The auto-autonyms, the overused, and the maladapted: Brad Leithauser searched for a synonym for "unfathomable," and instead returned with a list of unusable words. There are the "structurally maladapted" (for instance, "incomplex" and "pulchritudinous"), and those that belong to Shakespeare and Keats ("incarnadine" and "alien," respectively). And then there are the so-called auto-autonyms: words that are also their own opposites. Leithauser's look at "pet words" is also worth a read. John Updike, it turns out, carried a torch for "lambent": "It was a conscious embellishment, a sort of sartorial sprucing up of his prose—like a man’s decision to wear a bow tie or a boutonnière."
"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a horny triceratops." At The Cut, Maureen O'Connor interviews Alara Branwen and Christie Sims, emergent dinosaur erotica authors. Yes, you read that correctly. Here's Branwen on the pair's remuneration for works like Ravished by the Triceratops: "Combined, Christie and I make more money than our friend who has been working as an engineer at Boeing for a few years and Christie's friend who is a five-year accountant in Dallas, Texas."
Some thoughts from Charles Simic as the federal shutdown ends: "Indifference to the plight and suffering of human beings of one class or another by some segment of the population is a universal phenomenon, but spending millions of dollars to deepen the misery of one’s fellow citizens and enlisting members of one political party to help you do so is downright vile." More via the New York Review of Books.
Back to work: Seeing writers welcome the NEA back to Twitter warms the heart, no?