The Paris Review

Ode to the Dinkus

The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit … a mobility of illusory forms immobilised in space —James Joyce, Ulysses

Three months ago, I was a normal person. Now all I think about 24-7 is the dinkus. Did you know that dinkuses is an anagram of unkissed? I did. For the uninitiated, the dinkus is a line of three asterisks (* * *) used as a section break in a text. It’s the flatlining of an asterism (⁂), which in literature is a pyramid of three asterisks and in astronomy is a cluster of stars.

The dinkus has none of the asterism’s linguistic association with the cosmos, but that’s why I love it. Due to its proximity to the word , which means, to define one ridiculous word with another, “doodad,” likely evolved from the Dutch and German , meaning “thing.” To the less continental ear, sounds slightly dirty, and I can confirm that it’s brought serious academics to giggles.

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