focus in on the fears of each reader individually and exploit those fears. If you fear, say -- oh, I don't know -- Care Bears, then the asterisk will sense that. Or if you fear, say -- again, off the top of my head -- the Quaker Oats guy, the asterisk will sense that as well. So, take a deep breath. Relax. And good luck.
(click on me... I weed out druggies)
* Like this.
** And neither.
*** Like this. See? No reason at all.