On Tue, 19 Jul 2005, David A. Black wrote:

> I think you'd have to go beyond (b + (c / 2)) to illustrate really obscure
> or obfuscated punctuation :-)  In any case, one has to conclude reluctantly
> that readability and clarity end up being in the eye of the beholder.  (I
> wish I could believe it were otherwise, but the things done in Ruby in the
> name of clarity are often so unclear to me as to force me to that conclusion
> :-)  The whole "poetry" thing, I think, comes from something else.  I don't
> think it's just a compliment (calling something "poetry" because it's clear
> and free of non-technically-mandated punctuation), but it can't really be
> about clarity in a transcendent sense.
>
> My favorite example of (what to me is) great unclarity introduced by the
> absence of optional parentheses is:
>
>  def a b, c = 1
>
> Of course I know enough to parse it visually, but I don't take it in as
> readily in a glance as:
>
>  def a(b,c=1)

yes.  that's much better.

> I'm not out to convince other people that their brains work the same way
> mind does; but I'd definitely rule out a universal "less punctuation makes
> things clearer" axiom, based on this and other examples.

oh me too!  i just tend to use less than some.  it takes time, but after a
small adjustment period less can sometimes be more.

> Well, you could put a bright red dot on the Mona Lisa and conclude that red
> was a bad color for art because it ruined the painting :-)  I don't think
> parentheses used by an author are a determinant of a text's status as poetry
> or prose.

agreed.  still - sometimes being __totally__ clear makes things less clear, if
you know what i mean.

cheers.

-a
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