pronounced as one word, not two, as in an eighth-note, followed by a quarter-note, followed by a whole note of silence. Always used as a sentence alone: I thought it was impossible. And-yet. Or: I was prepared to leave. And-yet. To say “and-yet” can be to say: There was a small, dissenting part of me, and despite its smallness it intervened, and that’s way I kept on when I wanted to give up. Or: They told me I would grow up to be handsome. And-yet. Meaning, I know the truth, of course I do, even if I can’t say it. “And-yet” can be a reminder of all that will go unsaid. Of a chance someone is holding out for. A door left open. It sounds like nyet, which means no in Russian. But “and-yet” is never so decisive or emphatic. It’s simply there to challenge, or at least hold up a light to, whatever came before, like a grammatical philosopher. Although always followed by a period, it’s tone and effect is similar to a question mark. In two syllables it can sum up the existential doubt that’s tied like a stone to each of us. It’s also Jewish. Da-da, da-da, da-DA-and THAT is why on Passover we always lean. And-yet. As in, let me answer your question with a question. As in, I’ve just spent half an hour explaining it to you like this, but I could have just as easily argued it like that. As in, there are fifty ways to interpret this, and if we can’t agree on anything else, at least we can agree on that (and if we can’t even agree on that, at least we can argue). “And-yet” guards against simple conclusions. “And-yet” says: Don’t get so comfortable no matter how much you have to eat today you might be hungry tomorrow and by the way there’s no such thing as black and white take it from me you should learn to sleep with one eye open. “And-yet” can sometimes be funny. It’s almost always bittersweet. But it’s never tragic; by the time there is time to say “and-yet,” the tragedy is already past. Which is to say, “and-yet” is almost always reflective. It was terrible. And-yet. As in, I’m still standing, there’s light in the morning, the smell of breakfast, what can I tell you, I suppose the world continues to turn.
— By Nicole Krauss in The Future Dictionary of America