I know all the reasons why I shouldn’t swear: It’s offensive, in many cases it’s profane. It makes people think less of you, that you are less classy or educated. It’s definitely unprofessional (I think that’s when I realized it was an issue– I was known for my swearing).
But I still long for the renaissance of the well-turned curse. NOT the blankety-blank-blank you blankity-blanking blinker shite, that is so prevalent these days. A delicious curse is a work of art– like a stunning insult, something they ought to compile in large tomes for the education of young minds. Where you combine a prodigious vocabulary to a better use than writing theses no one understands. (If bystanders knew what you were thinking, they’d probably appreciate the fact that they can’t understand what you’re saying a bit more.) Using simile to great effect is another hallmark.
A kindred spirit! I, too, share this dream, and strive to embody it in my own writing (though I am not immodest enough to submit any of my own efforts for consideration). And I, too, favor the economical dagger-thrust of a carefully constructed curse to the indiscriminate automatic rifle-fire of your typical, trigger-happy f-word slinger. Not that I consider myself above such common expletives, as even a cursory reading of this blog will show. It’s just that I also recognize the need to aspire to more at times.
On that note, heroes of mine, leaders by example: Barry Crimmins is, as far as I’m aware, the man responsible for giving us the word “dildoic” (also: “dildoically”), and I have no idea how we got along without it until then. I tip my hat to him (and just to assuage a tiny doubt, let me also bow my head in the direction of James Wolcott, who I think may have also used the word, though he may have been quoting Crimmins to begin with.) Both manage to season their eloquence with righteous anger and good old vulgarities as the situation calls for. I even harbor a slight suspicion that Wolcott’s frequent posts on ballet are just there to help disguise what a rhetorical cutthroat he really is, to lull potential victims into carelessness.
And if it’s antiquated verbosity you look for, I still find this book to be entertaining, sometimes even useful, though the unfamiliarity of the words probably make them better choices for writing than speaking.
…forgot to add earlier: I’ve always been impressed by the effort Spanish-speakers put into their curses. Some of my favorites:
Me cago en las tetas de la Virgen María para que el Niño Jesús chupe mierda! (I shit on the tits of the Virgin Mary so that Baby Jesus sucks shit!)
Mecagum les cinc llagues de Crist! (I shit on the five wounds of Christ!)
Me cago en Dios y los 365 santos del año! (I shit on God and the 365 saints of the whole year!)
Mecagum Deu, en la creu, en el fuster que la feu i en el fill de puta que va plantar el pi! (I shit on God, on the cross, on the carpenter who made it and on the son of a whore who planted the pine!)