Mnemonics

stalagmites

I was taught in childhood, perhaps on a visit to Timpanogos Cave, that the way to remember the difference between stalactites and stalagmites was to consider how stalaCtites cling to the ceiling like icicles, while stalaGmites grow from the ground like grass. Now another way to think about the distinction, all these years later, is through the act of writing, and how stalactites resemble this paragraph, each little drop of language oozing out at the bottom, adding to the downward-reaching mass of text, while stalagmites imitate this blog, with each post an accretion at the top, while earlier posts slowly stratify below. The difference is that the paragraph and the blog, though they seem to move in opposite directions, are always already one and the same, while in caves, the two growths, like separated lovers, slowly move toward one another, and finally fuse after thousands of years, forming an hourglass, milleniumglass.

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