(dis)patch #1: the rise of the  parenthetical     
Look above. Our eyes are trained to start from the top of a page, a web page, a book page. With the title of this page, our eyes start from the scoop of (. This is a parenthesis. Dispatches are written works that aim to be sent speedily. They request urgency from the reader. Because we are an organization that explores history, our sense of urgency is diminished. Our (dis)patches aim to grow as fields of research, and due to the (parent)hetical nature of this title, our first (dis)patch will look at the rise of the parenthetical.

The parenthesis dates to the 14th century, as described by Richard Nordquist in “Notes on Parentheses.” Nordquist goes on quote Colette Moore (2011) with the historical function of the parenthesis as a way “to downplay the significance of the material enclosed within.” However, we at the MUnCh approach parentheses differently. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the parenthesis has been applied more broadly to show segmentation without separation. While the bracket is an incision, slice [sic] that removes or indicates what was at one time missing, the parenthetical allows for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings where it initially might (k)not.

Laurel J. Brinton (2017) notes “the rise of the parenthetical” as well, indicating words or phrases that fill in space before we provide our formal meaning. Those sequestered words in themselves shape meaning, we say, and the s(cul)pting force of the punctuating parenthetical shows this. Punctuate derives from the Latin for “a pricking.” Punctuation pricks our at(tent)ion, and the parenthesis offers a gentle pricking. In titles, where other punctuation may not serve our purposes, the parenthesis ar(rives) to split our meanings. It becomes a prism rather than mirror, deflecting meaning through various means.

In a world that is moderated by an abundance of information, the ability of the parenthesis to synthe(size) that information through multiplicity makes it a significant tool we reach for when we want to compact meaning. The parenthesis becomes a suitcase that allows us to stuff in our different meanings and carry them with us. Our(hi)story is only meaningful when multiple points of view are brought together, not when one view dominates, and the use of the parenthetical can bring attention to that need for polyvocal tellings to shape our current moment.

Works Cited:
Brinton, Laurel J. The Evolution of Pragmatic Markers in English: Pathways of Change. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Nordquist, Richard. “Notes on Parentheses.” ThoughtCo. October 12, 2017. http://www.thoughtco.com/notes-on-parentheses-169172