So you want to optimize your iPhone for Céline-esque prose?


This post was featured on WordPress’s “Freshly Pressed” and originally appeared here.






Ever since reading Journey to the End of the Night (1932) I’ve enthusiastically over-used ellipses. Even if they’re unprovoked and grammatically incorrect in regard to the traditional function of the punctuation mark, it doesn’t matter: I just like them, and I feel like they correlate pretty well to how most of our brains naturally operate . . . but more on that some other time.


If you’re not familiar with Louis-Ferdinand Céline‘s novel — beloved by curmudgeons from Sartre to Bukowski to Godard — it’s a WWI-era semi-autobiography packed full of dark, misanthropic, ellipsis-saturated gems like this:


“One fine day you decide to talk less and less about the things you care most about, and when you have to say something, it costs you an effort . . . You’re good and sick of hearing yourself talk . . . you abridge . . . You give up . . . For thirty years you’ve been talking . . . You don’t care about being right anymore. You even lose your desire to keep hold of the small place you’d reserved yourself among the pleasures of life . . . You’re fed up . . . From that time on you’re content to eat a little something, cadge a little warmth, and sleep as much as possible on the road to nowhere.”


Bleak and nihilistic, indeed, but the vacant appeal of those trinities of periods is undeniable, no? So let’s optimize your mobile device with this simple shortcut to SMS just like Céline . . .




By default, your iPhone requires 10 finger-gestures to produce The Chicago Manual of Style-endorsed full-stop ellipsis, which, to be clear, is SPACE-PERIOD-SPACE-PERIOD-SPACE-PERIOD-SPACE and appears exactly as what’s between these brackets [ . . . ].


To execute, you first have to press the ‘space bar’ (1) after finishing the preceding word, in this case “geez”:




Then, you have to hit the ‘123 button’ (2) to switch over to numerals and punctuation:




Followed by the ‘period button’ (3):




And then you have to repeat this whole cycle two more times — space (4), 123 (5), period (6), space (7), 123 (8), period (9), space (10) — until you finally arrive here:




But ain’t nobody got time for 10 steps per full-stop ellipsis anymore, so fortunately with some quick tinkering you can reduce the necessary actions down to just 4 — a 60% decrease in gestures, fyi, and a 78% decrease in total pixels that your finger’s required to travel across the touchscreen.


Optimizing Your iPhone for Céline-esque Prose


So, to optimize, go to your iPhone Settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Shortcut:




Enter the full-stop ellipsis into the “Phrase” field (don’t forget to start and finish with a space), then enter a double-period (no spaces) into the “Shortcut” field, like this, and hit “Save”:




Boom. There you have it.




Now, whenever you need an ellipsis, simply hit ‘123’ and then double-tap ‘period’ to bring up the shortcut you just created:




Hit ‘space bar’ once more to activate it and you’ll be on your own journey to the end of the night in no time:




  1. Ha! Celine would absolutely hate the iPhone-drooling zombies littering the CTA. Hate them. Don’t you think?

    Couldn’t this describe most of our public interaction today?

    “For weeks and years these colonials passed the same forms and faces until they were so sick of hating them that they didn’t even look at one another. The officers now and then would take their families for a walk, paying close attention to military salutes and civilian greetings, the wives swaddled in their special sanitary napkins, the children, unbearably plump Eurpopean maggots, wilted by the head and constant diarrhea”.

    For weeks and years these commuters and shoppers passed the same forms and faces until they were so sick of hating them that they turned up their iPods and put on their Google Glass. The business types in Lincoln Park and Logan Square now and then would take their families out for a walk or a ride on the El, conspicuously wearing their babies in little packs that rest on their bellies and paying close attention to new bars and restaurants that had just opened up on the boulevard where they could spend their disposable income, the wives swaddled in the finest boutique vintage whatever, the children, unbearably disassociated little American maggots, wilted by their boredom and over-ease.

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