Category Archives: Daily Prompt

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” -Ludwig Wittgenstein

Foxtrot. Uniform. Charlie. Kilo.

This post is going to talk about curse words. If you’re uncomfortable with such language, I’d ask you to stay anyway.

allthecurses

A lot of people have rather strong opinions about cursing, always have too:

The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.
George Washington

I don’t want children cursing. I’m very strict on my nieces and my little brother. They have to listen to clean versions of music. Even my music.
Nicki Minaj

Never use a big word when a little filthy one will do.
-Johnny Carson

I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit.
-Mel Brooks

If you can’t say ‘Fuck’ you can’t say, ‘Fuck the government.’
-Lenny Bruce

Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly.
-Spencer W. Kimball

 

Clearly, there are some widely varying opinions about the use of ‘four-letter words’. Let’s start at the beginning. Why do we call them ‘curse words’? According to Dictionary.com, profanity was originally seen as any speech that disparaged the Christian God. Early on, speaking against God was seen as wishing harm on others or belittling faith, basically cursing them. Voila! Saying words that might piss off a deity is sure to bring harm. (Oh the implications.)

availablecurses

Three events set me thinking about swearing and the taboo against it.

The first was when the word (remember to breathe) cunt came up in a conversation with Irish. I don’t remember how we got there, but there we were. He was surprised to learn that the word didn’t automatically offend me. A lot of people consider it the most offensive word, especially in feminist circles. I don’t have a problem with cussing in general though I think Irish uses it a little too often sometimes. In the end, I don’t care. Thinking about it, I couldn’t recall a time when he had said the c-word. I never really understood the specific hatred of the word myself. As far as cuss words go, I think it has a very satisfying mouth-feel. A lot of people find it particularly dehumanizing and derogatory towards women, cutting them down to only their sexual bits. I can’t think of anyone that is equally offended by ‘dick’ though. As with everything, I feel context matters.

The second was a trip to a wonderfully delicious taco joint much beloved in certain parts of Texas, Torchy’s Tacos. Their food is delicious, though not all that spicy to my tongue. Anywho, their slogan is ‘Damn good.’ This came up as my friends and I pondered where we should go to lunch with our little ones. Several of the kiddos are at the age where they are learning letter sounds and reading. One fellow mom joked about whether or not to be honest about the word that loomed above the seating area at the location nearest to us. In hot bright bulbs, it proudly speaks to the quality of their food. Sure enough, we chose Torchy’s and my daughter was soon asking me to confirm that the lights spelled “damn good”. Yes, my child, they do.

We allow Boots to curse. With Irish’s mouth (and mine too) she knows several words and understands the context in which to use them. I don’t think that is a bad thing. I don’t feel that we have somehow failed as parents by allowing her to use her words honestly. Not that it has been an issue yet, but I’m sure the time will come when we need to teach her that derogatory language is not the same as simple swearing.

The third was a stroll through old vlogbrothers videos where I happened upon this gem from Hank Green:

To me, the two most interesting things that Hank brought up in the video were the scientific bits:
1. Swearing happens more in the emotional part of the brain rather than the language areas.
2. Letting loose profanities actually helps us deal with physical pain.

A lot of defenders of lingual obscenities argue that cussing is no different than choosing another word. That doesn’t seem to be the case though. Profane language really does have more power over us than other words and not necessarily in a bad way. To me, the societal ban on swear words speaks to a lot more than coerced politeness. If spoken obscenities are literally giving our emotions an outlet, what does it say about us that we stifle those impulses? We have a hard time expressing and accepting our emotions, we even go so far as to stigmatize individuals that see a therapist. Is censoring language that gives voice to our suffering, both emotional and physical, just another example of rejecting mental health?

Words have power, pen is mightier than sword and all that. That isn’t a bad thing, especially words that allow us to articulate that which is so often restrained. Ironically, banning profane language has probably only given it more might. As Dumbledore said, “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” It is clear to me that we are afraid of the truth and depth of our feelings and shutting our mouths when impulse strikes is adding to our anxiety.

I don’t know how Ludwig Wittgenstein felt about cursing but I don’t plan on limiting my language or my world. My vocabulary regularly feels inadequate and I crave its expansion. I refuse to inhibit even one ‘obscene’ word.

autocorrectcurses

P.S.
The first four words of this post were not chosen at random. They come from a song filled with innuendo and a lovely example of using lyrical creativity.
I also thought I’d share some of my favorite replacements for curse words:
Holy TARDIS of Gallifrey!
Oh my Dumbledore!
Bloody Hell! (Not so polite across the pond!)
Frick! (Or: Frack!)
Curses!
Crapola.
Oi. (
Or: Oi vey.)

