What was I going to write abou–
No. I don’t have tourettes.
I understand that in day’s society–and generations before–cursing has been frowned upon by lofty intellectuals. Somewhere there’s a saying that goes swearing is the idiot’s fallback when he/she doesn’t have anything intelligent to say. Or something like that. You get the point.
So, why does it feel so good to curse then!?
The statement about cursing being the tool and last resort of the unintelligent is bullshit fuckery in my opinion. Just because someone uses a curse doesn’t mean he/she has sunk to slimy ooze brain-deaded-ness. Throwing a curse into a sentence is an exclamation point (!) in the middle of a statement. A curse can express joy, excitement, surprise as well as rage, condemnation, and general fucked up shit. Context. It’s all about context.
Problem is, most people only use curses to express rage. Me personally, I like to pepper my soliloquy and filibusters with the occasional fuck, shit, damn. Mix it up. Combine words. Like I did above… fuckery.
Granted, when a person uses a single word to express themselves and that word is a curse that can be the lowest common denominator. I’ll admit to that. I’ll also admit that words have a certain power. Words hurt.
The problem is origin. It’s not profanity itself but cursing. What does cursing mean? To curse usually meant saying: “I curse you and your sons and daughters, and their little mother-fucking offspring! A pox on them all!”
Cursing was a bad thing tied up in witchcraft and demons and Satan and all manner of darkness. Use the words darkness, evil, and the devil together and people scamper for the hills like spooked rabbits.
Think about cursing this way: Cursing is part of our culture. How do we as a society curse? We tend to invoke the name(s) of our god(s), look to the most vile parts of our society, lump people together using derogatory names, point to the worst aspects of a person’s character. I lump in derogatory racial slurs into cursing. If a person is engaging in an act that society finds repulsive and/or unclean we find a name connected with that act to label that person with. Cursing is meant to hurt, induce pain, bring down shame upon someone. Same thing we believed so-called witches were doing long ago. And we burned them for that, among other things.
Back to society and cursing… Curses say a lot about our society. Those aspects we draw power from. The things we revile. All those things help define our curses.
Now, as I tend to talk about story, writing, and the like, I’ll bring this back around to profanity in stories. In other words, the profanity used by characters in a story.
As I said, curses say a lot about a society’s culture. Its religion. Its politics. Its people. Example: “Oh, God, that was delicious! This sandwich is blessed!”
Go to a fantasy world, pick up a fantasy book, and that same turn of phrase is found but the curse is reflective of the culture created by the writer. Sandwiches. Ask my wife. I love a fucking good sandwich. Now venture away to a world with multiple gods. Each god has a particular aspect of the world they rule over. Health. Wealth. War. Food. In that world a character might say, “Praise you, Beliumeth! You have blessed the meat between these two slices of pumpernickel!”
See? Reflects the religion.
In one of the Harry Potter books–I forget which one right now, don’t stone me!–Ron Weasley utters the curse “So why in name of Merlin’s saggy left–” He’s cut off by his father midstream. You get the idea. Merlin is an important figure in the Wizarding world. Makes sense they would have a curse built around his name and his nut sack.
Another example. Calling a person a derogatory name. Like I said, I consider offensive racial names curses or profanity. While any type of racial slur or name calling is horrible, such profanity speaks to a culture’s history, how it’s treated or treats its own people, its enemies, those a particular society deem outsiders, the name the high give those beneath their boot when subjugating them, or the name the subjugated curse their oppressors with,
When writing a story, building that story’s world, it’s important to ask how the characters will curse and hurl insults. Crude but colorful. Building blocks for history and culture.