Thursday, July 24, 2008

origins and insults

From: Sly

An excerpt (from And Now We Are Going to Have a Party): "I imagined the officer nodding self-importantly and reporting to his commander, later, "...and so we forded the river, which locals hereabouts call the River Water..." And, just like that, history to me was no longer what you found in history books, but was thronged with real people. Words assumed hidden power; I began to understand them as keys to the puzzle of the universe."

That's so interesting thanks for posting this I really love this part. Among other things I got from the piece, the names of towns and that is probably how whiskey got the name of "fire water". Well that's what I thought of when I read about how the word whiskey was created.

I'm not so sure about figuring out the puzzle of the universe using words but I do think knowing how words came to be adds a great deal towards understanding and sharing verbal and written communication. I love learning about the beginnings of things.

I'm glad you liked it. Words are tremendously powerful. They carry layers and depths of meaning that resonate far beyond the surface syllables. They shouldn't be used carelessly. That's why insults like cunt, nigger, bitch, raghead and so on are so incendiary. I don't allow their use in my house, except in this kind of conversation. I remember that scene towards the end of Aliens where Ripley is in the big full-body waldo suit and she shouts, "Get away from her you bitch!" It very nearly ruined the film for me. Such a blatant anti-woman insult being used in that context... Ooof. My stomach squeezed. Everyone in the audience cheered and I literally felt sick; I felt as though they were all cheering about seeing a female get whipped, simply because she was female, not because she was a vicious murderous, y'know, alien.

Extreme? Maybe. But I felt what I felt. And I felt a version of that tonight watching the first two eps of Season Two of Boston Legal. I was sickened by the depiction of women. David Kelley is seriously crap at writing female characters but this was a new low even for him. Ugh. Because I've enjoyed the Shatner/Spader banter in previous episodes I'll watch the rest of this disk but if it doesn't improve, that's it for me.

It's weird. I go through phases where racism, misogyny, homophobia (et cetera--and, oh, there are so very many ceteras) don't bother me that much. I shrug, think, That's life, and go about my business. But this week, for some reason, the unfairness of the world is really getting to me.

I can only assume other people go through this, too, but, wow, it's really, really tedious to feel so thin-skinned. So here's a question: how does everyone else self-soothe? Ignore the world and eat ice cream? Turn up the music and dance? Pick a fight with an irritating stranger? (That's a bad habit of mine. I thought I'd grown out of it but then a little while ago, at a Patricia Barber show, I nearly punched a man in the face...) Anyway, I'm open to suggestions. Don't want to go to jail...

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