ETA: I literally just saw today’s Daily Prompt. I guess this is close enough in the sense that I wouldn’t ban any words, including curses. Even hateful, derogatory words need to be remembered so that we can recall our stupidity and refuse to go there again. That doesn’t stop me from wishing those words never existed in the first place.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.” -Richard Dawkins

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.

I don’t have much time this morning but I couldn’t resist this one. As john zande reminded me in the comments of this post, there was a very clear turning point in my life when I went from “spiritual but not religious” to atheist. I had left religion alone since I had been able to stop attending the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses in middle school. Without much thought I had decided that if there was a God, he probably wasn’t represented in any religion I was familiar with. Being thirteen, I wasn’t worried about it just yet.

Fast forward just a bit…
My daughter had just turned one. We had moved recently and I didn’t have a friend to my name save my husband. How could I make friends for myself and my child? I began thinking about the friends I had as a kid. My friends from the Kingdom Hall…

Maybe I didn’t believe the way the Witnesses did but surely there was a religion out there that I would find faith in. Right? I started researching because that’s what I do. I Googled my way through information about the various sects of Christianity and then moved on to everything from Buddhism to Scientology. If I’m completely honest, it all sounded bat shit insane. (Don’t ask me how bat feces are insane, they just are.)

Then I did something else. I Googled atheism. Then agnosticism. And then atheism, again. My queries were soon questioning the origins of morality and the evidence for deities. Before long I found myself watching YouTube videos of this British guy I had never heard of before, Richard Dawkins.

I was scared. I was listening to an apostate, an atheist. The words he weaved were blasphemous but they created the most moving sermon I had ever heard. I agreed with him immediately and instinctually, in a way that I never had sitting in a Kingdom Hall. Excitement mingled with the fear in my gut. I told Irish that I wanted to go to the book store, there was something I needed to buy…

image
That’s it. The book that changed my life more than any other, battered and bruised by a dozen moves and spine creased by being consumed rather than simply read. I may escape to Hogwarts but Dawkins shaped my worldview. You only have to get to chapter two to read what I am sure is one of his most famous quotes:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

This all happened in the span of about two weeks. It was a process full of grief but the freedom and enlightenment that came from it is the most precious gift I have ever given myself.

I’m not a person who had heroes or heroines. Still, if I ever get the chance to meet Professor Dawkins the first words I utter shall be those of gratitude.

“When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion, then I go out and paint the stars.” -Vincent Van Gogh

vangogh_threatening

Today’s prompt is something that I have been thinking about recently:
Do you need to agree with an artist’s lifestyle or politics to appreciate their art? To spend money on it?

Simple answer: Hell freaking no.

To be quite honest, I don’t know a lot about art artists. The painters, sculptors, sketch artists, and such. I enjoy their work immensely, I am just not well versed in their world. So I am going to talk about a form of artist that I am more familiar with: musicians.

I am one of those people that loves classical to alternative and all the musicals and pop music everything in between. Music speaks its own language and I can’t help but be drawn in by its many attractive accents. Lately, I’ve been listening to one band more than any other- Mumford & Sons.

A lot of Christians I know have been thrilled with the band’s rise to fame. While the singles that play on the radio certainly hint to it, their albums are full of outright religious imagery. The same Christians that were so pleased had their excitement tempered by an interview between Rolling Stone and Marcus Mumford. When the subject of religion came up, Marcus said, “I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like. […] I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.” The interviewer went on to say that Mumford emphasized that he has never doubted the existence of God.

Clearly, I disagree with Marcus’ take on spirituality and religion. Yet, I’ve bought both Sigh No More and Babel. When I was younger it was difficult for me to love a song unless I could find a way that it directly related to my life. That isn’t the case anymore. Sure, there is still a special connection when I find a work of art that relates specifically to something that I have experienced but it isn’t necessary any longer. Art allows us to have a variety of experiences, to see the world through different eyes. Each person will see something different. That is a part of the beauty, you don’t have to see what the artist sees.

I love the voice and sounds of the band. The lyrics are moving and insightful, even if I don’t agree with the artist’s worldview. Let’s face it. Do we really agree with anyone 100% of the time? Our friends, our spouse, our family? I know I don’t. Artist or not, why should we hold strangers to a higher standard?

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life. -Awake My Soul, Mumford & Sons

If you enjoy the art, appreciate that another human has touched your life and enriched it. I agree with Van Gogh. If I ever crave the feelings associated with religion, the fellowship and majesty, I can simply look at the stars and write. Or maybe I’ll just listen to a song.