I love "the dash." I first picked it up reading Kerouac. Later in life, a friend was fond of writing long letters in the style of Kerouac and Ginsburg. I think I find the dash vaguely romantic and, when used correctly, a marvelous way to convey emotion.
Undoubtedly, the best definition of "the dash" that I have seen is as follows:
A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than a parentheses.
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*from The Elements of Style, fourth edition, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, page 9.
Grace & Peace